In more ways than one, this revamped home is a fresh start for this family of three.
When Peter and Gene purchased and renovated this 5-room Punggol HDB flat last year, they had a clear goal in mind: To transform it from a lived-in space to the perfect first dwelling for their (then) soon-to-be family of three.
“For us, it’s a ‘home-of-firsts’ in more than ways than one, so it had to be done right,” says Peter, a freelance hairstylist. “It’s our first HDB flat, our first renovation, and it’s also the first home that our son will be growing up in.”
Subsequently, by working closely with interior design firm Stylemyspace, the couple succeeded in creating a comfortable space for themselves that’s full of natural light, useful features, and just about everything a family would need and want in an HDB home. Read on to find out more about their renovation journey!
About themselves and their home
Gene (G): I’m a clinic consultant at an aesthetics clinic and Peter is a freelance hairstylist. We’ve been working hard for the past 10 years to achieve our dream of getting a home for ourselves. I also hope to be a full-time mother someday, so that I can fully focus on taking care of our son Yang Zhe and give him the best start in life.
Peter (P): I’d say that our home is a good match for our needs – it’s large, which is great because both Gene and I prefer a more spacious home, and more importantly, it’s a space of our own.
It was pretty much love at first sight when our real estate agent brought us to Punggol Sapphire. We immediately took a liking to the garden downstairs and the overall convenience of the location.
About finding their HDB flat in Punggol
P: We first started looking for a resale HDB flat near Tiong Bahru, then Toa Payoh and Havelock, but the homes we saw weren’t a good fit for us. We then searched for a suitable 2-room condominium apartment in neighbourhoods such as Upper Serangoon and Buangkok, but that didn’t come to fruition either.
We had mentioned some requirements to our agent and this unit met most of them. For instance, it has large windows that give us a good view in the living room, but at the same time, it isn’t too close to neighbouring blocks, so that gives us ample privacy.
G: What really convinced us to settle down in Punggol, instead of more mature estates like Toa Payoh and Tiong Bahru, was the number of amenities that cater to young families here. For example, there’s a My First Skool childcare centre right downstairs where we live and there are supermarkets nearby too.
In a way, finding out about these facilities was a highlight in our flat-hunting journey because that’s when it became clear to us that HDB towns are built to the profiles of their residents such that their needs are met.
On the perks of living in Punggol
P: I’m quite an active person, so Punggol Sapphire is a great choice for me because I’m able to run or bike freely in neighbouring areas like Punggol Waterway Park and Coney Island. They’re also linked to the Park Connector Network, which is great if I feel like having a longer exercise session.
Once, before moving to Punggol, I came here to train for a marathon, and I remember thinking to myself that this was an excellent neighbourhood for exercise. So, I guess that particular experience contributed to our decision to live here as well.
G: For me, I really like Punggol Waterway Park as well as the walking/cycling paths and bridges in the vicinity of Oasis Terraces.
Punggol truly is an eco-town; there’s plenty of greenery everywhere, not just at these two locations, and I feel closer to nature whenever I go on walks. I also enjoy taking Yang Zhe on strolls downstairs; there are certainly some nice gardens here.
In terms of facilities, there’s a good variety around our estate; I have noticed there are dedicated fitness corners for the elderly. As for wet markets, there’s one at Punggol Plaza and even more in neighbouring towns like Sengkang and Hougang.
Getting around is easy as well. Our home is close to Punggol MRT station and it’s on the North-East line, which I used almost every day when I was still living at Farrer Park. Peter is familiar with it too because we often travel to Potong Pasir for fish head bee hoon [laughs].
On the entryway and living room’s makeover
P: As a hairstylist, I’m quite particular about colours and I wanted our home to look clean visually, but not necessarily minimalist. For these reasons, we settled on a blue-and-white look that our interior designer Addison proposed.
Originally, we considered having green accents, but our Fengshui master advised against it. I also didn’t want black accents because the salon I work at has a black-and-white look and that would remind me of work all the time.
G: Personally, I’d describe the living room’s design as simple but timeless, and there’s also some subtle detailing in the form of textured laminates. I firmly believe that there’s beauty to be found in simplicity, but at the same time, a cookie-cutter look isn’t something we wanted.
P: One way that Stylemyspace made our living room stand out more was by creating a strong focal point with the cosy corner and the long stretches of windows that our flat has.
The cosy corner’s platform was a feature that the previous owner left behind. Initially we thought about demolishing the entire structure, but Addison told us it would be a waste, so we had the corner refreshed by painting it in my favourite shade of blue and adding a divider.
Originally, I wanted the cosy corner to have a MUJI-esque look, but that wouldn’t match the rest of the living room, so I gave up on this design idea. Sometimes, you just have to give and take.
We also requested Addison to build us a new TV console that would ensure our living room stays neat and tidy; it helps to hide all of our cable clutter as well as entertainment devices. The new cabinet at the entryway serves a similar purpose as well, because it stores our shoes and also conceals the DB box.
On changes made to the dining area
P: Before moving here, we didn’t have the luxury of having personal spaces, so whenever we had paperwork to do, we’d have to do it at the dining table. So, even though we have private areas of our own now, one of our must-haves was a large dining table because we’re used to having ample working space. Plus, it would create a sense of familiarity in our home.
G: We bought our dining table from The Furniture Mall. When I saw this table, it was pretty much love at first sight; the tabletop is made of limestone and the frame is walnut wood, so it’s a fairly unique piece.
There’s also a shelf behind the dining area that we requested to be installed. We intend to fill it up with photos to form a collage, which will always remind us of all of the good times we spend together as a family.
About the kitchen’s renovation
P: It might not be the most practical design choice, but I chose not to have a door for the kitchen entrance because it would feel more spacious without one. It isn’t a problem for us when we’re doing heavy cooking, because all we have to do is open the yard door and windows for ventilation.
One detail that took slightly longer for us to figure out was the layout. Gene uses the kitchen often because she cooks at home regularly, so the measurements between the sink, hob and preparation counter had to be perfect.
The idea to have a glass accent lamp at the counter was given by Addison; I bought and fixed the lamp up by myself and he was the one who guided me through the installation process.
G: Speaking of fixtures, I wanted to have even more storage cabinets in the kitchen. What we have now is sufficient, but I think there’s going to even more stuff piling up, especially since we have a child now. (laughs)
About the common bathroom’s new look
P: I’m of the opinion that a common bathroom should look like a common bathroom (laughs), so there’s nothing over the top here. But at the same time, it’s also one of the spaces in the house that I’m most proud of because I had a hand in designing it.
The bathroom vanity is from IKEA, and I tried my best to match the fittings in a way to create a European farmhouse look. Also, we took quite some time to find our bathroom mirror; it was quite pricey, but we bought it in the end because it fits in the space perfectly.
On renovating the master bedroom and en suite
P: The junior and master bedrooms haven’t changed much, but one thing that we made sure to do was to install new wardrobes in both of them. Currently, the junior bedroom is where we have our son’s cot, but in a way, it’s also my wife’s walk-in closet because of the large wardrobe there.
We wanted a more elegant look and feel for the wardrobes, but at the same time, we didn’t want them to appear too overwhelming. I’d say that the most distinctive feature about these built-ins are their customised metallic handles, because they stand out against the wood-look doors.
Also, to create the chevron and slanted patterns on the wardrobes, Addison had to trim and align the wood laminates first before sticking them on. It might sound simple, but this process requires precision and craftsmanship.
G: The en suite is just the way I wanted it; it’s a space where I’m able to unwind in after a long day. To give it a vibe that’s similar to a hotel or spa’s bathroom, I deliberately chose wall tiles with a more rustic, stone-like finishing, even though that makes maintenance harder.
There’s a saying that ‘there’s beauty in imperfection’, so even though these tiles have natural indentations, these ‘flaws’ are what make our en suite perfect to me.
To sum up
P: I’m really satisfied. I’ve no complaints about the experience and the results. Our budget was maximised to the fullest, and we got what we wanted, whether it’s practical built-ins or an aesthetic that’s to our taste. Thanks to Addison and Stylemyspace’s help, we now have an HDB flat that we can comfortably live in as a family.
G: I think even if we were to move elsewhere, this flat will be the one that I’ll remember the most. After all, it’s where our first baby will be growing up in, and it’s also where I’ll be learning how to be a full-time stay-at-home mother for the very first time. So yes, it’ll always hold a special place in my heart.
This renovation journey home feature was brought to you in collaboration with MyNiceHome, HDB’s official website for all things related to home buying and renovation in Singapore!