A Cosy HDB Flat That Doesn’t Give Concrete the Cold Shoulder
When homeowner Juvenal Chan first started brainstorming about the look of her new 5-room flat at Anchorvale Crescent, which she shares with her husband See Wei Jie, she had her doubts about adopting a modern-industrial theme.
“Wei Jie’s the one who’s keen on the cement screed idea, but I wasn’t buying into it because I felt it would look too cold,” she said.
Fortunately for the young couple, a simple solution was found in contemporary wall art as well as a cornucopia of potted greens, which helped offset the dullness of having just a grey-washed backdrop at home.
“It also helps that we’ve an open living space,” Juvenal explained. “This way, we don’t feel boxed in that much.”
(From left to right, homeowner Juvenal and Yong Ping, her interior designer from Free Space Intent.)
Juvenal (J): Hello, I am Juvenal, and I am a teacher. After we got married in January this year, I moved into this home with my husband Wei Jie, so it’s been more than 6 months since we started living here.
On the look and feel of their home
J: For me, a home has to be functional, first and foremost. But I also like it to be a space that allows us to wind down after a day at work – that’s why we’ve plenty of light and very little clutter around.
About their home’s layout
J: Overall, the layout is very simple. In the bedroom, there’s just the bed and the wardrobe. There’s no TV either, because we wanted it to be a space that’s purely for rest. For the other two rooms, one has been converted into a home gym, and the other is temporarily being used as a storeroom.
We don’t have much built-in cabinetry either, but there’s enough so that we can store our belongings neatly while giving us ample space to move about freely.
On renovation must-haves
J: Both Wei Jie and I wanted the flow between the kitchen and living room to be seamless, which is why we opted to have no walls (between them). Coming home to a nice, open space everyday really cheers us up.
We also needed a place to host our friends when they come over, and the cement screed island in the kitchen—which was Wei Jie’s idea – is perfect for gathering around.
Then there’s our decision to use cement screed for the bathroom walls; keeping them mould-free is a constant worry, but because they go so well with the rest of the house, we feel that the maintenance is worth the effort.
On renovation works performed
J: Although most of our ideas came to fruition, we had a small change in plans for the living room wall behind the TV. Initially, we wanted to cover it with cement screed, but because of an indent where the flat’s column and pillar met, we were advised against doing so by our designer, Yong Ping, because of cracks potentially occurring in the future.
So, in the end, we decided to seal the indent up and paint it white. Personally, I prefer it this way too, because the house would look too dark if it’s all in grey.
Another major project done was the kitchen island, which I had the opportunity to see being built bit-by-bit with bricks.
About the renovation process
J: The renovation took place at the same time as we were planning for our wedding, so it was pretty stressful handling two major events. The silver lining was that we had started our search for an interior designer some time back – maybe half a year or more, before we collected the keys.
That gave us ample time to meet Free Space Intent and Yong Ping to revise our plans; working with her was reassuring as there’s close communication, plus she’s always around to take care of any on-site issues.
For example, we originally wanted to have terrazzo tiles in the bathroom, but because the supplier told us that it would be too slippery, and we were busy, Yong Ping then hunted for ceramic lookalikes on our behalf and sent us photos to help us make a decision.
On the challenges they faced
J: For us, the main challenge was the tight timeline. It was a little rushed towards the end because we had to perform ‘an chuang’, which is a Chinese ritual to ‘set up’ the couple’s bed – and that meant the floor had to be ready for the bed to be moved in.
If the epoxy coating on the (cement) floor wasn’t sufficiently dry, there would have been drag marks all over. Luckily for us, there was sufficient buffer time in-between, which allowed us to have the bed delivered at a later date.
There was also an issue with visible footprints on the floor, but Yong Ping managed to fix it by getting her contractor to polish off the affected portions and screeding them again.
About working with Free Space Intent
J: We got to know about Free Space Intent through Qanvast. We used the website a lot before the renovation, and we’d often visit it for fresh inspiration.
From there, we met up with Free Space Intent, and Yong Ping was assigned as our designer. Yong Ping was on task about her job and was easily contactable whenever we needed her advice.
Also, she was very understanding about our renovation timeline and our budget, which we had to carefully manage because of wedding expenses.
On their home furniture and décor
J: We got our furniture from Commune, which we feel are very sleek and of good quality.
When we were out shopping, we kept a look out for stylish wooden pieces that would add warmth to the surroundings, and it just so happened that Commune had a matching herringbone-style dining table and TV console available.
There’s also the sideboard near the main entrance that’s from Commune as well, we got it after moving in because we felt that area looked too empty.
Favourite part of their home
J: I really like the living area, because there’s so much more going on here than the other rooms.
I also really like the kitchen because of the accent tiles that were installed as part of the flooring. For Wei Jie, it’s definitely the kitchen island because it’s his brain child. [laughs]
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