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There’s Plenty of Smart Storage Ideas Inside This Simple BTO

January 25, 2019
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“It’s small and dark.”

That was the immediate thought that ran through homeowners Bryan and Mindy’s minds after seeing their Bukit Batok flat for the first time before its makeover.

HDB Renovation by Ascenders in Bukit Batok
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“The house was really cramped and dim. This was made worse by the length of the central walkway and the walled-up kitchen, it was impossible for light to pass through to the area,” says Bryan.

At Bryan and Mindy's request, these problems were solved by Ascenders Design Studio during the renovation. Several upgrades were also made in the process – the house now features a gaming room, a Hollywood-style vanity as well as plenty of useful storage.

To find out more about this simple, but seriously practical home, we sat down with Bryan and Mindy for a chat.


HDB Renovation by Ascenders in Bukit Batok
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About themselves

Bryan (B): Hi there, I’m Bryan! My wife Mindy and I work in the financial sector.

About their first impressions of their home

B: Because we got a sales-of-balance flat, we weren’t able to opt in or out for certain features like regular BTO homeowners can. When we first stepped in, what really stood out to us was how small and dark the house was.

Mindy (M): By default, our kitchen was walled up, and there was this long corridor where the bedrooms are. Hardly any light could enter the space, which made it look even smaller.

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About their must-haves

B: I think we knew from the beginning that we needed to hack our kitchen and bedroom walls. Mainly to brighten up the space and let the breeze in. As our home was on the small side, we also needed ample storage compartments to maximise the limited space we had.

There were a couple of must-haves that we wanted too. For me, it was a dedicated gaming room (laughs) and for Mindy, a Hollywood-style vanity.

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About their home’s aesthetic

B: We both wanted a modern-contemporary look for the house, but colour-wise, we had different ideas in mind.

I wanted a darker palette, but Mindy preferred something brighter. In the end, we came to a compromise – we decided to go for a light colour scheme, with some dark accents. On hindsight, I’m glad that I went with her suggestion. After moving in, I noticed that dust is more visible on dark surfaces due to the contrast.

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On why they decided to work with Jason from Ascenders

B: I think we met about 10 interior firms in total, it was very tiring for us to keep repeating our needs and plans to every ID. Thankfully, Jason was quick on the uptake and he could understand what we wanted, we felt comfortable talking to him.

Other designers we met were quite adamant about going for a particular aesthetic and had a ‘leave it to me, I know better’ mindset that really put us off; there was none of that coming from Jason.

M: What I liked about Jason was that he would advise us on how we could make our space more practical. At the start, we had many ideas for our home, and thought that it was possible to have everything we wanted. However, he’d discuss these requests with us and highlight the impractical aspects, which helped streamline our plans.

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About the practical suggestions Jason provided

M: Jason suggested placing lights below our bathroom mirrors as way of illuminating the area surrounding our sink and shelves. Initially, we didn’t think they would do much, but after moving in, we realized that this idea worked very well.

B: He also advised us to go for smooth matte finishes instead of glossy ones, which trap less dirt and make fingerprint marks less visible.

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About their home’s storage features

B: I initially wanted a swivel TV console for the living and gaming room, which are adjacent to one another. However, that meant that the TV could only be used in one area at any time. And so Jason came up with the idea of hacking the walls and creating two back-to-back TV consoles. The new partition wall would also contain the cables for both TVs. We also had two storage compartments built to store our A/V items.

For the bedrooms, we had platform storage built beneath our bed and on the sides.

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M: As we have a small kitchen, we needed to find a balance between having a wide-enough walkway and ample tabletop space. One idea Jason proposed was to install a slide-out table as part of our kitchen’s cabinetry. We mainly use it to prop up our rice-cooker during cooking.

We also had drawers installed at the side of the cabinet frame instead of the front. It’s really convenient, as it’s positioned close to our sink and the dining area. For instance, if I’m washing the dishes, I can easily place them there without having to move around from zone to zone.

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About lessons learnt and their advice for homeowners

B: With every renovation, you’ll have to look over a lot of details and processes. Issues will surely crop up, whether it’s defects or changes in terms of style or features.

Communication is key as your input and decisions are required, especially for costing matters. Also, have realistic expectations. There’s bound to be a five, ten percent difference from what you see on paper and what you get – you have to expect that things won’t be a 100% perfect.


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