(Photo: The Straits Times)

One of the first things Mr Muhammad Hamsani Hashim and Ms Nur Arfah Octavia Jaffar bought for their marital home in Woodlands was a yellow Smeg fridge.

When they had trouble finding matching kitchen lights, they painted the shades of two silver hanging lamps yellow. That sparked a slew of do-it-yourself projects in the Built-To-Order four-room HDB flat, which involved giving items fresh coats of paint in their preferred hues.

For instance, they painted the white door frames black, a black steel drum in the living room white and parts of the legs of six white Ikea stools a hot pink.

The couple also lugged home a table fan from a flea market in New York, where they were on vacation, because it was a steal at $50 and they had seen similar designs in Singapore for $200. Mr Hamsani, 34, a train operator, then painted the grey fan blades white.

He says: "We had to dismantle it and carry it home in our luggage. It was really heavy, but it was worth it."

While the couple claim equal credit for the creative design ideas, Mr Hamsani executed most of them, such as the painting of the chairs and walls. It took him two days to paint the walls.

(Photo: The Straits Times)

The other parts of the 990 sqf flat – such as the beige brick wall in the living room, vinyl woodgrain-look flooring and built-in cabinets and wardrobe – were done by a contractor.

The two-month renovation cost the couple $24,000 – way below their original budget of $35,000. They moved in in June 2014.

Despite not being trained in design, the couple have a strong colour sense. Ms Arfah, 35, who works in human resources, says: "We knew what we wanted, so we just got a contractor to execute our ideas."

The living room is mostly dressed in light colours, but a green, orange and blue sofa set stands out.

The other spaces each have their own distinct colour scheme.

For example, the kitchen has a yellow, grey and black scheme. The walls are cement screed with a chalkboard wall on one side, while yellow appliances such as the fridge, a blender, a mixer and the hanging lamps add pops of colour.

(Photo: The Straits Times)

Ms Arfah says: "We wanted a cheerful vibe for the kitchen and yellow is such a happy colour."

In the study, the white Ikea stools with pink "feet" hang on a grey feature wall. Pretty blush walls complement a grey sofa bed in the guestroom. And a black-and-white palette lends the master bedroom a boutique hotel vibe.

But the design of their home was not supposed to be this varied. Their original concept was a minimalist design, says Ms Arfah.

(Photo: The Straits Times)

"But as we put our home together, we realised we like some modern, some retro and some industrial touches."

Going the D-I-Y route has helped the couple save money. For one thing, they did not have to pay for the services of an interior designer. They also went directly to suppliers whenever possible, such as for lighting fixtures, and bought furniture on discount.

For homeowners looking to renovate or decorate their homes, Mr Hamsani advises using statement furniture to refresh the look instead of committing to patterned wallpapers or structural changes. Ms Arfah recommends going for furniture pieces "that are conversation starters".

The couple's eye for design and attention to detail have led to television crews knocking on their door asking to use their home for commercials and shows.

The home appeared in Suria channel's lifestyle show Girlfriends a few months ago and a commercial for mooncake brand Home's Favourite last year, which featured Tay Ying, the 20-year-old daughter of Singaporean actress Hong Huifang.

Ms Arfah says: "We like to come back to a nice and cosy home and we love to welcome others."


Written by Alyssa Woo for The Straits Times