Couple overhauls 2-storey Jalan Besar penthouse, converts master bedroom into bar with beer-on-tap

8 min read

IT professional Lendl Chong (47) and his wife, PR professional Karen Tan (39), have had quite a property journey, which intertwined closely with their romantic life. Having worked for 42 years combined, they made their first property investments more than 13 years ago with a freehold condo apartment at The Nexus, Bukit Timah, and The Esta at Katong.

Then, in 2008, Lendl bought an 893-sqft, 2-bedder penthouse apartment at Jalan Besar with the profits of his last property at The Nexus. He paid S$838,000 (S$938 psf) for the freehold condominium.

“For the past 13 years, I’ve been renting the penthouse out. The location makes it easy for me to secure a tenant as it’s at the fringe of the CBD,” Lendl said.

With the convenient location, which is within walking distance from three different MRT stations, the tenancy was easy. So when they got married, 2021 is the first time both Lendl and Karen decided to move in and live at the property, having previously rented in Novena and Katong.

As the property is 14+ years old and to make their matrimonial home more suited to their lifestyles, a major overhaul was planned before their move.

Here are the floor plans depicting the renovation works that transformed the once underutilized space to its maximum potential:

Jalan Besar penthouse - Old Floorplan Level 1 & 2
The old penthouse floorplan shows a long entry foyer that leads into the living and dining area, with one study/bedroom and an adjacent kitchen on the 1st floor and the master bedroom on the 2nd.


Jalan Besar penthouse - New Floorplan Level 1
With the proposed overhaul: 1. The previous living room area on the 1st floor has now been converted to a dining area and kitchen. 2. The master bedroom, which used to be upstairs has now been shifted downstairs and 3. The old kitchen was torn down to make way for the walk-in wardrobe. That’s quite the overhaul (and that’s just the 1st floor)!


Jalan Besar penthouse - New Floorplan Level 2
With the master bedroom shifted downstairs, the 2nd floor was converted into a living room plus an entertainment lounge – complete with a bar counter.


Here are before-and-after images:

Jalan Besar penthouse overhaul - Foyer before and after
BEFORE (left) AND AFTER (right): Upon entering the foyer entrance, visitors will be greeted by a newly installed arched corridor (a design element used throughout the house). As shown in the before-and-after floorplans, the previous living room area at the end of the foyer is now a kitchen/ dining booth – perfect for breakfasts and work-from-home calls. (Image credit: Lendl Chong, Karen Tan & Allen Tan, Bam Visuals)


“We did consider continuing renting out the apartment and buying another condominium, but we decided that the central location and potential of this apartment was great for our first owned matrimonial home,” Lendl said.

After the last tenant vacated the property in January 2021, Lendl and Karen began to plan their renovations. After a 6-month period meeting with interior designers, banks and contractors, the actual renovation works started in July 2021 and took about four months.

Jalan Besar penthouse overhaul - Living to Kitchen Dining before and after
BEFORE (left) AND AFTER (right): The previous living room on the 1st floor is now the kitchen, complete with a cushioned booth wall-bench and integrated sink, stove, combi-steam oven and fridge. (Image credit: Lendl Chong, Karen Tan & Allen Tan, Bam Visuals)


Jalan Besar penthouse overhaul - Kitchen to Master Bedroom
BEFORE (left) AND AFTER (right): Also on the first floor, the former kitchen and study areas were wall-hacked and converted into the walk-in wardrobe and ensuite master bedroom respectively. (Image credit: Lendl Chong, Karen Tan & Allen Tan, Bam Visuals)


“I must say that as a 2-storey penthouse, the apartment design allows us to make it unique. For example, we converted the upstairs master bedroom into a bar as there’s an open terrace beside it – which makes it ideal for this sort of setup.”

Lendl’s right. The apartment’s terrace overlooks many hipster cafes and F&B joints like Chye Seng Huat Hardware cafe, Druggists pub, etc., which have popped up in the neighbourhood. Anyone yearning to experience a bon vivant lifestyle knows this is the right place to be, especially if it’s right from your doorstep.


Jalan Besar penthouse overhaul - Toilets before and after
BEFORE (leftmost) AND AFTER (centre and rightmost): The couple overhauled both the 1st and 2nd-floor bathrooms by refurbishing the flooring, toilets, sinks, walls – the whole works. (Image credit: Lendl Chong, Karen Tan & Allen Tan, Bam Visuals)


Jalan Besar penthouse overhaul - Mezzanine stairway before and after
BEFORE (left) AND AFTER (right): The stairway was transformed to a chill corner with a bench, mirror and plant to brighten up the space and make the area less stark, with a light installation at the entrance of the attic to transport guests to a different space. (Image credit: Lendl Chong, Karen Tan & Allen Tan, Bam Visuals)


Jalan Besar penthouse overhaul - Master Bedroom to Living Lounge and Bar before and after
BEFORE (left) AND AFTER (right): For the attic upstairs, the previous ensuite master bedroom was converted into their pièce de résistance: a bar and lounge/ living room, with glass doors leading out to a balcony overlooking the neighbourhood. A love for entertaining inspired the couple to create a self-sufficient cove for guests to experience. (Image credit: Lendl Chong, Karen Tan & Allen Tan, Bam Visuals)


Jalan Besar penthouse overhaul - Balcony before and after
BEFORE (leftmost, centre left) AND AFTER (centre right, rightmost): For the balcony next to the bar and lounge/ living room, the flooring, fixtures and furniture have been completely transformed. (Image credit: Lendl Chong, Karen Tan & Allen Tan, Bam Visuals)


Jalan Besar penthouse overhaul - Living Bar Lounge - Header
There’s no denying that with work-from-home (WFH) in Singapore, having a bar at your disposal to chill and relax is out-of-this-world. If you cannot go to the bar, why not bring the bar to you? (Image credit: Lendl Chong, Karen Tan & Allen Tan, Bam Visuals)

By the end of November 2021, all renovations, furnishings and installations (estimated at S$130,000) at Lendl’s and Karen’s 2-storey penthouse were complete.

Beyond the design elements to create an industrial luxe home that was chic and cosy, efforts were made to ensure the space was fully functional with plenty of storage space and the ultimate smart home with everything automated (including their curtains, lights, locks and sound systems) and controllable from their phones.

Of course, there were quirky elements that showcased their interests like a light installation wall, a kegerator (home beer dispenser) that serves beer on tap, and a beverage fridge that was inspired by one too many visits to the supermarket.

With the apartment overlooking the Jalan Besar/ Lavender neighbourhood, there are plenty of food and transport options including a variety of hipster cafes and famous hawker stalls right at their doorstep.

It’s clear that the renovation was a major overhaul that completely changed the layout of the space, tearing out all existing structures and reconfiguring the original floor plan. It was a redesign that worked for their lifestyle, with different areas to chill out and work, making it a perfect space for the couple to finally call home.

“We want to thank Hui Hui Poh, our interior designer, and Nigel Ng, our contractor from Nao Interiors for their great help to recreate this space,” the couple shared.

Inspired to set up a bar in your own home? Let us know in the comments section below or on our Facebook post

If you found this article helpful, recommends Couple sets aside lofty expectations to finally find their dream home and Rezt+Relax boss Wilson Teh, rebuilt his own 3.5-storey semi-D home and shares his experience.

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