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An Open-Concept Kitchen Layout Revived This 20-Year-Old Flat

December 18, 2019

BTO flats with restrictive layouts were a big no-no to them, which is why Jay and Jolene got themselves a Bukit Batok resale apartment.

“For both Jay and I, we’re both very used to living in larger homes, so the idea of living in a smaller BTO didn’t really appeal to us all that much,” says Jolene when asked about why she and her husband chose to make their first home in a 5-room resale flat in Bukit Batok. “Plus, we had ideas that wouldn’t work in a smaller space.”

bukit batok hdb renovation singapore

Interior Firm: Happe Design Atelier

These plans included having an open-concept kitchen, equipped with a long kitchen island. “We enjoy hosting a lot and that’s why it matters that we have such a flexible cooking space,” Jolene explains.

To find out more about their home and the subsequent $60,000 overhaul, we sat down with the couple for a quick morning chat.

About themselves and their home

Jolene (Jo): I’m Jolene and I live with my husband, Jay, in this 5-room resale flat. I’m a pre-school teacher and he’s a production supervisor. Our space planning very much revolves around creating an open kitchen – it’s really a must for us as we like to cook, bake and host.

Bukit Batok Street 24 by Happe Design Atelier

Instead of using tempered glass, which they did not like, Jay and Jolene decided to use subway tiles for their kitchen backsplash.

Jay (J): Despite it being 20-years old, this flat had the most potential in terms of layout. Of course, the details were a little dated and didn’t suit our tastes at all so we decided to renovate (laughs).

bukit batok hdb renovation singapore

The home's layout, pre-renovation.

On changes made

Jo: Like most old homes, the kitchen used to be an enclosed space and that meant that it was fairly dark too – there was only one window (at the back) that let the light in. Obviously, not the look that we were going for, so we took down a wall outside where the island is now.

bukit batok hdb renovation singapore

The home's layout, post-renovation.

Jo: That opened up the space but would also mean the service yard becomes visible and it can get messy sometimes. So, to solve the issue, we built a screen with fluted glass to hide the laundry and washing machine.

Bukit Batok Street 24 by Happe Design Atelier

J: The newly opened space also gave us the opportunity to build in a longer island – a 9-feet (2.7m) one in our case.

Bukit Batok Street 24 by Happe Design Atelier

Jo: One of the very first things we decided on was the kitchen’s colour scheme. We chose a deep blue for our cabinets – an easy reno choice for us since Jay prefers darker colours.

J: I personally think that the bright and airy look is too mainstream, so the idea of using white throughout the home didn’t interest me at all – that’s why we have pops of colour like blue, grey and black.

Bukit Batok Street 24 by Happe Design Atelier

Jo: Still, we didn’t want to have too many colours coming into play, so the same shade of blue was used on our feature wall. I think it’s a nice but subtle way to call back to the kitchen as well.

The original flat doesn’t have a storeroom, which meant that we had to look for other ways to store our essentials and fish tanks. We got around it by building additional cabinetry into the living room – in white this time.

Bukit Batok Street 24 by Happe Design Atelier

J: While renovating the house, we found out that the pillar beside the living room was unhackable. To make it look like it’s part of the space, we put together a lounge area by building in a raised platform.

Bukit Batok Street 24 by Happe Design Atelier

Jo: To make it even more useful, we decided to attach some shelves and a settee with storage cabinets.

Jo: The new bedroom layout is quite unique. There were two separate rooms, the master and a smaller one, we decided to join them together for more space. To do that, we had to knock down a small section of wall between both rooms and push out the master bedroom’s door to the corridor.

Bukit Batok Street 24 by Happe Design Atelier

Jo: The walk-in wardrobe is still a work-in-progress though. We were thinking of moving more things in after we settle down.

J: We went with fabric-look tiles for the master bathroom because they look really unique. We spent 3 hours at Hafary before we found them, and we were really glad that we did. Another thing that we wanted was a shower screen to keep wet and dry area separate.

Bukit Batok Street 24 by Happe Design Atelier

On working with Happe Design Atelier’s Kelvyn and David

Jo: We got to know about Happe Design Atelier through Qanvast – actually we saw a few projects that we liked and that’s what prompted us to reach out to them. Though we had heard from a few ID companies, Kelvyn and David were the sincerest – they put in a lot of effort to come out with a lot of drawings and layout ideas based on our likes. David was especially prompt in searching for ideas and giving us references.

Bukit Batok Street 24 by Happe Design Atelier

J: We had many ideas for the home and it was fairly hard to put them all together, but Kelvyn and David didn’t say no – they worked around them instead, and we really appreciated that.

Bukit Batok Street 24 by Happe Design Atelier

Jo: The whole renovation was a very smooth experience for us – they managed the timeline well, helped us keep track of the little details and were very responsive. So yeah, it was great for us since it took the weight off our shoulders and gave us more time for other commitments.

To sum up

Jo: I’d like to say that we stuck to our budget, but we didn’t quite do so. There are things that crop up during the renovation where you will have to spend a little bit more – like say if certain materials are swapped out along the way. I think that’s why it’s best to leave a little bit of buffer, especially if you’re renovating a resale unit like us.

J: We actually used Qanvast for a rough gauge – renovation prices are stated on the project listings, which really helped us to filter out our list of IDs too.

Jo: You should also find out your needs and wants first before you meet an ID, otherwise it’ll be more difficult for them to narrow down a style for you.

It's time for a complete revamp!

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