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A Vinyl Collection Gave Rise to This Cheery BTO Home for Two

A vibrant colour scheme and customised built-ins set this BTO home apart from the rest.

Conveying your personality through a home can be a challenging endeavour, especially if you don’t have any ideas on how to do so – and for Mr. and Mrs. Zhang, the owners of this vibrant Tampines BTO flat, it was only after meeting Third Avenue Studio designers, Edwin and Janine, that they finally found the inspiration they needed.

“The only renovation requirement my wife and I had was to keep the carpentry to a minimum,” says Mr. Zhang, who is an avid collector of vinyl records. “It didn’t even dawn on us to use our record collection as part of the décor until we met up with our designers.”

Tampines North Drive 1 by Third Avenue Studio
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Mr Zhang’s vinyl records are now proudly displayed in the living room – but it certainly isn’t the only highlight indoors because there’s much more that Third Avenue Studio did to take the entire flat from cookie-cutter to showstopper. Keep scrolling for the full home tour!

About themselves

Mrs. Zhang (Mrs. Z): Growing up, the both of us have been living in the East, so we didn’t want to be in a neighbourhood that’s too far North, like Punggol.

We did try for more central locations as well. We also managed to get a unit at Tampines GreenRidges. But because we wanted a bigger living room, we ended up settling on a 5-room home at Tampines North Drive.

tampines hdb bto home renovation
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The home’s layout, pre-renovation. Red circle indicates where the wall had been partially removed for the couple’s wardrobe.

On changes made to the living room

Mr. Z: When we first met our designers, Edwin and Janine, we didn’t really have a style in mind. In fact, Edwin told us that we didn’t do our homework because we weren’t sure [laughs]. So, they asked us about the features we wanted and started conceptualising our home based on what we told them.

Tampines North Drive 1 by Third Avenue Studio
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To highlight the display shelf, Mr. and Mrs. Zhang had the surrounding walls and ceiling painted as well.

One thing that Edwin immediately homed in on was my vinyl collection; he proposed to make it the main focus in the living room, which we thought was a great recommendation because that would allow us to convey our personality through our home.

Tampines North Drive 1 by Third Avenue Studio
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The couple didn’t opt for any tiles when they bought their flat as they wanted a herringbone floor. “We were planning on going to shop for wood grain tiles, but our interior designers went to Hafary and picked out samples for us instead,” shared Jay. “We ended up with these ones that give the living room a rustic look.”

Mrs. Z: The living room has a somewhat ‘mismatched’ look because we bought our furnishings separately.

If you notice we have no dining table in the home because it would probably be under-utilised or simply used to put things on it. That's why our designers recommended this coffee table from Spaceman. It's a rather versatile find and it often doubles as our dining table because the height is adjustable and the top is extendable.

On changes made to the kitchen

Mrs. Z: I wasn't a huge fan of the traditional kitchen design where the cabinets are against the wall and you have the kitchen hob in the recess between the cabinets — I always thought it was a bit old-school.

Luckily for us, Edwin and Janine recommended a central island with a sink and hob built in. We thought that was a really refreshing idea!

Mr. Z: Because our sink is in the centre, the entire kitchen had to be built on a platform to conceal the running pipes; but we didn’t mind it since it also separates the space from the rest of the house.

Tampines North Drive 1 by Third Avenue Studio
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“We saw these blue subway tiles at Hafary ourselves, which we wanted to incorporate it into the design,” shared Jay. “Edwin and Janine suggested that we use them in the kitchen, and that’s how our accent wall came to be.”

Mr. Z: Our designers also suggested building in storage niches into the island. Initially, the idea was to use them to store recipe books, but because they ended up a bit deeper, we could display bottles, bowls and other utensils within them.

On changes made to the master bedroom

Mr. Z: For the master bedroom, we went for a more regular pattern instead of using herringbone flooring like in the communal areas. It’s because we wanted to cut down on renovation costs and also it doesn’t make much sense to have ‘feature’ flooring in a space that’s mostly covered by furniture.

Tampines North Drive 1 by Third Avenue Studio
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Like the living room furniture, the bedframe was also customised. “We were thinking of buying the bedframe from MUJI but ended up getting it from Second Charm because it gave us the freedom to design it to our liking,” shared Mr. Zhang.

Mrs. Z: We needed a wardrobe too, and we think what Third Avenue Studio proposed was a great idea. There was originally a wall facing the bed, but it was knocked down and a wardrobe was built in its place.

To us, this was a quite a smart idea not only because it saves space, but also because other designers would have suggested having a L-shaped cabinet in the corner instead.

On changes made to their bathrooms

Mr. Z: Here’s a titbit – I hate white bathrooms. In fact, I dislike them so much that whenever I travel, I’d check to see if the hotel’s bathrooms are white. If they are, I wouldn’t book the room [laughs]. Why? I just think that keeping them in pristine condition requires a lot more effort compared to other colours, which is why the HDB one had to go.

It’s because of this that Edwin and Janine had to bring us tile samples from Hafary to choose from, including the long and narrow yellow ones that are now used in our bathrooms. At first, I couldn’t really wrap my head around how they would look like, but my wife convinced me to give it a try.

tampines hdb bto home renovation
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The en suite (left) and the common bathroom (right). The couple also installed glass partitions and shower screens to separate the wet and dry areas.

Mrs. Z: The bathrooms’ designs were suggestions by Edwin and Janine – if you look closely, you’ll realise that our en suite and common bathroom are mirror opposites of each other. It’s half green-and-yellow in our en suite, and then half yellow-and-green in our common bathroom.

About working with Third Avenue Studio

Mrs. Z: We submitted a quote request through Qanvast, and Third Avenue Studio was one of the first few design firms to reach out to us, and the first ones that we met.

Mr. Z: Out of all the five firms that were recommended, we only met two others; the third was sourced on our own while browsing through Qanvast. All four were more affordable, but their designs were quite typical. And by the time, we went for our second appointment with Third Avenue Studio, they were no longer on our list.

Tampines North Drive 1 by Third Avenue Studio
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Mrs. Z: We also thought that Third Avenue Studio was more professional – they’d even provided us with 3D drawings (on the second meeting) showcasing the entire concept of our home, without us first having to pay a deposit for their renovation services.

Mr. Z: Due to that, we felt that Third Avenue Studio was much more professional, and they could be trusted to get the job done.

Tampines North Drive 1 by Third Avenue Studio
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Mrs. Z: Our renovation turned out to be very fuss-free. From buying appliances/furniture to the actual renovation work, we didn’t have to lift a finger because our designers would arrange and handle almost everything.

Mr. Z: I think that’s why I would say not to focus too much on price when finding an interior designer for your renovation – trust is more important.

Third Avenue Studio wasn’t the cheapest option, but their service was worth every cent. I have friends who have worked with interior designers who either went uncontactable during their renovations or tried to take the easy way out by bluffing.

Of course, everyone wants to save, but if there’s someone you can trust, don’t be too bothered about the price tag.

Now's a good time as any to get started on your renovation plans!

Many Singapore homeowners have had to put their renovations on hold due to COVID-19 BUT that doesn't mean you can't start planning for yours now.

Ironing out the kinks in your home makeover plan will enable it to proceed smoothly once circumstances improve, so if you’d like some professional help let us know and we'll link you up with local interior firms that offer virtual consultations!

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