Vibrant Mix

Mid-century modern design meets Peranakan boldness in this eclectic HDB flat. 

The wish list was complete: Layout? Check. Accessibility? Check. Unobstructed views in the heart of the bustling concrete jungle? Check.

That’s how Gwen and her husband found “the one”—a 4-room HDB flat in Geylang measuring 1,033 square feet. It seems only fitting that they chose a theme as rich and diverse as the cultural and heritage enclave they now call home: a fusion of mid-century modern and Peranakan styles. 

“We decided to blend the mid-century modern and Peranakan styles in our interior design because they hold a special place in our hearts,” shares Gwen. 

“We find that both styles complement each other beautifully. The mid-century modern elements create a sense of simplicity and balance, while the Peranakan elements bring in bursts of colour, intricate patterns and cultural storytelling.” 

On paper, it may seem like an unlikely pairing. But Teck Hou, their interior designer from The Local INN.terior, came through. 

Finding the man for the job

In the initial stages of their search, the couple met with nearly ten interior designers guided by some key criteria. First, the firm’s portfolio had to align with the owners’ high standards. Second, the company needed to possess the necessary accreditation and HDB licensing, along with a solid reputation in the industry. 

“We conducted thorough research before our meeting with The Local INN.terior, including reading reviews from other homeowners,” Gwen reveals. Furthermore, the chosen interior designer had to demonstrate the ability to work within a reasonable timeline and possess relevant experience. With a track record that included successful mid-century modern projects, Teck Hou was eventually entrusted with this project.

While many homeowners engage their interior designers with a budget and a Pinterest board in mind, Gwen and her husband took another extra step. “We defined the features and elements of our home, which included walnut furniture, plants and warm lighting. For each room, we also developed a brief checklist to give more detail of how we would be utilising the space, the overall vibe, and the furniture’s placement.” 

Furnishing is typically one of the final steps in the home renovation process. Instead, this couple proactively compiled a list of pre-selected furniture items to guide the team. 

“Each piece had a very strong character, with either a vintage or mid-century vibe to it,” designer Teck Hou shares. “The homeowners were very decisive with what they wanted, so it was a very easy and efficient process when it came to making choices.” 

A delicate balancing act

“Achieving a cohesive look is crucial when combining different design styles. It requires thoughtful and consistent placement and integration of furniture, accessories and colour schemes,” Teck Hou explains. 

According to him, mid-century modern interiors often embrace warm, earthy tones, while Peranakan aesthetics tend to lean towards bold and vibrant colours. The solution? Start with a neutral base from the mid-century modern palette and infuse it with pops of colour inspired by Peranakan designs. 

Likewise, when curating the home’s contents, he recommended seeking out mid-century modern furniture with sleek, clean designs and introducing Peranakan-inspired patterns or motifs subtly, primarily through soft furnishings such as cushions and rugs. 

In addition to these considerations, Teck Hou had to navigate spatial constraints as well. With a 4-room HDB flat as the canvas, there was little room for error. “The limited space makes it challenging to successfully incorporate both themes without overwhelming the interior and making the space feel cramped, especially when planning for the furniture.” 

Moreover, the couple had two requests: expanding the bedroom and introducing an indoor balcony in the living room. The former was easy enough and simply involved altering the wall between both rooms, but the latter required more careful consideration. 

“The living room was not huge to begin with, so we had to be mindful when planning the size of the balcony to allow sufficient space for the furniture in both spaces,” the designer remembers. 

Eclectic harmony 

In the living room, a collection of loose furniture—a quintessential feature of mid-century homes— stands out against a half-painted wall, which connects the living room and indoor balcony. 

The latter is demarcated by ventilation blocks at the top and Peranakan tiles along the floor. Comfy seating and a mini garden designate this as the place to wind down and relax at the end of a busy day. 

Stepping into the kitchen, half-height cabinets once again establish a neutral canvas, allowing bolder elements, like the terrazzo backsplash and the intricate crockery, to take centre stage. 

This attention to detail permeates every corner of the home, including the en-suite bathroom, where subway tiles and a walnut- framed mirror exude timeless elegance. The piece de resistance, however, is a Peranakan- style countertop basin, paired with a vintage tap. Gwen tells us that the patterned glass dates back all the way to the 1960s. 

A home that tells a story

What truly transforms the flat into a warm and inviting home goes beyond Teck Hou’s expert juxtaposition of the mid-century modern and Peranakan themes; it lies in the personal touches that adorn the space. 

For starters, while many homeowners choose between a traditional television set-up and a projector, Gwen and her husband chose to forgo both, designating their living room as a place for connection with one another and their loved ones.

In fact, the only semblance of an entertainment system you’ll find in this area is a vintage gramophone, a treasure they stumbled upon on Carousell. 

This decision freed up real estate for a collection of mementoes and knick-knacks acquired over the years. Portraits of the owners’ dog, Shelby, grace the hallway, and a parking coupon from a motel stay in Atlanta finds its place on the wall. 

“We displayed different art pieces and memories of our travels around the home, and this helped to add a personal meaning to the space,” Gwen shares. 

“Each home tells a story about the homeowner,” designer Teck Hou reminds us. “Infusing it with your personality will bring out your unique character and enhance the authenticity of your vintage-inspired home.”