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Before & After: Transforming A 3-Room Bidadari BTO Flat Into An Cosy, Open-Plan Studio

28 May 2024 | BY

The adventurous pair took it upon themselves to design and renovate their new Bidadari BTO. The result? This cosy, minimal studio.

Before & After: Transforming A 3-Room Bidadari BTO Flat Into An Cosy, Open-Plan Studio

Hacking down walls in a home is fairly common – especially when your home lies on the smaller end of the spectrum. Still, these are few and far between with most homeowners opting to preserve the existing walls in their homes for things like a study room or guest room. But once in a blue moon we chance upon homeowners who go against the grain and do the exact opposite. 

Meet Yi Ting and Wen Xiang, the homeowners behind the home Instagram account @ourbareloft. The adventurous pair bypassed having an interior designer and main contractor and proceeded to hack down almost every available wall in their 3-room Bidadari BTO flat. The final bill for their self-managed reno project only amounted to $15,000 with another $15,000 thrown in for furniture and appliances.

A look at the original floor plan

original floor planThe original floor plan on the left and the finalised floor plan complete with their envisioned benches and wardrobes
Image credit:

With only around 699 sq ft to play around with, the couple found themselves avoiding popular interior trends and gravitating towards the concept of a minimal, open space. “Airy, bright, functional and easy to upkeep” were a couple of things they had in mind when they went about the DIY transformation.

Walls are usually a good idea to keep the unavoidable clutter in a home hidden well out of sight. Naturally, with their open-plan studio in mind, what naturally transpired was the hacking of most of the original BTO’s hackable walls. 

Yi Ting and Wen Xiang also made sure to plan for ample storage solutions in their home to counter this. They also chimed that the openness of the home “forces them to keep things neat and uncluttered.” The final result was an expansive open-concept home layout that would give them the option to customise and reconfigure the home’s different spaces whenever the need arose.

Minimal living & dining space

minimal living and dining spaceImage credit: @thebareloft

Now you might be wondering, “where’s the sofa?’ The simple answer is: There isn’t one. The couple made a deliberate choice to combine both the living and dining areas into one free-flowing space. 

Instead of a plush sofa that would’ve made the space feel more cramped, the couple went for DIY bay window seats that wrap around the perimeter of the living room wall giving them both additional storage space and ample seating for as many as seven guests when playing host.

minimal living and dining space 2The bright and airy living and dining area
Image credit: @thebareloft

If the window sill seating looks familiar, that’s probably because you recognise the standard white vinyl and semi-circular pulls of the IKEA Platsa series. That’s exactly what the couple used to form the base of their “built-in seats” whilst keeping the carpentry costs around the house low. They did, however, seek the help of a carpenter to customise an L-shaped wooden plywood top to give the seating area a little more of a polished, Scandinavian look.

A collection of cushions in varying sizes and an earthy palette along with a smattering of house plants does wonders to bring life and a sense of warm cosiness to the home. Yi Ting and Wen Xiang also appreciate how easy the setup is to maintain, especially with a cat in the house.

minimal living and dining space 3Image credit: @thebareloft

Another view of their “built-in” storage seats that also links to a small tabletop and their TV console. It really does appear that the couple did a lot of prior planning to achieve a super functional home that is void of unnecessary clutter.

Study & sleeping quarters

study and sleeping quartersImage credit: @thebareloft

Another interesting thing that caught our eye in this home, is the bar-height study table that flanks one side of the “sleeping quarters”. A feature that the homeowners customised as they loved the view from that window and it as a backdrop for their WFH days. study and sleeping quartersThe white partition you see between the window and the bathroom doors isn’t a wall, but a couple of wardrobes from IKEA the home owners fashioned into a divider.
Image credit: @thebareloft

The homeowners sought the help of a carpenter to construct and install their platform bed to create a cosy nook. With the master bedroom walls done away with, the homeowners were then able to create a semi walk-in wardrobe with the addition of an L-shaped cupboard walkway fashioned out of IKEA wardrobes.

study and sleeping quartersImage credit: @thebareloft, @thebareloft

Some of the home’s novel features include wooden wall-mounted towel rack, a IKEA pegboard standing shared vanity area, and a hanging swing chair that is centred in the middle of the home, making it a unique centrepiece and a great place to just kick back and wind down at the end of the day.

Common bathroom

common bathroomImage credit: @thebareloft

With only one bathroom in the home, their bathroom comes complete with a 1.3M acrylic bathtub they scored on ezbuy. They also stuck with the original HDB bathroom tiles to save themselves some money and the headache of selecting tiles from the many possibilities out there.

Two other standout features of the bathroom are the earthy-toned freestanding cylinder pedestal sink and the live edge floating wood that really elevate the look of the bathroom.

Tiny, yet functional kitchen & service yard

kitchen and service yardImage credit: @thebareloft

Making the best of what they could with the given kitchen and yard space, the couple set out to create the tiny, yet functional kitchen of their dreams. 

As documented on their Instagram account, the couple described the laborious task of putting their kitchen together from scratch, with an entire kitchen setup from IKEA and a couple of adornments from Taobao in the form of cabinet pulls.

DIYing 3-room Bidadari HDB flat into a spacious studio

HDB BTOs are pretty standard these days. But it doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to fully transform your home into a cosy space if you’re not willing to fork out a bomb for an interior designer or contractor. 

When asked about their takeaway from this momentous home project, Yi Ting and Wen Xiang shared that it’s good to know exactly what envision your home to look like before collecting your keys. Doing your due diligence by conducting research prior to the renovation – DIY or not – is another crucial step for any homeowner. 

They recommend following other home accounts on Instagram and even going a step further to ask these homeowners for advice or mistakes to avoid. Especially for those hoping to helm their reno by themselves, experience makes a big difference. The couple recommends seeking some professional advice whether it’s from parents or friends, on best practices and things they should look out for before things like hacking walls or doing your own installation.

It’s going to be time-consuming and you’re going to face a few challenges along the way, but the experience and the final outcome will be well worth the effort!

Check out some of our other featured homes here: 

Cover image adapted from: @thebareloft
This article was originally published on 1st April 2022, and updated on 28th May 2024.

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