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Mickey Mouse Fans Turn 4-Room HDB Flat into ‘House of Mouse’

June 2, 2021

How a decades-old love for Disney’s most iconic character inspired this Serangoon home.

Despite numbering in the hundreds, Disney’s cartoon characters are all famous in their own right. But without a doubt, the title of “Most Iconic” belongs to Mickey, and it was none other than the Mouse himself whom homeowner Leslie chose to have his 4-room resale HDB flat themed after.

serangoon mickey mouse HDB renovation

Located in Serangoon, Leslie’s first home – which he shares with his longtime friend (and now fiancée) Fangfang – pays homage to the classic mascot who contributed as much to Disney’s success as the fun, but elegant interiors created by design firm Notion of W.

Serangoon Avenue 2 by Notion of W

Interior Firm: Notion of W

Some notable features in the flat include a pair of maroon-and-yellow sliding doors (a callback to the colours of Mickey’s pants) as well as a bespoke display cabinet that playfully reimagines Mickey’s nose as a pair of pull handles.

To find out more about the inspiration behind all of these custom built-ins as well as the renovation on a whole, we asked Leslie to give us a home tour!

About himself and his home

Leslie (L): Both Fangfang and I have known each other for decades, but we just got together around 4 to 5 years ago. Since young, she has been obsessed with everything Mickey Mouse related – and to clarify, it’s just strictly Mickey that she likes, not Minnie.

I like Mickey as well, and as a child, I had my own Mickey soft toy that I’d bring to bed with me every night. However, Fangfang is the one who really likes the character; she was the one who brought up the idea of having a Mickey Mouse-inspired home in the first place.

serangoon mickey mouse HDB renovation

The kitchen (left) and front of the living room (right), pre-renovation.

serangoon mickey mouse HDB renovation

The original floor plan of Leslie and Fangfang’s home.

About the flat itself, it was almost an immediate purchase for us. Serangoon is the neighbourhood where I grew up in, so I feel that we were really lucky to find a resale flat here. The location of our block is really convenient as well, and it’s only about 300 metres to the nearest MRT station.

We also didn’t mind getting a slightly older unit because it can always be completely revamped – and that’s what we did with ours.

WATCH: Notion of W designer Wein Goh takes us through the flat’s renovation process

serangoon mickey mouse HDB renovation

The floor plan of the flat, post-renovation.

At the start, Fangfang suggested having spaces that overtly feature Mickey Mouse décor, but I felt that such a concept wouldn’t stand the test of time. Plus, we’d accumulate more collectibles eventually, so there wasn’t really a need to deck out the entire flat to let people know that it’s Mickey Mouse-inspired.

Instead, I wanted to showcase the Mickey Mouse theme through various shapes and figures – it’s a much more subtle way of conveying our love for Mickey without neglecting the aesthetics of our home.

About the entryway’s makeover

Serangoon Avenue 2 by Notion of W

L: Mickey is a ‘round’ character who hardly has any straight lines in his design, and we brought out that aspect of his appearance through the curves around our flat. Right from the entrance, you can see a recessed niche with an arch that goes up to the ceiling as well as a curved cabinet that houses all of our Mickey Mouse collectibles.

Serangoon Avenue 2 by Notion of W

Another reason why we wanted these curves in the entryway is because they make people feel more comfortable, as opposed to straight lines which would cause our home to come across as stiff and rigid from the get-go. If we could, we’d even have chosen a rounded front door to go with all these curves in the entryway.

serangoon mickey mouse HDB renovation

The entryway’s DB box cover and a doorplate that reads ‘Mousetrap’ – the owners’ nickname for their home – were DIY projects. (Photo credit: Leslie)

On renovating the home’s communal spaces

Serangoon Avenue 2 by Notion of W

L: Because it has an open concept, you’ll be able to get a good view of the entire house even from the entrance. Some of the more interesting features are the sliding doors at the side which lead to the entertainment room and a spare bedroom, as well as the arched entrance with double-leaf doors that lead into the master bedroom.

serangoon mickey mouse HDB renovation

“We wanted a more old school look for the window grilles, so we chose these ones with a flowery motif,” says Leslie. “They’re painted yellow because that’s one of Mickey Mouse’s signature colours and because we wanted the windows to stand out.”

serangoon mickey mouse HDB renovation

The communal spaces prior to the renovation.

It’s a little hard to tell from the end result, but the entire layout of the flat has been changed after the renovation. Almost all of the walls between the bedrooms were torn down and rebuilt in order to give the living room more space. This was the part of the entire process that impressed me most.

Except for the master bedroom, both junior bedrooms and the living room were about the same size previously. During the renovation, about a quarter of the master bedroom’s area was turned into living room space whereas nearly three quarters of the junior bedroom next door – which is now the entertainment room – was used to restore the master bedroom to almost its original size.

Serangoon Avenue 2 by Notion of W

To maximise it, a rounded worktable was built in the space where the master bedroom’s curved exterior wall bends.

On the kitchen’s makeover

Serangoon Avenue 2 by Notion of W

L: Similar to the bedrooms, the kitchen and the areas around it were renovated quite extensively. There used to be a storeroom right outside the kitchen, but it was completely torn down, and we now house our fridge in that spot.

Generally, the flats in this estate have long kitchens, but because we don’t cook that often, we didn’t need a really large one. So, we ended up ‘shortening’ the cooking zone by building a partition wall at the end of the space and creating a yard for our laundry and house plants.

serangoon mickey mouse HDB renovation

The storeroom (left) and kitchen (right) before the renovation.

Serangoon Avenue 2 by Notion of W

Aside from the Mickey Mouse-shaped handles, another detail I’d like to highlight is the mosaic in the kitchen. We really love these tiles and they come in Fangfang’s favourite colours, namely grey and green.

The design of the kitchen’s mosaic backsplash is also really unique, and I feel that it’s representative of our interior designer, Wein, and his artistic sense. When he first proposed having an ‘overflowing’ backsplash, we were intrigued, and in the end, he delivered on the idea because the final result really does break the mould, literally and figuratively.

serangoon mickey mouse HDB renovation

About the common bathroom’s new look

serangoon mickey mouse HDB renovation

The common bathroom prior to the renovation.

L: For the common bathroom, our main request was to have the sink shifted out. Why we wanted this to be done has less to do with making space on the inside and more for hygiene reasons. But having a larger vanity is definitely more practical than having a small one in a tight bathroom.

Serangoon Avenue 2 by Notion of W

Cement screed as well as wood-look and terrazzo tiles lend the common bathroom a varied and interesting appearance.

The Mickey Mouse-shaped decal on the frosted glass door is one of the DIY projects that Fangfang and I did for our home. It’s actually made from black car wrap. We drew a Mickey Mouse-shaped outline onto the film by hand before cutting it out and applying it onto the door.

About revamping the master bedroom and en suite

Serangoon Avenue 2 by Notion of W

L: Initially, my plan for the master bedroom was to have an arched door, but Wein suggested having double-leaf doors. Both Fangfang and I love this idea because it makes it feel as though we’re entering a Disney castle every time we enter our bedroom.

Right beside the doors, there’s also a ‘mouse hole’, it’s purely a fancy feature. We wanted this hole because it’s a fun take on the theme of our home. Also, it’s the main attraction for our friends’ children when they come over – they have a lot of fun crawling in and out.

serangoon mickey mouse HDB renovation

The area outside the en suite prior to the renovation.

Serangoon Avenue 2 by Notion of W

Built at an angle for space maximisation, the master bedroom’s cabinets follow the curve of the partition wall outside.

Serangoon Avenue 2 by Notion of W

Powder-coated metal handles in the shape of Mickey’s face were custom made for the wardrobe cabinets.

Like the common bathroom, we requested Wein to shift the sink out of the en suite and asked for an additional one to be installed to create a his-and-her setup for the vanity.

And again, for the en suite, there’s also a variety of finishes on the inside. I wanted something that looks old-school and feels a bit grungy, so we took a risk by bringing together geometric tiles, cement screed and these unique floor tiles that have a stained appearance – they aren’t actually grimy, it’s just how they look.

serangoon mickey mouse HDB renovation

The inside of the en suite before (left) and after (right) the renovation.

To sum up

Serangoon Avenue 2 by Notion of W

L: I’d say that this was a renovation well done because the final design of our flat is exactly like how I pictured it in my mind. It’s really personalised for us, and to me, that’s something important to have in a home.

Your home should be optimised to suit your lifestyle because it’s meant to be a space that you feel comfortable in – and if it reminds you of what you love, that’s even better.

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