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How a Designer Brought Masculine Chic to His 4-Room HDB Home

Using a modern blue-green palette and classic accents, Charlotte Carpentry’s James Lim transformed his 4-room HDB home into a stylish retreat for his family.

If there’s someone who knows a thing or two about turning an empty apartment into a stylish retreat, it’s Charlotte's Carpentry director James Lim.

Be it an Insta-worthy contemporary abode or an industrial-inspired couple’s nest, James and his firm has helped many a client achieve their dream home. However, it was not only until earlier this year that the seasoned designer finally got the chance to work on an abode that he can call his own.

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View this project by Charlotte's Carpentry

To get the lowdown on his renovation journey, we spoke to James himself about his ideas and how they were brought to life in his 4-room HDB flat at Bukit Batok.

About himself and his family

James (J): As you may already know, I am the founder of Charlotte’s Carpentry. I've been in the home renovation line since 2009, and I share this house with my family, which consists of my wife and my young son. We also have a domestic helper staying with us.

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About his home’s new look

J: About the look of the house, I’d say that it’s modern contemporary with a few classic elements thrown in to give it a touch of elegance.

To be entirely honest, I didn’t put that much thought into the aesthetics, it was pretty much a combination of things that I like, such as marble textures and dark colours. The ideas kind of popped into my head when I was browsing magazines and websites for inspiration. I usually take a more tailored approach when designing homes (for my clients), but since this is my own home, it was just easier to execute the concept off the top of my head.

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About his must-haves

J: Both my wife and I wanted the house’s design to be simple and cosy, and that’s because we wish to have a comfortable place to return to after work. Also, it had to be easy to maintain. Even though we have a helper, there’s still plenty of tidying to do around the house, so the easier it is to clean up, the better.

On changes made to his home

J: Most of the changes in the house were mostly focused on enhancing its looks and functionality. Even though it was a completely new HDB flat, there was plenty that had to be done to transform the different areas into liveable spaces. The work we did throughout the house included tiling, installing new flooring, wiring, and building new storage solutions, just to name a few.

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For the kitchen, we decided to make it an open-concept space together with the dining area, just to make the entire house look bigger. We also didn’t have to tear down any walls, because we opted for an open design when we first purchased the flat – that really saved us some effort!

As for the rest of the work done in the kitchen, it mainly involved building up new cabinetry to make it easier to store our knick-knacks. We also made sure to include some decorative accents, like panelling and vertical lines, to draw the eye upwards and so that we wouldn’t have to live with plain, bland cabinets. [laughs]

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Similar to the kitchen, we also made sure to include some subtle decorative accents in the master bedroom to give the surroundings more detail. But in terms of colour, we decided to use a light shade of powder pink, instead of sticking to just dark blue-green, to tone down the masculine feel.

Functionality-wise, we also added a window-side counter; my wife uses it as her dressing area and work corner. The counter’s design was kept simple so that it fits in with the rest of the clean lines in the room.

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We didn’t do any work on the common bathroom, but for the master bathroom, we gave it a new look by overlaying the walls and floors with a classy combination of tan and black tiles. We also installed a new undermount basin with a storage cabinet beneath and created a wall niche in the shower, which make it easier to store our toiletries.

To sum it up

J: For new homeowners who’re interested in getting a similar look, the most important thing to do is to maintain colour balance. Sure, consistency is one way that you can use to convey an overall feel or a sense of coherence between different rooms at home, but be sure to break things up with varying shades so that it doesn’t look too uniform or boring.

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