Known for his role in Ah Boys to Men and his successful MMA career, Maxi Lim didn’t strike us as a lover of retro aesthetics. But that’s precisely why they say not to judge a book by its cover – rather than a dark and sleek home reminiscent of the Wayne Manor, local actor Maxi Lim’s abode is a warm haven filled with sentimental knick-knacks and thoughtful details.
A low-maintenance retro industrial home that cost $80K
Now a father to a 3-year-old son, Maxi Lim placed extra emphasis on practicality during the design process of his 4-room flat in the northeastern area of Singapore. “I think that a retro industrial home design is timeless and due to its already ‘worn’ appearance, it is also relatively easy to maintain,” said Maxi.
While we toured his place, the affable actor pointed out several design details that kept the place low-maintenance. The cement screed floor and concrete paint walls were deliberately chosen because they were good at hiding signs of wear and tear, and even if his son were to scribble on these surfaces, it would look like part of the design.
“I’d lived alone for 5 years previously, and having an easy-to-maintain house was my number one consideration,” he added. Through trial and error over the course of 5 years, Maxi was able to pinpoint renovation choices that would make cleaning easier, which he then applied to his current 1,001sqft home.
Inspired by speakeasies and old shophouses
These days, Japandi and wabi-sabi homes reign supreme in Singapore, but Maxi Lim’s retro industrial home bucks the trend. Rather than having cookie-cutter furniture, the actor painstakingly curated unique pieces for his home.
It was clear that much thought had been put into every corner of his home, even down to the mini gachapon machine used to store his Nespresso capsules – it’s the exact same shade of red as his coffee machine.
Even the kitchen appliances – including the knobs and dials on the built-in oven – were handpicked to kit the home’s overall theme. The floor tiles, reminiscent of those in houses in the 60s, were chosen not just because they looked good, but also because they were easy to keep clean.
The total renovation costs of his home came up to around $80K, but thanks to partial sponsorship, he only had to fork out around $30K. This amount was mostly spent on things such as lighting fixtures and furniture.
His favourite part of the house
According to Maxi, the most expensive piece of furniture was his $2,000 Chesterfield sofa – still reasonable even when pitted against IKEA. The steampunk-style aeroplane metal table in his study, which caught our attention the moment we stepped in, only cost $899 from Loft Home Furniture.
“My favourite area of the home is my study. It’s where I make my cup of coffee in the morning and unwind with friends in the evening. I have a vinyl player where I play my records when I have guests over. A few months ago, I started a small shrimp aquarium here, and the shrimps are breeding well too,” he said.
His love for all things retro doesn’t just stop at furniture. Retro movie posters and well-kept Gameboy cartridges, along with a pristine Gameboy console, adorn a corner of his study, ready to be discovered by those who care to look.
“Most of the design inspirations [of my home] were taken from speakeasy cocktail bars and old HDBs and shophouses. I wanted my home to be a place where I could display my favourite movie posters and memorabilia,” said Maxi.
Decorative old-school ventilation blocks.
A bathtub for his wife
Although the 4-room flat looks more like a bachelor’s pad rather than a newlyweds’ home, Maxi Lim revealed that his wife, influencer Lizy Teo, supported his design choices.
The same retro pop culture aesthetic carries through to the master bedroom and ensuite bathroom, where a poster of Pulp Fiction overlooks anyone who sits on the porcelain throne.
Unusually for an HDB bathroom, the space is kitted out with a bathtub. “[It] was something that my wife really wanted, but I was slightly against it at first. Eventually, I got it for her, and thankfully I did so! It was so useful when I had to do ice baths for recovery when I was training for my fight,” the actor said.
A vault door leading to the bomb shelter
Despite having a 3-year-old toddler, the place was surprisingly uncluttered. The trick? Storing his son’s toys in the bomb shelter, which is hidden by a vault door.
“My wife assisted me with the purchase of the vault door on Taobao. It was pretty cheap at around $300. We wanted to get a vending machine door at first, but the vault door came out as a related search result,” said Maxi.
“The funny thing was that we got the measurement of the vault door wrong and the storeroom door wouldn’t open. Thankfully, my ID was able to work his magic, and after some cutting and welding, both doors were able to be opened.”
Behind the vault door also lays an assortment of caps and a bright red decal reminiscent of what you’d see in army barracks – we were told that it was a tribute to his role in Ah Boys to Men.
His only renovation regret
When pressed, Maxi Lim stated that he mildly regrets getting a custom-made scissors grille gate for his front door.
“I’d always wanted one, but the one [readily available] on the market opens like a regular door, which is not what I wanted. [Instead], I had mine fabricated in Malaysia.”
Just like those authentic metal gates you’d see in old-school shops, his custom-made version slides open noisily. But it’s this same authenticity that leaves the actor with a tinge of regret. “I’ve probably used it less than 10 times, and usually it remains open for ease of passage,” said Maxi.
For a home filled with distinct design choices, having only one renovation regret is a feat in itself. As the actor emphasised several times throughout our visit, renting a place and living on his own helped him isolate renovation pain points, so as to avoid them in his forever home. After all, the best way to learn is via trial and error.
For more unique homes in Singapore:
- A colourful, maximalist home with a giant Swatch watch
- HDB maisonette with a built-in slide
- East Coast condo that looks like Aesop ION
Cover image adapted from: Uchify