A couple’s dream of laid-back, resort-style living is beautifully realised in this HDB flat, and on a tight budget too.
7 October 2022
Home Type: 4-room HDB flat
Floor Area: 1,001sqft
Text by Janice Seow
The owners of this four-room flat wanted a home that would whisk them away from their demanding lives. The idea of a serene, resort-style dwelling appealed to them, though the challenge was to design one that would require minimal maintenance, and that could be delivered on a tight budget.
Casa Cook Hotels became the driving inspiration for this renovation project, which was done at a modest cost of $48,000. “The Casa Cook brand of hotels is the closest to my client’s ideal interior. Though we can’t achieve the high ceilings and have many natural elements like what you would find in their resorts, we have tried our best to achieve a similar vibe by maximising the use of materials available in our context,” shares interior designer Jade Cham from Knock Knock Studio.
“In order to achieve the desired outcome for the home, we consciously selected materials that were minimal and economical,” she continues. “Instead of having stark white walls, warm and neutral tones were incorporated throughout.”
The colour palette is both simple and harmonious. The ceilings and walls are painted the same muted colour, and the lights have been finished in the same shade so that they ‘disappear’ into the ceiling.
Cement screed forms the main design language and is used as flooring throughout the home. Even the custom concrete island and the basins in the bathrooms have been plastered in cement screed. To amplify their raw appeal, the edges have not been straightened with corner beads but are instead left to bask in the beauty of their imperfection.
Jade shares that the island functions as a dining table and worktop, and also contains storage cabinets. “It’s one of the best investments in my opinion as it anchors the entire living space,” she adds.
The original layout has been retained as much as possible to help minimise cost, though the wall segregating the kitchen from the living/dining area has been demolished for enhanced visual connection and to achieve a more free-flowing space.
The shoe cabinet (which also conceals the household shelter) is finished in rattan that’s in keeping with the resort-style aesthetic. It also helps to better air out the shoes.
Capturing the idea of laid-back luxury, the living area is a casual and simple space meant for intimate conversations and cosy entertainment. Instead of a television, a projector screen comes down only when needed, thus maintaining the desired sense of quiet simplicity.
Jade points out that the screen placement is somewhat unusual. “The projector screen is installed on the window, which is unconventional as it’s normally against the wall. Blackout curtains also block out sunlight and create a cosy theatre area, and the projector is positioned on the open shelf in such a way as to reflect the screen at the best height and distance.”
In the kitchen, the KompacPlus countertop was customised and designed in a thicker profile to mimic a stone slab. “It brought in the texture and eliminated the need for real stone. In this way we were able to ensure that the design did not exceed the budget,” says Jade.
A sink cover increases the kitchen’s counter surface area when needed, and there is no stove, since the clients don’t cook often. The subtle frames on the cabinet doors function as handles, and the two-tier open shelving is in keeping with the home’s pared back aesthetic.
Besides removing the kitchen wall, the designer also pushed back a section of wall between the master bedroom and an adjacent room to create a more purposeful niche for a storage console in the master suite. The side tables that the couple had bought from Taobao became a mini collaborative DIY project where the designer and clients sanded them down and had them stained to a shade that better matched the interior.
With the changes, the adjacent room is now a generously-sized dressing room with an open wardrobe system from Ikea.
Wrapped in calming grey, the master bathroom features cement screeded walls (with a protective layer over their porous surface), as well as textured tiles in a similar shade. LED light softens the space and offers ample illumination, bringing a sense of the outdoors in and thus capturing the essence of resort-style living.
Knock Knock Studio
Photography by Valerie Wang
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