A look into an all-white modern farmhouse in Tampines that's entirely self-designed

An all-white house might sound like a challenge to maintain, but that was exactly what Ashik and Fizuanie had in mind when it came to designing their perfect home.

Revolving around a modern farmhouse theme, their flat strikes a balance between country minimalism and intricate rustic details. With the curtains opened and the apartment bathed in light, it looks almost as sophisticated as the designs you see on interior magazine covers, but cosier.

Their first home in 2015 had similarly sported the all-white theme, and the couple loved it so much they decided to keep the theme when they got their resale flat this year in Tampines East.

"White is clean, spacious," Fizuanie shares. "We just love white, anything white."

Creating their modern farmhouse

PHOTO: Fifth Avenue Interior

Creating an all-white house isn't just about painting the house in the colour.

While the main look is white (pure white, not off-white, Ashik emphasised), the overall design is accented with pops of grey and gold from their sofa, faucets, cabinet handles and even the patterns on the carpet.

That's not to say that the white portions are plain either. Wall beading spans the living room, while the kitchen space features a beach-style wall effect. The wide expanse of their floor stretching from their living room to the kitchen is also broken up by organic marble lines.

And to bring in an extra touch of life, potted plants dot several corners of their flat.

For graphic designer Ashik, "It's really the details that matter. Texture gives us another layer, another depth, that really enhances the house."

PHOTO: Fifth Avenue Interior

One of the highlights of the family's home is their fully-customised kitchen — a bright open space with windows on both sides, a large foldable glass door, and an island table.

The couple reworked the storage space that originally occupied a third of the kitchen area, before having their counters, tables and island built to cater to their tall statures — Ashik towers at 1.9m, while Fizuanie is just half a head shorter.

Another important aspect of the kitchen is the window that looks in from the entrance of the house. Not only does it allow more light into the room, Ashik reveals with a grin that it allows him to see Fizuanie the very moment he comes home after a long day at work.

The vault

PHOTO: Fifth Avenue Interior

While the entire house is bathed in white, the verbal command "Alexa, let's go" triggers their smart home system to draw back a set of curtains behind a pair of double doors in the living area, instantly revealing a private shoe vault swathed in black.

The extra room was already built when the family bought the 5-room flat, and adjustments were made to change the direction of the entrance. Inside, impressive rows of sneakers line the back wall, which is lit up by lights attached to the ceiling. And yes, all the shoes belong to Ashik.

When asked just how many pairs of sneakers the 33-year-old owns, he smiles sheepishly.

"Maybe about a hundred pairs? I started collecting them since I was 18."

His favourite Air Jordan 1s take centre stage in the display, with his Nike, Adidas, and other sneaker brands flanking his prized collection.

The dichotomy between the black vault and the white house is interesting, but there is a reason for it — shoes, and especially sneakers, require a cool storage environment in order to last longer.

PHOTO: Fifth Avenue Interior

For Ashik, the vault is his "Narnia world", a different dimension within his own home where he is "king", he jokes. His love for sneakers is shared by his wife, and has trickled down to their 2-year-old daughter Audreena too.

He shows off a smaller cabinet within the vault, filled with miniature sneakers in Audreena's size that they'd purchased through the years, even before she was born.

"We have matching sneakers, but my wife doesn't really like to match with me," Ashik shares. "At least Audreena will."

Finding the perfect match

PHOTO: Fifth Avenue Interior

With a clear vision of the design for his home, Ashik got to work immediately after they found their flat, sketching out the layout and potential placement of furniture and fittings. He even went the extra mile, preparing a PDF document with his designs, as well as mood boards, and sent them out to interior design companies he wanted to work with.

Of all the companies he reached out to, only five or six of them responded.

"I think they mistook me for another interior designer (ID) that was trying to smoke them out," Ashik laughs, revealing that since young, he had picked up the ins and outs of the business from his father who had his own renovation company.

He eventually met up with a few IDs for a face-to-face consultation but found that most were rather insistent on changing certain parts of his designs. It wasn't until he met the IDs from Fifth Avenue Interior that he found someone he clicked with.

Working against the clock

PHOTO: Fifth Avenue Interior

Once they had settled on their ID, the next challenge was the deadline to complete renovation works. The couple had only a short time to complete their renovation after receiving the keys to their resale flat.

There were hiccups along the way, such as when their kitchen cabinets were fitted with wrongly-sized doors, which resulted in a delay. As their renovation period coincided with Chinese New Year, the couple also had to contend with another wait as the ID firm took a two-week break.

The day they held a photoshoot in their finished dream home, turned out to be the very same day that the nationwide circuit breaker due to COVID-19, was announced.

Sayang Tampines

PHOTO: Fifth Avenue Interior

There has been no doubt in the couple's minds that Tampines is the town for them.

Their marital home had been in Tampines West, while Ashik grew up with his parents in Tampines North. Given the memories he has of the town, he baulks at the suggestion of living anywhere else.

He laughs: "Back when we were waiting for our first apartment, we lived with my in-laws at Simei. That's the farthest I'd ever move, and it's only five minutes away from Tampines."

The close proximity to his parents' home also meant that the couple were eligible for HDB's Proximity Housing Grant, which helped them save $20,000 on their flat.

With Our Tampines Hub located just a short distance away, the family regularly spends time there dining, swimming, visiting the library and grocery shopping — the mention of which immediately causes young Audreena to perk up and babble excitedly.

Tips for budgeting

PHOTO: Fifth Avenue Interior

Even with all the extra work that went into redesigning and customising their flat, including turning it into a smart home, everything remained within budget.

It boils down to discipline, emphasises Ashik, which means setting a budget and sticking to it.

When it came to hunting for furniture, there were plenty of instances where they had to decide against purchasing what they thought were "the better options" in order to stay within budget. It also taught the two to keep their eyes peeled for more affordable alternatives.

If setting a realistic budget is hard, especially for first-time homeowners, he recommends doing plenty of research to get a good gauge of the costs of items, and watching more home and design shows to see how others have remodelled their home with their own cost-saving hacks.

This article is brought to you in partnership with the Housing and Development Board. Check out the MyNiceHome website to get tips on renovating your HDB flat, and be inspired by more home tours.

rainercheung@asiaone.com