With its minimalist, meditative design that borrows elements from the Japandi style, this resale flat is a grounding space for personal growth and authentic expression.
Daniel Teo’s journey towards home ownership is one that more Singaporeans are experiencing.
“I truly thought I’d buy my first home as a couple, perhaps even with a family in tow. So, the entire exercise of home ownership was about learning to take care of myself and my needs in a magnified way,” he shares.
The freelance writer began his search with one- and two-bedroom condominium units but chanced upon this Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat. Not only did it have an unblocked view and situate near his parents’ home, but there was also much more room for his interest in baking, cooking, and reading.
Who Lives Here A bachelor in his 30s
Home A four-room flat in Bukit Panjang
Size 1,000 sq ft (92 sqm)
Interior Designer White Ideas
Daniel enlisted the help of his long-time friend, Hans Ng, an interior designer from White Ideas to bring his ideas to life. Design-wise, he had a 30-page brief.
“I knew there were certain features I definitely wanted in a home that suited my interests and lifestyle, such as a closed-off kitchen,” he says. “The original vision for my flat was also much bolder and trendier. At the time in 2020, navy blues and gold accents were fashionable in interior design.”
Living Room (Before & After)
The flat had just reached the Minimum Occupation Period and was generally in good shape. Daniel intended to retain most of the living area and kitchen flooring.
It looked dull, so he had the grouting redone with marble gum, which could be polished down so that it sits flush with the tiles for a smooth and uninterrupted look.
The walls, too, were smoothened out, with a false wall built over a niche to add to the crisp look. This would give Daniel the freedom to move his furniture around in future.
Dining Area (Before & After)
One of Daniel’s goals was to have the choice to close the kitchen off when cooking or baking.
However, before renovations, the main entrance opened directly into the living area and the kitchen to one side.
The dining area right in front of the door before renovation
He also discovered that the kitchen entrance had pebbled flooring at its entrance, which would make installing a door tricky. Instead of removing the awkward flooring, they built a half-height shoe cabinet and installed an internal window to let natural light into the foyer.
Kitchen (Before & After)
By shifting the kitchen entrance to face the living area, they could also include a slim bar cabinet built flush with the wall and kitchen door.
Daniel needed ample countertop space, sufficient lighting and a suitable oven for baking and cooking.
The kitchen before the renovation had more kitchen appliances.
“We had to reimagine the kitchen layout because the fridge and dish racks blocked off the windows,” he shares. The new layout and light palette make the kitchen brighter than before. The service balcony became more than a utilitarian space, with a bar-top counter and seats where he could enjoy his morning cuppa while overlooking the greenery.
While he was inspired by the trends of that year, he had doubts about having strong colours in his home. He changed his mind just before renovations began.
“It was also a very trying period during that first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. I was going through a lot of challenges in my personal and professional lives, so I knew I wanted my first home to be a sanctuary, an oasis of calm,” says Daniel, who also practices yoga and meditation regularly.
He also began documenting his thoughts on life and homeownership through reflective posts on his Instagram account @stayingonthehill.
Daniel turned towards minimalist and contemporary ideas, borrowing elements from the Japandi style too. He let go of the bold colours and went with neutral colours that would give his home a sense of timelessness. Midway through the three-month project, he opted for an accent colour and introduced green touches into the home.
With plenty of floor area to work with, Daniel had the liberty to design the unit to his needs. At the top of his list was sufficient floor space for his meditation and yoga practice.
The bedroom before renovation, as hacking works were ongoing.
Combining the master bedroom with the adjacent common bathroom made room for a reading and meditation corner he could step to upon waking up. Crisp white and wood-looking vinyl flooring renewed the brightly coloured walls and old flooring.
Embracing home ownership and having his own space since his move in June 2021 has done wonders for Daniel.
He says, “Almost two years on, my flat is still somewhere that brings me a lot of peace, joy, and validation. I’m living in a space that is the result of me choosing me. I now believe that wherever I am, with whatever I have, I can create a home for myself. And that is a very empowering thought to have.”
A long hallway leading to the bedrooms and looking into the master bedroom.
The unit has a typical layout, with a long hallway leading to the bedrooms and looking into the master bedroom. Intending to convert one bedroom into a study and combine the master bedroom with the adjacent bedroom, they moved the bedroom entrance to the side, enhancing the unit’s architectural lines.