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Food is at the centre of Cintia and Gilberto Gaeta’s lives.

For the couple – he is Italian, she is Argentinian – cooking and having guests at their three-bedroom penthouse in Balestier is essential to remaining connected to their cultures.

Mr Ken Lee, principal designer of interior design firm Space Matters, references this mindset in his design.

“The couple lived in the penthouse for six years before deciding on a major overhaul. The previous interior style was close to the look they had in mind, but I helped design a polished, cohesive version with better functionality,” he says.

Here is what went into the $250,000 renovation of the 2,440 sq ft apartment, which they share with their two sons, aged seven and eight, and a helper.

Why a revamp instead of getting a new apartment?

The Gaetas: We did not want to lose the fantastic location and view.

Furthermore, we realised a renovation was a more economical choice. The revamp allowed us to use the space better.

We created a glass-floor mezzanine, replaced the rarely used hot tub with a barbecue pit as well as customised a kitchen-island-on-wheels that better fits our lifestyle.

How does the mezzanine improve the home?

The Gaetas: We entertain often, so there is now more room for guests. It also connects the master bedroom and bathroom – the latter is a new addition – to the patio, improving accessibility to all parts of the apartment.

We also have a double-door so the kids can sleep in their bedroom on the first floor while we party upstairs. We chose a glass ceiling as it allows natural light to stream in.

Tell us how food was instrumental to the design.

Mr Gaeta: I love the movable kitchen island, on which I often prepare food and bake. I can keep it where it is – to keep the conversation with guests going while we cook or even involve them in the food preparation – or move it to the side, should we need more walking space in the living room.

We also notice that our guests tend to linger around the island before leaving, as it is such a cosy space.

Mrs Gaeta: I love having lunch with friends on the patio. We designed it to be fairly independent from the kitchen downstairs. It has a fridge, hob and sink so we do not have to leave our guests to get more drinks and food.

Sometimes, we do starters on the first floor and end the day on the second level.

How did you maintain an authentic industrial theme?

The Gaetas: We sourced for rustic accessories with a weathered look. A lot of pieces – such as the wooden coffee table – were eventually bought overseas.

We found the selection in Singapore too refined for our taste. The sinks in the master bedroom were from Indonesia; the bronze shower fittings, as well as leather couch, were from Thailand. The wheel lamp in the patio is made out of real barn wheels.

Ken also advised us that concrete flooring would crack, but we are fine with that. He also designed our wardrobes with mesh glass doors.

• This article first appeared in the June 2019 issue of Home & Decor, which is published by SPH Magazines.

The glass-floor mezzanine creates space, but does not break the visual line of the apartment's double-volume ceiling. The patio (above) is furnished with a fridge, hob and sink, so that food and drink are within reach at gatherings. The rustic-lookin

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