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A Flat with a View Led to This Open, Nature Lovers’ HDB Home

Rustic wood, classy metallic accents and a great view turns this 5-room HDB home into a tranquil retreat for two.

There are loads of variables to consider when moving into your new home like its surroundings, for example. And in this instance, it became the one of the most important factors.

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View this project by Free Space Intent

“Old and mature estates certainly have their own appeal,” says Jillian when asked about why she chose to make her home in Edgedale Plains. “But my husband and I felt that this is the place to be.” Encircled by greenery with an unblocked view of the waterway, it’s no surprise why the nature lovers decided to settle down in such a serene location.

While situated in an idyllic setting, their flat itself was not as breezy nor as charming at first. To mirror its lush surroundings, the couple’s home had to undergo a few updates – read on to find out how it was changed!

About themselves

Jillian (J): Hi, I’m Jillian! I live with my husband plus our dog, a Jack Russell (who’s turning 14 in March), in this 5-room HDB flat. The two of us lead very busy lifestyles so it was very important for us to have a retreat, and we found it here – located on the eighth floor, the house offers an unblocked view of the waterway and the greenery. It’s just a really charming location, especially at night!

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About the home’s concept

J: We’re fairly social people, and we wanted our home to reflect that – loads of mobile furnishings and open, airy spaces with a bit of a rustic touch.

On changes made

J: I think the first thing people realise is that there’s no TV in our home – we wanted our home to be a space where cosier conversations take place, so we decided to remove that buffer. In its place, we have a customised bookshelf.

It is somewhat inspired by the one found at Hyatt Hotel’s business lounge, which they paired with a grey brick wall and under lights – it was very classy, clean and sleek. However, our interior designer Raymond advised against replicating it entirely – he told us that the brick wall will likely eat into our space (unless it’s plastered) and be hard to maintain.

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The mobile furnishings make it easy for Jillian to shift things around. This freedom adds to the home’s overall “light and breathable” approach.

J: However, instead of regular grid lines, Raymond customised an open-ended bookcase with random rows and columns. Though it seemed like a minor detail, this change made the living room appear bigger on a whole.

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J: It took a bit more effort to convince my husband to build a kitchen island – we had to hack down a kitchen wall in order to work that in, and he was a little worried about the cooking fumes. But, once I showed him Pinterest pictures of islands with integrated wine chillers and niches to store champagne, he was pretty much sold (laughs).

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The couple also decided on floating cabinetry to give the kitchen more of a weightless appearance. The gap also allows them to install lights to gently illuminate the area.

J: Keeping our cabinets handleless does give it a more seamless look, but there’s also a very practical reason for it – say, you’re standing that close to the table for prep work, it removes the irritating scraping sensations (laughs).

J: Because the home itself is so open, we used our flooring to demarcate the different areas; a wood-look vinyl that’s a little more greyish in the living room, white in the kitchen and beige in the bedroom.

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As it is a place of rest, Jillian decided on an earthier palette for the bedroom – a darker accent wall plus tan blinds accompany the beige wood-look floor.

J: We do work from home, which is why we converted one of the adjourning rooms into a mini office space. With such a great view over the waterway, the standing desk was an obvious choice for us; besides, my hubby prefers to work standing up anyway (laughs).

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J: I used to work in the sanitary business, so bathrooms are important to me. I see them as living spaces. When we renovated the bathrooms, the first things to go were the existing fittings.

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The master en suite (left) and the common bathroom (right) have distinct looks as the couple had different design tastes. “I wanted something clean and minimalist, while my hubby much preferred the rustic look, so we got both,” says Jillian.

J: The common bathroom’s design matches my husband’s preferences, so the tiles that we chose are somewhat similar to garden tiles, they’re hardy and anti-slip. Also, we got open shelves and a round sink that looks a bit like a rock to bring out that ‘garden-like’ look.

On her furnishings

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J: Oh, I’m a very big fan of Taylor B. In fact, one of our very first purchases is the set of red chairs you see in the living room. I’ve seen them in loads of magazines and big European homes. It has this broad base, and it looks really cushy. I was originally debating to get the teal, but my hubby talked me into getting the red ones instead – and it was a good decision, as it works really well with the rest of our décor.

On working with FSI

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J: I already knew of Raymond, he happens to be a good friend of my very good friend (laughs) – my friend's place was actually renovated by him, and it appeared in Straits Times. I was in talks with a few other IDs at the time, but the rapport with Raymond was the best.

And when it came to the actual renovation, he made a lot of things possible for us. While others might have said that certain features cannot be changed, he always asks, “Why can’t it be changed?”.

He was able to problem-solve too: remember the open shelves in the common bathroom? We had to cut out a hole in the KompacPlus board prior to fixing the mixer in place, but we realised that it left us with little to no room to wash our faces. Raymond thought to install it at an angle, which not only gave us more room but also covers the hole – and that saved us the hassle of having to redo it!

To sum up

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J: There are many IDs who offer a lifetime insurance on your renovation, and while that might sound nice, you should always take things like this with a pinch of salt – things are bound to break down anyway (laughs). I’d say working with people who are committed will benefit you in the long-run; if they are committed to it, it will show in the quality of work.

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