A $60k Renovation Turned A Cookie-Cutter Resale Flat In Chai Chee Into A Light & Airy Calming Sanctuary
It also has a service yard that you'll want to hang out at.
This four-room flat in Chai Chee was just five years old at the time of renovations. While the 1,000 sq ft space definitely wasn’t in shambles when it changed hands, the previous look of the apartment was cookie-cutter at best.
Homeowner Sueann Teo knew that she wanted to inject personality into the flat, as well as to change things up to make the space work for her. The 38-year-old digital marketer had in mind a look that's “a mix of jungalow and mid-century for her new abode. It may be a strange combination, but I wanted a space that was functional with dark earth tones, lots of plants and organic forms,” she tells 8 Days.
Interior designer Serene Tan of INTR Studio was tasked with the flat’s transformation, which cost $60k and took two-and-a-half months to complete earlier this year. Working amidst the pandemic was challenging in terms of manpower and schedule. “But we are getting more well-prepared with that as time goes on,” explains Serene, who has previously helmed projects such as Yoga Movement's Orchard flagship studio.
Of course, there were the occasional surprises that come with any renovation project. “One of the challenges was to keep the unexpected expenses low, like to box up a pipe that we found after hacking through, and certain changes or additions to elevate the aesthetic of the space,” she says.
A running theme throughout the flat is — you guessed it — curves. “I knew I wanted curves as they remove the edge from the line of sight and add length and depth to the space,” says Sueann. To this end, Serene deftly incorporated curve design elements throughout the flat in various ways, from curved beam corners and walls to the paintwork and door designs.
Everything about the entryway is designed to draw you into the space, from the soothing shade of pink to the rounded edges of the walls and carpentry to hide the DB box (above).
“To be honest, I never intended to have any shade of pink in my place mainly because my first room [that I had as a kid] was in a tacky shade of pink,” Sueann admits. “But with the right shade, lighting, and complementary colours, it looks amazing.”
The dining area features a built-in sideboard accentuated by a gently curved wall — a subtle touch that lends tremendous visual impact.
My initial idea was to have an L-shaped cabinet that extended from the kitchen to the dining area, but I’m glad that Serene suggested breaking that up with a curved wall and playing with different laminates to define the spaces,” Sueann tells us.
In the living room, Serene incorporates a curve design element that won’t break the bank — painting the living room wall a lovely shade of pink to complement the forest green sofa.
Yup, feature walls don’t always have to involve expensive built-ins. In fact, Serene points out that the first thing she thought had to go was the “built-in carpentry done by the previous owner as it made the space look too cramped and boxy.”
Living room: Before
Living room: After
What was once a dark cramped kitchen was given a complete overhaul, transforming it into a light-dappled, almost Zen-like culinary zone.
Serene took a considered approach to space planning, and opened up the area without hacking any walls. The window grilles at the service yard were removed, and the position of the fridge was changed to allow more light into the kitchen.
“Instead of hacking the wall, we constructed an arch partition onto the concrete for a smooth transition between these two spaces,” Serene explains.
To keep the space bright and airy, the dark sage kitchen cabinets are paired with white tiles, while dark wood accents keep things cohesive with the rest of the house. Eschewing top hung cabinets and opting for open shelving gave Sueann the space to display plants and pottery wares that she had collected over the years.
After opening the space and seamlessly incorporating the yard area as part of the kitchen, the abundance of natural light that flowed in made this a prime spot for the gardening enthusiast's extensive collection of plants. Naturally, this has become one of her favourite parts of the home.
“I love what we did with the service yard — creating a half-wall and tearing down the drying rack, door and window to the kitchen really opened the space,” Sueann says.
“The service yard gets a good amount of sunshine in the morning and it feels like a balcony with the terracotta tiles and ledge to water my plants or sit down for a little tipple.”
The wall between the original master bedroom and a second bedroom was hacked, resulting in a new and expansive master bedroom (there’s a third bedroom in the flat which remains as is). The themes of curve elements, earthy tones and dark wood furnishings continue in the bedroom, making it the ideal hideout to unwind after a long day.
Entrance to the ensuite bathroom
A minimal white and grey palette is used in both the master bathroom (above) and the common bathroom (below) in order to brighten them up and give the illusion of a bigger space.