House Tour: A 30-Year-Old HDB Flat’s New Open-Concept Look

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Simple, uncluttered, and free of chaos – the appeal of a minimalist interior lies in its restful air and the lack of visual noise. Designing one isn’t merely about stripping it down bare. More importantly, it’s editing the space to attain function in the simplest of manner. Case in point, this four-room HDB apartment that belongs to public servant Cassandra Goh. While her 30-year-old resale flat was in relatively good shape, she preferred a home that was more suited to her way of life. A renovation was in order.

“Landren from Mesh Work Studio was recommended by a friend,” says Cassandra, recalling how she found out about the interior designer in charge of her home’s renovation. “I met up with 6 other designers but I chose him because he had interesting ideas and proposed designs based on what I wanted.”

The homeowner’s packed schedule meant she required a place that was easy to upkeep. And as she had always loved the minimal Scandinavian look, Landren designed one that resonated with her needs and preferences. Unlike most all-white interiors though – a mainstay of the minimal style – this apartment isn’t your run-of-the-mill monochromatic home. Exotic wood veneers were used to craft the feature wall as well as shoe cabinet in the living room; the inimitable grain patterns adorning the room with texture and colour and tempering its otherwise austere appearance.

Just by the side of the living room sits a dry pantry cum mini bar area with an immaculate ivory façade. In classic minimalist fashion, the cabinet’s camouflaged storage means everything is kept out of sight. In addition, the pantry’s seamless style enforces a clean and uniform appearance in the apartment. Minimal ornamentation also translates to less upkeep. “Rather than an over-the-counter bar, I specifically requested for one that’s against the wall and that comes equipped with a basin and a mini fridge,” explains Cassandra. Who knew there was a mini fridge hiding behind those glossy laminates?

Old HDB units typically boast vast kitchens, and Cassandra’s is of no exception. Because of its sprawling size, Landren was able to fit a huge island in – much to the delight of the homeowner who enjoys hosting and having friends and loved ones over. Its stripped-down profile is quintessentially minimal, yet big on function. Ditto with the wall cavity fronting it. This recessed area provides the lady of the house with additional working space and keeps hardworking appliances in order. What’s interesting is that this part of the kitchen was once a bare wall. Landren tore down the original partition and took up a section of floor space that belonged to the adjoining room – now Cassandra’s master suite. Since an internal wall was removed to expand her boudoir, this mere modification didn’t affect much.

More floor space means room for more. Not only was the avid reader’s request for a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf in her bedroom met, it came equipped with light fixtures to allow easier access for those late-night reads. The team also built a study station adjoined to the bookcase, a bed frame complete with headboard, and a row of closet space that they complemented with a jewellery display cabinet. The key to creating drama in a pristine interior is with contrasts. Here, dark accent lines are used to frame the custom-made furniture and parts of the wall for dramatic effect.

Although the apartment possesses a single design language, Cassandra’s bathroom is a duskier variant. Homogeneous tiles in textured grey are lined with white grouting to harmonise with pearly white fittings, while the dark linear shapes of the shower rail and door frame stand out in contrast within this room of rest.

Even the design for the simplest of rooms was fully thought through. All Cassandra wanted was a barre and a mirrored wall in her dance studio, but Landren pushed the envelope by calculatedly installing black track lights in a silhouette similar to that of the barre. This series of lines is reflected on the mirror, resulting in a graphic effect. To further perfect this effect, the design maestro painted parts of the trunking white.

Without doubt, Landren’s thoughtful design and strict attention to detail played an enormous part in transforming Cassandra’s 30-year-old apartment into a place of solace that met each of her needs, and then some. Who needs the superfluous when you can live fully with less?

This was adapted from an article originally written by Fidz Azmin published in the October 2016 issue of SquareRooms. Photo credits: Mesh Work Studio

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