This Dreamy Telok Blangah Home Isn’t Your Typical HDB Flat
With its unique decor and layout, this 4-room HDB home totally blows away the idea that BTO flats are cookie-cutter.
HDB homes typically have similar-looking layouts that leave little room left for imagination. But when renovating their 4-room flat at Telok Blangah, Douglas and Melissa were all-set to turn this notion on its head right from the start.
“Yes, it’s a BTO (Built-to-Order) unit, but we’ve always wanted our house to be totally different from the usual HDB flat, or if possible, not look like one at all,” says Douglas. “That has always been our intention and it’s also in the brief that we gave to Bow, who’s our interior designer from 19EightyThree.”
Interior Firm: 19 Eighty Three
The original space – a Sale of Balance unit that the couple received the keys to last year – was as regular as most BTO flats went. “The fixtures, the fittings, the flooring, all of it was standard,” Melissa recounts. “But because they weren’t what we wanted; we made the decision to remove everything even though they were brand-new. To be honest, we were a little heartbroken.”
However, that sacrifice was necessary to achieve the apartment’s new look, which is an amalgamation of the couple’s individual aesthetic preferences. “Nailing down what we wanted wasn’t the easiest thing,” says Melissa. “There were plenty of features and themes that we saw on the Internet which we liked, but we didn’t know to fit everything in.”
Created by plastering up both sides of the yard’s entrance, this archway serves as a facade for a more ordinary utility area.
Eventually, after much discussion, Douglas and Melissa settled on a fresh look that borrows from both Memphis as well as Scandinavian design. To bring their chosen theme to life, Bow turned to a variety of contemporary decorative elements, such as geometrical shapes, soft pastels, rattan panels, and light wood tones, which cumulated in a more playful take on the traditional Art Deco interior.
“It’s fortunate that Bow was able to get our ideas,” says Melissa. “We had sent her almost a thousand images that we saw on Qanvast, Pinterest, and everywhere else. But only she was able to distil the essence of what we wanted. In a way, everything from the design of the wallpaper to the curved ceiling beams were her vision, as much as it’s ours.”
The kitchen before (top) and after (bottom) the renovation with its new open-concept look.
The study with its custom-made glass enclosure.
The floor plan of Douglas and Melissa’s home.
No less novel, the home’s layout likewise strays away from the cookie-cutter and towards the inventive. Partition walls surrounding what was previously a closed-off study were demolished and replaced with glass panels framed in metal arches, whereas a pair of bedrooms were merged to create a more spacious boudoir, complete with a window-facing bed. (“The view was one of the reasons why we bought the flat in the first place,” shares Douglas.)
What was once a regular hallway is also no longer just a path from one room to another and is now a glamourous corridor, flanked by an open-concept wardrobe on the right and arched doorways to the flat’s common bathroom and powder room on the left.
The hallway (top), common bathroom (middle) and master en suite (bottom), pre- and post-renovation.
Admittedly, however, some trade-offs in functionality had to be made to achieve the dream home that Douglas and Melissa wanted. “For the en suite, we made the conscious decision to turn it into a powder room, even though it meant having one less WC in the house,” says Melissa. “It was either that or not having the powder room at all, because there wouldn’t be enough space for a double vanity otherwise.”
The same goes for the wall-to-wall grey carpet covering the entire master bedroom. “I’ve always wanted to have a hotel vibe, so we carpeted the floor even though it isn’t the most practical choice,” Douglas shares. “But so far, it’s turned out fine. Maybe, it’s because I’m constantly cleaning the house. [laughs]”
To give both spaces a more eye-catching look, seven different varieties of ceramic tiles were used between the common bathroom and powder room. “Our goal was to be as adventurous as we could be,” says Douglas.
Terrazzo accents and accessories, like speckled countertop surfaces and suspended lamps, can be found throughout the home. “I like terrazzo very, very much,” says Melissa. “It looks nice together with the gold accents, don’t you think?”
While other homeowners might baulk at the idea of putting form over function, for Douglas and Melissa, what mattered most to them was realising their vision.
“If I could change the structure of our home even more, I would,” says Douglas. “But there are some things that you can’t change in the layout like the position of the kitchen and toilet. Nonetheless, I think what we have is quite impressive for an HDB flat.” Melissa agrees: “We’ve already lived here for a few months, but every time I open the door, I’m still wowed.”
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