It’s party rock in the (Northshore HDB) house tonight!
These days, HDB homes are mostly inspired by the Scandinavian or the mid-century modern aesthetic: think neutral-filled, clean-lined interiors that are as calming as they’re aesthetically pleasing.
But rather than opting for these popular choices, new homeowners Beer and May chose to have an energetic “siam diu” (Thai-themed disco) inspired design for their 5-room BTO flat at Northshore Drive instead.
“It reflects our personalities and quite a bit of our interests,” says May about the look of her home. “I love music. One of my hobbies is singing, and I also like pole dancing as well. Beer enjoys hanging out and chilling at bars. Our space was inspired by all these little things and activities in our lives.”
To get a better understanding of Beer and May’s home, we sat down for a chat with the adventurous couple and talked about the process of renovating it with Urban Home Design as well as the various new features it now has, including a hidden study room and a 12-seater dining/gaming table!
About themselves and their home
Beer (B): Hello, I’m Beer, and yes, I do like to drink [laughs]. Like May said, our home caters to our hobbies and interests. For example, I enjoy cocktail mixing as well, which is why we have our bar counter where I’m able to entertain guests at night.
In the day, the house is meant to feel cosy with a dark look that suits our preferences as modern-day homeowners; this is where we will be staying in 5 to 10 years from now, so we definitely want it to be as comfortable as possible for us. The colour combination is partly inspired by the Warehouse Hotel, which we visited for a staycation last year.
May (M): One interesting detail about our flat that you can’t tell from the photos is that its smart home enabled. It’s a 5-room flat at Northshore Drive, which is one of the first smart home-ready developments in Singapore; we equipped ours with Google Home, and it lets us control the neon lights and door locks remotely and with our voice.
Another thing that makes our home unique is its layout. It’s different from the usual ones that you find in most BTO developments because the bedrooms aren’t clustered together in the same section of the house. To us, that’s a good thing because it gives us more flexibility in planning what functions each room should have.
About the entryway and dining area’s new look
B: When you enter from the main door, you’ll see a long walkway. On one end is the living room and on the other is our L-shaped dining area. We kept the hallway empty so that it’s easier to host bigger groups there and have mahjong sessions or festive activities.
M: We really like the spaciousness, we’ve been to many homes where there’s little space to move around, which is why we decided to leave this long corridor empty. The only built-ins at the side are a shoe cabinet and a facade structure that hides the household shelter as well as the entrance to the third bedroom in the house.
B: Initially, our dining area was going to be utilised for a different purpose. My friends and I play a lot of card games, so we planned to create another hidden room here with a one-way mirror – sort of like the ones in an interrogation room. But eventually, we realised the measurements were too tight, so we decided to have our dining area here instead.
That said, the dining table we have is still large enough for us to lay a full-sized gaming mat over, and it’s also able to sit 10 to 12 people for family meals. If you were to ask why we chose to have a dining table of this size, it’s because we didn’t want to have a separate table for gaming, which will take up additional space whether it’s in use or not.
On the living room and study’s renovation
M: Most homeowners would probably hack the walls between the living area and the rooms around it to create more space, but we chose to keep ours cosy and compact, so that we’re able to have the TV and sofa in close proximity. It’s perfect for the two of us, and this way, we’d be able to keep all the bedrooms intact as well.
B: I think there was also the concern of having too many features in the house, there’s plenty of other things going on in the other rooms, which is why we decided not to overdo the living area. To me, it’s good enough as it is, especially with the windows that overlook the Punggol Marina Country Club – from here, we’re able to see the yachts coming in and out every day.
The study is located at the back of the living room and it’s very well concealed. So, whenever we have housewarming parties, we’d ask the guests to guess where it is [laughs].
Both May and I have online meetings quite frequently, so we initially planned to turn the study into a home office space for the both of us. But we ruled out the idea because it wouldn’t be practical to have calls in the same space – that turned out to be a good thing, for me at least, because I get to have my own man cave [laughs].
Right now, the study is where I work in the day and stream games at night. Most of the furniture and equipment I have here are from local brands – there’s an Omnidesk table that’s height-adjustable, an Aftershock PC and PRISM+ monitors, and a first-generation SecretLab gaming chair.
For me, a man cave is supposed to be dark, so I got Urban Home Design to paint the room fully black, then for lighting, I put up these Nanoleaf lights as a streaming backdrop; they’re omnicolour light panels that are smart home compatible but are also operable by physical touch.
On the kitchen and bar counter’s design
B: At first, I was talking to May about having a beer pong table, but that got rejected really fast [laughs]. So, in the end, we decided to have this bar counter instead. In the day, it’s a breakfast counter where we can enjoy our morning coffee and at night, it’s my personal bar where I can be bartender for our guests – there’s even a bell placed on the counter so that they can call for my service.
Both the kitchen fridge and the built-in alcohol cabinet beside it are also quite special. To me, a good fridge matters as much as having a good TV and computer, which is why we got this LG fridge with a convenient see-through function. By knocking on the tinted glass panel, we’re able to view the contents of the fridge without opening the door.
The built-in cabinet is designed with pocket doors to keep the dust out while giving us sufficient walking space between the cabinet and the counter; the bottom half of the cabinet is actually a trolley as well, so we can wheel it out during big gatherings.
M: Our kitchen is quite different from those from our parents’ time, it’s squarish and not the typical long rectangular kind, but we prefer it this way. Actually, Beer is the chef now, so the kitchen belongs to him [laughs]. I’m happy to have just one side of it to myself, which is the pantry.
I had the idea of making the pantry look like a workshop, so I bought one of those trendy pegboards with shelves so that we can hang our mugs, snacks, and cooking utensils on it. I use the bar counter as well, but for baking. I bake occasionally, perhaps once a month, but whenever I do so, the counter becomes an island where I can prepare my ingredients.
On designing the dance studio
M: At first glance, most people would recognise this bedroom as my dance studio, but it’s also my home office. There’s a work desk in the corner where I stream live music sometimes as well, so this room is actually a multipurpose space. The pole is a portable model that can be retracted, so we didn’t have to do any drilling at all.
In terms of flooring options, we made some tweaks so that the space would be suitable for dancing. Instead of tiles, we chose to have vinyl – not just for this room – but also the rest of the bedrooms so there would be a softer feel underfoot.
About the common bathroom’s revamp
M: For the common bathroom, I wanted a look that’s slightly different, yet still in line with whole dark concept in the other spaces. I happened to chance upon these mermaid scale tiles – which Beer and our designer rejected initially – but I managed to convince them that they would work as a feature wall in the shower area.
I was going for a hotel-like vibe here that would make our guests feel comfortable, which is why we have a lighted-up mirror as well as a minimalist undermount sink and cabinet as well – all of these elements create a look that’s easy on the eye.
On the master bedroom and en suite’s makeover
M: The layout of our bedroom is fairly simple, there’s a walk-in wardrobe at the side and our sleeping area, but after living here for a few months, we realised that it works really well for us. With the wardrobe at the side, it ensures the sleeping area stays dark even when I turn on the bathroom lights; it’s useful because I usually wake up earlier than Beer, so this way, he doesn’t get disturbed.
There’s also a small desk and display area at the front of the bed; I wanted to turn it into a full vanity, but it would be redundant since I do my morning preparations in the bathroom most of the time.
The master bathroom is meant for the both of us, and it’s Bali-inspired; all of the wall and floor tiles have a rocky, rustic feel that reminds us of our holidays there. There are also some wood elements mixed in like the panelled shelves. If you notice, the shelves have a ledge that prevents our potted plants from falling over.
B: There’s just one thing I want to say – it’s my first time having a bidet cover in a bathroom, it’s really useful and I recommend every homeowner to get one [laughs].
To sum up
M: It’s exciting being a first-time homeowner, the entire journey from choosing a designer to deciding on materials was an eye-opener. I’m a visual person and what I really like about working with Urban Home Design is that they were really thorough in their plans and mock-ups, so that everything was done according to our preferences.
B: If I were to come up with an analogy – finding an interior designer is like dating. You start off all nervous at the beginning, you aren’t sure about your options, you don’t know if you should confess. Then meeting your designer is like dating, you’ve to communicate to find out if you’re the best match for each other. Then lastly, signing the contract is like finalising your relationship, and that’s where honesty comes in.
With Urban Home Design, especially with our designer Ken, the entire working process was transparent. We were able to have open discussions, which allayed our fears about the renovation and helped us differentiate good ideas from bad ones – and that allowed us to turn our house into what it is now: a home that we love.
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