This Tampines Home for a Big Family Has a Secret ‘Bedroom’
To accommodate a family of six and their helper, The Makers Design Studio had to find ways to maximise every inch of this Tampines HDB flat.
When it comes to renovating a space-efficient home for a large family, naturally, one of the biggest challenges is to provide a private space for everyone living in it; and even if it’s an airy 5-room HDB flat with 112 square meters of space to spare, this can be a tough nut to crack as The Makers’ Janice Wu can certainly attest to.
Interior Firm: The Makers Design Studio
“The biggest challenge was definitely getting the space planning right and creating personal zones for everyone living here,” confesses the senior design consultant, who was tasked with coming up with an efficient layout for this Tampines home. “Both of the owners live here with their two children, parents/in-laws, and a domestic helper, so that’s seven people in total.”
To find out exactly what ideas she came up with (such as the ‘secret’ bedroom in the living room!), we spoke to Janice to find out what went on behind the scenes of the flat’s renovation as well as how its new features make life better for everyone living in it.
About the design brief
Janice (J): New features wise, what the owners mainly wanted was an extra room for their helper as well as a study area; the only area in the house where there was enough space to fit both of these was the living room. We couldn’t utilise the bedrooms because the owners wanted them to be purely for rest and they were quite compact, the regular size for BTOs, so even if we wanted to (make use of them) there wasn’t much we could do.
The home’s floor plan, pre-renovation. Green circles indicate key areas of the renovation.
On changes made to the home
J: Aesthetics-wise, the owners didn’t make any specific requests, but they did want an element of uniqueness to their home. To address that, we made sure there was variety, whether it’s colours, textures or patterns. For the living room, we mixed things up by bringing in different natural layers, from wood to stone textures. And for the kitchen, there are two-toned cabinets for some contrast.
For a less-obtrusive look and added visual interest, a ribbed wood facade was created for the entrance to the helper’s bedroom.
In a way, the ‘highlight’ of the living area is the helper’s bedroom. We proposed it to the owners as a fresh idea, it’s the first time we have created something like that. Initially, the owners’ had plans to have the study area next to the windows, but we advised that it would be better for the room to have direct access to ventilation instead.
We also installed a frosted glass wall between the helper’s room and the study so that natural light could pass through; this was to address the owners’ concerns about not having enough sunlight in the study, and to ensure the helper’s privacy as well. So, in a way, we managed to kill two birds with one stone.
To keep the look consistent, black laminates that match the frame of the TV wall were used for the study’s built-ins and surfaces.
The study has a back-to-back design, there’s a built-in desk for the owners’ use on one side and their kids have a small table of their own on the other. We also built cabinets there because that’s the only area left in the living room where it’s possible to have storage solutions. The feature wall wouldn’t have enough depth to accommodate both the study table and cabinets otherwise.
The kitchen came with an open entrance, so the main addition is really just the island in the centre. The owners wanted one because they cook often and need a lot of preparation space for seven people. It’s also the reason why they have a large dining area that’s about 1.8 meters long.
The island also has drawers, which is great because the owners get storage solutions on both sides of the kitchen even though the wet area has an L-shaped layout. The counter’s surface is quartz, and we usually recommend it to our customers because it’s one of the most durable options available.
Lighting was another important element for the kitchen and dining area. There are track lights here because it’s possible to angle the lamps individually and that provides the flexibility and utility, which a kitchen for a large family needs. In addition to that, we also evened out the section above the dining area by flushing the entire surface and a structural beam together to give it a more uniform, less chunky look from the outside.
The common bathroom (right) and master en suite (left), post-renovation.
Although the works for both of the bathrooms were minimal, they were essential. For example, we suggested getting rougher tiles with a rocky texture as they provide extra grip underfoot, which makes it safer for both the young and old.
Lastly, there are a couple of space-saving storage solutions and features in the master bedroom. The platform bed was specially customised with dual compartments and a double-door design to keep any belongings inside organised. As for the headboard, it has cove lights installed inside, so there’s no need to make space for a side table and a lamp.
The master bedroom’s wardrobe features a flip out mirror that can be angled outwards, along with a retractable compartment/surface that serves as a compact dressing table.
To sum up
J: Quite frankly, this is the first time I have renovated a home that has seven people living in it and that posed some unique challenges, which is why I say every project is a new experience! Overall, I feel that I definitely created a space that suits everyone living in it comfortably, some of the ideas used may be somewhat conventional, but they definitely make the entire home work.
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