Less is more in this minimalist HDB flat

The Japanese principle of Kanso guided the design of this five-room BTO flat, turning it into a serene abode where less is more.

  • Less is more in this minimalist HDB flat

Home Type: 5-room HDB flat

Floor Area: 1,000sqft

Text by Vanitha Pavapathi

The ‘less is more’ design approach has always been favoured by minimalists. City dwellers have also found solace in simplicity, especially since homes are getting smaller and lives more hectic. Likewise, the owners of this five-room BTO flat located in Clementi live by the mantra of less is more, emphasising a desire for a home where tranquillity, simplicity and mindfulness reign supreme.

less is more flat

With a renovation cost of $120,000 and a meticulous four-month renovation, Rei Ye, the co-founder of typeface and lead designer of this project, has curated an interior that echoes the principles of Kanso design. This Japanese art of minimalism posits that every element serves a purpose, eliminating unnecessary clutter.

Such deliberate way of living begins at the foyer. A timber framework that seamlessly extends into the kitchen creates visual continuity while delineating the living and dining areas without imposing physical barriers. “This approach allows the main storage to be tucked away at one side of the flat, leaving the communal zones uncluttered,” Rei Ye explains.

less is more flat

The framing of spaces is also exemplified by the master bedroom, where the juxtaposition of the wood-framed door against white walls conveys the hierarchy of space. “The master bedroom door and wardrobe with camouflaged entry into the ensuite have been framed with timber to ensure visual linearity of design,” says Rei Ye. “We purposefully used wood-look vinyl flooring from Aratamete to subtly divide the sleeping quarters from the storage areas; again, giving a wider sense of space to the main living areas.”

less is more flat

The design team’s decision to create large, open spaces within the flat involved removing the walls between two bedrooms for an expanded master bedroom with integrated work studio. In the ensuite, the team also created a more generous vanity space, again encased in a timber framework to maintain design continuity. The common bathroom, however, spots a minimalist aesthetic with a cast sink crafted from Dekton.

While the homeowners prioritise comfort and simplicity, this does not imply that the flat should lack character. The curved wall in the living room, for instance, is striking yet subdued. It enables concealed wiring and an integrated vertical ‘softbox’, the latter of which suffuses warm white lighting into the space. Further accentuating the architectural detail are the strategically positioned NULA spotlights from Sol Luminaire that stick out from the ceiling. “We placed emphasis on the lighting layout and selection of light fixtures, to either highlight certain features or create a cosy and inviting ambience through soft, diffused lighting,” elaborates Rei Ye.

The curved wall is intentionally left bare in lieu of artwork, mirror or furniture, resonating with the ethos of less is more. This is also reflected through the use of a wood block instead of a conventional television console. Large format travertine floor tiles from Hafary applied across the flat minimises visual clutter too.

less is more flat

The transformation of this HDB flat is truly remarkable, guided by a human-centric design methodology aimed at enhancing the residents’ quality of life. Throughout the home, materials were carefully curated for both their aesthetic appeal and durability. From embracing the warmth of wood to the timeless elegance of stone and the comforting touch of cotton, each element blurs the line between interior and exterior spaces. Despite the deliberate restraint in material selection, the outcome exudes boundless character, epitomising the profound ethos of less is more.


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