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How a Family Self-Designed a Timeless, Aussie-Style HDB Home

As this is the couple’s second family home, they had a better picture of what they wanted their 5-room flat to be – an open space, with a style that endures interior trends and time.

For homeowners Wei Kang and Jasmine, it was all about creating a space that’s “bright and airy, much like Australian homes”. Because of this vision, they set out to find an apartment with a layout that they could fix up – and also, double as a backdrop for Jasmine’s online furniture business (@chairsndecor).

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“Our first home was a 3-room BTO,” shares Wei Kang. “And it leaned more towards ‘true Scandinavian’ style with its use of dark wood.”

But achieving such a different concept in their second home didn’t come easy for this family – the 5-room resale unit that they shifted into was about “25 years old, and very outdated” when they first got the keys. “Nothing was left of the old home. Windows, floors, pipes, we changed them all,” said Jasmine.

To get a clearer idea of how they brought a little piece of Australia back home, we sat down with the family to find out more about their creative process.

About themselves

Jasmine (J): Hi, I’m Jasmine and I’m a stay-at-home mum but I also run an online furniture store, chairs n decor – each piece is personally curated since they are self-sourced! I live in this 5-room resale flat with my husband, Wei Kang, and our two kids, Tyler and Taylen.

About the home’s concept

J: The reason why we shifted here was because of the layout. It’s a little squarish, has a lot of windows and I was after the whole bright and airy look – so, after the 5-year MOP (minimum occupation period), we sold our old 3-room BTO flat and moved to this unit here in Choa Chu Kang.

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Jasmine and Wei Kang edited the layout of the 5-room resale unit to freshen up the space. Red circles indicate where walls were hacked away, green where a glass panel was built in and blue where a wall was extended.

Wei Kang (WK): My father is a carpenter working for an ID firm, so we engaged the company to use their services. But they were essentially a sub-contractor in this case, because we already had a design in mind – we shared our ideas and got them to build what we wanted.

On changes made

J: In the original floor plan, the balcony and kitchen were two separate spaces. Because it was walled up, the balcony was dark and narrow. So, I thought, “Hey, why not just build in a glass panel to allow natural light to pass through?”

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Jasmine demarcated each space by changing up the flooring – grey terrazzo in the balcony, and wood-like tiles in the living room.

WK: Although we planned to seal the balcony up, we still needed a way to enter the house. That’s why we knocked down the kitchen wall beside the balcony to make a larger entrance.

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J: However, this change meant that we only had a wall to work with, and I definitely needed more counter space as I like to bake. I liked the idea of having a kitchen island, so we built one. But, to make it even more functional, we included storage space and power points.

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Because the resale unit had no working service yard, the couple decided to carve out a space in their cabinetry for their bulky appliances.

J: As we weren’t planning to move out of this flat so quickly, I wanted the home to last longer than 5 or even 10 years in terms of style. So, we kept to more straight-lined and seamless look by using handleless cabinetry and subway tiles. In fact, the same concept is applied to the other areas of the home.

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The only ‘fixed’ piece here is the TV console. “I found it really hard to find a console that I liked in Singapore, so we had one customised and had it fixed in place because I felt it was neater that way,” said Jasmine.

J: By thinking long-term, we decided to on wood-look tiles instead of the regular vinyl. Of course, to match the home’s current aesthetic, we picked out lighter wood elements. And while we do keep our décor and furnishings to a minimum (because of our children), most of them are also loose pieces – I like having the freedom to configure my space as I wish!

WK: The suggested study became our private getaway, of sorts. We extended the study for more space and outfitted the entry with an accordion door. Since they can be collapsed to the side, there’s a bigger entry point so it’s much easier for us to move the furniture around.

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About challenges faced

J: The tiles in the living room are rough, and they cut my children’s feet because the grouting wasn’t filled high enough. In the end, I had to call my tiler back to revise it. He mentioned that if the grout was “filled up high, then it wouldn’t look as good”, but I was willing to compromise on the aesthetic if it meant that I could ensure the safety of my children.

When that happened, we were already moving into the space, so there was furniture all around. Not only was it really tiring to clean up the home afterwards (laughs), we had to send the kids off to my mother-in-law’s place while the tiler redid the home.

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On their furnishings

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The couple decided to introduce a pop of colour in the children’s room by painting half the wall a different shade. “They’ll be given their own spaces once they grow up,” said Jasmine. “We’ll be converting the play room to an additional bedroom in future.”

J: I felt a connection to Aussie-style homes because I constantly flew over to spend time with my aunt and her husband when I was younger.

Then, I just found myself constantly going back – once with my friends, again during my honeymoon and now with our children.

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Pieces from Australia include the side table, the ‘hello’ sign as well as the cloud hangers (left).

So, our selection is quite global. My big-ticket items are from IKEA, Castlery, but other, smaller pieces were sourced from Australia, specifically kmart. Because we travel as four, we have additional baggage allowance, so I carry most of things like rugs, side tables (those in flat-packs) home myself (laughs).

To sum up

J: Having renovated before really helped us out when it came to planning for the new flat. I already knew about the spaces I wanted to fix up, and the overall style for example – in our old Sengkang flat, I couldn’t upgrade the kitchen because of budgeting constraints, and we used a lot of dark wood, all of which I wanted to change in this new flat.

So, we did just that, changed things around to make this place the better and improved version of the old home.

Now that you've read about their renovation, it's time to get started on your own!

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