Featured Homes

Transforming My Tiny Old HDB Toilet Into A Dreamy Bathroom With Mood Lighting

27 December 2023 | BY

Not happy with their old HDB toilet, this couple decided to expand their master bathroom for a more spacious showering experience.

expanding hdb toilet

Older HDB flats can be considered a double-edged sword. On one hand, they’re more spacious and come in layouts that make it easier to design around. On the other, the bathrooms in these older HDB flats can be very small and inefficient where one shower would drench the entire bathroom. But this did not deter Ryan and Chermaine, the couple behind @cherry.buddies on Instagram.

Not  happy with the “dreary & tiny” bathroom the HDB came with

old hdb toiletImage credit: Cherry Buddies

The moment they saw the bathroom in their built-in-1977 flat, they knew that it had to go. “ It was way too cramped for a relaxing shower, which we both valued,” Chermaine explained. Another gripe of theirs was that there was barely any design factored into the original bathroom, meaning it’d look out of place in their self-designed 4-room HDB flat.

cherry buddies hdb bathroom renderThe rendering of their bathroom design.
Image credit: Cherry Buddies

There were a couple of non-negotiables that Ryan and Chermaine wanted in their new bathroom. The most important was a high-quality toilet bowl with a bidet. They also wanted mood lighting to evoke a “hotel vibe”, an enclosed shower, and a vanity area with a sink that has sufficient storage space too. 

Once they had this checklist, they scoured through Pinterest for inspiration that specifically catered to their “cream bathroom” aspirations. Their contractor’s contact did a mockup of their bathroom based on their brief, to help visualise what the expanded bathroom would look like. But part of their bathroom transformation involved expanding their bathroom into their master bedroom. 

Hiring a good contractor to handle the permits & approval requests

Enlarging a bathroom in an HDB flat isn’t a cut-and-dry process. Approvals and permits from HDB also have to be issued before renovations can begin, and the bathrooms can only be expanded by 0.6 sqm. The extra space is also only allowed to be used as a dry area – sinks are allowed, though – so you can’t add a giant soaking tub to your bathroom.

construction of the hdb bathroom expansionImage credit: Cherry Buddies

Even though Ryan and Chermaine designed their HDB flat by themselves, they still relied on professionals to turn their vision into reality. The main contractor they hired was experienced enough to help the couple settle all of the necessary paperwork so they could sit back and relax.

However, that wasn’t to say that it was all roses. One of the hiccups they encountered during the renovation revolved around the aircon trunking having to pass through the bathroom due to the position of the condenser unit outside the master bedroom.

exposed wall expanding hdb toiletThe left side of the bathroom is where the ceiling was lowered to conceal the unsightly pipes and trunking.
Image credit: Cherry Buddies

Ultimately, they decided to lower part of the ceiling above the expanded area – which is above the new sink and vanity – down from 2.4m to 2m tall to fully conceal the trunking. “Thankfully the height works well for both of us and creates an even cosier vibe when we first step into the bathroom!” Chermaine said.

Getting bathroom fittings from Amazon in Germany

bathroom fittingsImage credit: Cherry Buddies

It’s commonplace these days for homeowners to procure affordable bathroom fittings online. Ryan and Chermaine did the same. But instead of browsing through Shopee or Lazada, they placed their trust in Amazon, specifically the German store where Hansgrohe products can be cheaper than at local hardware stores.

“We’re big fans of buying through Amazon for its easy return policies,” Chermaine explained, adding that the German Amazon site will also convert the Euro prices to SGD for clarity when checking out. They also got a couple of other fittings from Heritage Bathroom Gallery.

In total, the bathroom fittings for their master bath – including the shower head & mixer, bidet, faucet, basin, toilet bowl, lights, and ventilation fan – cost them around $1,350.

Expanding an HDB bathroom by size

Bathrooms have evolved from a practical space to a sanctuary where comfort and aesthetics are also part of the equation. For some homeowners like Ryan and Chermaine, this shift in what a bathroom entails has allowed them to exercise a higher level of creativity when it comes to the interior design of their home, including the option to expand their toilets.

You can check out more of their home renovation journey over at @cherry.buddies on Instagram.

Take a look at other home transformations:

Cover image credit: Cherry Buddies

Drop us your email so you won't miss the latest news.

More In...