No expense was spared in this lavish home, where even the tiniest detail was chosen with great care!
Going into a renovation, most homeowners tend to have a fixed budget – for resale flats, that usually hovers around $40,000 to $80,000. But for the homeowners of this executive apartment in Tampines, their desire for a spacious, luxury-themed home culminated in a home that cost a whopping $325,000 to renovate.
“The owners actively made the choice to upgrade their materials,” says Shawn, the designer from Style Elements Studio. “Some of them – like the large-format floor tiles – are about $800 a piece, while the laminates we used are triple the price of regular ones.”
This renovation, however, isn’t just the sum of all its materials. From embedding rockwool within the ceiling to customising doors, cabinets, and even mirrors, every element in the house was was carefully curated by the owners and designer – all in the effort to create the desired lavish home.
To see how the house turned out – and to learn about the design process – we got Shawn to tell us more!
About the homeowners and their home
Shawn (S): This home belongs to a couple and their three kids. They were previously staying in a 4-room BTO flat – and as we know, BTO flats are very small, so they lacked space and wanted an upgrade.
For the new house, they had quite specific criteria – like having distinct living and dining spaces, an entertainment room, and so on. So, they had a rather different house-hunting approach – after seeing one they liked, they’d immediately consult me to ask if the layout could incorporate what they wanted.
This was pretty helpful actually, because to designers, the layout is quite important. Before this, the other houses they looked at had odd layouts – the kind with the kitchen and living room in the middle, and the bedrooms on either side, which isn’t really ideal.
Eventually, we agreed that this house was best. They fell in love with the space and location, and for me, I felt that the layout had a lot of potential.
On planning the renovation
S: To me, renovations aren’t just about the budget – it’s about the concept that the clients want to achieve. Technically, I can renovate any house within a given budget, but that limits the material choices for the clients, which may not be what they like.
So, I tend to be very transparent with my clients, where I’ll educate them on the different materials and their prices to fit a client’s expectation. I was glad that my clients understood that the materials they wanted were more expensive than average, and were willing to pay more just to achieve their desired aesthetic or quality.
About the dining room
S: The husband has always been an avid collector for Bearbrick figures – he used to keep his collection in his office since his old house was too small. Since he hosts quite often, we saw the dining room as a potential area to show off his collection, and gave him the space he needed to do so.
Other than that, I think the large-format homogenous tiles stand out. I selected 1.5m by 1.5m tiles, which are sizes that are usually only used in commercial or landed properties. Of course, they’re more expensive than your regular tiles – and on top of that, it takes about 2-3 workers to layer it on, so there’s a high labour cost as well.
We also used epoxy grout, which is more resistant to fading and discoloration than regular grout. They’re very hard – you can’t just use a pen to scrape it out. You won’t have kids accidentally scraping them out with their toys.
Oh, and all the laminates are from Lamitak’s Protak series, which have antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-fingerprint properties.They’re triple the price of regular laminates – but we figured that this was a worthy investment since it keeps the space clean for the children, and reduces the need for clean-up.
On renovating the living room
S: Since the dining room was designated as the husband’s area, we designed the living room more for the wife. She likes the luxury theme, so we thought it was fitting to create the TV feature area out of bookmatched quartz, with a bottom console made with quartz of a matching colour.
All the lights in this house are from Sol Luminaire, who only supply warm lighting. So, behind the TV feature area, we put up a copper-tinted mirror – which complements the warm lighting better than a regular mirror, and adds a cosier vibe to the space.
As the owners are fond of fluted panels, we erected a wall with this design to conceal the bedroom and entertainment room doors. From my perspective, I see it more as a way to contain everyone within the communal area – I guess you could say it separates the public area from the private.
About the kitchen
S: Compared to the rest of the house, I think the kitchen design was quite straightforward. There’s a lot of natural light coming in from the kitchen, which I wanted to take advantage of. But at the same time, the clients brought up a Chinese superstition that says we shouldn’t be able to see the stove from outside.
So, the natural choice was to use a fluted glass door. We had it custom-made as there aren’t a lot of choices out there – and honestly, it was a really long wait, because it took six weeks from fabrication to installation (laughs).
Regular HDB kitchens use wall tiles, so I wanted to go against that. I used outdoor weatherproof paint – which doesn’t absorb oil, grime, and cooking smells like regular paint does.
The wooden area you see is actually a niche. Rhythmic flow is important to designers – if the whole area has a similar colour theme, it’ll be overkill. This way, there’s a smooth transition between the marble, the black sintered stone surfaces, and the wooden tones, all of which complement one another.
About the entertainment room
S: The couple loves singing, so we needed to soundproof the area to avoid complaints from the neighbours (laughs). We embedded rockwool within the ceiling and fluted walls to dampen the sound. If you noticed, the room looks smaller than usual – it’s because we had to make the walls thicker to accommodate the rock wool.
Since there are a lot of elements in this room, we had to find ways to accommodate everything while keeping the space neat. The cabinet next to the SMEG fridge is actually where the subwoofers are – it has a customised door with a perforated bottom half and a top half covered with black-tinted glass.
This way, it helps to reduce the visual clutter, while still allowing infrared connections to pass through.
About the master bedroom and ensuite
S: The wife wanted to incorporate more marble designs in the master bedroom. I was against this at first since the rest of the house already features marble – but as she really wanted it, I counter-proposed using marble-look laminates as accents around the fabric headboard.
The his-and-her bedroom wardrobe was another thing the couple really wanted. Creating it was a bit challenging as we had to ensure there was enough walking space – if you realise, the wardrobe is slightly angled to ensure that they can walk to and fro comfortably.
Oh, and fun fact: this wardrobe is four times the usual length of a HDB built-in wardrobe. Typically, they’re about six to seven feet, but this one is over 24 feet! I think it takes up almost the whole wall – which, in a way, looks more luxurious.
Like the bedroom wardrobe, the master ensuite features his-and-her sinks. They’re integrated sinks made out of Quartz stone – I never really liked the regular freestanding sinks as their silicon edges are prone to mould.
Also, the mirrors were a challenge to obtain. They’re not the type that you can just buy off the shelf – I had to look around to find someone to fabricate them. I think I took about two weeks just to find the right supplier.
To sum up
S: This house was renovated around October last year, and like a lot of 2021 renovation projects, it was affected by the pandemic – I know it sounds like an excuse, but it did affect manpower and logistics. There was a lot of back-and-forth between myself and the contractors, and I made sure to be as detailed as possible to minimise misunderstandings.
Actually, I’m not really sure what else to say about the house without sounding cliche (laughs). I understand that the renovation price has piqued people’s interest, but from a designer’s perspective, all I wanted was to create a home that my clients are happy with.
To me, it was more about educating the clients about the different materials out there, and letting them make the choice. And if they’re happy with what they chose, then so am I!
Stay up to date with the latest trends – follow us on Telegram! 🙌