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Pink Has Never Looked Cooler in This Bold, Victorian-Style HDB

Most homes today prefer to play things safe for a 'timeless' look - monochromes, neutrals and perhaps the odd shade of navy blue and sage green. But for homeowners Elyn and Shawn, their idea of a dream abode was something... different.

Stepping into their HDB flat in Telok Blangah pretty much explains things. Decked in a shocking shade of watermelon pink, the space is a visual knockout, gorgeously contrasted with inky black hues and a hint of glitzy brass. And while many of us would have reservations going all-out with such a colour, the couple decided to take a leap of faith at their designer's suggestion - and has never looked back since.

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Fun, daring and elegant, their modern Victorian themed home is not your usual Singaporean dwelling - nor does it aspire to be. And we're loving every inch of its - as Shawn puts it - 'instagrammable' space. Here, we speak to the lively duo to find out more about their renovation story, and how their designers from The Scientist helped them achieve a one-of-a-kind look.

When designing our home

Elyn (E): I was adamant about incorporating the 4 key elements that I love - brass, marble, leather and wood. My husband Shawn and I had different requirements, which turned out to be a great thing. My ideas were not always practical due to constraints like HDB rules, level of maintenance, cost, etc. Shawn wasn’t particular about design, but he definitely played a very important part in ensuring the design was practical and keeping a tight rein on the spending!

The best thing about working with The Scientist was that while they adhered to what we desired, they constantly pushed the boundaries in areas where we never thought possible, while keeping within reasonable budget. Case in point, the pink and black walls.

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They proposed a few wall colours that would go well with brass, and to our surprise, one of them was pink. We took the idea back, spent the next few days poring over overseas design websites and magazines, and found that the brass/copper, pink and green combination actually works perfectly. Recently we started to see this combination sprouting up in the interior of cafés and boutique shops but a year ago, there didn’t have a lot of such references locally. After overcoming the psychological barrier of choosing a colour that’s generally perceived to be feminine, we took a leap of faith and went for it. Never looked back since!

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The search for an interior designer

E: We browsed through Qanvast, Home & Décor, Lookbook Living, etc and noted the photos that we liked. After a while we realised that many of the photos we picked were the works of the same interior designer – The Scientist.

We made an appointment where we met Alvin and Cynthia. They form a great team as Alvin led the discussions while Cynthia meticulously took down everything that we discussed (seriously, we saw her notes). We have heard of horror stories where designers ordered wrong paint colours, used wrong materials, took wrong measurements, etc. So attention to details is a quality we definitely value.

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The Scientist’s designs speak for themselves, really. Designs may be subjective but it is undeniable that his designs are in sharp contrast with that of other IDs. I would not hesitate to recommend The Scientist to homeowners who dare to be different and willing to pay a bit more for quality.

Your thoughts about the renovation journey...

Shawn (S): Both Alvin and Cynthia are a joy to work with. There were no major issues at all throughout the renovation process, and all minor rectifications were taken care of swiftly.

We actually think home renovation is much more fulfilling than holding a wedding! While both required lots of time and effort, you actually get to live in the home you helped built, so to every stressed-out new homeowners out there - hang in there, it'll be all worthwhile in the end!

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Advice to homeowners who are renovating

E: This is our first home so we are no experts for sure, but we can definitely share what has worked for us:

Do your own research and create a mood board. No ID can read your mind and never assume they know what you are describing unless there are pictures to show.

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When it comes to tile selection, head down to the tile shop and take a look at the tiles yourself first, have an idea of the prices and designs available so that you will have a more efficient discussion when you head down with your ID.

Have more friends so that you can visit their homes and steal their ideas (thanks friends!)

Don’t rush it! There are many moving parts during the renovation so don’t plan that housewarming or baby shower before your renovation is complete.

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Your shopping buys

S: We often joke that our house is a Taobao showroom. It’s amazing what you can find there. Apart from electronics and built-in cabinets, almost everything you see was from Taobao.

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Our first piece of furniture was the brass wine trolley with mirrored shelves, and the 1.55 metres black study table took us a long time to find, as those available in Singapore are often 1.2 metres long. The brass and copper taps, all from Taobao, cost half the price in Singapore.

For homeowners who are shopping from Taobao; be prepared to spend a lot of time scouring the site because there are just so many items available on it. Go for the items with positive reviews, ship directly to Singapore, and come with insurance. If not, be prepared to handle logistical issues when your items go missing (it happens!).

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About managing your budgets

S: We had to adjust our renovation budget and the home furnishings budget several times, as we were undecided on the amount of carpentry to have. It would be cheaper to buy ready-made wardrobes, but they would not be the best use of space. In the end while our budget for renovation became higher than furnishings, we managed to stay within our overall budget.

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Your favourite areas at home

S: Our place turned to be better than what we envisioned. Months after moving in, we are still very much in love with it. It’s so difficult to pick a favourite area – we love the Instagramable living/dining area where many parties have been held, the kitchen where Elyn developed a new interest in cooking, the double doors in the hallway which lead to the spacious master bedroom, the hotel-like bathrooms… We love them all!

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Speak with an interior designer and make your home work for you.

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