Older HDB flats are known for their big floor plans, and plenty of millennial couples are snapping them up in favour of all the space they can play around with. Peiying and Jiahong are no exception. The couple’s 1,270sqft resale flat in Bedok recently had the final renovation touches put in.
With this being their second home, they made sure to prioritise the functionality of the space and not let any corner go unused. Over the weekend, we took a trip down to the East side of Singapore and saw firsthand how a bright and airy home could still stay cosy and inviting.
Securing their second home
Peiying and Jiahong had no plans to move from their previous home. But they were having a meal at 216 Bedok Market one day and wondered why they hadn’t looked into living in this area before. Immediately after their lunch, Jiahong started scouring the listings around the area and they chanced upon a 1,270sqft 5-room flat on a high floor.
“It felt comfortable when we walked in,” Peiying told us. “有感觉 (got the feels).” The couple also engaged a Feng Shui master (FSM) to scope out the energy of the flat. Being in an older block, the flat’s windows faced the cardinal directions which were good in the books of the FSM. She also advised the couple to ensure the renovation was done well in order to “renew the energy of the home.”
The old kitchen with its charming yellow cabinets.
Image credit: @the_bai_house
With plenty of house hunters also looking at the unit, they had to put in an offer quickly. Thankfully, the couple had a friend who helped them sort out the paperwork and logistics of selling their previous house. They also managed to negotiate a later move-out date so renovations could happen at the new place.
Focusing on light colours and natural materials
With this being Peiying and Jiahong’s second home, they kickstarted the renovation knowing exactly what they loved, wanted, and needed. “A lot of it centred around an open layout with functional spaces for things and a colour scheme that is light and neutral,” Peiying explained about their thought process.
Their love for natural textures was also incorporated throughout their material choices. Think lots of wood and soft fabrics strewn throughout the home. While they had the help of an interior designer for the space planning and adding structural & carpentry details, the furnishing and styling were done entirely by Peiying and Jiahong.
Image credit: @the_bai_house
To aid in visualising how the space will look like with the furniture, the couple used scotch tape to mark out how big furniture like the sofa and carpet will be. “Scale is very important for us,” Peiying said as she showed us pictures of the floor markings.
After 3 months, the major renovation works were complete and Peiying and Jiahong could finally move in. But rather than rush to furnish their home, they took their time and were patient in ensuring that every piece bought for the house served a purpose.
Living / Dining room
A big light-filled space immediately greets you when you step into the home. This is thanks to a room that was hacked down to expand the living and dining areas. “This is the reason we moved to our new place,” Peiying said excitedly when showing us around. “We love the openness and how it allows us to do different things but still be able to interact in the same space.”
It also helps that the walls and ceiling were painted a shade of off-white so it didn’t look as clinical as an operating room. Window films were also installed on all the windows to soften the harsh daylight that streams in.
Two parallel rows of track lights were installed on the ceiling to light up the space when dusk falls. Peiying went for them instead of traditional ceiling lights as these proved to be a more versatile option: the lights can be adjusted to point to a specific spot and more can be added should the need arise.
The couch from Knocknock was also upholstered with the store’s cat-proof fabric, as the house is also home to 2 cats: Kee Tee and Lee Lee.
Behind the living room is the dining area, with the star of the space being the thrifted dining set Peiying and Jiahong found on Carousell. “The table and chairs are all from different sellers, and we love how the mismatched pieces came together,” Peiying told us about her favourite furniture pieces.
Three of the chairs were also antiques that the couple sent for reupholstering, while the two rattan chairs at the heads of the table were acquired from Taobao.
Custom rattan chairs from Taobao make for great bar seating.
To the side of the living and dining room is the island countertop. This was a feature that Peiying and Jiahong felt was necessary and a wishlist item ticked off. To accommodate the island, they had to move the entrance to the kitchen to the other side of the wall near the main entrance. In its place sits a nook with a sink and a coffee machine.
This is where the couple gets ready for their mornings, with Jiahong brewing his coffee – his stash of capsules and coffee beans are hidden on the island. The island also becomes the communal hang-out area when their friends are over.
Rather than go all out with a show flat’s kitchen, Peiying and Jiahong focused on the functionality of the space instead. Practical surfaces, tons of storage, and neutral colours were key to ensuring the kitchen still had a homely vibe and didn’t veer into something too impersonal.
Brushed golden hardware from Lavavella also adds a touch of luxury to the otherwise earthy tones in the kitchen.
Another thing we noticed was that there were no overhead cabinets. This was a deliberate decision to not add more bulk to the kitchen. Instead, additional cabinets were installed on the wall opposite the main cooking area.
To the West side of the home lies the balcony. The setting sun allows for Peiying and Jiahong’s plants to thrive. It is also here where their cats can do their business in the two litter boxes tucked underneath the bar-esque setup, while the other shelving compartments keep all the planting tools neatly hidden away.
On a clear day, the views from their high-floor flat extend all the way to Bukit Timah Hill.
Flanking the balcony are the two bedrooms, with the master suite to the left and a spare room to the right.
Peiying and Jiahong decided on a “walkthrough” wardrobe to create some separation between the sleeping quarters and the wardrobe. Here, you can turn left to the bathroom or right to head to bed.
To maximise the space in the bedroom, they also installed another small wall-length bartop that acts as a vanity, a working counter, and a place to hold all the entertainment consoles. The windows were also filmed with a darker grade of film to let in less light with this being the bedroom and all.
To keep on theme with the accented arches around the house, a false wall with an arched niche was also built behind the bed. This also served to hide all the trunking in place so there weren’t as many unsightly protrusions in the wall. It’s just another one of the smart design details we’ve seen in the house.
Taking their time with the details
While it can be tempting to settle for a sub-par piece of furniture in favour of an earlier move-in date, Peiying and Jiahong knew that it shouldn’t be the case. Drawing from past experience with their first home, they made sure that they felt 100% satisfied with every furnishing choice they made for this new home.
One piece they took 3-4 months to find were these String System shelves from Danish Design Co. The elegant and minimalist design of the shelves was customised to their exact requirements without breaking the bank.
Another design detail we appreciated was the use of outdoor paint in the master suite’s walkthrough wardrobe.
Peiying and Jiahong noticed that there was some mould by the arch that might be a result of the humidity and moisture from the bathroom. To combat this, they got a painter to protect it with a coat of exterior paint. There is still no mould to this day since.
With a panoramic view that extends throughout the home, it’d be a shame to have to cover them with grills to maintain the safety of the cats.
Thankfully, invisible grills exist, and this allows everyone – including Kee Tee and Lee Lee – to soak in the views of the North and West side of Singapore without being blocked.
Carving out a bright and airy space in a Bedok resale flat
There’s something about walking into a home with an open plan and still feeling like it’s enveloping you in a warm embrace. Perhaps it’s the amount of light let in or the warm earthy tones and natural textures. Either way, Peiying and Jiahong have carved out a slice of paradise in a corner of Bedok that they can call home.
Follow their home adventures over at @the_bai_house.
Check out other home renovation stories:
- A $25,000 Scandi-boho haven
- Resale flat that uses Taobao for almost everything
- Mid-century modern Tiong Bahru walk-up
Photography by Nicole Ang.