Featured Homes

This Retro Home Proves That Your Ah Ma’s Style Can Be Cooler Than Your Scandi HDB

10 April 2023 | BY

From upcycled antiques to vintage collections, your ah ma will confirm plus chop approve of this retro HDB makeover.

This Retro Home Proves That Your Ah Ma's Style Can Be Cooler Than Your Scandi HDB

Clean curved lines, light wood tones and a whole lot of limewash are the trends that most homeowners gravitate towards these days, but one couple went back in time to encapsulate a little bit of their ah ma’s style in their HDB flat reno.

Reaching out to Ethereall to make their ideas into reality, the couple nailed it by trying to emulate a home with a retro aesthetic. With vintage pieces and some modern touches, this intimate, cosy home sparks some serious nostalgia in the hearts of oldies and 90s kids alike.

Minimal reno set the foundation for their retro home

Many have embraced the vintage/retro interior aesthetic for their homes, but homeowners who trod down the path will tell you that not all their renovation decisions aged well with time. But this homeowner made the smart decision to achieve the 1950s old-school vibe purely with styling alone.

To set the perfect neutral canvas for styling, they started out with a minimal, modern industrial reno with subtle modern touches in the form of concrete screed flooring, smoothed curves on the structural beam, reeded glass doors and a glossy, glazed olive green kitchen backsplash.

Let’s take a look at how they’ve styled their different living spaces to give their home unfussed elegance between all the nostalgia.

Living room

retro home - living roomA modern chandelier adds an interesting contrast to an otherwise vintage interior.
Image credit: Ethereall

At eye level, the living room gives you a heavy dose of nostalgia thanks to the stately Mid-Century Modern single armchairs and matching sofa set alongside the vintage Persian-style rug that outlines the area. The low-lying glass coffee table also adds to the cosiness.

Other decor elements that set the mood are the mauve pleated table lamp on the glass console turned decorative bar, vintage framed prints and a matching angular mirror that looks straight out of the 60s.

retro home - living room2Image credit: Ethereall

Take a closer look at the TV console and you’ll find that it’s actually an upcycled piece of furniture featuring an antique TV base and a glass table top – with their sleek flatscreen LG sitting right on top, the whole setup is a nice juxtaposition of old and new.

Beyond that, the homeowner’s collection of vintage paraphernalia makes a grand appearance all around the house as decorative pieces that add dimension and character to the home.

retro home - paintingsWhether these frames have yet to be hung or are meant to be placed on the floor, we like the depth and moodiness emanating from this corner of the hall.
Image credit: Ethereall

retro home - dining areaImage credit: Ethereall

Ask your grandparents and they’ll tell you that the light wood craze was something that caught ablaze in the new millennia. It was dark-stained wood that was all the rave in the 60s, especially in Singapore because of the preferred use of hardwoods like rosewood and teak. That, and because it was also seen as the more high-SES option of the two.

Over in the dining room, you’ll find a dining set that’s true to the classic Mid-Century Modern aesthetic, with cushioned grey seats that complement the living room seats as well. A simple vintage chandelier finishes off the look to a T.

retro home - living room3Image credit: Ethereall

Too much white can make a space overly sterile, but the homeowners mitigated this by dedicating a corner in their home a warm pop of autumnal colours in the form of a geometric wall mural. Their curated Mid-Century Modern pieces and dark wooden Venetian blinds ensure that the sudden addition of colour doesn’t take too much away from the vintage sophistication of the home.

Open cabinets and console tops are carefully styled with antique treasures from glassware to crockery, the finishing touch of a retro home.


retro home - kitchenImage credit: Ethereall

With its modern open-concept layout and expansive island, the kitchen might not look too far off from something you’d find in another Mid-Century Modern home. With that said, we do love the addition of black and white mosaic that’s reminiscent of the mosaic tiles commonly used in most households back in the day. We also love the cute addition of reeded glass pendant lights that give a nod to the 1940s.

retro home - flooringA clever and very modern curved demarcation to divide the dining space from the kitchen. It also helps to add more character to the home.
Image credit: Ethereall

Home office

retro home - home officeImage credit: Ethereall

The first thing that strikes us about this man cave is the vintage industrial style that’s been contrasted with a very modern WFH setup – curved monitor, ergonomic office chair, standing desk and all.

We’ve seen pegboards pull their weight as aesthetic vertical display units, but this metal grid-like fence fixture sure takes the cake to give the space a very masculine energy. And may we add that’s an impressive collection of tools.


retro home - bedroomImage credit: Ethereall

It’s an immediate blast to the past as you enter the master bedroom. The delicate handpainted glass pendant lamp is a classic choice, and definitely, something that oozes “Growing Up” TV series vibes.  

While the inconspicuous built-in wardrobe isn’t a fixture we’ve seen in the past, the dark wood sure does help the bedroom achieve the old-school look it was going for.

retro home - comicsImage credit: Ethereall

The homeowners have a refined taste with their collection of Lao Fu Zi comics. This classic Hong Kong comic series is so well-loved, it’s been a major part of a Singaporean’s childhood.


retro home - vanity tableImage credit: Ethereall

The homeowners evidently had fun with this space that we’re guessing is the extension of the master bedroom & ensuite bathroom. There’s something so playful and vibrant about the modern nature mural present in a semi-circle right behind a very exquisite vintage 2-tiered cabriole-legged vanity.

retro home - bathroomImage credit: Ethereall

While the layout of this toilet is true to most older resale flats, we love how the bathroom has been given a modern makeover with yet another reeded glass feature in the form of a shower screen.

A retro Mid-Century Modern HDB makeover

Was this a blast from the past? Because it sure was for us. This retro home is cleverly designed to pay homage to the past in subtle ways, whilst allowing the homeowners the option to redesign and freshen up their home’s interior with a modern take should they ever tire of their current look.

Your ah ma will surely approve of this retro house.

Check out more home transformations:

Cover image adapted from: Ethereall

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

More In... #hdb