Cat-friendly House for Book Lovers

With books and a cat-friendly space as the homeowners’ primary sources of happiness, Alexandra Barker, principal-in-charge of the project, worked to construct a dreamscape that pulled from the best of both worlds.

When creating homes for a lifetime, it comes naturally that we should build our homes around things we truly enjoy the most. It could be the incorporating of a hobby like fishing or cooking into the design that will ultimately bring us joy each time we unlock the front door to our pad. In the redesign of a terrace house, the clients, a pair of homeowners who teach and write poetry for their day jobs, wanted to build an ideal home where work and relaxation could happen interchangeably and for their extensive collection of art and books to be displayed in a resplendent manner. Another tweak to the design brief was accommodated for the two shy but inquisitive cats of the homeowners. 

Cat-friendly features for two resident felines

As part of a series of row houses, the external structure of the home was rigid thus the internal layout was reconfigured with the hacking of walls and implementation of glass to bring colour and light into the home. The hallmark feature of the home is in its parlour floor – an open, airy living space that is detailed by a full-length bookshelf and art wall and divided into four separate areas split amongst the living room, media room, dining room and kitchen.

Towards the front of the home, the living room is defined by comfortable armchairs and cosy seaters situated on a colourful rug. To contain books and art collected over the years, Barker built a storage shelf with irregular-shaped vaults that goes across the wall from the front to the rear of the home. Alongside the wall, the cats can run along the topmost surface of cat-friendly bookshelf and take off into different rooms across the home through strategically placed trap doors across the second and third levels.

Making do with walls, the interconnected media room is built around a console wall that houses the entertainment consoles and conceals the air conditioning unit. Behind the console wall lays access to the basement and the powder room.

Book shelves as cats playground

The shelving wall continues from the living hall to the media room and ends at the dining area, in which focus shifts onto a vintage wood storage cabinet, which has now become the centerpiece of the room. Suspended from the ceiling, a combination of quirky light fixtures proclaims a stylish yet unpretentious ambience with the Foscarini Big Bang Chandelier lamp – a composition of white metacrylate panels that drizzle diffused light into the eating area.

Unsurprisingly, the kitchen and dining area shares a close border marked out by a large rug. When the cook of the day waltz out with a sizzling hot dish from the oven, the meal can be either served on the kitchen counter or redirected for sharing on the dark wooden dining table from Recycled Brooklyn. The original mismatched cabinets that came with the home were carted off for a homogenous set of Ikea cabinets with its cabinet fronts swapped out for sleek white ones and adorned with black metal handles.

In the basement, a “cat-free zone” has been implemented for friends and family to unwind without having to worry about the cats knocking over any loose furniture. In one corner of the basement, a workout space is given the colour treatment with pops of colour despite having minimal access to natural light. Yellow-hued columns are matched with melon popsicle shelf niches and a green bench, turning the basement into a spunky bright area for entertaining guests at any time of day.

Up a level, the space is split between the bedroom and a studio that occupies half of the floor. As the studio was designated for the creative couple, the workspace was designed with an unconventional slant to let imagination run wild and capture the precise moment of inspiration. To get over the hump of writer’s block, Barker built a balcony in the window wall for the poem-writing homeowners to get a change of scenery as inspiration for their next penned work. Towards the corner, an elevated “nest”, built out of lumber and wood elements recycled from the original structure of the house, has been commissioned as a place to think and write. A skylight immerses the concealed corner with light, while the calming notes of sky blue paint coat the surrounding sphere.

Photography by Francis Dzikowski


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