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A Time-Worn HDB Maisonette, Now a Uber-Cool Haven for Two

July 17, 2019
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With its double-sized bedroom and personal dance studio, this spacious retreat isn’t your typical maisonette

Taking a look at the warm, welcoming interior of this HDB maisonette in Hougang, you wouldn’t have guessed that it was previously an empty apartment with a worn out interior.

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“It’s an old property. I don’t have an exact figure, but it’s probably 20 years old or more,” shares Fifth Avenues Interior's Royston Ho who worked with fellow designer Cerine Wee to create the two-storey home's new look. “Aside from updating the house, we also upgraded the upper floor so that it would better suit the owners' lifestyle.”

Hougang by Fifth Avenue Interior
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Interior Firm: Fifth Avenue Interior

To find out more about the entire makeover, we had a chat with Royston about everything that took place behind the scenes.


About the design brief

Royston (R): The owners of the house are a young couple and they are both sporty individuals. Basically, they asked for a tidy, modern-minimalist home with chill out areas where they can work and play in.

Hougang by Fifth Avenue Interior
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On the overall aesthetic

R: To match the clean look, all the colours in the house were kept to neutrals. On top of that, dark wood was included as a warm contrast and to give the surroundings some cosiness.

On changes made

R: There are a couple of new features added to the balcony, living room and the kitchen.

Hougang by Fifth Avenue Interior
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For the living room, glass casement doors were added to partition the balcony area and we installed new vinyl flooring to replace the original floor tiles.

But aside from that, there wasn’t much else done so that we could keep the design of the space simple – it’s also why there isn’t much furniture here, just a modular sofa and a small study table.

Hougang by Fifth Avenue Interior
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On the other hand, the kitchen’s renovation was a little bit more extensive. It was opened up so that an island could be built there, which the owners use as an ‘office-style’ break area when they are working from home; I believe they actually spend more time (working) here than in the living room.

Hougang by Fifth Avenue Interior
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Moving on to the upper floor, that is where most of the renovation work took place.

When you go up the stairs and turn left, that’s where the dance studio is. The female homeowner is actually a pole dancing enthusiast and that’s where she practices.

Hougang by Fifth Avenue Interior
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Hougang by Fifth Avenue Interior
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This room was originally the master bedroom and there was a connected toilet. But because it has been sealed up, the dance studio is now its own space.

Hougang by Fifth Avenue Interior
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Towards the right of the upper floor’s stairway, there were two common bedrooms. Now, they are a single space. One half of it is a cosy corner that the owners use for movie nights; the other half is where the see-through wardrobe and bathroom are.

Hougang by Fifth Avenue Interior
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Hougang by Fifth Avenue Interior
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The toughest part about renovating the house was definitely combining the original master bathroom and common bathroom to create a larger en suite – that was quite tricky because we had to consult and update HDB on the works that were being done.

Hougang by Fifth Avenue Interior
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Hougang by Fifth Avenue Interior
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There was also the challenge of fitting in the bathtub and ensuring the waterproofing would work.

We eventually solved the space issue by extending the wall where the vanity is now outwards, so some of the original passageway (space) is now part of the bathroom.

On renovation challenges

R: Combining the two toilets on the second floor was definitely difficult, but constructing the bathroom downstairs was tough too.

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Before-and-after: The maisonette's original washing area, now an edgy, industrial-style bathroom.

Believe it or not, there was originally no toilet there; it was just a utility area where you could place a washing machine. To install the toilet bowl, we had to pipe out the sewage mains and create a new outlet so that a wall-hung model could be connected.

To sum up

R: I think the entire experience was quite eye-opening, mostly because it was challenging and there was plenty to learn.

Hougang by Fifth Avenue Interior
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However, the best bit of it all was working with the homeowners because they were really involved throughout the renovation. They were proactive about choosing the colours, lights, décor – all of that. And that's really the key to achieving a dream home because your decisions play a part in the final result.


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