Diamonds in the rough
This is no Chicken Soup or Thought Catalog motivational post, but let’s get it out there - no home is truly, hopelessly ugly! Whether it’s crumbling at the edges, cramped or just plain bare, there’s a gem that lies in every drab space; it all starts with you seeing its greatest potential.
And see did these 5 homeowners (and their interior designers) do; Looking past each home’s drab first impressions, these projects are completely flipped over to create jaw-dropping, magazine ready abodes. Consider us obsessed – check out their insane then-and-now shots below and take notes.
Light and bright, this fresh-looking Scandinavian HDB is every inch a newlywed couple’s dream. But a brand new BTO it is definitely not. In fact, it’s almost impossible to tell that this cosy, modern abode is actually a 40-year-old apartment in the heart of Changi Village!
Before: Like most flats of the era, a low ceiling beam takes up most of the ceiling space, making the room terribly short and cramped. A lack of windows causes the bare space to look dim and dingy.
After: You can’t make HDB create more windows for you, but you can make your home look equally bright with a little help! Cue plain, white walls and strategic lighting. From spotlights to standing lamps, warm lights bring a hint of warmth to the simple and cosy living area. A false ceiling was also installed to lower the overall ceiling height and mask the otherwise protruding ceiling beam.
Before: You know it’s old when you’ve got a wooden door above your rubbish chute a la 1970s. Creepy (what’s even inside that door?) and unstylish, this is one ‘vintage’ look we won’t want as a comeback trend! Furthermore, the extra window on the side could have been better utilised in the the living room - which needs it more, really.
After: If you can’t beat em’, join em’. Making the most out of that gorgeous window, a white subway tile backdrop plays a wonderful contrast (and homage) to the HDB block’s brick façade outside. Meanwhile, woods and whites dominate the kitchen carpentry, in line with the home’s bright Nordic theme. But surprise, surprise – instead of concealing it – the homeowners decided to embrace the quirky wooden door by camouflaging it into the background with a lil’ white paint. Smart.
Before: Is it even morning in here? Be it a bad location or just the fact that this home sorely needs more windows, the bedroom is decidedly dim.
After: It’s all about keeping it simple and tidy in this joint. To make up for the relatively cramped space, the beds were relegated to seamless platform versions, while lighting – from the hipster café-style red fluorescents to hanging pendants work to illuminate the bedroom.
Before: Our predecessors were on to something smart by splitting the bathrooms to a separate toilet and shower area. Nevertheless, two doors, each for a specific purpose? A waste of valuable space.
After: It made sense to combine the two into one general bathroom area for more wall space. Taking out the unnecessary doorway, the wall between the conjoined bathroom was then hacked to create a small walkway between the toilet and shower/sink. The result? An area that feels more spaced out and exclusive.
Airy and spacious, this HDB resale is packed with statement making features (we can’t look away from that prismatic TV feature wall) and nifty corners. A far cry from how it used to look like - a dated backdrop you'd probably see in those Taiwanese dramas your grandma likes to watch.
Before: Focus on the living room’s amazing view of the surrounding neighborhood below; and overlook the home’s bland flooring and half shifted furniture that’s stuck in the 2000s.
After: The long walled stretch was used to fit out a flowing, seamless feature piece/storage cabinet. Light-coloured wooden panels trace out handy cubbies for placing accessories, while the geometric-shaped TV mount made from compressed plywood grabs one’s attention from the get-go.
Before: We’d say the kitchen area was left in pretty good condition. However, those stark black and white cabinets would suit another home better than a Scandinavian-themed one.
After: Gone were the enclosed kitchen countertops in jet black. The kitchen walls were hacked down to create an open-concept counter bar, set in (you guessed it) an identical palette of whites and light-toned woods. Even the kitchen trolley and chairs are colour-coordinated to mint-green perfection – lending the otherwise flat space some colour.
Before: One minute you see a normal study area with a wall…
After: Next thing – it’s been hacked away! And in its place – a window that looks out to the adjoining living room. A cute touch, and convenient too; if you’re waiting for your online game to load, simply switch on the TV and watch some shows to pass the time.
Before: This may have looked stylish 15 years ago, but not today. Outdated wardrobes in white-and-black laminates, coupled with a built-in leather-effect headboard makes this master bedroom a drab and tired affair.
After: Applying wood panels throughout the space, the room is freshened up and given an updated, zen-like vibe. Storage compartments abound, reaching up to the ceiling by the wardrobes; and with the addition of a low cabinet feature running by the windows, more space is allocated for the homeowner to stow his/her knick knacks.
3. Mr Shopper Studio: Bendemeer Light
The most fascinating part about renovating a home? Watching a blank slate turn into an impeccably styled masterpiece like this BTO! Initially filled with cookie-cutter corners and boxy angles that clog the space, the brand-new apartment is completely widened up – thanks to a little renovation magic.
Before: With both ends of the foyer being covered up by walls (one side a bomb shelter, the other the kitchen), the way to the original living/dining area was actually much more squashed in. Couple that with a walled-up study area protruding into the living room space, making the layout look clumpy and clustered.
After: Bye, bye, walls! To widen up the living space visually (and physically), the kitchen wall was hacked on one side to allow the homeowners to seamlessly travel from the living-cum-dining area to the cooking spot. To counter the pesky study wall (without knocking it down altogether), a see-through glass partition was put up instead to provide transparency and an illusion of open space.
Before: Tight on walking space, the allocated study is decidedly cramped, boarded up on all four walls, with a generic 3-pane window looking out.
After: This converted study/cat playroom will put other cat cafés to shame! It's got everything a favourite kitty needs down pat - a storage compartment filled with toys and an epic-looking obstacle course! The glass partition helps in this aspect too, as homeowners can quickly look in to check if anything’s amiss.
Before: Squinting just to make out the kitchen? With a small opening leading straight through and into the service yard area (which by the way, has a kick-ass view), light hardly comes through, rendering the place dark and gloomy.
After: What a complete turnaround! Making the most out of the kitchen’s linear (albeit cramped) space, a galley layout was adopted, featuring white built-ins in all sorts of patterns and textures to add a little variety. Blinds on both sides of the louvered windows also help to keep strong sun rays from reflecting and heating up the kitchen.
Before: Devoid of any furnishings, what tricks would the interior designers have up their sleeves to dress up this typically blah space?
After: A simple tweak goes a long way – in this case, the minor addition of a partial false ceiling with cove lights instantly imbues the simple master bedroom with a plush, cosy atmosphere. Keeping it to an easygoing palette of greys and woods also enable the space to remain stylishly evergreen.
Before: Imagine waking up and visiting this every day. Okay, maybe not. We know HDB isn’t exactly known for their incredible sense of style, but this dismal bathroom set in an unappealing white-brown tiled combination is certainly the most uninspiring place to be in.
After: Now, this is one bathroom you’d want to spend hours in. Warm lights lend an upscale air to the space (much like a hotel washroom), while subway tiles paired with contrasting, black fittings match the rest of the home’s décor.
Like an upscale boutique or high-end salon, this elegant resale condo looks almost too pristine to touch. Pale, icy cool accents conceal the fact that 1.) this apartment is on the small side (only 90 sqm), and 2.) its original layout was the complete opposite of what it is now – messy with a tad too much brown.
Before: With the main door immediately opening towards the living, dining and kitchen at once, the entire space – despite its relatively bare furnishings – still looks cluttered and tiny. Then again, it could be due to the home’s unfortunate choice of warm lighting and dark brown furnishings which visually enclose the space further.
After: With those problems pointed out, the designers decided to go for a totally different direction. No more warm lighting; instead, white florescent lights are installed for a bright, clean look, helping to open up the area visually. Out with the dull, heavy browns as well, replaced by bluish accessories and accents – like the marbled feature walls.
Before: No, you’re not suffering from carrot vision. From doors, countertops to even the tiled floors and walls, everything’s awash in a dreary tone of orangey brown. The entire kitchen definitely needs a fresh coat of paint – or a little balance.
After: White once again takes center stage in the refurbished kitchen, bringing a sleek, modern air to the long, linear space. To bring in a hint of blue – in line with the living area – glittering mosaics in various hues of the same colour work as a focal point and convenient backsplash.
5. The Cott Interior: Toa Payoh
Talk about an extreme makeover! The lengths this neat and humble abode had to go through; faced with a home that hasn’t been renovated since (probably) the 1970s, the apartment was stripped from its yellowed, burnt and chaotic surroundings - to come out afresh and renewed with a look that’s in sync with the ages.
Before: Takes one back, doesn’t it? Those linoleum floors, wood-carved furniture and wait – burn marks on the ceiling from the altar? Yes, it’s just like your grandparents’ old home, back in the day (or kampong). Great for nostalgia; not so great for staying in, though.
After: Except for the altar – which retains the same spot (though this time using electric candles instead of real ones!), the living room was given a total facelift. Walls and ceilings were repainted, rewired and affixed with a whole new stable of modern furniture. Of course, the linoleum floors were torn out, replaced with wood vinyl for a smooth, easy-to-clean effect.
Before: Looking straight out of some rudimentary attap house back in the sixties, this kitchen is in serious need of an update. Worn cupboards and sagging wooden shelves store kitchenware in a haphazard fashion, while plumbing pipes and florescent lights lay exposed – along with an unpolished cement floor that’s working the industrial trend in all the wrong ways.
After: Taking inspiration from its ‘industrial’ roots, dark, cement-effect tiles are used to restore the floors. Meanwhile, bleached wood kitchen countertops and ample storage compartments help to stow clutter away – resulting in a clean, less-stressful environment that feels safe to be in.
The next extreme home makeover could be yours.
Give your drab, dreary home the attention (and look) it deserves! Embark on your own extreme makeover with the help of an interior designer. Request for free quotes here, and we can match you up with 5 interior firms based on your budget and style.Want more local home ideas? Download the Qanvast app here. Save your favourite images, discover new home products or simply read up on handy renovation tips - anytime and on the go.