Ms Annie Koh's flat in Woodlands boasts an eclectic style.

(ST Photo: Ng Huiwen)

Much of it is modern, with a monochromatic colour scheme, light brown wood furnishings and sharp, clean lines.

But part of the flat is fitted with Oriental-style furniture, such as an antique coffee table and carved-wood armchairs, as well as Chinese watercolour paintings.

(ST Photo: Ng Huiwen)

"I like that even with so many of us in the flat, we can still each have our personal space," said Ms Koh, 44, a real estate agent.

The draw was the ability to have everyone live under one roof. "My parents-in-law were already in their 70s and living on their own, coping with the household chores and cooking. We felt it would be more reassuring if they could live with us."

Accommodating the varied tastes of her family members is no mean feat given that there are nine people residing in the unit. Ms Koh and her husband, a 44-year-old IT consultant, live with his parents who are in their 70s, their four children aged nine to 16, and a maid. But it helps that they live in a jumbo flat – a 179 sq m unit comprising two living rooms, a family area, dining hall, four bedrooms, a kitchen, a maid's room and a study.

The couple bought the corner unit on the seventh floor of a block in Woodlands Street 82 for $710,000 two years ago.

Jumbo flats are a sought-after rarity in Singapore, numbering just 2,900 out of a total pool of about one million Housing Board flats.

They emerged from a one-off move in 1989 to give unsold three-room and four-room flats a new lease of life. The Government combined them to form "jumbo" flats by knocking down the wall between two adjacent flats. About 80 per cent of the jumbo flats are found in Woodlands, the first town to see such converted flats, said HDB. The rest are in Yishun, Jurong East, Bedok and Tampines.

They have since gained popularity especially among large multi- generational families, and command a premium, costing about $650,000 to $950,000. They range from 147 sq m to 199 sq m in size .

By comparison, a five-room flat in Woodlands, which averages 110 sq m, costs about $450,000.

Adapted from The Straits Times, written by Ng Huiwen.