Homeowner Calvin Ho has moved places 10 times in the last 15 years. A businessman and a creative multi-hyphenate, he renovated the homes he lived in himself. ‘Quirky’, ‘unusual’ and ‘out-of-box’ are the words he uses to describe his design approach. “If someone walks into the space that I designed and doesn’t ask about or comment on it, I consider that a failure,” Calvin says.
Calvin’s first home, which he designed himself, was an HDB flat fashioned in Antonio Gaudi’s style featured in Home & Decor more than a decade ago. “Everything was either angled, curved or decorated in that home. There was nothing that did not catch the eye,” he shares.
AT A GLANCE
Type of home: A two-bedroom (formerly three) HDB flat
Size of home: 1,196 sq ft
Who lives here: A couple in their 50s and a dog named Snoopy
ID: Calvin Ho
It couldn’t be more different than his current home. Completed in February 2020, the two-bedroom HDB flat in Tampines features open spaces, linear lines, and mostly a crowd-pleasing modern contemporary look. It took only four months from Calvin’s first viewing to completing the renovation and moving in. He had no plan to move in from his last home at the nearby Waterview Condo, but then he just reached his retirement age of 55 and has a convenient window to use his CPF for a retirement home.
“My first home was an HDB flat, and I have lived in all types of homes in Singapore since. So, I thought to myself, why don’t we go back to HDB? Pay and settle everything and retire,” he says. The 35-year-old HDB unit originally had three bedrooms and generous natural light. It is also located on the top floor and has only one direct neighbour.
Calvin immediately knew what he wanted to do with the space. “I wanted to go back to the basics,” he admits, “Why? Because age catches up with you and no matter how stylish or fancy the design of your home is, if you can’t keep it tidy then it’s useless.”
The finished home, though, is anything but basic, thanks to a slew of thoughtful design details. A serial entrepreneur who had at one time owned an art gallery and superhero-themed cafes, Calvin is no stranger to making the most of tight renovation budgets, such that his DIY renovation skill attracted friends and family to commission him to design the interior of their homes.