Peek into an Ang Mo Kio ‘Modern Kampung’ on the 29th Floor!
This breezy 4-room HDB flat puts a modern-day spin on the traditional Singapore home without losing its heartland vibe.
The humble HDB flat is one of Singapore’s most recognisable forms of housing – and much like the traditional kampung homes which came before it – a symbol of local life. Fittingly, it was this sense of heartland familiarity that Tammi and Mykel, the affable owners of this 4-room HDB flat in Ang Mo Kio, wanted to capture in their home’s new look.
“There’s a lot of people who dive deep into design when renovating, and their homes look totally amazing, but sometimes it (the interior) just doesn’t match the setting, if you get what I mean,” says Tammi. “It’s the reason why we tried to retain a touch of ‘Singapore-ness’ that makes you feel like you’re in Ang Mo Kio, rather than some fancy condo in town. That’s how we arrived at this ‘modern kampung’ theme.”
Keep scrolling to see how this unique concept influenced the look and feel of Tammi and Mykel’s home!
Tammi (T): Hello, I am Tammi and I live here with my husband, Mykel. My work is primarily in PR and marketing, and I have been with The Lo and Behold Group for the past 4 years. We run restaurants and bars that you might have heard of, like The White Rabbit, OverEasy, and Kin, which is a new restaurant that’s run by chef Damian D’Silva.
Mykel (M): Me? I am currently fun-employed [laughs]. I used to work in communications in the public sector, but since I am taking a break, I am a house husband for now.
About their home’s new look
T: I have always been obsessed with design, homeware and stuff like that, so I admit that I sort of went a little nuts with the renovation. But what we really tried to create is that sense of HDB living combined with a more modern aesthetic; it’s also like our treehouse in a way because we’re all the way up on the 29th floor.
Our inspiration mostly came from our travels so a lot of the items you see were collected from our trips. We didn’t have a fixed idea of what to include at first, but across time there was this gradual funneling of what would match our personal aesthetic.
I would also like to say that the work of our friend and interior designer, Adrien Kent, played a big role in inspiring our home; he has worked on offices, hospitality spaces as well as retail stores. For example, the botanic wallpaper you see in the living room was also used in a co-working space that he designed.
The flat’s original floor plan. (Red circles denote where walls were hacked.)
M: Layout-wise, we didn’t change much, except for the bedroom. For the living area, we wanted a full view of the panorama – which by the way extends all the way to Malaysia – so we took out the original window grilles.
Also, if you notice, we don’t have a dining area, instead we have a breakfast nook by the window where we can enjoy coffee and the scenery in the morning. When we have friends over, communal meals take place here, on the living room floor.
T: We demolished a wall between the master bedroom and the current walk-in wardrobe to connect them; they were originally two separate rooms. We also requested for a custom wardrobe and bought a storage bed that allows us to hide all our luggage bags underneath it.
M: The original bedroom layout also had an L-shaped wall which created a small alcove near the entrance, that’s very strange right? We felt that it was causing the space to be unable to ‘breathe’ even though it’s so windy up here, so we removed it to improve the air flow.
The recreational room is right beside the master bedroom. It’s a bit like a club environment; the dark green half-walls give off a really relaxed vibe when you turn the lights off. Sometimes, after dinner, we come in here to read, relax and have rave parties.
You can see vestiges of our past lives here too. I played at Zouk nearly 20 years ago, so there’s a DJ console by the window with our vinyl collection. There’s also an ‘occult corner’ where I have a framed poster of a Canadian band, Godspeed You! Black Emperor; they got reunited for a concert in Prague, so I went there, stood for 4 hours straight and got this as a souvenir.
What Tammi and Mykel’s kitchen looked like, pre-renovation.
T: Our kitchen is in the old-style, long format, so if you aren’t used to it, it can feel quite odd. These days, people prefer a more squarish layout with an island right? Fortunately, we don’t cook much and the length (of the space) lets us display our entire collection of wares and ornaments that we got from overseas.
The marble-look backsplash and turquoise green walls are completely new. The only things we kept from the original kitchen were the countertop, the pedestal for the washing machine and the bottom cabinets after we swapped out the fronts; we didn’t change the flooring here also, and that allowed us to save a fair bit.
M: The common bathroom’s tiles were overlaid with new ones and we asked for the smaller pipes to be painted in black to create a high-contrast look. But we didn’t paint the large one overhead – it would probably look quite disgusting because of the girth. The poster is an image of a bike’s brakes because I was interested in vintage bikes for a while.
About their furnishings and décor
T: Before moving in, we really gave plenty of thought about what we really needed in the house and kept only those things, which is why the house doesn’t look too cluttered.
My favourite piece is definitely the dresser in the master bedroom, it brings so much to my joy to my daily routine. We got it from Hock Siong, it’s an antique business run by my primary school friend and they upcycle a lot of old furniture.
M: The recreational room also has a writing desk that’s over a hundred years old, which is now our bar table, I bought it from a friend who got it from a UK gentleman; you can tell it’s completely handmade because of the imperfections.
On renovation challenges
T: The biggest challenge for us was managing the contractors ourselves. Because Adrien is based in KL, we didn’t have an interior designer to project manage. Luckily, Mykel is fluent in mandarin and Hokkien so he could handle the communication and QC.
If you really, really want to work with an overseas designer, find someone who you can really trust. For us, we knew that Adrien’s aesthetic was what we wanted so that was easy, but if you’re hiring an overseas designer, don’t do it just to save yourself money as there will be plenty of work involved.
To sum up
M: The other day, my mother-in-law asked me when we would be selling this space because after 5 years, you flip it and move on right? But I asked myself whether I even wanted to move. This house has really become a home for us – it’s so comfortable and nice here that we feel an emotional attachment to it.
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