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Couple Turns 7 Year-Old HDB Flat into Cool Industrial Haven

July 7, 2021

It has all the elements of industrial interior design, including cement screed, exposed brick, and more!

At just seven years old, Sushian’s 5-room home at Punggol Sapphire is hardly as old as resale flats found in neighbouring mature estates like Potong Pasir and Serangoon. But one thing it shares in common with these (much) older properties is an internal layout that looks quite different from the floor plans of most modern-day BTO flats.

Punggol Sapphire HDB flat renovation

Interior Firm: The Interior Lab

“The layout is the reason why we bought it,” says Sushian about her home, which she lives in with her spouse, Rodney. “We felt it was quite different because it looks quite spacious, plus the household shelter isn’t located in the usual positions, like beside the kitchen or living room.”

Punggol Sapphire HDB flat renovation

The floor plan of Sushian and Rodney’s home, pre-renovation.

Since purchasing it last year, the couple have turned the 115 sqm flat into their personal haven, customising it with a variety of industrial-style accents and other attractive features, including an open-concept kitchen/dining area as well as a study room with steel-framed indoor windows.

To find out how the entire home makeover went, we sat down for a chat with Sushian!

About herself and her home

Punggol Sapphire by The Interior Lab

Sushian (S): It’s just my husband and I living here. There isn’t a particular reason why we chose an industrial look for our flat. We just like it and think that it isn’t a very commonly seen interior design style in Singapore.

I don’t recall any specific examples (of industrial-style homes) that caught my eye, but I remember seeing some on Qanvast, which I also used to get in contact with The Interior Lab.

Punggol Sapphire HDB flat renovation

The floor plan of Sushian and Rodney’s home, post-renovation.

I believe the block was completed in 2013. And because it’s a relatively modern HDB flat, there’s a household shelter indoors; it’s not really a downside for us because I wanted a storage area anyway.

I’d say that the biggest changes we made to the flat are opening up the kitchen as well as tearing down and re-building the study room’s walls. The entrance to the common bathroom has also been re-configured and the master bedroom was slightly expanded too.

On the kitchen and dining area’s makeover

Punggol Sapphire HDB flat renovation

The kitchen and yard before the renovation.

S: The kitchen was originally a closed-off space, and it had really normal-looking cabinets as well as a glass swing door that was facing towards the living room. The yard was also a separate area from the kitchen, so we asked for the partition between them to be hacked away. The same goes for the exterior walls (of the kitchen).

We wanted an open-concept kitchen because it matches our idea of a spacious home and would improve the flow in this part of the house. We can move quickly between the kitchen, yard, and dining area because the appliances are all flushed to the sides and there are no doors in the way.

Punggol Sapphire by The Interior Lab

For the dining area, we wanted it to be as welcoming as possible for our friends and family. Although there’s enough space to place our live edge dining table in the nook between the household shelter and the common bathroom, we decided to have it beside the kitchen island instead; the view is better here and there’s more natural light.

Punggol Sapphire by The Interior Lab

On the common bathroom’s new look

Punggol Sapphire HDB flat renovation

The common bathroom’s entrance before (left) and during (right) the renovation.

S: The entrance to the common bathroom used to be located behind a glass privacy screen instead of facing the kitchen. Colette, our designer from The Interior Lab, suggested making this change as it would allow us to fully utilise the nook beside it, which we turned into our cosy corner.

For both aesthetic and practical reasons, the common bathroom has a sliding barn door. On one hand, it keeps the passageway clear because it doesn’t need an opening radius like a regular casement door, and on the other, its design goes well with the industrial look of our home.

Punggol Sapphire by The Interior Lab

Likewise, the inside of the common bathroom looks quite different now. The walls are mostly clad in hexagonal tiles, and we also included plenty of natural-looking fittings, like a round granite sink and wood-look tiles in both the wet and dry areas, just to give it a slightly more outdoorsy vibe.

Punggol Sapphire by The Interior Lab

About renovating the living room and study

Punggol Sapphire HDB flat renovation

The study and living area during the renovation.

Punggol Sapphire by The Interior Lab

S: The most observable change to our living room is probably the steel-frame windows between the study and the seating area, but that’s not the only renovation work that was done.

The back of the living room where our sofa now is, used to be occupied by the previous owners’ TV feature wall. During the renovation, the entire recess was filled up with real bricks, not veneers, that the contractor supplied; they are also coated with a protective layer that prevents cracks from forming.

Punggol Sapphire HDB flat renovation

The back of the living area where the previous owner’s TV wall used to be.

The built-in TV console is a new feature as well; it helps hide cable clutter and raises the TV to a more comfortable height. The grey ceramic floor tiles and the cement screed ceiling are new too.

Applying the cement screed took the contractors a lot of time and it had to be sanded to give it a consistent look throughout all the communal areas. In fact, after the renovation, we did some sanding ourselves just to even out some of the darker patches.

Punggol Sapphire by The Interior Lab

On making over the master bedroom

Punggol Sapphire by The Interior Lab

S: The current footprint of the master bedroom actually takes up some space from the room next door; we don’t have any specific uses for the adjacent room at this point in time, so it only made sense to maximise the square footage we had by using it to build a pair of large wardrobes as well as a dressing table.

Punggol Sapphire HDB flat renovation

For ample illumination, LED lights were installed within the wardrobes as well as the dressing table.

In terms of storage, there’s also a glass-fronted display unit beside the dressing table. And the dressing table itself has drawers for my accessories, along with power sockets at the side for chargers and appliances. Lastly, to keep the look of our bedroom consistent, we got ourselves a storage bed that matches the existing parquet flooring.

On the master en suite’s new look

Punggol Sapphire by The Interior Lab

S: In a way, the master en suite is the inverse of the common bathroom, both in terms of function and appearance. It’s a private space, so we wanted it to look darker and more glamourous even though it mirrors the bathroom outside.

For example, the walls also feature hexagonal tiles, but the ones here are black; we purchased them from Taobao, and they’re a bit glossier than the samples we saw in local stores. Likewise, the rounded bathroom mirror was also bought online, and it’s customised with backlights for a modern touch.

Punggol Sapphire by The Interior Lab

To sum up

Punggol Sapphire by The Interior Lab

S: I think this home makeover did pay off. Most of our guests have said that they like the final result; both Rodney and I are happy with it as well.

The process of completing our first home did take a little longer due to delays stemming from the Circuit Breaker. But thankfully, we weren’t really affected because we had our own homes prior to moving in together. And of course, The Interior Lab’s expertise was valuable as well. We foresee ourselves living here for the next 20 years at least, maybe even longer.

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