While it has farmhouse vibes all-around, this cosy 5-room BTO flat is in Sengkang.
Before applying for their BTO flat at Anchorvale Lane, Cherylene and Vincent didn’t visit the site of their then-future home to take a look. “We just saw that there was a new project nearby, and so we decided to try applying for it. That was back in 2016, I recall,” shares Vincent.
Fast forward 5 years later, the couple, a pair of avid animal lovers, are now the proud owners of an extra-airy 5-room home that’s close to nature. “After moving here, we quickly realised that the block has very nice views and there’s plenty of wildlife around,” says Cherylene. “Those are just some of the reasons why we really enjoy living here.”
To get a better idea about everything that makes Cherylene and Vincent’s flat the perfect dwelling for them, we got them to share more about their home-hunting experience as well as their renovation journey with local design firm Ethereall.
About themselves and their home
Vincent (V): Both of us are pet lovers, and that’s how we met. A mutual friend introduced me to Cherylene – we found out that we’re both owners of Japanese spitz dogs, and after that we got together. One of them, Sugar, lives here with us.
Cherylene (C): We enjoy travelling as well, especially to see interesting, weird things. Before COVID-19 hit, we had visited Malapascua Island in the Philippines to look for Thresher sharks, which have a very comical face. If you haven’t seen a Thresher shark before, just Google it, and you’ll get what we mean.
Right from the start, we wanted a modern farmhouse vibe for our home. Although it came out stronger than expected, we’re still very happy with the outcome. The reason why we chose this theme is because we’ve always been a fan of it. Personally, I think it’s a classic and it won’t look out-of-date for a long time to come.
There’s also plenty of white everywhere because we wanted our home to look brighter. We do have some dark surfaces, but they’re mostly rustic wood accents, including a couple of overhead ‘wood’ beams that mimic the structure of an actual barn.
About finding their home in Sengkang
V: How we found our flat was actually pretty chill; we saw that there was a new project nearby – I used to live in Hougang and Cherylene in Sengkang – so we decided to apply for it. My only initial concern was the distance of the estate to the Tongkang and Farmway LRT stations, but it wasn’t really an issue because I have a bike.
On the whole, the entire homebuying process was very smooth for us. Every appointment with HDB was very exciting for us because it felt like we were one step closer to getting the house.
C: The collaterals that HDB sent were sufficient for us to make an informed decision about choosing a unit. It was a quick choice; out of so many units in this project, we were quite certain that it’s either this or the next unit in this block.
I think the HDB block plan and floor plans are very useful too because they really give you a sense of what you’ll be looking at in terms of the unit direction, Fengshui and space planning. It's important to study these plans before you start planning your renovation. Furthermore, they’re simple enough to understand, even for first-time homeowners like us.
On the perks of living in Sengkang
C: The view is great! When we applied for our flat, we didn’t come down to the site, but we visited it later on and we were impressed. If you go up to the highest floor of this block, you can see Malaysia all the way from here.
Sengkang Riverside Park and Sungei Punggol are also close by – it’s very nice and serene there, there are all sorts of wildlife living in the floating wetlands, like monitor lizards and birds, so nature lovers will love living here.
Just recently when my sister came to visit, she told me that she had spotted the Sengkang otters along the river. I was so excited that I dropped everything and ran downstairs!
V: Other than the view, there are two more reasons why we chose to live here. Number one, it’s near our parents’ homes. And number two, we love the fact that there’s the PCN (park connector network) and even a swimming complex just directly opposite our block.
It’s good to see people working out all the time, because that makes me feel like exercising too. (laughs)
I also love that the footpaths, carparks and drop-off points are sheltered; my friends have said that these features are great because they make our estate more convenient. In fact, one of the drop-off points is linked all the way to a nearby Sheng Shiong supermarket, so we won’t get wet when doing the groceries on rainy days.
C: Although it’s a relatively new town, Sengkang is a great place for us to build our future plans around. There are various schools nearby, like Nan Chiau and CHIJ St. Joseph’s Convent. Plus, Seletar Mall and Compass One are just two junctions away, which I would say is within walking distance.
Living in our estate is great because there’s the kampung spirit. Our immediate neighbours are very friendly. For example, once we had a Taobao delivery, and they kept our package for us till we got home. We even have a WhatsApp chat group together.
On the living room and study’s makeover
C: Initially, the flat was just like a concrete cave when we got the keys. There was nothing at all and we weren’t sure what to do with it – all we knew was that we wanted a way to demarcate the living room and the study, which was a request we conveyed to Ethereall at the start of our renovation.
Compared to when we first saw it, the living room feels very cosy. What really made a difference were the furnishings like our rug from Taobao and sofa from Etch & Bolts. Of course, there’s also the carpentry and new porcelain tile flooring. Once all of these elements were in place, it really felt like home.
V: For the TV feature wall, we added the spotlights at the top to give it a more homely look; the light cove is also built in a way so that it’s incorporated with the rest of the built-ins, including the TV console. The design of the feature wall helps with cable clutter as well because it’s able to hide all of the TV’s wires.
C: For the study at the back of the living room, I initially thought about having it partitioned by a full wall, but Vincent prefers having windows. His reason was that a full wall would make the living room look small. Plus with windows, we’d still be able to interact even if we’re in different spaces.
So far, it’s proven to be my favourite place at home, because I’m able to work here in peace. I also won’t end up disturbing anyone else when I game because I tend to get a bit noisy when things get intense. (laughs)
About renovating the entryway
C: We have a small seating area near the entrance of our home. Even though we accessorised it with a mirror and a bench, it’s more about functionality and less about aesthetics. Because really, it’s just a place for us to put on our shoes and for Sugar to chill out. (laughs)
V: All of those panels you see near the entrance are actually cabinet doors. In a way, they’re hidden storage because most people would think they’re decorative features rather than cabinets. The DB box and our wireless router are also stored inside the structure, so that definitely helps with cable clutter.
On renovating the kitchen and dining area
C: We opted for an open kitchen which gave us the space we needed to install a counter beside the dining area. There’s panelling on the front of the counter and cabinets with Shaker-style doors behind. We also requested for open shelves to emulate the farmhouse look because it’s a common feature in US homes.
We got ourselves a farmhouse sink as well; it’s from a local store and we were quite lucky to find the right one, the others that we saw at IKEA suited the theme of our house, but they weren’t deep enough for the amount of dishes that we do.
V: We gave a lot of thought about our refrigerator as well, particularly in terms of colour and door design. Reason being that we weren’t too sure which would look better— silver or gold. In the end, we picked gold to match the warm lighting and theme.
However, the bigger challenge was finding a fridge that could be opened up from the right – which thankfully, we managed to do. Otherwise, the opening radius of the fridge’s door would be limited due to the household shelter’s entrance being in the way.
V: Initially, we wanted to go for an industrial look for the dining area. We ended up toning it down to match the rest of the house, but some of the industrial-inspired elements are still there, such as the brick wall.
There are also some black accents with the pendant lamp and the recessed lights in the overhead ‘wood’ beams. One of the beams is actually a box for lighting wires and only one of them is a concrete structure. This was a feature that we requested to be added in to make the ceiling look more ‘complete’.
About the common bathroom’s new look
C: We didn’t opt to get doors from HDB, so we installed our own louvered sliding door for extra ventilation. I feel that it’s extra-important since Singapore is very humid.
Looks-wise, we wanted to try something different for this bathroom with a lighter look, instead of having dark wood everywhere. And since we have some marble accents around the house, we wanted to reflect that element here too with the shower area tiles. Other than that, we also installed a new cabinet below our sink for our cleaning supplies as well as a new toilet bowl.
On making over the master bedroom and en suite
C: The master bedroom is our sanctuary, so it’s where we go to unwind after work. The darker tones help us to relax and set the mood for bedtime.
We also requested for this customised headboard, it’s done up in a shiplap style, which is another farmhouse design feature. Usually, shiplap is painted white, but we chose to have our headboard in off-white so that it blends in with the surroundings, especially the grey wall behind it.
Another customised feature is the L-shaped wardrobe – it’s compact but it also allows us to make full use of corner space. We asked for an extendable table to be installed inside too, so instead of having a separate vanity, I can just stand in front of the wardrobe and do my makeup in the morning.
V: For the master en suite, we wanted a cohesive yet different feel to the common bathroom. Basically, it’s like night and day, where the en suite features black fittings as well as darker wood tones that give it sort of a log cabin aesthetic.
We deliberately chose subway tiles for the wall as well. And similar to the kitchen, there are open shelves that give us easy access to our everyday items, like toothbrushes and toiletries.
To sum up
V: I have some people asking me why I splurged on my renovation. My reply to them is that I wanted my house to be my home – a place where I’m able to relax in and have no worries, that’s why I think spending on it is worthwhile.
My advice to new homeowners is that it’s important to do your homework before meeting with interior designers. This way, the discussions will be more productive.
Also, talk to around 3 to 5 different designers – you may have an idea of what you want in your head, but as you discuss more, these ideas may change or improve. Exploring your options is important!
C: For me? I’m just happy that we have a space of our own, I really look forward to coming home every day!
This renovation journey home feature was brought to you in collaboration with MyNiceHome, HDB’s official website for all things related to home buying and renovation in Singapore!