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Couple's unique 4-room HDB home in Yishun charms with its 'industrial kampung' vibes

It's not often that you hear the words "industrial" and "kampung" in the same breath, much less existing in the same space, but that's exactly the vibe that Hakiem and Hafizah picked for their first home.

The unique look that the couple opted for combines rustic details like aged and reclaimed wood, colourful "kampung" wooden planks behind the TV console, with exposed piping and bare bricks that give off an industrial chic vibe.

This is particularly evident in the living room and dining areas of their HDB Build-To-Order (BTO) home in Yishun.

Why industrial-kampung?

The inspiration behind the retro laidback vibe stemmed from Hakiem's fond memories of his childhood spent in Malaysia visiting his grandfather.

And the industrial look is a design aesthetic that appeals to the pair, who enjoy travelling.

"We went to Bali and saw a lot of industrial-themed cafes, and we loved the element of raw materials used for their interior," shared Hakiem. This led to them having cement screed and tiled walls in their home, and sourcing for the Edison cage lamps that light up their dining area.

Bali holds a special place in the couple's hearts, which is why their bedroom is styled after a traditional Balinese resort for that relaxed atmosphere.

Another highlight of the space is the backlit feature wall just outside the kitchen, comprising vintage batik motifs. The design is also replicated in their bathroom floor tiles.

The wall has also become the default space to have a group we-fie when family and friends come over, shared Hafizah.

Making their dream a reality

To make their vision come to life, Hakiem, 37, and Hafizah, 35, spent months sourcing for the right furniture, like their coffee table made from recycled wood with cast iron accents.

"We went all over Singapore (to hunt for furniture)," said Hafizah, a preschool teacher.

The couple spent more than $40,000 on renovation works and another $10,000 furnishing their home.

And while they didn't have a budget in mind, they were glad to keep the costs for their new home to around $300,000 overall.

Their 4-room, 968sq ft unit was bought for $251,700, after factoring in $10,000 they received from the Additional CPF Housing Grant.

Due to the proximity of the new development to Hakiem's parents' place in Yishun, the couple also received greater priority during their BTO balloting process.

"I grew up in Yishun, so I'm very familiar with the place and it's great that we have our first home here," said Hakiem, noting that "the amenities we have here are really good".

"We have the connecting parks, we have a mall which is North Point, there's another neighbourhood mall, and a Sheng Siong supermarket close by."

"I love the bus services available here, with five buses that take me everywhere I want to go," added Hakiem.

For the most part, the process of designing their marital home was a time-consuming but enjoyable process, especially for Hakiem, who did most of the work in nailing down the exact look they wanted.

"Research took a few months," he said, with Hafizah sharing that she would see her husband on his iPad daily, sourcing for furniture and design ideas, and buying home design magazines.

Working within HDB home guidelines

But the renovation process was not without its fair share of unexpected situations. 

Being first-time homeowners, the couple were unfamiliar with HDB guidelines concerning renovation works

Said Hakiem: "We wanted to hack the toilet and the kitchen tiles, but flooring-wise we were not able to, according to HDB guidelines. So we could only lay over the tiles."

For the record, hacking of bathroom tiles within the first three years of moving into a new flat is not permitted by HDB. This is to prevent damage to waterproofing membranes, which may cause leakages.

It wasn't a deal-breaker, as "hacking would have cost more", noted Hakiem.

The couple had also wanted to tear down the kitchen wall, but realised upon consultation with their interior designer (ID) from Linear Space Concepts that not the entire wall from the ceiling down to the floor can be hacked.

The structural walls, which are marked out in bold lines on your HDB floor plan, form the foundation of the entire building and can't be touched.

Nonetheless, the couple found another way to incorporate more natural light into their kitchen.

"Our interior designer (ID), Mark, suggested changing the direction of the door (to let more light in) and we thought it was a good idea."

They also installed a glass door for the kitchen to maximise the amount of light flow.

The functional but non-aesthetic Distribution Board boxes, which distribute electricity in the flat, were also artfully concealed behind built-in wooden panels in the kitchen, creating a seamless finish.

For their toilets, they replaced the sink in their master bedroom toilet to keep to their resort theme for the room, but "we kept the one in the common toilet because it still looks good, and it was not necessary to change it".

"Some people may choose to change the toilet bowl and make it more high-tech, but for us, it's practical enough," said Hakiem.


One hallmark of the couple's home is Hakiem's very own "man-cave" - a room the freelancer, who works in the fashion and retail industry, has all to himself.

It is used to showcase his extensive sneaker collection, and is also where his wardrobe and work station reside.

Despite the dedicated space, his collection (he owns "more than 30 pairs") still spills over to the couple's bedroom and the entrance of the home, where they are housed in well-concealed shelves at the walkway.

"Not all men will have their own personal room, I'm very lucky that my wife is very understanding," Hakiem admitted.

While the couple is looking to have kids in the future, the hideout is here to stay. The plan for now is to convert the spare room currently occupied by Hakiem's uncle into a baby room instead when the time calls for it.

Tips on designing your dream HDB home

"Personally, I think it's good to choose a concept before you start your renovation. It could be related to your interest, and should be something you will be happy with in the long run," shared Hakiem on what a couple needs to work out before achieving your dream HDB home.

One tip is to invest in items or furniture that can last a long time.

"Not only do you save money from not replacing them unnecessarily, if you move out and want to reuse them, you can also save some money," said Hakiem.

For Hafizah, it's also about finding the right ID who will not only realise your vision but also suggest new and better ideas.

"Don't just stick to one option - go to multiple IDs for comparison of ideas and quotations, and find an ID whom you can really relate to and build rapport with. Because with rapport, there would also be trust, chemistry, communication and mutual respect between you and the ID, which are all important factors."

This article is brought to you in partnership with the Housing and Development Board. Visit the MyNiceHome website to learn all about HDB renovation guidelines, and score design ideas for your flat.

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