Paul Twohill's 4-Room BTO Flat is the Perfect Mix of Form and Function
Minimalist principles meet a dark, moody facade in this cosy nest for two.
In the grand Singaporean scheme of things, buying a house with your spouse is perhaps one of the biggest milestones you can reach. But during a renovation, balancing what you both want will be challenge – something that Paul Twohill (@paultwohill77) was all too familiar with.
“On my side, I wanted something more modern-industrial,” says Paul. “My wife, however, likes the MUJI white-and-wood look. It ultimately came down to me pushing for darker colours while she wanted something brighter.”
“Mabel, our interior designer from The Interior Lab, had to step in and find a balance.”
View this project by The Interior Lab
At the same time, Paul was also keen on incorporating minimalist principles into his 4-room BTO flat in Ang Mo Kio to create a practical, easy-to-maintain home. Keep reading to see how everything eventually came together in a way that perfectly balances form and function!
About himself and his home
Paul (P): Before this, my previous home had things everywhere, which got to me over the years – so I made it a point to not do that when I got my own house.
So, when I was looking through Qanvast and Instagram for inspiration, I naturally gravitated towards a darker colour theme – which I felt was easier to maintain – as well as a neat, uncluttered look.
Paul’s home, pre-renovation
Initially, I was tempted to create display areas to show off my things, but I’ve learnt from seeing other houses – like my previous one – that this wasn’t practical. You need to wipe and dust your things regularly, and they also visually clutter the look.
Paul’s home, post-renovation
So, we decided to keep our carpentry simple, where it provides sufficient storage space while also keeping the look neat. There’s no ‘fancy carpentry’ that other houses have, since they don’t give you much room to switch things around.
And besides, I don’t see myself living here for the rest of my life. When potential owners come to take a look, I want them to see this house as a worthy investment, and overly complicated renovation works will only get in the way.
About making over the living room
P: I initially wanted the living room to be darker, but my wife didn’t – so in the end, Mabel suggested a lighter shade of grey for the walls and floor as a compromise.
Also, I’ve always liked how bricks look. Mabel made that happen in the form of a feature wall. It’s not actual bricks, by the way – it’s basically a ‘tile overlay’, using brick-look tiles to recreate the look.
The one built-in we have here is the floor-to-ceiling cabinet by the door. To ensure that it’s just right for our storage needs, we laid out all the things we had, and I even went as far as to dedicate specific areas for certain things before we gave Mabel the go ahead.
I think we found a good way to fully utilise the area. I can use the cabinet to store things like our newspapers and vacuum cleaner, and it’s also simple enough to minimise visual clutter.
On renovating the kitchen and dining area
P: All the materials in the kitchen were chosen by Mabel; it’s a good thing, since we obviously don’t know much about them. For the countertop, we told her we wanted something hardy, so she introduced us to KompacPlus, which we fell in love with as it’s trendy, looks great, and is fire-resistant.
The cabinets are all covered with matte laminates. This was an obvious choice, because Mabel said that fingerprints aren’t as visible [compared to glossy laminates] on it. Knowing me, I’d be very particular about it. And, come on, who doesn’t like a matte finish?
The bar counter is probably the area I love the most – it’s basically the centre of the home. We’re usually there most of the time, whether we’re hosting people, doing our work, or having our meals, so there’s a lot of memories tied to it. And I really like the granite that Mabel chose – it makes the island stand out more.
On renovating the master bedroom and study
P: For the bedroom, the main idea was to create a bigger private space, since the rest of the house is open to our guests. We weren’t keen on squeezing a study in our bedroom, so we merged one of the junior bedrooms with the master to open up the space.
In my previous place, my wife and I used to hang out a lot watching Netflix on my computer. Having the study here is, in a way, like a remake of my old room – just this time, it’s much bigger.
Initially, we wanted to use wooden tiles for the entire house, but we eventually used it solely for the bedroom to make it more inviting.
It didn’t occur to us to do any herringbone pattern until we saw it used at The Interior Lab’s showroom. I remember seeing it on Money Heist – one of the banks in the show had herringbone flooring. I thought it had a really classy, timeless look, so I figured it would look good with what we already have.
About renovating the bathrooms
The common bathroom
P: We were initially thinking of tiling the whole bathroom, but Mabel mentioned that focusing on a specific wall is enough to draw attention. It’s a good thing to know – looking at what we have now, I think the design impact is just as good as tiling up the entire area.
The master ensuite
Looks-wise, we wanted to recreate the concrete look without [both bathrooms] looking the same. I mean, we’re boring people, but we’re not that boring (laughs). So, we decided to vary the tiles used, and play around with the colour scheme we have outside.
Plus, it just so happened that the black tiles happened to be on sale in Hafary, so we went ahead with it.
To sum up
P: Our renovation took place during the height of the pandemic, so of course there were a few challenges here and there, including manpower and logistics issues. Other than that, it was pretty smooth-sailing.
I’m actually glad we got to work with Mabel and The Interior Lab. We met up with a lot of interior designers, but most of them were either unresponsive or unreliable. I felt that The Interior Lab was the only one that ticked all the right boxes – they had great warranties, competitive prices, and experience.
They also had a great reputation and many good reviews. When I was weighing out my choices, I actually went on Qanvast to see if they were of a ‘gold standard’, which they were!
If I could describe my home in three words, I’d say ‘it is us’. It’s different from how I visualised it at the start, but seeing how Mabel incorporated what we both wanted, and having everything come together, it just screams ‘us’, you know? And I love that – because after all, that’s the ultimate end goal for any home renovation.
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