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ID's Own Hougang EA is a Gorgeous Blend of Different Interior Styles

November 23, 2022

It took a complete gut job to turn this home into the sanctuary it is today!

Despite having designed homes for dozens of clients, MAD About Design’s Jimmy never had the chance to design his own home. So, when he finally secured an executive apartment in Hougang, he saw it as a chance to finally express what he liked.

“Personally, I don’t really design by theme,” says Jimmy. “I prefer customising the look according to what my clients want. Likewise, this was my approach when renovating my own house.”

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With a vibrant mixture of colours and materials, Jimmy describes his house as a mixture of minimalist, Japandi, and industrial influences. But other than the long-awaited opportunity to design his own house, he also found himself in the unique position as an interior designer and a ‘client’.

To see how he navigated through this experience, we sat down with Jimmy to have a chat!


About the homeowners and their home

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Jimmy (J): There are four people living in this house – myself, my wife, and our two kids. Originally, we were staying with my wife’s parents, but after a while, we found that we didn’t really have a private space for ourselves, so we eventually decided to move out.

One of the first things we looked out for was the size. I like the amazement you feel when you walk into a house and see how big it is – and also how you have to shout for the kids when you’re about to leave the house (laughs).

It was around this time that this place went up for sale, too!

WATCH: MAD About Design’s Jimmy shares more about his home’s renovation

On renovating the foyer and kitchen

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J: The foyer was actually a recessed area that the previous owners bought. I usually like to go for darker colours near the entrance, so that when you walk further into the house, there’s this visual contrast that makes you go “wow”.

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Walking into the house, the first room you’ll see is the kitchen. I don’t think it’s very nice if the wet kitchen is next to the entrance, so I made a dry pantry with some display areas. In a way, it’s meant to give guests a good impression when they’re entering the house.

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Design-wise, I wanted it to look like this famous Japanese hotel called Aman Kyoto. It’s a place that a lot of IDs and architects really like because of its design, so I tried to replicate that by covering the entire kitchen – including the ceiling – with wooden veneers.

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A room in Aman Kyoto, Japan, that inspired the look of Jimmy’s home | Source: Aman Resorts

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Oh, the reason why I opted to use veneers for all the carpentry works is because it feels more organic. As a designer, I tend to like materials that feel more natural – if I want cement or wood, I’d rather get the actual thing instead of laminates that look like them. They feel way more real that way.

About the living and dining room’s makeover

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J: Since the kitchen and foyer are already quite visually striking, I kept the living room simple to avoid overwhelming the look.

Personally, I’m quite particular about grout lines – I think having too many makes the house look messy, which isn’t what you want for a minimalist living room. So, for the flooring, I decided to use large format tiles; if I remember correctly, the size is four times bigger than the ones typically used in HDB flats.

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The dining room wall was supposed to be white as well, but at the last minute, I decided to change it to black. It adds some nice visual contrast, but another reason is that I think the black is a better colour choice for the dry bar – like it’ll look more grown up, in a way.

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This art piece you see was custom-made by one of the Japanese artists at Living With Art. I initially wanted them to replicate actual art pieces, but we were afraid that it wouldn't look very real. So, then, I just told them to experiment with colours and create something fun – and my kids ended up really loving the result (laughs).

About the hallway

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J: I think the corridor is my favourite part of the house. The design was inspired by the works of this famous Japanese architect called Tadao Ando, which tend to feature raw concrete walls and circular grooves.

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The straight-cut lines were something I had fun experimenting with. They’re meant to make the entire area look like it was made with cement-look wall panels, but they were actually carved into the raw concrete using a machine.

On renovating the master bedroom and ensuite

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Jimmy’s home, pre-renovation

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Jimmy’s home, post-renovation

J: Originally, the master bedroom was on the opposite side of the house, but as it was right above the road, it tends to get noisy – which isn’t ideal since I’m a light sleeper. That’s why we decided to shift it over to the other side, where the dining room originally was.

Doing this meant that the master ensuite was left outside the bedroom, so we had to reshape the entire corridor as well to properly combine all the areas.

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Since the outside was already quite bright, I wanted something a little darker and cosier in the bedroom. I think you can tell I went with a more industrial look here, with the exposed bricks and beams that give the space a rugged feel.

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I kept the sleeping area separate from the wardrobe because to me, it feels more relaxing. And because there were already so many exposed beams around the house, I figured I could try experimenting with this arched doorway to soften the look.

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The master ensuite was pretty straightforward. I like the luxurious feeling you get whenever you step into a hotel bathroom, so I decided to replicate the look. The only tricky part was the vanity, which had to be custom-made to fit into the slanted wall created by the corridor.

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To sum up

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J: Renovating my own house was quite interesting. Normally, when I’m designing a house for a client, I try to put myself in their shoes, but there’s only so much we can understand, you know? And as much as we try, we don’t often see some details as clearly as they do, because it’s not our own house.

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But now, after becoming a homeowner myself, I understand them a lot better now, because I found myself analysing the smallest things – like how my staff handled the materials, physical defects, things like that. So, now, I think I can better understand what renovating is like from a homeowner’s perspective.

As for the result, I honestly couldn’t be happier. It’s nice to finally have our own space, and I think it’s safe to say that we won’t ever need to move out again (laughs).


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