Depending on the size of your HDB home and the type of style you’re after, home renovations can be notoriously expensive in Singapore; with some costing close to $100,000.
But when you’re planning a home for the future, you want to make sure that you’re not scrimping on parts that matter. We check out the abodes of savvy Singapore homeowners who have managed to renovate and decorate their homes for $80,000 or (much) less in remarkable ways.
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Total renovation cost: $70,000
Architectural assistant Amoz Boon and his wife wanted their five-room Built-To-Order HDB flat in Choa Chu Kang to be “something spacious, sophisticated and easy to clean”.
Each chair around the dining table has a different design, but the open-concept dining areas still looks uniformed thanks to the consistent use of black.
Walls were demolished to open up the kitchen, which has a gallery layout with a bright and airy feel. The homeowners bought tableware and linen towel from Stylodeco.
The master bedroom has a calm and restful vibe, kept free of clutter and ornamentation. If you love minimalist bedrooms like these, check out this post!
Black fittings, fixtures and accessories provide marked contrast against the otherwise all-white master bathroom.
Total renovation cost: $75,000
The use of sea and sky shades, as well as a play on geometry, give this home a nautical-inspired look with a stylish modern twist.
Colour dramatically enhances a space, and in the home of Si Jian Wen and Sharon Teo, the calming cool shades of blues and greens define the interiors.
As Sharon’s favourite colour is mint, it was a starting point for the flat’s colour palette, the couple say. But apart from uplifting colours, designer Si Jian Xin of Wynk Collaborative also incorporated geometrical accents, in the form of furnishings and materials, to enhance the home’s clean, contemporary look.
The home has an open layout, with the option to close up various spaces — the master bedroom, study and kitchen — using flush doors and slide-and-fold doors.
A creative way of disguising the bomb shelter’s ventilation fragmentation plate was to turn what is usually regarded as an eyesore into an “art piece”. Jian Xin had it painted a metallic bronze tone and, coupled with a black wall-mounted lamp with a minimalist linear design installed below it, the wall that backdrops the dining area is likened to an abstract geometric installation.
The dining table is from Foundry, and the dining chairs are from Fritz Hansen (from W. Atelier).
In the living area, discreet storage space is integrated with built-in benches in front of the windows.
Colour blocking can be seen in the kitchen, which features vibrant colours and textured floor and wall surfaces.
The bathrooms are jazzed up with contrasting mosaic tiles from Unlimited. The back-lit frameless mirror’s floating effect gives it a weightless look.
As there was no need for three bedrooms, the homeowners decided to combine two for a bigger master bedroom. Dusty shades give the room a calming feel, and the sleeping area is separated from the dressing and grooming area by a low built-in console.
For the $75,000 renovation, mostly humble materials of paint, laminates and tiles were used, but applied imaginatively and tastefully, they bring out a simple beauty.
Total renovation cost: About $80,000
The design of this monochromatic five-room HDB BTO flat at Dawson Skyterrace relies extensively on one laminate finish — but applied in different directions to mix things up. The light fittings above the dining table, from Pomelo, were specially chosen for their slim profiles. This way, they don’t feel imposing with the lower height of the disguised beam.
All the built-in carpentry is finished in a dark woodgrain laminate. However, the grain is orientated differently on various surfaces – for example, diagonally on this cabinet panel in the dry kitchen – to keep the flat surfaces visually interesting. The homeowners — a couple in their early 30s — engaged Li Yanling and Denise Chng of Habit to remodel their cookie-cutter flat.
Two bedrooms were combined to create a larger master bedroom, which has a separate sleeping area with a platform bed. In the bedroom, for the wardrobes, the laminate is applied with the woodgrain in a horizontal direction for the bottom compartments, and vertically for the top ones.
To access the raised sleeping area in the master bedroom, you have to go through the wardrobe area. The wardrobe carpentry is finished in laminate applied both horizontally and vertically.
Want your own walk-in wardrobe? See how these small homes did it!
The vanity counters, in front of the sliding glass panels of the master bedroom, feature glass insets on the surface for a boutique-style display of accessories. Sophisticated contemporary interiors were achieved through the use of clean lines, thoughtful details and simple materials applied creatively.
Total renovation costs: $28,000 (excluding $25,000 for furniture, appliances and decor accessories)
Working with a total budget of $53,000, homeowners Justin Koh and Monica Anne Lie designed their five-room apartment in Ang Mo Kio to exude a warm, cosy look, complete with lots of white and wood tones. Justin works in the sales industry, while Monica, who works mostly out of her home office, is the owner of demi-fine jewellery brand The Ordinary Co., and often shares behind-the-scenes images through her Instagram page (@luxmondi).
Monica says she was inspired by cream-toned Korean-style homes on Instagram, as well as European design elements seen in magazines like Kinfolk and Cereal. “The hardest part was locking in a specific look as I love all kinds of interior design styles — including the Japanese zen-inspired and Balinese resort look,” she admits.
“I think it is possible to meld many concepts and have a cohesive outcome. Once we selected colours like cream, white and grey, it was very easy to pull the look together.”
The gorgeous terrazzo countertops were sourced by Justin, while their carpenter “helped make everything come together with little fuss,” Monica says. She designed the kitchen cupboards, choosing wood- and concrete-look laminates as she prefers the aesthetic of having different colour tones and textures in one space.
As it’s just the two of them at home (no children or pets), it’s easier to maintain the mostly-white apartment.
“We bought a second-hand white sofa for just $350 and did some dry cleaning and refurbishing, so we won’t feel the pain of stains here and there. As for the walls, we walk around the apartment with a cup of paint every few months to touch up small dirt streaks. It seems minor but it really helps refresh the look,” she says.
“The living room is where we spend lots of time lazing about, relaxing and watching our favourite shows. Thanks to our comfy goose down sofa, we often snooze there, too.”
Instead of relying on extensive built-ins for storage, the couple chose to mostly furnish the place with loose furniture, so they’d have the flexibility of styling and refreshing it as and when they liked.
“This saved on renovation costs and lets us to move things around, add more storage or change the entire purpose of a room. Only the kitchen and toilets are completely built-in,” Monica says.
Other space-enhancing strategies?
“We’re particularly proud of our vintage 1950s wardrobe in the master bedroom that we bought from a lady who lives in Tiong Bahru. It belonged to her family for years and fits all my husband’s clothes now. We also put our bed frame against the window instead of the wall to create more visual space.”
“Plus, I’ve always wanted an island and the one we have now is freestanding, which looks great and is more cost-efficient than fabricating a built-in one. It also creates additional storage in the kitchen,” Monica says.
The couple also have a sliding glass cupboard to keep dishes they’ve collected from their various travels.
For their home office, Monica says one of their key considerations was having plenty of storage options. “Not necessarily built-in shelves but items such as baskets, boxes and dividers within the cupboards to help keep everything tidy,” she says.
Total renovation costs: $65,000
This laidback home, a five-room BTO flat in Punggol with 1,100sqft, features plenty of travel photos and ceramicware.
Natural materials and muted hues give this home a down-to-earth and outdoorsy atmosphere. This mirrors the lifestyle of the homeowners, too — a couple who enjoys wakeboarding, holidaying at places-less-travelled, and most recently, gardening.
Their only prerequisites were that the house be clad in terrazzo and wood. A simple request on paper, but not many interior designers could understand the “feel-good” look they wanted. However, with Sujono Lim of interior design firm Parenthesis, it took only the first meeting, and an out-of-the-ordinary floorplan, for the couple to be convinced.
Sujono had proposed an open plan with two-toned floor; the living room and bedrooms would feature a light wood flooring, and the rest a speckled terrazzo floor. The area comprising the study room and kitchen were also configured in a symmetrical setting.
Both spaces feature a set of ribbed glass sliding doors, while a long wooden island — customised as a loose piece of furniture — sits between them.
“We like the raw texture of plywood, but Sujono proposed a veneer that could achieve the look we wanted while being more durable. Everything else he proposed, such as the bathroom tiles and open kitchen shelving where we can display our Japanese ceramic goods, [met our criteria],” say the couple.
The homeowners had a knack for decorating, too. They used photographs from their trip to Ethiopia and India, souvenirs such as a weave basket from Morocco, and plants to add texture and vibrancy to the home.
“Sujono did a great job with the space planning. The home is spacious for our friends to hang out in, we can easily refer to recipes on the wooden island as we cook in the kitchen and, when we work in the study room, the ridged glass provides us privacy without blocking out too much light,” shares the couple.
Total renovation cost: About $80,000
The homeowners of this five-room HDB BTO flat swopped their living room with their master bedroom space — throwing conventionality out of the window. This decision was based on maximising the space and making it more functional, with a larger living space at the back.
The centrepiece of the dining area is the split-height dining table, which is an upcycled hotel buffet table that the homeowners Edmund and Jo bought from a second-hand store, and restored with a black powder-coated finish.
In the living room, display shelves resembling crates and scrap wood embellish the blue walls. Sourced from Malaysia, they feature a modular system that allows the couple to easily unhook the pieces and swop them around to create various configurations.
This barn-style sliding door closes off the front of the home, where the master bedroom and kitchen is, from the study and living area.
Upon entering the flat, the open-concept master bedroom and dressing area comes into view. Pops of colour – through the bedding, area rug and accent pieces – add to its prominence.
Renovated and furnished for around $45,000 and $35,000, respectively, this fascinating home shows how being bold, experimental and different can be a very good thing.
Multiple design styles – such as their Victorian era-inspired doorbell – reflect the couple’s varied taste in decor. Some of the pieces, including the working radiogram by the entrance, were acquired overseas.
Near the entrance and on the opposite side of the master bedroom, the semi-open kitchen is defined by glass panels with fire engine-red frames. Edmund and Jo chose a commercial kitchen sink made of stainless steel, for its utilitarian appeal.
Text: Domenica Tan and Eliza H/Home & Decor