Directly overlooking construction outside, this third-floor corner unit’s moody makeover included extra privacy features.
As much as we’d all hope to successfully ballot for a BTO flat and get a good queue number to select a unit of our choice, it doesn’t always turn out that way.
This was a struggle that Abigail and her husband – the owners of this 5-room BTO in Sengkang – also faced, even after multiple applications. In the end, they chose one of the leftover flats from a previous BTO launch via HDB’s SBF scheme.
While they were happy that it was a corner unit, the flat happened to be on the third floor with the living room and bedrooms all directly facing the construction site and dormitories of an ongoing BTO development. This meant others could easily peer into their home.
Working with their interior designer, Vincent from Versaform, the couple countered the privacy issue and transformed their home into a dark, cosy abode with smart features. We spoke with Abigail to find out more!
About the homeowners and their home
Abigail (A): This is our first home, and currently it’s just my husband and I living here.
The whole theme of our house is on the moodier side because we wanted it to have a more cosy and comforting vibe when we come home.
Coming from a traditional Chinese family, I grew up in a very bright house. We usually steer clear of dark colours, so I was quite opposed to the darker theme at the start.
But as we went along, Vincent showed us a couple of moodboards with a dark colour scheme, and we were eventually convinced.
Also, as a software engineer, my husband’s number one priority was a smart home that he could set up by himself.
About the living room
A: We don’t have a lot of built-ins because my husband and I aren’t the kind to hoard things that we don’t use.
We want to keep the look minimal, so that's why we only included a built-in TV console. Other than that, there are no displays.
Because it’s easy for onlookers to see what’s inside our home, we keep our day curtains permanently drawn close. These are smart curtains, and my husband actually spoke with multiple suppliers to find a rail that’s compatible with the smart home bots that move the night curtains at night.
In fact, he was quite particular about the electrical point wiring and where the sockets are for the smart home set-up, so Vincent actually sat down and patiently went through the whole process with us to design it how we wanted.
We even went down to granular details like the exact placement of the bass speaker in the living room, because my husband and I like to have good sound quality while watching shows. We’re glad we did this though, because we get the full cinematic experience with bass and surround sound.
Another interesting thing is the feature wall. Instead of painting just the wall, Vincent suggested painting part of the ceiling as well. If you look closely, you’ll see that there’s a diagonal portion of the ceiling painted to give the illusion that the ceiling is slanted and slightly higher!
About the open-concept kitchen and dining area
A: Our unit came with an open kitchen, so there was no wall partition separating the kitchen from the rest of the flat. Since we don’t cook often, we left the layout as is.
When our friends come over, the communal area is spacious enough to accommodate them at the breakfast counter, dining table, or even to stand around the kitchen.
We opted for a quartz countertop because we felt that it’s more durable than other materials. I also heard that it’s not as loud when you slam or knead dough, which is good since I bake.
We have an oven hidden in the island, but instead of a built-in, we placed a freestanding oven in a pull-out drawer so that it won’t heat up the carpentry when we use it. Even if I don’t use the oven for a while, I don’t have to worry about moisture building up and causing power trips.
We went with two tiers for the upper cabinets for some depth and levelling, so that the kitchen would not look so flat.
In terms of colour, we initially wanted the whole house to be grey, but realised that the look may be dreary. Vincent suggested wood laminates to blend in with the moody vibes, without making it look monotonous.
About the master bedroom and walk-in wardrobe
A: Our master bedroom is quite dark but we like its cosiness. Rather than going with a TV that would take up space, we included a projector for days when we want to lie down and watch a movie in bed instead of the sofa.
Although it’s a trend to knock down the adjacent junior bedroom wall to make more space for a walk-in wardrobe, we each wanted private spaces for work and our own activities. Another reason was to future-proof; if we eventually decide to have kids, it’s convenient to have the rooms intact.
With that in mind, we sectioned out the master bedroom, separating the dressing area and the bed for some privacy.
Thanks to the separation, we can get dressed without worrying about others peeking in. It was a concern of ours since there’s the new BTO construction going on outside.
Even after it’s completed, if we don’t draw the night curtains during the day, the residents of these new blocks can see into the room since their windows are facing our unit.
About the master ensuite and common bathroom
A: We wanted something that feels cosy when we shower, so we decided to make it the same colour throughout the toilet and set up warm cove lighting. It’s a smart light, like all the other lights in our home.
To set it up, my husband wrote the [coding] scripts and configured them, and I did the ‘user testing’ (laughs). There were occasions where I stepped into the bathroom and the light turned off, so we had to go through the entire process again until it worked!
Vincent was quite practical when he was choosing the tiles, in terms of whether they were easy to clean and do not stain easily.
Because they’re rather dark, it’s not immediately obvious when it’s dirty, so I think it’s good and bad.
We were also concerned that the grout lines would easily get dirty, so we specified that we wanted grey grout instead of white. Bigger tiles means fewer grout lines, which is why we opted for bigger tiles in both bathrooms.
On the flipside we wanted the common toilet to be brighter for guests, and to brighten up the walkway when we leave the door open.
To sum up
A: I think we really enjoy how cosy our home is.
The renovation experience, I would say, was smooth-sailing and we are very thankful to have worked with Vincent. He was referred to us by my sister-in-law who had worked with him for her house; she said that he's very punctual and that he ensured quality in their workmanship.
During the renovation, Vincent would find ways to accommodate our requests but if some things we wanted didn't fit the theme, he would point that out and guide us along. That's also good for us because it's our first time designing a house, so we wouldn’t exactly know what fits and what doesn’t.
Overall, the house turned out exactly how we wanted, which is probably the best outcome that we could have had!