Having minimal built-ins, sleek furnishings, and the right material palette helped too.
Depending on how you view it, art can be either for its own sake or it’s a medium through which history, culture and tradition is conveyed. For homeowner Yan Yi, it was the latter that inspired her to find ways of incorporating her family’s collection into their newly renovated home at Aspen Heights.
“We have a number of oil and ink paintings, most are decorative accents, but some were done by a local artist and they depict what life was like during the kampong days,” shares Yan Yi, “I wanted them displayed around the house because they’ll give my kids a sense of how things were like back then, and maybe, gain an appreciation for local art and history.”
That said, Yan Yi’s apartment wasn’t just designed by Space Atelier to be the perfect gallery setting as its classic interior is also a study in how to create a family home that feels relaxed and personal – keep scrolling and you’ll see why!
About herself and her home
Yan Yi (YY): My husband and I have three kids – 3, 5, and 7 – so we were looking for a bigger space for them to grow up in and we found this place last year. We lived in a 5-room HDB unit previously but moving here helped because there are four bedrooms, which makes future-proofing easier.
Decor-wise, we wanted something that was more timeless. This is our second renovation, and what we learned from our previous experience was that if we wanted to change up the look (of our home) over time, we’d need something simpler. Something with fewer built-ins and a more neutral palette with dark contrasts.
Going for a more minimalist look also helps draw attention to our paintings instead of the surroundings and it’s through them that the character of our home is conveyed.
About the entryway
YY: One of the key decisions that we had to make about the renovation was whether we wanted the wall facing the main entrance – which is also beside the kitchen – to be taken down because that would give us an open-concept space. But eventually, we decided that having a closed kitchen would be more practical for our cooking needs.
To make the entryway more welcoming, we hung up a painting of blue wisteria flowers and added an overhead lamp to put emphasis on it. Personally, I think the space looks more impressive now and it leaves a good first impression on our guests.
About the living and dining areas
YY: The living area has no built-ins at all – all of the furnishings are loose, and we deliberately chose minimalist pieces because we found that streamlined homes with no frills appealed more to us. Basically, the only spot with a slightly different colour is the wall behind the TV, and even so, it’s hard to notice and follows the overall theme.
For the living area, we added a carpet to give the space a softer feel and we bought a dark wood coffee table and TV console to match; our sofa is from King Living and it’s perfect to ‘chillax’ on after a hard day at work.
Overall, there aren’t any big structural changes for the living and dining area, but there’s a storeroom beside the dining table, which we wanted to be flushed with the wall facing the main door. We had to extend the overhead false ceiling a little to make that possible, but it’s worth it because the storeroom’s exterior now looks cleaner and sleeker.
We also managed to find a flexible alternative to nailing our paintings to the wall; there’s this gallery at Paragon called White Space Art Asia which we patronise, and we noticed that their space always looks different on every visit, so we asked the owner how that’s possible.
It turns out that they were using concealed tracks to change the positions of their paintings, and we thought it was a good idea to get them too because we won’t ever have to drill holes in the walls. The suspension strings are also quite unobtrusive, which is another plus.
About the kitchen
YY: The kitchen I used to have was one-third the size of the current one, so it’s a lot more spacious here. And it’s also part of the reason why we kept our kitchen closed because that would give us more wall space to maximise with kitchen cabinets.
If you look closely, you’ll see that there’s a two-panel door at the end of the kitchen – that’s the delivery entrance, which most older condominiums have. We don’t use it, so we sealed it off and turned the space into a kitchen store with shelves.
Also, all the cabinet laminates, including the ones outside the kitchen are EDL Fenix. It was the best option for us because it’s both fingerprint-proof and had colour choices that match the rest of the house.
About the master bedroom
YY: For the master bedroom’s renovation, it was pretty straightforward. The only thing that we put a lot of thought into was the lighting – we didn’t want bedside lamps because we wanted space on the sides. So, what we did was install downlights for the painting, which also function as ambient lighting.
We also decided to keep the existing parquet flooring because it’s what we prefer most. It’s not the most durable option, but I’m comfortable with some wear and tear.
About the master en suite
YY: I think the master bathroom is quite efficient because there’s room for two and there’s also a storage nook. Previously, there was a bathtub, but we converted it into a shower area instead. That also gave us the space to put in a glass wall around the WC, so there’s less interference if my husband and I are using the bathroom in the mornings.
Truth be told, the storage nook was above our requirements, but it’s something that’s good to have because it’s a convenient location to place our laundry basket. Our designer also suggested that we build some storage shelves in the corner to make it even more useful.
To sum up
YY: Like any renovation project, there are bound to be challenges along the way, but Jeff, who is our designer from Space Atelier, was able to sort things out quickly.
If there was anything that wasn’t built according to our expectations, Jeff would rectify it quickly, so our renovation was definitely in good hands. We also needed someone whom we could trust with the execution and project management, and I think he was the right person for that.
As a whole, the renovation process went smoother than we expected; this house is an old property and there could have been problems that we might not have foreseen, but the entire look and feel is definitely great now and we’re very comfortable living here.
Is it a good time to make renovation plans?
With the current COVID-19 situation, many Singapore homeowners have had to put their renovations on hold 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!