How Chance and Design Led to a Chic Tanglin HDB Home for Two
You'll never know when a happy coincidence can lead to a total home makeover.
Though you may not believe in chance, for Eva and her husband, it was an entirely random (and lucky) encounter that led to their meeting with Dan Wu, the namesake founder of Dan’s Workshop.
“We were looking for an interior designer last year, and we just happened to walk by Dan’s office one day. It was by pure chance that his storefront caught our eye,” recounts Eva. “And after that, my husband looked him up on Facebook, so we thought, why not drop him an email?”
The living room, before (left) and after (right) the renovation.
Soon after, Eva and her husband ended up with a fresh new look for their 4-room resale HDB flat at Tanglin Halt – which now features a chic blue-and-white design with a mix of playful, yet elegant accents – thanks to Dan’s ability to “completely capture the key essence” of their aesthetic.
As for the details of the makeover? You’ll have to keep scrolling to find out!
About themselves and their home
Eva (E): In my current home, it's just me and my husband. I guess I'm someone who's more outgoing, while my husband's more introverted. He’s really into meditation and calming techniques, so I think that has a huge role to play in terms of our colour scheme.
That's why we chose blue because it's more of a calming hue, versus having a house with all sorts of contrasting colours. He's also someone who doesn't really like things lying around, so he wanted to go for something that's a little bit more minimal, but I think it’s more accurate to say that it’s clean and modern-looking.
We wanted to go for the minimalist look initially, but when we flipped through a lot of magazines, we realised that the idea of minimalism is often associated with an all-whitewashed scheme. There’s also the Muji-inspired minimalist style – it's refreshing when you first look at it, but we didn't really want that because it can seem a little boring after a while.
So, because of that, we wanted to incorporate a bit of colour into our home, but we didn't want contrasting combinations like black and white.
The bedroom and kitchen before the renovation.
Before that, the house was in a very old condition, but it didn’t really sink in until we started renovating. We made the decision to buy this flat fairly quickly – we didn’t even bargain [laughs] because we already knew that this was the home we wanted; the view is really great, you can see the entire Demspsey area, and even MBS from here.
However, we had to redo the entire place from scratch because key areas like the bedroom and kitchen really didn’t match the ideas that we had in mind.
About the entryway and living room
E: We actually wanted to have a painting at the spot where the pegboard is. But when we met up with Dan, we shared with him that we have a tendency to chuck our stuff on the sofa which will make it seem very cluttered. And after some discussion, we decided to have a space where we could place our keys and little knick-knacks.
We also have two dogs at home, so we wanted scratch-proof options for the flooring in the communal areas, and vinyl fit the bill. The original tiles were huge squarish ones that were white in colour, which wasn't a good fit for the look we wanted.
The living room feature wall took a lot of time to complete because we couldn't decide on what we wanted. Initially, we wanted it to be in toned colours, but we realised that we couldn't achieve a smooth transition if there were slabs of different colours. After a lot of thinking, we decided to go with this grey background because it goes really well with the rest of the blue elements.
I think the inspiration for the wall’s design came from Dan's house, which we thought was something that's really unique. And it's handcrafted – it's one piece of wood but the carpenter had to painstakingly cut the lines by hand, one by one.
Also, Dan was telling us how he was hesitant to feature this (wall) for a long time because he was afraid others would request for the same design [laughs]!
About the kitchen and dining area
E: There were a lot of changes to the kitchen’s original layout. If you notice, there isn’t a place for us to hang our clothes outside.
When we moved in, we realised that people liked to throw things down from their windows, so we told Dan that we didn't need to hang our clothes – and that's why the washer and dryer were placed in the corner of the kitchen instead. This was partly due to Fengshui reasons as well.
For furniture and built-ins, we have a custom-made wooden dining set that we got from Malaysia and also a L-shaped tabletop. That's because although the kitchen is small, we wanted a way for us to do different things in the space.
My husband cooks, and bakes sometimes; my sister is a very good baker and she comes over often to bake too, and my dad is a pastry chef. Yeah, so that's why we have all these elements built in to create a functional kitchen sans the clutter.
The terrazzo tiles in the kitchen weren’t a feature that we planned for. We had gone to Hafary to shop for tiles, and my initial idea was to look for Peranakan ones. But we happened to come across these terrazzo tiles that we thought looked quite interesting, so we decided to get them on the spot.
I like them a lot because they add colour to the surrounding space, but at the same time, they don’t look too contrasting when paired with the blue-and-white theme of the house.
About the bedroom and walk-in wardrobe
E: Our bedroom is segmented into a sleeping area and a walk-in wardrobe cum study. To achieve this, we had to merge one of the common rooms with the existing master bedroom.
Part of the reason why we did this was because of Fengshui, and also because the previous design of the bedroom entrance was quite odd; there was a random doorframe in the middle of the walkway, so we ended up removing it to re-work the layout.
The walkway and bedroom entrance, prior to the renovation.
The walk-in wardrobe was a feature that we talked about for a long time, because we weren’t sure how much storage space we needed, since there’s only the two of us. But we decided that we would go ahead to have one, but limit the number of built-ins, because if you have more (storage) space, you’ll naturally want to hoard more clothes.
One feature of the original bedroom that we kept was the parquet flooring, and we did it because it’s nice to have a contrasting colour in the space. Dan was able to polish the whole floor, so it looks nice and new, even though it has been around for a long time.
On the other hand, the headboard is completely new; they are actually tiles from Hafary, we got them because that would allow us to bring a bit of a ‘garage’ feel to the space. I think the tiles fit really well, and they help bring the blue-and-white theme into our bedroom.
To sum up
E: We like how Dan is so creative with his designs – he infused some of the elements that we discussed at a very broad level and nailed them down to exactly how they looked like in our minds. I think we were really lucky to find him.
Overall, it was a smooth renovation experience for us, because Dan was always on the ball. I've seen how he interacted with all the contractors and I think he's a very good project manager.
We trusted him to manage most of the stuff. He also helped us build rapport with our neighbours by making it a point to talk to them; they actually had good reviews about Dan even though they complained about the noise [laughs]!
I really like my home the way it is now. It’s a nice place to work in, and I’m really thankful for how it’s designed to be simple, yet serve every purpose that we need it to.
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