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A Family’s Simple Home, Built with Future Plans in Mind

A minimalist at heart and mother of three, Li Ying was faced with managing future-proofing goals and her style preferences. Here’s what she did to balance the two.

It doesn’t always have to do with designing a home, but the idea of ‘simple does best’ is a great mantra to follow – especially if you’re a minimalist at heart, or if you’ve plans for future makeovers in mind.

In the case of Li Ying, a full-time working mother of three, both of these premises apply. Having recently renovated her 5-room resale flat at Tampines Street with the help of AgcDesign, Li Ying conceptualised almost every room in the house to be clean, practical spaces that her children can grow up comfortably in.

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“They’re still young now, but I want to the house to be ready for when they get old enough to have their own rooms,” says Li Ying. Here’s what she did to future-proof her home for this purpose while keeping the entire look in line with her preferred aesthetic.

About her must-haves

Li Ying (LY): The new design was created mainly with my children in mind. As far as I know, 5-room HDB flats only come with 3 bedrooms, but because I wanted them to each have their own space eventually, we had to create an extra one. They’re still young, so two of these future bedrooms are being used as a playroom and study for now.

Another thing that’s important for us is storage. There’s plenty of it throughout the house so that we can keep things tidy and organised. Of course, maintenance still takes a lot of work, but at least we have places to set our belongings aside.

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On her home’s look

LY: In terms of looks, the basic idea was to create spaces with a clean base. The house can be quite messy at times, but if you were to take everything away, it’s really basic.

Aside from making me happy – because I am a minimalist at heart – keeping the rooms simple also provides my children with an empty canvas that they can work their ideas into. I guess you could say that this is a form of future-proofing too.

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About her home, post-renovation

LY: There were a few layout changes and the biggest ones took place in the kitchen and master bedroom.

The kitchen didn’t have an open concept look at first and there was only one entrance into the space. Also, there wasn’t enough room to accommodate the dining table and island either, but now it’s our ‘everyday space’ where the kids can have their meals and do their homework.

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For the inside of the kitchen, it was designed with my son in mind. I seldom cook because I am working full-time, but my son has an interest in cooking, and I wanted the kitchen to be a space where he can pursue his hobbies as he grows up.

There’s also a new built-in shelf in that’s intended to hold a microwave and other appliances, but because we don’t have one, I ended up using one of the storage nooks to store the kids’ schoolbags.

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For the master bedroom, the entrance was shifted. Originally, it was facing the central walkway, but because I didn’t like how the inside was visible from the living room, I requested for it to be enclosed by its own corridor, which gives us more privacy.

Another good thing about relocating the master bedroom entrance was that we now had a long stretch of space to work in storage solutions. We made use of it by building in a long wardrobe, with shelves, hanging rods, and a small work desk/reading nook hidden behind the mirror. Most of the house is for the kids, so I am left with just this small corner to myself! [laughs]

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About challenges encountered

LY: Aside from the walls peeling from age, we didn’t really encounter any major challenges renovating the house, even though it’s really quite old. I think it was completed in 1984, which makes it 35 years old this year.

We ended up re-plastering the walls to fix them, but at the same time we also decided to keep some of the more distinctive brick outlines because they looked interesting and added a rustic touch. We even decorated around some of the flaws to make it look as through Iron Man ‘punched’ through one of the play room’s walls.

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On getting to know AgcDesign

LY: We worked with Wai Tuck, who is our designer from AgcDesign. I got to know him through Qanvast’s recommendation service; I tried it because it was just more efficient to be matched with five interior designers from which I could narrow my focus down to one firm, instead of receiving more than 10 recommendations, which was my experience using other renovation platforms.

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On working with AgcDesign

LY: Right from the moment we met Wai Tuck, we felt that he was the right man for the job. First of all, he wasn’t pushy, some designers we met were forceful and even aggressive when presenting their ideas. In some cases, it was impossible to get in a word about what we wanted for our own home.

But for Wai Tuck, he had a very personal, old-school approach. Whenever we discussed our ideas, he would listen closely before sketching them onto a copy of the floor plan and changing things based on our input.

Also, he would always try his best to marry practicality and aesthetics. With him, you won’t have to pick between the two – and that’s what we liked about him, plus he’s helpful, good at his work, and is really understanding.

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To sum it up

LY: I just want to say that it’s important not to compromise. With the right help, it’s definitely possible to have your dream home and make it function the way you want it to.

Also, if you want to save in the long haul, do plan ahead. Back when we bought our first house, my husband and I didn’t plan for a future with kids. So, if you’ve found a good place that you intend to stay in, just know it’s worth spending the effort and money to create a home that’ll serve you well in the long run.

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