This HDB Flat Is Now a (Really) Elegant White-and-Wood Home
Its new owners, a pair of self-confessed homebodies, also altered its layout to create an extra-large personal space.
A good floor plan is often cited to be a key factor in building an absolute dream home, and in Ian and Wanting’s (@lwtz) case, they were lucky to find a Pasir Ris flat with a layout that’s as close as perfect to them.
At about 105 sqm large, their 4-room resale home is almost as large as recent 5-room BTO flats, but it was its simple layout that’s “almost like one big rectangle” which the couple fell in love with. “All of the other properties we viewed either had big columns in awkward spots or they would be L-shaped. We didn’t want homes like that because they would make space planning harder,” says Ian.
The original floor plan of Ian and Wanting’s home.
While their search for an HDB flat with an ideal layout turned out to be a fruitful endeavour, finding the right house was just but the first step in Ian and Wanting’s renovation plans. To find out more, we sat down for a chat with the pair!
About themselves and their home
Ian (I): I’m a civil engineer by trade. Hobbies-wise, I enjoy computer games as well as the occasional workout. Both Wanting and I are also homebodies who enjoy spending our time indoors, so comfort was one of the things that we prioritised for our home.
Wanting (W): Between the two of us, you could say that I’m the creative one [laughs]. I work in healthcare comms, which is why this renovation was also about discovering our personal ‘brand’ through our home. Like Ian said, comfort is a big part of it, and it’s why we chose to create a white-and-wood look, which matches our idea of a safe space.
The living room, prior to the renovation.
I: We had actually viewed this house twice before we bought it. It was love at first sight for us during the first viewing, but because we weren’t able to get a selling price at that point, we had no choice but to look at other properties. But even so, this house was always at the back of our minds.
Two to three months later, we found out that it was being sold under a new listing and that’s when we decided to take the shot because we really, really like the layout.
About the living room’s makeover
I: Furniture is one way through which comfort is conveyed in our home; we have plenty of soft cushions to complement the 2.7m sofa that we bought from Castlery as well as throws to create a cosy vibe in the living room.
We were also very careful about furniture placement. For example, we had the chaise placed on the left of the sofa where it wouldn’t cramp up the walkway on the right.
W: Another change that we made was to swap the positions of the dining area and the living room; the previous owners had their dining table placed where our TV console is now.
Speaking of which, we were really glad to get our TV console off Carousell. It’s from Cellini and we bought it off an expat couple who wanted to sell it off ASAP, it was pretty new, and it only cost us $100, which is about 10% of the original price.
We also have a little memory corner right beside the TV. We don’t have a wedding portrait hung over our bed like more traditional folks do, so we thought it would be nice to have photos from our travels and wedding displayed in the living room, both as a way to remind us of the moments we shared together and to make use of dead space.
About changes made to the dining area
I: Even before the renovation, there weren’t any walls separating the living room and the dining area – and it’s one of the reasons why we really like the layout of our flat.
Put together, both areas are essentially one long stretch of space that makes it very easy for entertaining guests; for the same purpose, we got a 2m long dining table which we use for everything, from meals, to work and even playing board games with our friends.
W: Decor-wise, we hung up a marble-look resin artwork that we designed together. It’s nothing really special, but it’s also something that we worked on as a couple, so I guess there’s personal meaning to it. I just wish that it was a bit larger [laughs], but sadly this was the biggest one that we could make at the studio!
On changes made to the kitchen
The kitchen’s exterior, mid-renovation
W: The kitchen was completely sealed up previously, except for an archway entrance leading to the inside. Although we kept the position of the doorway, we had the exterior wall knocked down and replaced with a bar counter and a set of sliding partition windows; we wanted an open-concept kitchen, but also the option to close it up when we cook.
Another big change was the flooring. Unlike the communal areas outside where we kept the original tiles – which by the way, allowed us to save quite a bit – we asked for wood-look ceramic tiles to be installed in the kitchen. They are non-slip and also give the kitchen a more natural look.
I: We didn’t want top cabinets in our kitchen because we thought they look too bulky. And we didn’t go for the usual built-in oven either.
Instead, to make it more practical, we opted for a double-layer shelf that would allow us to have our oven right next to the counter; it’s reinforced for sturdiness and the overall design is quite practical as it ensures better heat ventilation when the shelf is pulled out.
On the common bathroom’s renovation
W: So, the common bathroom is where we disagreed [laughs]! Ian isn’t the biggest fan of the floor tiles, which we got from Soon Bee Huat; they are meant to bring a worn-out, retro vibe to the space, but he thinks they look too grungy. On the other hand, I think they go very well with the rest of the bathroom, especially the dusty blue cabinets.
The common bathroom, pre-renovation.
There’s also a large overhead water pipe, but we didn’t seal it up just in case there’s a leak in the future. Plus, boxing it up would make the entire toilet feel quite cramped since it isn’t that large to begin with.
About the walk-in wardrobe and master bedroom’s renovation
I: If you take a look at the ‘before’ pictures and the floor plan, you’ll notice that one of the things that we had changed was the position of the master bedroom’s entrance. The original doorway used to be right beside the kitchen, but we go it plastered up because it was too close to the living room windows where it’s possible to look into the master bedroom from the external passageway.
Now, the doorway leading to one of the junior bedrooms – which we turned into our walk-in wardrobe – is the entrance to our personal space.
The walk-in wardrobe, before (top) and after (bottom) the renovation.
W: I believe rattan is a trending material now and I really like it, so we chose it for the wardrobe doors screens. We were contemplating installing a back cover behind the screens to keep out the dust, but ultimately, we didn’t because that would defeat the point of a ventilated wardrobe. To maximise dead space, we also had custom-made L-shaped drawers installed inside the wardrobe that fit into the corners of the room perfectly.
For the most part, the walk-in wardrobe or rather the previous owner’s bedroom was quite bare before the renovation, so we also chose to accessorise the space with items such as a large fluffy rug from HipVan and a plush ottoman, which lend a soft quality to the room.
The master bedroom during (top) and after (bottom) the renovation.
I: We had the option of turning our master bedroom into a bigger space by hacking the wall between it and the walk-in wardrobe next door entirely.
In fact, doing so would allow us to get a king-sized bed with a pair of bedside tables, but in the end, we chose to have a sliding door entrance instead because that would still create the sense of a larger space, but save us the hassle of having to do much restoration works in the future.
W: We wanted to have the shelves beside our bed because they would serve as a nice way to conceal the recess where the room’s pillar and overhead column meet. Originally, we had plans to have a painted display area in our living room, but we weren’t adventurous enough, and so our bedroom became the next best spot to have one.
On the master en suite’s makeover
W: The en suite is about the same size as our common bathroom, but we chose a different theme here – we wanted a private space that we can unwind in at the end of the day, so we went with a darker palette here with stone grey tiles for a more relaxing atmosphere.
We also had the original wired glass louvre windows swapped out because they didn’t provide much ventilation.
There was quite a lot of thought put into the vanity’s design as well. It was important for us to get the dimensions right, so that the vanity could fit into the space nicely yet still accommodate the large top mount sinks we wanted. Finally, I like odd-shaped mirrors, so we got one from Castlery.
To sum up
I: Renovating a house for the first time was a very fun and exciting process – you get to see it turn from a bare unit into a proper home as all the pieces come together. It also showed us how to overcome challenges together as a couple by creating a shared space that’s ours.
W: Yup, it was definitely an eye-opener and a journey of self-discovery. Ian and I got to know each other better by working together and finding out what we really like in a home. For instance, we got to find out that we have differing tastes in tile design [laughs].
But ultimately, the entire process was an opportunity for us to grow as a couple. In a way, renovating was also like relationship building for us!
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