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This Photographer’s Practical 4-Rm HDB Flat Is A Utilitarian Dream Come True With A Home Studio & Gym

18 June 2024 | BY

With a bunch of fun colours against neutral concrete walls, this photographer’s $85K HDB reno is an aesthetic utilitarian dream come true.

Interior photographer’s $85K HDB reno - cover image

Decidedly mid-century modern, but with a personal, eclectic touch, this interior photographer’s $85K HDB reno is the result of the homeowner’s distinct sense of artistic taste and fashion. With a bunch of fun colours sprinkled throughout the home, juxtaposed against neutral concrete walls, readers are going to enjoy this marriage of practical minimalism and good design sense.

A charming, eclectic living room with few built-ins for versatility

Interior photographer’s $85K HDB reno - living roomImage credit: @fajar.home

This 902sqft 4-room resale unit is defined by 2 things: first would be a lack of built-ins that allows for the freedom to rearrange the layout of the home. The second would be a heavy use of trinkets, baubles and furniture to add personality.

This results in a fun medley of various vibrant colours and textures that creates an inviting environment for social interaction and communal activity. To balance it out, much of the rest of the space is done in a muted palette, such as the off-white walls and light grey paint on the steel doors in this home.

That said, the homeowner was worried that the potpourri of shades would end up being too overwhelming, and hence decided to tame it a little through the use of silver stainless steel frame furniture. This material would eventually come to be a recurring theme, being used in one way or another throughout the rest of the home.

A multi-use photography studio & gym

Interior photographer’s $85K HDB reno - wire mesh window doorImage credit: @fajar.home

The homeowner worked with No Sense Studio, whose portfolio has a style he described as “unique and feels like it’s from a bygone era”. This translated into incorporating some of that style into the design of the home as well, to evoke a similar sort of nostalgic visage of the past.

One of these features can be found right leading into the photography studio, in the form of folding metal doors with wire mesh windows. Its neutral light hue further reinforces the simple, understated minimalist aesthetic that the homeowner wanted for this renovation.

Interior photographer’s $85K HDB reno - photo studioImage credit: @fajar.home

Inside, you find a very large space, filled with plenty of stainless steel storage for camera equipment and a simple aluminium frame desk for his computer. Designed as a multi-use area, this studio combined 2 rooms from the original layout, with the walls between them hacked away and a new custom steel folding door installed as the new entrance.

Like the living room, the studio is also meant to be highly modular, since it also happens to be where the home gym is located. When shoots for the day are concluded, the homeowner breaks out the bicycle trainers or does bench weights and callisthenics.

Interior photographer’s $85K HDB reno - home gymImage credit: @fajar.home

A simple, practical kitchen that melds form with function

Interior photographer’s $85K HDB reno - practical kitchenImage credit: @fajar.home

The homeowner shared that he had done many shoots and video production projects in kitchens, which over time has informed his taste for the sleek, simple look of stainless steel countertops and terracotta tiles.

These 2 features look good, but are also practical additions for a kitchen, with stainless steel being easy to maintain and terracotta tiles being slip-resistant, even when covered in spills or oils.

Interior photographer’s $85K HDB reno - coffee machineImage credit: @fajar.home

Similar to the rest of the home, you see the balanced contrast of the cold stainless steel texture against the warmth of the terracotta, along with birchwood-shade laminate on the cabinets. It comes together to create a calming, visually fun aesthetic that the homeowner really enjoys.

Interior photographer’s $85K HDB reno - kitchen groutingImage credit: @fajar.home

A simple but really nice touch here is the use of blue grouting for the glazed white tile backsplash. The subtlety employed here definitely infuses a bit of a fun casual feel to the kitchen without being too overwhelming as to ruin the overall calming and understated visual aesthetic.

$2k custom-made grilles that hark to pre-war flats

Interior photographer’s $85K HDB reno - window grilleImage credit: @fajar.home

Another retro-oriented design feature is actually right by the front door, where you’d see window grilles just like the ones found in the pre-war flats of Tiong Bahru estate. The homeowner loved the patterns and shapes of the window grilles found in that area, and thought to add them to his home.

Interior photographer’s $85K HDB reno - window grille closeupImage credit: @fajar.home

He said that he was not able to get any grilles from the flats there to refurbish for his home, and so went for custom fabrications, made possible through one of the ID’s contractors for $2,000.

Interior photographer’s $85K HDB reno calming lightingImage credit: @fajar.home

Charming collection of lamps & bespoke art 

There are plenty of mismatched lighting fixtures placed around the living room, all of which come together to bathe the home with a gentle light for those relaxing evenings.

Interior photographer’s $85K HDB reno - lamp collectionImage credit: @fajar.home

It certainly helps that the design of the fixtures themselves are also wonderfully mid-century modern, with a style that the homeowner described as one of a “Danish-Scandinavian” persuasion. Some might recognise IKEA’s VARMBLIXT and BLÅSVERK lamps amongst the various other pieces here.

Furniture pieces are not the only visual details that fill this home. You might already have seen a couple of artworks in the previous photos, but there are a few standout pieces specimens that the homeowner brought to our attention.

The one above was a commissioned piece from the homeowner’s artist friend Anna at @quietthread. Created using thread and paper, this work consists of various geometric patterns and batik motifs in a monochrome colour palette.

The other piece is a Chinese water painting, also by one of the homeowner’s friends. Depicting a scene of birds feeding on grapes, it’s meant to represent fortune for the family. The homeowner decided to hang it above the dining room table, where most of his relatives would gather when they visit

An interior photographer’s practical $85K HDB reno

You might be surprised that despite this photographer’s $85K HDB reno being done just after the Covid period, the whole process was quite smooth. In fact, they actually managed to finish it in just 5 months, with only occasional delays. Part of this is likely due to how closely the style of the particular ID was aligned with the taste of the homeowner. 

Perhaps that might be a factor for you to consider too, next time you make your home renovation plans.

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Cover image credit: @fajar.home

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