Peek into an Aussie-inspired HDB, complete with local twists

Forget East meets West, it's all about fusing Aussie elements with local accents in this family home.

How would you go about reimagining your space? For couple Mitch and Karen, it was all about building a space that is enduring while drawing inspiration from both their roots.

"I come from Australia and Karen is Peranakan, so we were looking to include elements from the two as a sort of homage… Public or private housing, it really didn't matter to us," said Mitch. "What we wanted was an apartment with a flexible layout that gives us enough space to live in now and expand on later."

Read on to find out how the duo (with the help of The Local INN.terior) transformed this 5-room resale HDB in Marine Drive into the stylish abode it is today!


Mitch (M): I live with my wife, Karen, our kid and our helper. I work in events while Karen works in Finance.


PHOTO: The Local INN.terior

M: Many Australian homes feature loads of natural light in spaces - it's clean, open, airy with pops of colour, all without losing the feeling of warmth. However, while the both of us like the bright and natural look, we didn't really want a textbook Scandinavian look.

Karen (K): We didn't want a cookie-cutter solution and wanted an apartment that reflected our personalities - which led us to researching interior design tips from a number of sources including online and lifestyle programmes TV!


K: It was in need of a refresh. Our resale unit had a traditional, closed off layout for a 5-room HDB - from terrazzo floors to archways, closed doors and the like. Even the dining and kitchen areas were dark and enclosed. We wanted to resolve these issues and open up the apartment for our renovation.


M: The first thing you notice is our bright yellow door.

M: Upon stepping in, you're greeted by a now-revamped foyer that is part of our living space. This area is home to a few things like the dry kitchen and an island bench top. It was designed specifically to be a communal space so that when we have people over, we can just chill out there. It is then clad with Peranakan tile flooring, so you see the traditional element right from the get-go.

K: The original 5-room flat had a really large kitchen and for us, we didn't feel that we needed all of that space to be enclosed so it gave us something to play with.

M: Because we have a young child, we factored in safety when it came to our kitchen. The cabinetry is mostly handle-less and their doors are slow closing. And since our dry kitchen already had the patterned tiles, we wanted to keep the look balanced which is why we've kept the wet kitchen area relatively simple.

PHOTO: The Local INN.terior

K: There's also cabinetry that conceals an entrance to the washroom in the foyer. And because functionality and storage are important to us, it also doubles as a pull-out pantry.

K: These cabinets also conceal our main bathroom which we've outfitted with a bathtub that also doubles as a shower area.

K: Our third bedroom was then transformed into an extra living space/study, which can be converted into a guest bedroom when needed. We did this by replacing the wall with bi-fold doors. Aside from getting a flexible living space, a big benefit is that it now allows loads of natural light to flow into the apartment, particularly our dining area.

PHOTO: The Local INN.terior

M: The wooden beams are a feature we hadn't originally planned for but when our ID suggested it, we decided to go for it. We loved the natural feel it brought to the newly revamped home. We added in a different colour toned wall in the dining area to break up the monotony of the white walls. Thanks to these updates, it's one of our favourite areas in the apartment now!

M: Although there's pops of colour everywhere else, we kept our living room clean intentionally as a blank canvas that we can work with in the future. We're planning to bring in artwork, maybe plaster some photos to complete the space.


M: We did plenty of research on design elements, and we looked at Qanvast for inspiration. Eventually, we met up with The Local INN.terior, and they felt like the right choice. We had seen their work on Instagram but what really impressed us was the collaborative approach they took when handling our challenging requests. It felt more like working with friends than with a business.

K: Funnily enough, we first found out about Jade through Instagram because we had a friend that followed her there. While Mitch was looking at other designers so we had a benchmark for comparison, we also started looking at her designs - one of the things we really liked was that she was able to integrate both the modern and the traditional Singapore aspects and that really worked for the idea that we wanted, for a home that represented the both of us.

M: We met up to talk through the project and she just felt right so to speak? She was very open to different ideas, challenged some of our own in the process and presented case studies.

K: She wasn't afraid to push the boundaries too, which was exactly what we were looking for. Together with Teck Hou's space planning, The Local INN.terior proved that they were able to think outside the box, which was really what sealed the deal for us.


PHOTO: The Local INN.terior

M: We're very happy to have went through with the renovation, it was a good transformation and an exciting process. Watching the space come to fruition was really rewarding but it's also important to do your own research and understand what you are looking for. Just like how space planning and layout was important to us, other homeowners will have other aspects that are crucial for them. Because it will be where you're going to live for the years to come, finding an interior designer that's collaborative will prove to be helpful.

K: There are many things to consider beyond your living spaces so we'd say that you should always think ahead of time to create a space that endures time.

This article was first published in Qanvast.