You might be familiar with Annette Lee, the witty singer-songwriter behind the ever catchy “Cai Fan Song”. If that doesn’t strike a chord, you might have seen her in past SGAG videos as well as new web series “Asian Billionaires”, of which she is the brains behind.
Yet, how familiar are you with her crib? While the self-professed homebody has done a house tour, we delved a little deeper into her gorgeous 4-room HDB resale flat in Toa Payoh that’s rife with travel finds and intriguing details. Here’s a look at the $120,000 renovation:
Industrial yet luxe with cosy accents
When it came to deciding an overall look for the house, Annette explained it was a mix of styles between her and husband Raphael’s preferences. “I prefer a vintage, cosy look, while Raph likes clean lines and something more sophisticated.”
The result, then, as conceived by interior designer Glynis from ZYNC [studio+workshop], is a clever mix of the two. For instance, the spacious living room has cosy pillows, throws and rugs that make the industrial screed floor look more lively than sterile.
Pro tip by Annette: Just pay the extra $5-$10K for an epoxy layer to protect your cement screed floors. Else, when you walk on it, it’ll feel all sandy and dusty.
As for the luxe, atas part, that’s in the form of accents like architectural lamps hanging over kitchen counters, as well as sleek devices like a flatscreen TV on a backlit feature wall. “But to be honest, we hardly use that – we just tend to use our phones and laptops to watch shows,” Annette confessed.
We also adore the thoughtful symmetry: two L-shaped sofas that mirror each other and act as a statement piece in the living room.
Similarly, instead of breaking the bank for a custom mega long table, the couple cleverly lined up two Castlery dining tables for an impressive banquet-worthy effect. “It’s great when friends come over,” explained Annette, “One can be for dining, and the other for board games after without even needing to clean up!”
The clever creation of storage beneath the dining area seats also helps to keep clutter at bay
The living room also flowed seamlessly into the open concept kitchen, which had striking Peranakan-style tiles as a backsplash. These were in teal, with a retro clover motif. “We love having quirky tiles in our house, and did a lot of tile shopping in Balestier.”
Tingkat containers from Penang in the corner as an accent
Soothing and airy master bedroom
The master bedroom was not immediately apparent from the living room – till we realised the doors were hidden behind full-length mirrors.
Entering it, we were immediately struck by a soothing Scandinavian palette, all light woods and greys, with a cosy bed on an elevated platform taking centrestage.
Rose gold and golden lamps and trinkets added warmth to the room, with the latter placed equidistant from each other in the recessed wall for max aesthetic appeal.
Spot the iconic “CEO of Cutting Fruits” tee-shirt, a merch piece by Annette.
The bedroom was also home to an open built-in wardrobe – many a homeowner’s dream – and this was divided into “His” and “Hers” sections.
Toilets with a twist
From the wardrobe area, we were led to an ensuite bathroom that was a masterful play of contrasting tiles: white herringbone for walls and quirky retro tiles for the floor. Nope, not messy at all.
Similar to the master bedroom, gold accents in the form of bathroom fixtures like taps and showerheads added luxe touches and gave the space serious boutique hotel vibes.
Adding personality with travel finds and meaningful touches
To turn a house into a home, you’d need personalised touches – and in Annette and Raph’s case, this came in the form of travel knick-knacks and personal effects.
For instance, the striking gramophone in their living room was but one of the three finds they scored from an antique market in India – the other two are a telescope and bronze fan respectively. “We fell in love with them – and it was worth the shipping costs,” said Annette.
Another charming vignette of unique items was spotted in the guest room, which they offer up to friends and family who stay over.
Here, we spotted a sleek hourglass – “from a friend” – and a mini-rocking horse – “a $1 find from a Melbourne garage sale!” They stood atop Raph’s grandma’s sewing machine, which the couple spray-painted black for a modern update.
Paying attention to detail with a quirky ‘bedroom table’, drawings and cute corner luggages.
Other newer additions that livened up the space were a series of drawings that Annette did in junior college and university – this even included a cute Monsters, Inc one, which was a great conversation starter.
3-in-1 study, studio and equipment room
We’ve all probably spruced up our home office and study during the pandemic WFH era, and Annette is no exception. As a freelancer, her cosy study also doubles up as a studio and equipment room, with plenty of shelving for books, a printer and travel finds.
An antique fan that was also brought back from India
Beloved knick-knacks include ceramics, a “dog” recorder and miniature mirror.
Despite the sheer amount of things in the room, it didn’t looked cluttered. Probably thanks to a carpet from Castlery that matched the colours of the Etsy painting on the wall. “It was meant to be,” exclaims Annette, and it tied the entire study together with a cohesive colour palette.
Annette and Ralph’s cosy 4-room HDB resale
After staying in her flat for about five years, Annette still considers it a work in progress. “We are always adding new things, like my drawings recently and even travel finds – like this throw from Sri Lanka,” she pointed out, animatedly.
During our visit, we also couldn’t help but marvel at how spacious the home looked. Sure, it has an advantage of being bigger than BTO flats nowadays with a generous resale area of 104 sqm (1120 sqft). But that sense of space was further enhanced by mirrors, the squarish layout and lack of many tight corridors.
As for us, we are also impressed by how the couple mismatched styles effortlessly, and managed to make their flat burst with personality with an eye for quirky finds that elevated their home.
More about Annette:
20 Questions with Annette Lee
Asian Billionaires: The New “Crazy Rich Asians” Series
For more reno inspiration: