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Wes Anderson-Inspired 4-Room Flat Has XL-Sized Living Area

It isn’t the Grand Budapest Hotel, but this designer’s home is as special as a BTO flat can get.

If you haven’t heard of him, chances are you’re now wondering who Wes Anderson is (or if not, what he has to do with an HDB flat in Singapore). However, you don’t have to be a fan of this American filmmaker’s movies to appreciate the visual elements that distinguish his works – as well as this interior designer’s home – from the rest.

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View this project by Adroit ID

Inspired by the symmetry and washed-out, saturated colour palettes inherent to Wes Anderson films, Adroit ID’s Ashley transformed her own 4-room BTO flat at Matilda Edge into a whimsical abode that could easily pass for a bona fide movie set.

“To tell the truth, I had plans to create a home like this ever since I entered the [interior design] industry,” says Ashley, “But it was nearly 2 years after I collected the keys to this flat that I was able to bring my dream to life.” To find out the reason behind this drastic delay as well as Ashley’s creative process, we had a chat with her.

About herself and her home

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The living room and entrance to the walk-in wardrobe, pre-renovation

Ashley (A): No, it wasn’t due to COVID-19 that my renovation was delayed. If I recall correctly, the Temporary Occupation Period (TOP) for Matilda Edge was somewhere in 2018, but because I was busy with other projects, I just didn’t have the time to sit down and refine the ideas that I had for my own home.

So, what finally motivated me to get started on my renovation was the broken down aircon in my previous home (laughs).

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The living room and entrance to the walk-in wardrobe, mid-renovation.

Although I had a clear concept for the house the entire time, coming up with the ideal layout was still a challenge. You know how the standard HDB flat layout is like – I just wasn’t a fan of it, so I wanted to totally rework it as much as I could. To do that, all the walls had to be hacked down, and by all, I mean everything.

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The floor plan of Ashley’s home, pre-renovation.

If you were to look at the original floor plan and the new one together, you’ll see that the exterior walls for two of the bedrooms were completely torn down and that creates a single stretch of space from one end of the flat to the other – most of that long, empty space is now the living room.

Additionally, the previous living/dining area is now the master bedroom and the original main bedroom has been turned into a walk-in wardrobe.

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The floor plan of Ashley’s home, post-renovation.

I understand that turning an HDB flat into a ‘blank slate’ first before renovating it isn’t the most ideal or efficient approach for most homeowners, especially in terms of time and monetary cost. But to me, that is the best way to go about a renovation if you really wish to create a space that you like.

About the entryway’s makeover

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The entryway, mid-renovation.

A: Although most of the walls in the house were demolished, I had gotten a new one built right beside the entryway facing the front door. This is so that there would be privacy for the current master bedroom, which is the right beside the entryway.

The other new feature is a curved seat with ribbed cushions. I’m accustomed to storing my footwear indoors, so I needed a spot where I’m able to sit down and put on my shoes before heading out.

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In a way, this entryway is like the waiting area of a restaurant or hotel – it’s the first space you see when you enter indoors, so I designed it in a way to set the mood and give guests an idea of what to expect further inside. The colours featured here are orange, green, and pink, which together with blue, are the main colours of the house.

On the living room’s renovation

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The front of the living room, mid-renovation.

A: I have guests coming over all the time, and the main reason why I created this large living room is so that everyone would feel comfortable and welcome. It’s the biggest area in the house because it’s essentially two bedrooms worth of space merged into one.

The main features here are the blue overhead arch and the elongated TV console. I came up the idea for the arch both as a way to bring symmetry to the living room and frame the windows nicely. Curves and lines are the visual motifs of this home, so the curvilinear design of the arch lets it fit right in with the rest of the aesthetic.

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Another unconventional design choice that I made was to install a cassette aircon in the living room. And because of that a false ceiling had to be built, which reduces the height of the room from 2.6 m to approximately 2.3 m.

Most HDB flat owners would naturally want to have a ceiling that’s as tall as possible, but I have to say that the effect of building a false ceiling is negligible or unnoticeable. So, I guess partly why I installed this aircon was also to highlight that having a slightly lower ceiling doesn’t mean that a home is going to feel a lot more cramped.

On the dining area’s design

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The exterior of the kitchen and dining area, pre-renovation.

A: Even though I had expanded the house as much as possible, the reality is that it’s still a 4-room flat, so some space planning was still necessary. The dining area had to be right outside the kitchen because that’s the optimum spot to place it, both for the flow of the house as well as for space maximisation.

For the dining table, I decided to go with a customised piece instead of a store-bought one. There are different colours and geometrical shapes incorporated into the table’s design to match the overall theme; the surrounding walls were painted in pink for aesthetic reasons and to set it apart from the rest of the spaces.

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About the renovating the kitchen

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The kitchen during the renovation.

A: The rest of the house looks fun and all, but for the kitchen, I wanted a more grounded, classier look because it’s functional space; there’s a darker green used for the cabinetry and gold accents to create a more luxurious feel.

For the layout, I felt that a galley arrangement works best as it allows the island to be built at the front of the kitchen as well as a counter on the other side. There’s also a shelf beside the kitchen entrance – it doesn’t serve any other purposes, except to store scents and level out a recess at the side.

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Although the floor tiles resemble mosaic, they’re actually just regular, patterned ones. There’s a bit of sad history involving them; ever since I started designing homes, I’ve shown these tiles to many clients, but I’m the first homeowner I know to have used them. Hopefully, more people will take a liking to these tiles after seeing the kitchen photos!

About the common bathroom’s new look

A: To me, a well-designed bathroom is a reflection of how much effort is put into a renovation and that’s because bathrooms are private spaces, which aren’t usually showy. But if there’s one, it can easily help to bridge the transition between personal and communal spaces.

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Some unique features that I’ve included in the common bathroom are the orange standing basin as well as the sliding door entrance, which functions as a bookcase.

There’s also the 50/50 tile lay that demarcates the shower from the rest of the space. One half of the wall is covered in blue 20 x 20 cm tiles, whereas the other half features only white mosaic tiles. However, this combination doesn’t come off as too overwhelming because it comprises of only clean lines.

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About designing the walk-in closet and en suite

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The walk-in wardrobe and en suite entrance, prior to the renovation.

A: The walk-in closet was actually the original master bedroom of the flat and the reason why I’m comfortable having it in a separate space from the current master bedroom is because the house isn’t large; it’s a 4-room flat, not a mansion, so it’s still pretty convenient for me to walk from one room to another in the morning.

The walk-in closet is also where most of the home’s storage fixtures are located – I like having all of them in one space, instead of throughout the entire house, it’s neater this way. Additionally, there’s a platform bed with compartments here, so this room can function as a guest space if necessary.

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“I chose orange because it pops, especially when juxtaposed against light wood. It also gives the space a slight retro vibe,” says Ashley about her choice of wardrobe laminates.

Unlike master bedrooms, I feel that en suites go hand-in-hand with walk-in closets because it’s likely that you’ll clean up before getting dressed – and that’s why I chose to have both of these spaces located in the same room here.

The entrance to the en suite is just right beside the orange wardrobes, and on the inside, it features red and green tiles. Both colours are on opposite ends of the colour wheel, which creates a more dynamic contrast. So, compared to the common bathroom, the en suite’s aesthetic is a lot bolder and it’s intended to bring out a post-modern vibe that’s both playful and extravagant.

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On renovating the master bedroom

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The master bedroom’s window nook, before (left) and after (right) the renovation.

A: Because the master bedroom was supposed to be the living room, there’s a tall window at the side of the space, so I decided to make use of it by turning it a nook. It also serves as a storage area for small items and other personal belongings. When my close friends come over, we use this nook for chats too.

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I wanted to keep the sleeping area simple yet vibrant as well, though there’s some detailing like the arc outline on the wall behind the bed. The headboard is a customised suede fabric piece from Blafink, it’s role is similar to the living room sofa in that it adds a soft velvety touch to the space.

Speaking of local retailers, I’d like to give a shout out to Sol Luminaire as well. Nearly all of the down light fixtures in the house are from their Aeon series, and they were also very helpful with the lighting aspect of the flat’s design.

To sum up

A: Looking back, when I first came up with the idea for this home in 2018, the Art Deco style or Wes Anderson aesthetic wasn’t that popular locally, but I always believed that it would gain traction one day, so I stuck with my design choices. And thanks to that, I’m now able to come back to my dream home every day!

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Also, this renovation has taught me how important it is to be confident in your own ideas. Sometimes, it’s just better to listen to your inner voice – the one that tells you what you like, advises you on what works best, and encourages you to pursue your ideas – because who, if not you, is your home for?

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