When we think of older HDBs, a couple things come to mind: dated architecture, peeling paint and decor that’s been out of style for decades. So imagine the surprise when we stepped into a 40-year-old home in Everton Park that was nothing like what we had in mind.
Beautifully furnished and thoughtfully designed, the $60,000 reno accentuates the vintage features of the 3-room flat while incorporating a few modern and personal touches to tastefully tie the two eras together – creating a space that epitomises the term “future nostalgia”.
A welcoming, open interior that combines nostalgia with modernity
Walking up to the unit, the first thing you’ll notice is the pink metal gate securing the home. While its bright pastel colour may lead you to believe it was newly painted, this is not the case. As homeowner Jeanna shared with us, the pink gates were left behind by the previous occupant, an elderly lady who lived in the flat for over 40 years, but they chose to keep them.
It is the very retention of these nostalgic elements that characterises this home; here, instead of scrapping the interior and erasing the history of the flat in the process, Jeanna and her husband Lewis chose to incorporate newer-age elements to the home to give it an update that was stylish while still acknowledging the rich history of the unit.
In conversation, Jeanna shared that she and Lewis fell in love with the retro charm of the home when they first viewed the flat, and were captivated by the terrazzo tile flooring. Although parts of the floor were discoloured due to oxidation over time, they appreciated the “lived-in” look and felt that it was a rarity that gave the house character.
Stepping through the entryway, you can’t help but notice how spacious the flat feels. Despite being a mere 770sqft, the flat does not feel cramped at all – instead, the open layout of the flat makes the space so airy that even those with claustrophobia would feel comfortable here.
The living room has plenty of space to accommodate a comfy three-seater leather couch, a glass coffee table, and a large television.
This is mainly achieved through the open living room. Unlike many of their neighbours, Jeanna and Lewis chose to knock down the second bedroom wall and use the additional space for a larger living room. They shared that this was the best decision they made when renovating their home, as the resultant area is now where they spend most of their time.
Behind the couch, there is even plenty of room for bookshelves and a WFH station, complete with a mechanical standing desk and desktop computer. Jeanna shared that the WFH station was one that was created out of necessity, when the pandemic forced both her and her husband to work from home.
His frequent meetings which required her to vacate the study made it difficult for them to work in the same space. Now, Jeanna says that she enjoys working from her little nook much more than she did in the shared home office space.
The flat’s utility room was converted into Lewis’ study room.
Lewis’ study, on the other hand, has the double function of acting as both his place of work and place of leisure. Described as his “man cave”, the space that overlooks the neighbouring blocks, even holds the couple’s wine fridge and coffee station in order to save precious kitchen counter space, and is where they start their mornings.
They say that what a person reads is a window into their personality. Here, their stacks of books revealed a diverse literary appetite, with titles that reflected their interests in both Literature and Law.
When designing the space with their interior designer Alvin, the couple even turned the wall separating the Master bedroom from the living room into a storage space, showing just how much thought went into making efficient use of the space.
Speaking of efficient use of space, the open kitchen is a further testament to how thoughtful use of space can turn even a small area into one that is stylish but still functional. When Jeanna and Lewis first began their renovation, they hesitated to install a kitchen island as they feared it would make the long, narrow kitchen too cramped.
Later on in the reno, however, they realised that going without it would mean they’d sorely lack counter space, so they decided to go for a slim design with built in storage. This ended up being a lifesaver for them as most of their plates and kitchen appliances are now stored within the island. Looking back, the couple shared that it is by far their favourite reno investment.
Lastly, one of the features of the home that you can’t help but notice are the two arches separating the kitchen from the rest of the house. Jeanna shared that the arches were part of the initial design of the house, and although the tiling was rather dated, it was clear that a lot of effort had been put into preserving it, so she wanted to update it in a way that was still deeply respectful and appreciative of the home’s history.
To do so, the couple opted to remove the tiles from the arches and paint over them in white for a more clean, sleek look. The larger arch acts as the doorway into the kitchen, while they added a small counter to the smaller arch and a pair of bar stools to turn it into a breakfast nook. Though she admits she rarely uses the space unless she has guests over, she has no regrets.
Subtle personal touches peppered around the space
The difference between a house and a home is what you add to make it yours. When they moved in, Jeanna and Lewis made it a point to pepper their home with personal touches to truly make it their own. Here, you’ll notice plenty of artwork. What’s unique about the art, however, is that each piece holds sentimental value because of the story behind it.
The Guinness posters on their kitchen wall, for example, are significant because the couple shared Guinness Stout on their first date, while the embroidered artwork on the living room wall, a gift from Jeanna’s mother, actually has the name of the shipping company she used to work at hidden within it.
If you look closely, the bottom left panel has the name of the shipping company embroidered on.
Although all of their art is meaningful to them, Jeanna shared that their favourite piece is definitely the canvas hanging in the living room. Titled “The Divine Feminine”, the piece, featured prominently above the bookshelf, is the work of a local artist Hani.
Its sentimentality lies in the fact that it was the first piece of art the couple bought together, after walking past Hani’s house one day and seeing an “art for sale” sign. They were drawn to it for its colour, which coincidentally was in the same shade of green as their terrazzo floor. It was confirmed as fate when they realised its title shared a name with the couple’s favourite Mac Miller album.
Just like their art, much of their furniture is also an expression of their personalities and design styles. More specifically, the furnishings reflect a preference for embracing imperfection – the dining chairs, for example, were all purchased separately; while they aren’t identical, they instead complement each other.
This sense of embracing imperfection even extends to the bedroom, where the bedside setup, although mismatched, still maintains a pleasing symmetry.
Finally, the master bathroom. Structurally, it’s much like any other bathroom; here, what’s unique is the sink. The sink itself is made of porcelain – its intricate pattern perfectly suits the vintage theme of the house. Contrasted against the stone tiles, the bold prints further complement each other.
More than just the bowl of the sink, even the tap is special – the faucet creates a cascading water effect, much like a waterfall; a pleasant surprise instead of the forceful jet of water you would expect from a typical sink.
Nostalgic, yet modern flat in Everton Park
If there’s anything to say about this Everton Park home, it’s that it certainly defies what we traditionally expect to see from an older flat. No washed up patterns, chipped tile, or dated decor here!
So, if you’re in the process of getting your first home and feel intimidated by older flats because of all the perceived work you’ll have to put into it, don’t be. As Jeanna shared, you just need to make sure to engage an ID who truly understands your needs to be able to bring your vision to life. When you come back to your beautiful home after a long day, it’ll all have been worth it.