5 stylish homes in Singapore that don't look like HDB flats

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HDB flats may be a basic space, but that doesn't mean the decor has to be basic. If you're too late for these new BTO homes with condo-like features, fret not. You can still have a stylish HDB flat.

Here's a look at some stunning HDB interiors that are proof of how you can have the home design you've always dreamed of - no matter the size of your home. It just takes a bit of creativity.

1. Oriental chic

There is incredible detail in every corner of this Chinoiserie-themed five-room flat, which was the result of a collaborative effort between interior designer Trifven Ho from Living Icon and the homeowners, Trish and Jason Yong.

The previous owner had bought the corridor space, giving Trifven more space to experiment with various tiles. A splash of red anchors the entryway and complements the oriental decor.

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What went into the $100,000 renovation? According to homeowner Trish, most of the budget went into reconfigurating the space. "We took some space from the dining room for a walk-in wardrobe in the master bedroom, and created a shoe cabinet near the foyer.

We also re-did the kitchen; we added a breakfast counter and, as I hate the oil from cooking, Trifven moved the stove nearer to the window."

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She continues, "I am half-Peranakan, and have always been drawn to loud colours and the Oriental style, with a French twist. Trifven knows my style well, and went to Goodrich Global to pick out several prints with butterflies, birds and flowers like peonies.

We retained the marble and terrazzo floors from the original unit. Many of our furniture pieces, such as the dining chairs, are from Taylor B."

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The home also incorporates vintage furnishings. "Every time I move, I will buy some new furniture and keep the rest in storage. Trifven will then look through my collection for pieces that match the current style," Trish shares.

"We also try not to discard furniture, and modify them to enhance its functionality instead. For instance, we incorporated a wooden partition - that we bought from Just Anthony almost 10 years ago - into the sliding grille in the living room, and turned another intricate wood panel we have into a dining room feature wall."

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"I insisted that I must have a bathtub, even if it is small," Trish reveals. "But it's more about my love for standalone bathtubs rather than having a good soak. We decided to remove the shower point in the master bathroom and move a bathtub in instead. We also kept the area enclosed, away from the vanity, for a cosy and dramatic mood. "

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In this bathroom, both the mirror and vanity are over 60 years old.

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2. Understated elegance

The homeowner of this sophisticated abode, a bachelor in his 40s, saw the complete look only when he was ready to move in. Such is the schedule of the busy businessman, who fully trusted Adrian Heng of Ottimo Spazi to deliver a turnkey service.

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While circles and ovals rule the living room and bedroom, the dining area features angular designs in the form of an island-height dining table with a geometric steel base, and a cowhide rug.

"I designed the dining set with elevation, so the homeowner can enjoy the greenery outside. For the rug, we sourced authentic cowhides, sliced them up and had the pieces stitched together; this way the floor gets interesting textures and patterns," says Adrian.

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Almost everything in this three-room flat is bespoke, from the patterned rugs and modular sofa - interior designer Adrian Heng flew in a water- and dirt- resistant fabric from Europe for it - to the shade of green used for the kitchen backsplash.

He kept to monochromatic hues for the fabrics and accessories, and layered the space with rich textures like velvet and leather.

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One of the homeowner's favourite spaces is the bathroom, which looks a world away from its previous rundown state. After combining the laundry and bathroom areas, the sink was shifted nearer to the kitchen.

This creates a more spacious and bright shower area and WC, thanks to the sunlight streaming in from the window.

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Its white leather wallpaper and customised pillow covers are stylish details that catch the eye, but the real winner of this bedroom is its lighting.

As his client loves to read, Adrian incorporated a backlight in the headboard. The cove light imbues the room with warmth, while the dimmable halogen light above the bed is mood lighting.

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3. Victorian flair

This HDB five-room flat in Hougang was transformed into an intimate, classical abode, thanks to the mastery of interior design firm Three-D Conceptwerke.

The homeowners are fond of Victorian-esque interiors - from ornate cornices to dramatic furnishings - and had requested a similarly luxurious, yet modern look.

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The layout of the 1,400sqf flat allowed for a foyer, with an arch door frame and a customised vintage-look console that sets the scene. As the Victorian era was known for its elaborate gardens, the couple wanted their own, too; a water feature clad in artificial plants and roses was a vibrant addition to the pristine white-gold interiors.

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Plush velvet furnishings frame the living room, while a glass chandelier and classical painting in the dining room - which was previously a bedroom - imbue a lavish atmosphere.

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The couple chose a textured wallpaper for the master bedroom walls.

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The opening to the master bedroom was also torn down to make space for a walk-in wardrobe, which was wainscoted to match the rest of the home's Victorian-style features.

4. Modern vintage

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This four-room HDB home has a delicate mix of modern and vintage elements. It is owned by architectural designer Ching Hei. Born in Hong Kong, he has been living in Singapore since his family emigrated when he was nine.

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A green corner filled with indoor plants inject life into the space. Did you know that indoor plants can be very beneficial to one's health? Many HDB home owners have also taken a liking to having plants at home as it helps to destress the mind especially after a long day's work.

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Inspired by Tai and Rosita Missoni who created the signature chevron stripe design in 1962, Ching Hei decided to incorporate this motif into his design to reinforce the modern vintage theme.

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"Modern vintage is the integration of old and new, but it is usually expressed in a very industrial manner, which I find too cold for residential purposes. My take on modern vintage is warmer and cosier, combining modern design with vintage motifs," reveals Ching Hei.

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With his contacts in the industry, Ching Hei was able to get up to 40 per cent off the market rate. In addition, by purchasing his home decor from Taobao he was able to get better quality items at the same price.

Cost of renovation: $50,000

5. Monochrome classic

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When Roy Huang and Eileen Leow first approached Lawrence Puah, director of Akihaus Design Studio, they thought that they would be getting a home that was a hybrid between the industrial and Scandinavian styles, according to their respective preferences.

From his experience, Lawrence observes that homeowners are easily influenced by the latest trends that they see in magazines. "Trends come and go, so when it comes to designing home interiors, I usually advise clients to go for something more timeless," he says.

His approach was to extract what exactly it was about the two styles that the couple liked. In the process, he discovered that it was the matte finish of raw cement characteristic of the industrial style that appealed to Roy, while Eileen was drawn to the Scandinavian style's light colours.

With these revelations, Lawrence set about designing the home according to these specific preferences, rather than just aesthetics.

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The living room features a predominantly white palette. Built-in cabinets designed like a feature wall run the entire length of the living room to provide storage space that the homeowners needed. The brass inlays on the white laminate cabinet doors were treated to resemble rose gold, adding a touch of glitz that Eileen adores.

The original floor tiles were replaced with marble-looking tiles, honed to produce a matte finish. "Raw cement floors can feel gritty and cold on bare feet, but these matte tiles give a warm and furry sensation," he says.

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The design of the built-in wall storage, the sofa configuration and ceiling all reinforce the linearity of the space.

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In contrast to the living room's white palette, the main colour in the kitchen is black to create a more masculine look, complemented by white Caesarstone countertops.

The brass inlays on the black laminate cabinet doors use the same design language as the storage cabinets in the living room - albeit in a different colour - providing a sense of connection between the two spaces.

Lawrence cladded a bulky rectangular column at the corner of the kitchen with the same brass-on-black finish, harmoniously integrating it into the kitchen scheme.

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The walk-in wardrobe was designed to reflect Eileen's preference for light colours, while brass inlays in the wardrobe doors and brass-finished handles add a touch of luxury. The doors also have the same rectangular frame motif as the living room and kitchen carpentry.

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The vanity counter in the master bathroom uses a similar inlay motif as the rest of the house, but it is executed in stainless steel instead of brass.

This article was first published in Home & Decor.