Behind the Cosy Makeover of a Once-Tacky Flat in Cantonment
With its cosy combination of tans and modern furnishings, Desmond and Lynn’s Scandinavian-inspired flat may seem like the perfect couple’s nest – but it didn’t always look like this.
“We were hunting for a home in the Chinatown area, and that was when we chanced upon this unit at the Pinnacle@Duxton. Everything about it was great, except for the colours and fittings.” says Desmond. “In fact, the first thing we noticed was the purple-and-orange scheme, which was to say the least, outstanding.”
Realising that they were still some way short of achieving their dream nest, the couple approached design firm Meter Square for help with a complete home makeover. For the ins-and-outs of the entire transformation process, read on!
About their home’s original look
Desmond (D): When we first started, the space was mostly in purple. Maybe it was in vogue five years ago? That certainly had to go. The entryway was quite cluttered as well, which wasn’t the way we liked it. I think there was a large shoe cabinet there and it took up much of the space.
Lynn (L): There was also a platform in the living room. I believe that it’s for better viewing, but to be honest, it doesn’t look aesthetically pleasing at all. The kitchen also had plenty of carpentry around it and they were painted in a bright, reddish orange. It was so cramped, and the colours didn’t help either.
About their home’s new look
D: Before the renovation even took place, the first thing that Lynn and I both agreed on was to have a Scandinavian look for the place. We had went through many photos of homes with different styles, and what stood out to us (about the Scandinavian look) was how it emphasised the use of light hues and natural materials, which we really liked.
L: However, we were aware that there were certain elements that we couldn’t include because of the lack of space. For instance, it’s easy to bring out a ‘tall’ look in a home with high ceilings, but that’s hard to do in an HDB flat. We also weren’t really strict with applying Scandinavian decor principles and elements to the space, so long it looked well put together and matched our vision.
On renovation works performed
L: In general, there were a lot of things about the original flat that had to go. We opened up the kitchen, so there was plenty of hacking there. All of the walls were torn down, save for the one that’s next to the stove.
The same applies for the flooring in the living room, bathrooms and kitchen. Also, there was a partition between the master bedroom and the adjacent study that we tore down to expand the space. The only thing that we didn’t change was the bedroom’s parquet flooring, which we felt was still in relatively good condition.
On buying furniture for their home
L: We bought our furniture from various places. some were from local stores like King Living, Ethnicraft, and Blafink, others we brought back from our overseas trips.
For example, our dining set was purchased during a furniture exhibition at Singapore Expo, it’s a special, made-in-Germany piece that has a ceramic top, which is resistant to heat. However, the supplier mainly provides furniture to hotels, so they are kind of off-the-grid when it comes to regular consumers.
The living room’s standing lamp and the fish-shaped mobile that you see hanging above the kitchen are from Finland, which we visited after our renovation. Carrying them back by hand was hard!
About working with Meter Square
D: We worked with Daphne of Meter Square. She has a good eye for what (idea) works and what doesn’t. She’s also very direct, yet tactful about her suggestions.
For example, at the start, we thought of closing off the kitchen with glass, but Daphne pointed out that it would look too clunky and that we would lose access to the kitchen counter from the walkway’s direction due the barrier. After some thought, we realised she was right, and we scrapped the idea.
About renovation challenges encountered
L: Besides the furniture, we also needed to shop for big ticket items like electrical appliances. And to be frank, I underbudgeted for those items.
Other than that, the bathroom was also a challenge due to the amount of debris that had to be cleared, and also because we wanted a change in tile colours. Fortunately, Daphne was around to assist as she visited tile showrooms with us to give us a better idea of our options.
Their favourite spaces at home, post-renovation
L: Our favourite space is definitely the living room, it’s just the right size and there’s enough space for easy movement. Both Desmond and I spend plenty of time here, and we haven’t gotten bored of it yet.
I also like the green elements present, we previously wanted to have a vertical garden installed at the front of the space, but we started questioning ourselves as to whether it would be a good investment at the end of the day. In the end, we settled for faux greenery as it would be hassle-free to maintain, plus it wouldn’t break the bank either.