3-bedroom HDB flat exudes character and understated beauty

PHOTO: Home & Decor

Decked in a variety of natural materials, this apartment exudes character and understated beauty, complete with a selection of quirky decor and artwork.

WHO: A couple in their 30s and their pet cat

HOME: Three-bedroom resale HDB apartment at Farrer Road

SIZE: 818sqf

Nigel and Jayne approached their friend, Kelvin Ang (@kaelawoods), to customise the round cluster-base oak dining table. They chose Japanesemade wood chairs from Atomi to complement the piece. Behind, a picture of Ladakh, India, shot by the couple’s friend, sits as decor.

When designing this resale apartment, interior designer JQ Ong was very clear of the brief that the homeowners Nigel Heng and Jayne Tan had. “We wanted to keep everything as authentic as possible. We didn’t want any artificial or synthetic materials used in the home — no laminates or vinyl flooring,” shares the wife, Jayne. “We just used what we could afford, including raw materials like wood or concrete. This home has nothing pretentious about it,” she adds.

The flat fronts Farrer Road, and traffic noise was a big issue. JQ knew he had to create a tranquil space and restful ambience in the home. To achieve this, he embarked on a major reconfiguration of the layout, with the master bedroom, living and dining room positioned further away from the front.

Genuine ingenuity

  • With the walls hacked, the home now enjoys generous natural light that illuminates the interiors. The back of the home also boasts views of greenery for a calm, serene ambience.
  • The spaces under the windowsill are transformed into shelves where the couple now display their extensive collection of books. Wired glass gives the cabinets a slightly textured look.
  • Throughout the home, the couple display their favourite artworks from international artists, as well as handcrafted ware from their travels.
  • Open cabinets were designed for the kitchen, for the pair to showcase their collection of tableware.
  • An Atomi display cabinet showcases more of the couple’s tableware. “We usually buy individual pieces instead of sets, and these have been accumulated from over the years,” Jayne explains. Three handmade plates, which the couple bought while on a trip in Iran, are hung up as wall decor next to the cabinet.
  • Jayne curates the art pieces, decor and souvenirs displayed in the home.
  • Kelvin also customised a kitchen workbench with maple wood, supported on a pair of charred ash wood trestles. A lower shelf adds additional storage-cum-display space for the couple’s growing collection of utensils and crockery. Greenery along the length of the home adds a splash of colour.
  • The study at the front of the home is also a space where lots of the couple’s favourite knick-knacks are displayed, including photographs shot while in China, Ethiopia, and Iran.
  • Nigel and Jayne’s pet cat Slimmy has lots of space to roam and play.

To address the limited floor area, he also suggested hacking all the walls of original bedrooms, which resulted in an open-plan space for the living, dining, and kitchen areas. It was perfect for the homeowners as they enjoy having gatherings and meals with friends and family.

Right in the middle of the apartment sits the kitchen — the couple’s favourite part of the home. “We knew that we’d want to spend time with people — chilling, eating and entertaining. And this space (and the dining area) is now the most comfortable area for all that, while being very reflective of our characters,” Jayne explains. Linear woodwork designs for the carpentry give the space an understated look that’s complete with the natural beauty of the material, as the woodgrains and patina stand out against the soothing muted forest green-hued mosaic tiles on the backsplash. “I designed the kitchen cabinetry as modular systems, with open shelves. Nigel and Jayne have very good taste in utensils and tableware, so it is important to have a space where they can showcase their collection,” says JQ.

With an extensive library of books and a lush selection of plants in the home, JQ dedicated the area along the windowsill for these. To complete the decor is the couple’s careful curation of their favourite art pieces, rugs, souvenirs, photographs shot from their travels, and a few key pieces of furniture, which they had splurged on.

“We saved the most money in the bedroom and study!” Jayne shares. “We got the bed frame for $150 from Carousell.” Instead of spending on a wardrobe, JQ simply customised a clothes rack using a wooden rod and rope.

With a $60,000 renovation, this resale apartment now has a new lease of life and loads of character, thanks to the designer’s clever space-planning and the homeowners’ impressive taste and style.


JQ Ong / The Association



This article was first published in Home & Decor