Tampines 5-Room BTO Flat Has Cosy ‘Semi-Minimalist’ New Look
‘Simple, but not bare’ is how we’d describe this home for three.
While there’s no one fixed way of creating a minimalist BTO flat, we can all probably agree that such a home would feature a mostly neutral colour scheme, bare walls as well as a general lack of clutter. Put everything together, and that’s exactly the sort of aesthetic Nic wished to avoid.
Instead, when renovating his 5-room BTO flat in Tampines North last year, what Nic requested from locally-based interior design firm KDOT was a “semi-minimalist” vibe.
“There’s a bit of flair here and there (around the house), so I wouldn’t call it minimalist,” he says. “For instance, my daughter’s room features light pink and there are also plenty of warm brown tones everywhere.”
The common bathroom, post-renovation.
In addition to its cosy palette, the family’s flat was also furbished with a variety of sleek fixtures and fittings, from copper tapware to faux brass laminates, for a classy appearance.
“Looking at the final result, we think it’s pretty perfect,” says Nic. “The contrast (between the raw wood and polished metal) works really well in the bathroom and also the other spaces.” Read on to see how this particular pairing and other bespoke features contribute to the home’s new look!
About himself and his home
View this project by KDOT
Nic (N): There are just three people living in this home, namely myself, my wife and our daughter who has just turned three this year. We also have a 6-year-old Maltipoo. Our HDB block is also very close to IKEA’s Tampines branch and it’s really easy for us to go over whenever we wish to.
Because this is our first home, we’re very new to the home renovation process, but we did have our requirements. For instance, a full-on black-and-white look was something that we didn’t want, mostly because we didn’t think it would be a good fit for a family home.
The floor plan of Nic’s home.
That said, this was a mostly hands-off renovation for us because we were comfortable with letting Kobe, who is our interior designer from KDOT, take the reins. We had seen his portfolio and his past projects matched our tastes.
In fact, we got to know of Kobe through a friend of ours who is a blinds installer – she met him by chance as well, and when she realised that he’s very up-to-date with the latest interior design trends, she told us to reach out to him.
About the living room and entryway’s makeover
The living room (left) and entryway (right) before the renovation.
N: Kobe is quite the perfectionist, which is exactly what we wanted in an interior designer, and this aspect of his character shows in the details of our home. Take the cabinets in the living area and entryway for example, he created this curved edge at the corner of the bomb shelter so that the whole section looks seamless.
“The LED lights in the living room are from Sol Luminaire and they’re dimmable,” says Nic. “So, if we’re watching movies at night, we’re able to create a cinema-like setting.”
We also gave Kobe the freedom to build niches into the cabinetry. The ones at the entryway are intended for displaying my wife’s crystal collection and to serve as a spot where we can drop off our keys. As for the overhead niche, it actually houses recessed cove lights and a lamp at the side.
For the feature wall, our only instruction to Kobe was for it to be able to house a 65-inch TV, and that’s it. Everything else about its design, including the vertical panels, was decided by him.
The really good thing about these feature wall cabinets is that they give us plenty of storage space and make the house look really neat; we’re able to store dog food, toys, stationery, and even some spare renovation materials inside them.
The rest of the living room was intentionally kept simple. All we have are a six-seater sofa from Castlery and a round coffee table that was purchased online from Taobao. The only ‘fancy’ décor in the living room is a wooden world map from Ukraine – it carries some personal meaning because I’m a pilot and my wife used to be a cabin staff.
On renovating the kitchen and dining area
The kitchen (left) and dining area (right) before the renovation.
N: We chose to have an open-concept kitchen when we first bought the flat, so there was already enough space at the front for a large island/dining table. It’s one of our favourite features in the house – the table is large enough to fit 4 to 5 people, plus there are two charging points and even a storage space for drinks.
The materials used for the dining table are also fairly unique. I believe the tabletop is a jumbo-sized porcelain slab and the table legs are covered in a brass laminate, which gives them a posh look, but without the weight of real metal.
It also helps that the table is built within reach of our home pantry – that’s where we have our coffee machine placed. Initially, we had planned to install a water dispenser in the pantry as well, but we ended up placing it right next to the fridge because it’s a more convenient spot.
On the inside, the kitchen has a fairly simple layout; there’s an induction stove and a sink along the same wall, so we don’t have to turn around or walk elsewhere to alternate between cooking and washing. At this point, the kitchen is pretty much perfect for everyday cooking. Maybe the only thing that’s missing is a dishwasher. [laughs]
Rows of top-and-bottom hung cabinets in dark green bring a pop of colour to an otherwise homogenous-looking kitchen clad in wood tones.
On the kids’ room renovation
N: We went for a softer colour palette of pink and white for this room. Basically, it’s meant to be a comfortable space for our daughter to play and rest in. There’s a little nook in the corner of the room where we’ll install a study table once she gets older, there are also power sockets and lights hidden in the built-ins for a sleeker look.
Other than that, the only other new addition to this room is the wardrobe. Currently, the two cabinets closest to the window are used for storing swimwear and toddler essentials while the others house dresses and daily clothes.
As a cost-saving measure, the vinyl flooring from HDB’s Optional Component Scheme wasn’t replaced during the renovation. “It helps to visually differentiate this room from the outside spaces as well, so that’s another plus.” says Nic.
About the master bedroom and en suite’s new look
N: Kobe gave our master bedroom a darker aesthetic to make it look cosier; the wood laminates have a darker tone and even the lights aren’t as bright compared to the ones outside.
Actually, we wanted a walk-in wardrobe for the master bedroom as well, but that’s before we had our daughter. Because of the flat’s layout, it would be hard for us to build a full-sized one without merging the master bedroom with the room next door, and that wouldn’t be ideal for future planning.
Subsequently, Kobe came up with the solution of sectioning off part of the bedroom to create a smaller dressing area. In a way, it’s a pseudo-walk-in wardrobe that’s really convenient.
There’s a vanity table, a full-length mirror, cabinets for storing make up, concealed plugs, and even space for a safe. And on the other side of the structure that’s facing the platform bed, there’s a pair of recessed lights which provide us with ample illumination at night.
For the master en suite, we wanted it to have a hotel vibe, so everything in it is designed to look sleek like the frameless mirror as well as the recessed basin, which is built into a Silestone countertop.
The copper tap in the common bathroom was actually supposed to be placed here, but it turned out to be taller than expected and wouldn’t fit beneath the mirror, so we ended up having a GROHE tap installed.
I became familiar with GROHE because I used to fly to Germany, and when I was there, I found out that their products are priced the same across countries, just in different currencies.
For example, a GROHE tap that costs 350 euros in Germany would cost 350 Singapore dollars here. But in the end, we ended up getting ours from Taobao, and that saved us about 30% to 40% overall by my estimation.
To sum up
N: To be frank, it wasn’t easy for my wife and I to get the house that we wanted. Because of our line of work, it makes sense for us to live in the East, so we tried balloting for a BTO flat in two Bedok estates, and only on the third try did we manage to get this unit in Tampines North.
But at last, we finally have a place of our own. I know I’m repeating myself, but from our standpoint, this flat is pretty perfect, so much so that we get homesick really quickly whenever we go on staycations. These days, we very much prefer to stay at home!
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