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Renovating This 4-Room Flat Wasn’t Easy, But It Was Worth It

September 2, 2020
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It was all about doing away with an inefficient layout and aging features to create the ideal home.

The fact that it’s located in the same block as his parents’ and grandmother’s homes alone was a big draw for Alwyn when he first got to know about this 4-room flat at Balam Road last year. But upon visiting the property in-person, he came to the realisation that quite a bit of work had to be done before it could become the cosy family home that he had in mind.

Singapore renovation 4-room HDB flat Space Atelier

The kitchen’s exterior (left) and interior (right) prior to the renovation.

“We’re actually the third owners to stay here,” shares Alwyn. “The only way I can describe the house before the renovation was that it was just old. It’s your standard old-school HDB flat – even the window grilles were the retro sort, so we had to replace them together with the whole electrical system and plumbing.”

To accomplish that, Alwyn sought out Space Atelier’s Aloysius, whose renovation expertise was instrumental in completing the 180-degree transformation of this once awkward abode.


About himself and his home

Alwyn (A): It’s just the two of us living here, my wife and I. This is a resale flat and it’s our first home together. We chose this house because my parents live here too in this very same block, together with my grandmother who has her own unit as well. It’s three generations living at one location, so visiting them is very easy for me.

There were actually two other units available in the neighbourhood with roughly similar layouts, but because my mom knew the previous owner of this flat, we decided to buy it. Plus, we managed to get a bit of a discount on the selling price.

Singapore renovation 4-room HDB flat Space Atelier
Singapore renovation 4-room HDB flat Space Atelier

The floor plan of Alwyn’s home before (top) and after (bottom) the renovation.

Before we were able to move in, there was quite a lot of renovation work to be done. We basically replaced all the internals of the house and we also hacked away some of the existing structures to improve the overall layout.

I’d say one of the biggest changes was the storeroom, which was torn down from its original position beside the master bedroom and rebuilt further into the flat.

About the kitchen’s makeover

Balam Road by Space Atelier

Interior Firm: Space Atelier

A: Even though the both of us don’t cook frequently, one of the things on our list of must-haves was an open-concept kitchen. There used to be a partition wall right in front of the entrance; we got Aloysius to knock it down and have it replaced with a counter.

On a day-to-day basis, we use the counter as a breakfast table when there are no guests and it’s just the two of us; our coffee machine and water dispenser are placed on it too, so it’s like having a mini pantry right at our doorstep.

Balam Road by Space Atelier

Since it allows natural light to enter, we kept the kitchen’s original L-shaped layout as is. However, we did run into a challenge due to the size of the space – we had plans to have more storage built-ins, but we compromised by building upwards instead and installing cabinets on only one side of the kitchen.

Another thing that I want to point out are the fingerprint-proof laminates for the cabinets which Aloysius recommended; having them save us a lot of time and effort on cleaning, so it’s definitely a convenient feature to have.

On changes made to the living area

Singapore renovation 4-room HDB flat Space Atelier

The living room, prior to the renovation.

A: Due to it being longer than it is wide, the living room was quite challenging to makeover as well, especially when it came to space-planning. We had to fill in the ‘gaps’ with a dining table from Castlery and a larger sofa so that the entire area would be properly maximised.

Another feature that we replaced were the windows; that was something which we knew we absolutely had to get rid of right from the start. The previous owners had these old-fashioned window grilles which really got in the way of the entire view.

Balam Road by Space Atelier

I’d describe the aesthetic of the living room and the rest of the house as gloomy, but cosy – that was the vibe that I was going for, even though my wife wasn’t really a big fan of all the greys and browns at first.

About the master bedroom and en suite’s makeover

Balam Road by Space Atelier

A: The idea of having a walk-in wardrobe in our bedroom came to be because it was something that my wife wanted, but it was Aloysius who gave us the idea of re-locating the storeroom to create more space inside.

Originally, the storeroom would have been right beside the bedroom and it would have made the passageway on the side too narrow for a walk-in wardrobe, so shifting it was definitely the right decision in our case. Other than that, we also added a ceiling fan and replaced the flooring with dark brown vinyl to create some contrast with the surroundings.

Singapore renovation 4-room HDB flat Space Atelier

The en suite’s exterior (left) and interior (right) prior to the renovation.

Balam Road by Space Atelier

Likewise, we went for a total revamp of the master en suite; it has a condo-like feel now because of the frosted glass entrance and the geometrical tiles that we got from Earth Stone. For easy storage of our toiletries, we requested for a couple of recessed niches to be built into the shower wall.

Also, with Aloysius’s help in securing and submitting the proper documentation to HDB, we were able to reconfigure the vanity’s position and enlarge the entire master en suite which was a key criterion of our renovation.

To sum up

A: Overall, I feel that the entire makeover went pretty smoothly despite the house being quite old. Working with Space Atelier helped because Aloysius was very professional and guided us from start to end; he had plenty of merchant contacts for reasonably-priced blinds, air-cons and bathroom fittings, so we didn’t even have to do our own research.

Balam Road by Space Atelier

Before moving into this home, I was staying with my parents in their unit upstairs, so it was very easy for me to check on the renovation’s progress; all I had to do was take the lift down to reach the site. Even now, it’s still convenient living together in the same block – if I ever have a shortage of stools or chairs when guests come over, I can just head upstairs to get more.


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