How European Influences Shaped This 4-Room HDB Home’s Design
Classic European elements add a unique flair, elevating this 4-room home’s white-and-wood look.
As someone who is planning on staying in her flat for “as long as she can”, homeowner Jean decided to keep to a simple design. “I think it’s easier to update overall,” explains the insurance agent who shares the 4-room flat in Clementi with her husband and cat. “The white-and-wood palette also makes the house appear more spacious-looking.”
View this project by Lemonfridge Studio
However, the home isn’t wholly Scandinavian in style. Rather, it’s peppered with classic elements, inspired by the likes European homes on Instagram. These features were then carefully put together by Jae and Isaac from the Lemonfridge Studio to bring out a “cosy and comfortable” atmosphere. More about the renovation below!
About herself and her family
Jean (J): Hi, I’m Jean and I live in this flat with my husband and our pet cat. We’re both working in the insurance industry.
About the home
J: We didn’t manage to secure the unit that we wanted during the sales launch and I didn’t want to wait five years for a BTO flat. That made us look into getting a resale unit. As you know, Clementi resale flats get snapped up quickly. The moment we took a look at this one, we decided to get it.
The home’s layout, pre-renovation. Blue circle indicates where the door has been moved and sealed up.
The home’s layout, post-renovation. Red circles indicate where walls have been knocked down. The couple has also reworked the layout to introduce their walk-in wardrobe.
Although it’s 40-years-old, it wasn’t in bad shape because the previous homeowner had actually renovated the space five years prior. In fact, the place was almost as good as new. The only problem was the flooring – it was all parquet, which I’ve been staring at my entire life [laughs]. So, I wanted to hack it away and have it redone.
But, as you can tell, the nature of our jobs doesn’t leave us with a lot of time to manage this renovation by ourselves. It’s why we had to hire IDs to help us. Jae’s design always stood out to me and that’s why I chose to work with her.
On changes made to the living room
J: One of my must-haves is an L-shaped sofa. I wanted my family to spend time in the living room and still be comfortable when they come over. This one is from King Living. It’s very cushy, and actually powered by electricity [laughs]! There are two buttons that I can press to put out or keep the seating area compact.
To get access to power, we built some sockets underneath the sofa to hide them out of sight.
A mirror was included in their settee. “We're able to give ourselves a quick once over before leaving, which is really useful,” shared Jean.
My husband has a habit of wearing his shoes while sitting on a sofa, and going back and forth seemed very tedious to me. That’s why I hopped on to the idea of having a settee when Jae and Isaac suggested it.
We have no partition between the entryway and the living room. Because of that, we demarcated the spaces by switching out the tiles. I chose a shiny white marble from Hafary as it makes the dirt more visible. That way, I know where to clean [laughs]. And it matches the tan wood tiles too!
On changes made to the dining area
J: Despite how big my kitchen space is, I didn’t want to have my dining area set in it. It just feels so humid. So, we worked it within the living area and it took the form of a cosy dining nook. We had a wall partially knocked down so we could fit it in.
According to Jean, the glass door that separates the kitchen and living area was a last-minute inclusion. “I didn’t want the A/C to have to work harder to cool a larger area,” shared the homeowner. “It helps in blocking out some of the cooking fumes too.”
Of course, we had a few changes made to make the space more functional. The bench itself has storage underneath – great to have because our storeroom is really small. I find myself chucking a lot of things in there too [laughs].
In order to match the living room’s cosy and comfy aesthetic, the couple had the insides of the framed nook lined with grey laminates.
Because we don’t have a separate office space, we had power points installed there so that we can charge our iPad and other devices as we work.
On changes made to the kitchen
J: I’d say that the most functional feature in the kitchen has to be our breakfast counter. Not only is it embedded with storage, but we also use the space to prepare food, and gather there for a quick breakfast. If we have friends over, we’ll have the buffet/steamboat placed on the counter – it’s made of quartz, so it can definitely withstand the heat.
At present, Jean’s white and grey hexagon tile backsplash is more ornate than functional, but she has plans to “mount it with a glass for easy cleaning and still keep the effect when I have kids and start to cook”.
Drawing inspiration from European kitchens that I found on Instagram, I kept to classic shaker style cabinetry and paired them with brass handles and a tap from Sim Siang Choon. Seeing as I don’t really cook, I decided to keep to an all-white aesthetic for a timeless and elegant take.
The couple also invested on an automated laundry system from Steigen (not pictured). “I considered getting the manual option, but those are usually placed on the floor,” shared Jean. “Having one that can be mounted on the ceiling is so much more space efficient.”
I was also keen on adopting another common feature found in these homes – the built-in racks. We have one installed right above our washing machine. Having that makes it so much easier for us to hang out clothes now.
On changes made to the bedrooms
J: Because we had sacrificed a little bit of space for the dining nook, we decided to reformat our layout a little. One of the junior masters was converted into our master bedroom and turned our (old) master bedroom into a walk-in wardrobe.
Both of them are connected by a set of his-and-her doors. This way, when we come out of our en suite, we don’t have to walk around the room to get to our respective sides of the bed.
Jean and her husband had considered hacking down the entire wall to install a glass feature. They scrapped the idea when Isaac suggested that they include a big mirror within the walk-in wardrobe.
I wanted my vanity to be close to my bed, and because there’s not enough space in my wardrobe too [laughs]. It has LED lights embedded within and on the mirror itself. This way, I can switch them on to do my makeup and skincare without disturbing my husband.
On changes made to the bathrooms
J: The en suite used to be smaller than the common bathroom, so we hacked down the wall to expand it. Of course, that means that my wardrobe space had to be sacrificed yet again, but it is something that I’m willing to live with, if it meant getting my shower area [laughs].
The en suite (left) and the common bathroom (right).
Though both bathrooms make use of subway tiles, we had them laid out differently in order to differentiate between the two. It’s something that I picked up from European homes as well!
On working with Lemonfridge Studio
J: I first got to know of Lemonfridge Studio through Instagram because they’re doing a fair bit of marketing there. And I was always drawn to Jae’s designs in particular – her eye for design is that strong. That’s why I wanted to work with her and Isaac, her partner, for our renovation.
Of course, I looked at other ID portfolios as well before making my decision. But her designs really won me over. I’m sure that other ID firms could give me cheaper rates, but it’s hard to put a price tag on her aesthetic sensibilities.
If I happened to second guess myself, I’d always consult her. In fact, that happened for a few areas of the home [laughs]. The en suite was one – I was worried that the European floor tiles wouldn’t look great, so I left it up to her to decide whether or not I should go forward with it. Same goes for our entryway, backsplash, and furnishings.
It doesn’t hurt that we have a bit of reassurance as well from their one-year warranty. If I find any defects, I’ll let them know, and they’ll come in to rectify things for us. They’ve even given us some additional tiles, in case there’s any fault with the flooring!
The house is great! I really don’t see ourselves moving out, until or unless enbloc happens.
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