Go On A Tour Of This Cosy Colonial-Chic Bishan Flat

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Walk through the doors of this charming four-room HDB flat and you might find it difficult to imagine what this house might have been like before its makeover. Despite its current homeowners’ first impressions of its once old and yellowed walls, they were determined to transform it into a cosy space with colonial influences. The homeowners took the leap and in collaboration with designer Kelvin Teo from Space Sense, gave the house a new vibrant spirit that embodied both nostalgia and modern sophistication.

Taking the homeowners’ vision of the house into consideration, and the practical considerations that had to be made, Kelvin’s plans for the home had to balance aesthetics and functionality. He shared, “The homeowners have a lot of shoes and clothes because they are in the fashion retail business. I had to make considerations on how much space I could create for them.”

That explains the clever play of space within the unit. As you walk into the home, you might completely miss the shoe cabinet in the entryway, its entrance hidden by a wainscoted wall panel. “Because they have a lot of shoes, I decided to create a walk-in shoe cabinet and at the same time, use the segregation to create a TV wall with a hidden compartment,” he explains.

The wainscoting on the wall, wooden ceiling beams, dark engineered wood flooring and black and white blinds are all prominent homages to the colonial style, elements so well melded together that the addition of the oriental carpet immediately brings to mind the east-meets-west sensibilities of our colonial past. In addition, a series of white hinged windows was used to turn an oddly-shaped part of the living room into a working area for the couple. At the same time the zone acts as a backdrop for many of the photo shoots the couple have in their home as part of their retail business.

To create the open spaces consistent with colonial designs, the walls of the kitchen were removed. Instead, patterned ceramic tiles in black and white were used as flooring, an ingenious way of segregating the kitchen space from the living room space. Frosted glass placed between black metal frames was used to enclose a small room for the washing area where the washing machine and dryer were stored, giving the space a more modern look. The black cabinets provide a visual continuity from the dark living room floors, while its timber veneer spray paint finish and gold handles lend a polished look to the whole area.

Reflecting the colonial hues of the communal areas, the bedrooms employ similar strategies to present European aesthetics. In the master bedroom, a noteworthy feature is the white wardrobe with gold handles that not only draw the romance and elegance of the colonial style into the bedroom, but also acts to conceal the bathroom. Similar to the shoe cabinet seen in the entryway, the bathroom entrance is well hidden, a testament of Kelvin’s ability to create, transform and conceal space with the dexterity of a trained magician.

On the other side of the doors of the wardrobe is a spectacular master bathroom with the black and white colonial concept firmly displayed, with its dark gray walls and black and white tile flooring. “The owners wanted to have a double basin in the master bathroom, so to maximise the area I created some space behind the mirror and also below the vanity. The walls for the dry area are created to make it look like paneling (like in a European bathroom) while the other half of the wall is painted,” Kelvin explained.

This was adapted from an article originally written by Hairin Rahman published in the January 2017 issue of SquareRooms. Photo credits: Space Sense