Daniel Yun home
A collage of Daniel Yun's favourite movie posters hangs above a chest of drawers in the room he created by knocking down the walls of three bedrooms. Photo: The Straits Times

Eschewing the common practice of modernising the old, film-maker Daniel Yun chose instead to pay tribute to the time his Housing Board flat was built – the 1980s.

The 1,500 sq ft flat in Ang Mo Kio is kitted out with fixtures and fittings from that era.

The front gate, painted in a light beige, features a repeated hexagon pattern. Inside, old-school highlights include terrazzo floor tiles in the main rooms, ribbed glass for door panels and an earth-and-black mosaic combination for the kitchen and toilet floors.

Yun, 57, who moved into the flat two months ago, says: "It is my way of being faithful to the time. But it's not like you're walking into a time warp. A modern concept would also work, but this is the style that I feel most at home with."

Completed in 1981, the cloverleaf-shaped building in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 2 stands out in stark contrast to the rectangular blocks surrounding it.

The point block, which has four units on every floor, was HDB's design experimentation with different public-housing styles.

Yun, who grew up in the Thomson-Bishan neighbourhood, has long coveted a unit in the building. "I would take a longer route to the city just to look at the building. I was attracted to it because of its unique shape and its history. It doesn't look like a typical HDB flat."

Daniel Yun home
Daniel Yun. Photo: The Straits Times

Moving in felt like a "homecoming". In the 1970s, when he was in his teens, his family of six moved into a two-room flat in Sin Ming Road – an upgrade for them in what was the early years of public housing.

The move came after the family had lived for two decades in a long house in Geylang Road, where 20 families lived.

He later moved into a Housing and Urban Development Company (HUDC) flat in Shunfu Road for six years with his twin brother, Woon Tai Ho, a media veteran.

Yun's subsequent homes were all private properties. He lived in a corner terrace house in Thomson Hill for 12 years, then moved into a rented condominium in Sin Ming for another three years, before buying this flat.

Fixing it up began with research on the design features from the 1980s. He then got to work finding the right fixtures.

It took him almost three months to unearth the elements he wanted and he "left no stone unturned".

Daniel Yun flat
The gate for the front door was done by an interior designer. Photo: The Straits Times

Much effort went into hunting down the right type of gate for the front door. He visited old neighbourhoods, such as Joo Chiat and Tiong Bahru, in search of appropriate designs, but the gates there were either too ornate or did not fit the look he was going for.

He eventually discovered the hexagon motif in an old school building in Queen Street. Interior designer Eugene Yip, who runs his eponymous studio, helped him to replicate the look.

The rest of the flat is styled in a classic, minimalist manner. The wood and refurbished furniture stands out against the apartment's white walls.

A few furniture pieces followed him from his previous homes and have stories behind them.

Daniel Yun home
Famous names who have eaten at this marble-top table include Wayne Wang, who directed The Joy Luck Club (1993). Photo: The Straits Times

Famous names such as Hong Kong-born film director Wayne Wang, who directed The Joy Luck Club (1993), have had meals at the dining table. The table, which he got from Pagoda Teak Furniture in Ubi Avenue 1, has a marble top and teak legs.

Hanging on the wall in the extended living room – the previous owners removed the original balcony – are four framed stills from the movie, 1965, released last year.

Yun, who was the executive producer of the movie about Singapore's road to independence, fondly relates stories of the filming process.

One major overhaul to the flat was knocking down the walls of the three bedrooms to create one large room.

He did it to create a more spacious feel and to simplify housekeeping.

Daniel Yun home
The bedroom area is partitioned off with sliding doors. Photo: The Straits Times

The bachelor, who has a live-in domestic helper, says: "I didn't want so many rooms, which will lead to me having clutter."

Part of the single room is a lounge area, where he watches television or works at a sleek writing desk he has had for eight years.

For a pop of colour, he has made a collage of his favourite movie posters. This hangs above a chest of drawers, next to his desk.

The bedroom area is partitioned off with sliding doors. Inside, he has also carved out a small reading corner.

Visitors are often floored by the stunning view of Bishan Park and Peirce Reservoir, as well as by the rooftops of houses in the Thomson neighbourhood.

The curved facade of the block, the orientation of his apartment and the fact that it is on one of the higher floors also affords him a stunning view of the sunrise and sunset.

Yun, who is also a life coach, says: "I get such a good view of nature and the built-up part of Singapore every day. I hope I never take it for granted."


Written by Natasha Ann Zachariah for The Straits Times