From a museum-like Barbie collection worth $500K to a cosy and magical room filled with over 300 Harry Potter collectibles, Singaporean collectors are certainly no slouches when it comes to hunting down covetable items of their fancy.
We initially approached Little Ong, a creative director based in Singapore, in order to feature the collection of intricate aquascaping in his 5-room HDB resale flat. But we found so much more than that – his abode was a veritable trove of treasures for retro lovers and graphic design enthusiasts, so much so that we nearly didn’t want to leave.
$30K 5-room HDB resale reno with at least 30 marine creature species and >600 vinyls 😲 🔗link in bio for full feature🔗 #sghome #hometour #sgreno #aquascaping #retrocollectibles #vinylcollection #tiktoksg #fyp
40 aquatic creatures in his 5-room HDB flat
Going by the handle @ikan_billy on Instagram, Little is a designer-turned-aquascaper who creates beautiful aquascapes that can be described as art. All in all, Little says that he has approximately 40 aquatic creatures at home, inclusive of crabs and pistol shrimps. More impressively, he revealed that the seaweed in some tanks were actually collected from local beaches.
Aquascaping combines the terms “aqua” and “landscaping” to refer to underwater gardening. This involves arranging elements such as rocks and driftwood, as well as both freshwater and saltwater plants to form aesthetically pleasing underwater landscapes. These aquascapes then become homes to fishes and other small aquatic creatures.
Through our chat with him, we found out that Little has always had a love for animals. As a kid, he used to have different kinds of pets, including 40 hamsters at one point. It seems that his primary school-aged son, Luca, has inherited his love for animals too. In fact, the family’s collection of aquariums started because of a longkang fishing trip.
Although their aquascape collection is truly out of this world currently, it had humble beginnings. After the longkang fishing trip, Little scrounged up a terrarium vase and turned it into a home for their very first fish, who was then rehomed in a $20 tank from Shopee. The rest, as they say, is history.
Self-sustaining aquaponics system & 7 aquascaping tanks
The family currently owns 7 aquarium tanks, including the petite ones adorning their home office desks. The crowning glory of their collection can be found on their balcony, which houses an aquaponics system built 8 years ago.
Water from the aquarium is pumped and filtered through a series of planters and then fed back into the tank twice a day. This way, the plants get nutrients while the fish get to enjoy clean, filtered water.
This self-sustaining system is so low maintenance that Little only has to do a water change every 2 months, with occasional water top-ups every now and then.
Extensive vinyl & vintage toy collection
Besides aquascapes, Little has a passion for collecting vinyl records, a hobby he has nurtured for decades. Though he used to buy up to 6 records each month, he has since dialled it down to 1 every few months. When we visited his house, he was generous in showing us the record that he had just acquired the day prior.
Old-school knick-knacks displayed in his living room.
The majority of these records are stored in an open cabinet in the living room, and by Little’s estimate, each square shelf in the cabinet contains about 40-50 records, bringing the total to about 600. When asked about the total cost of all his vinyl records and aquascapes, he cheekily quipped, “It’s better not to think about how much was spent.”
It’s clear that Little and his wife have a penchant for the retro aesthetic, as seen by the collection of old toys and publications in their shared home office and throughout their home.
It’s always a pleasure when someone’s home shows their personality and passion, and this house has it in spades. Every little knick-knack in their home has a story to tell – just ask them and they’d be ready to share.
$30K 5-room HDB resale reno
With so much character in one sleekly designed home, you’d think that renovation costs would be at least 6 figures. But to our surprise, it was only about $30K, inclusive of electrical appliances and furniture.
Mirror frame made from an old wooden door from Little’s aunt’s home.
The family moved into the 112sqm 5-room resale flat about 14 years ago, and even after adjusting for inflation and market rates, $30K is still an impressive number.
Reclaimed wood furniture.
Part of the reason for the low number may be because Little chose to work with contractors directly, designing the entire 5-room resale flat with the help of a restauranteur friend who formerly worked as an interior designer.
Meanwhile, the wooden furniture – the dining table and bench, as well as the cabinetry in the home office – were made from reclaimed wood sourced from Indonesia. According to Little, these materials were taken from disused railway tracks and old houses, and an architect friend helped him with the creation of the furniture.
Aquascaping HDB flat filled with personality
Wabi-sabi and minimalism continue to be the reigning aesthetic trends these days, which makes it extra special whenever we get to visit a unique home filled with character and decor choices that clearly reflect the owners’ interests and hobbies. This aquascaping home is a shining example of that.
We loved how Little and his family have seamlessly blended their collections with their decor, creating a homey space that always lies on the good side of eclectic – never cluttered or chaotic. So, if you’re a passionate collector or hobbyist, take a few pointers from this aquascaping home and learn how to let your passions shine even at home!
Photography by Huiwen Chan.
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