A close-knit family wanted a five-room flat with five rooms. See how The Interior Lab delivered with a brilliant reconfiguration of space.
10 November 2022
Home Type: 5-room HDB flat
Floor Area: 1,237sqft
Text by Janice Seow
A five-room flat may seem like a decent size home for a family of three and a helper, but the owners of this 1,237-square-foot unit needed their space to cater to specific needs, and three bedrooms wasn’t quite enough.
“They wanted a dreamy little nursery for their child to grow up in. As the husband’s parents are based in India, they tend to visit from time to time and now visit more often with the birth of the couple’s newborn. Thus, a guest room would be absolutely necessary to house them on their annual stay of up to three months,” shares interior designer Justin Loh from The Interior Lab.
“In addition, the couple’s professions require a segregated and productive workspace. They also have a helper who has been with them for a long time and they would like her to have a proper bed and personal space,” he continues.
The aesthetic was one that evolved during the design and renovation process. The owners had initially expressed their desire for a modern farmhouse design. However, in delving deeper into their inclinations, the designer discovered that a contemporary design with light touches of the farmhouse aesthetic was what truly appealed to his clients. Midway through the design phase, the wife also put in a request to incorporate Peranakan influences to reflect her roots (as seen in the balcony).
Given that the unit sits at the canopy line of the trees that surround the flat and wasn’t getting enough natural light, delivering a bright and airy home became another important part of the brief.
“The addition of false ceiling for the whole house allowed me to come up with the proper lighting plan that catered for both utility and ambience,” says Justin. “The canopy line, while blocking quite a fair bit of light into the unit, actually creates a very tranquil ambience and that was something we really liked. As such, we made the balcony the designated resting zone,” he continues.
In the dining area, a pantry/bar with adjacent full-height storage cabinets conceals the household shelter while offering easy access to drinks when the family entertains. There’s even an oven here so food can be cooked and served immediately. As for the dining table, it’s the same one that the couple used in their wedding solemnisation and holds cherished memories.
To fulfil the brief’s many functional requirements, Justin made strategic changes to the existing layout, with the end goal being to carve out five rooms in a standard three-bedder unit.
For one, the yard has been converted into the helper’s room, with the laundry space now relocated to the kitchen.
The bedrooms in this five-room flat have also been reworked for more efficient use. “I extended the master bedroom by absorbing part of bedroom three, which in turn was converted into a study that required less floor area,” says Justin.
The enlarged master suite meant that the room’s entrance could be relocated to accommodate a walk-in wardrobe that lined up with the position of the bed. “This means that the husband is able to access the wardrobe and get dressed in the space that’s out of sight from the bed,” says the designer.
This is crucial to the couple, as the husband wakes up much earlier than the wife, who also happens to be a light sleeper.
In this and all the other rooms, the existing nooks under the windows are well utilised as display and storage compartments.
The reduction to bedroom three has elongated the passageway, allowing bedroom two to be segregated into two spaces with their own independent entryways. Bi-fold doors offer the flexibility to open up this room to create a larger nursery or be closed off to create an additional guest room. And with lattice glass panels replacing the dining room facing wall in bedroom two, natural light floods the common area that would otherwise have been devoid of it.
The entire home is now awash in light and feels so much more spacious. Importantly, with more rooms than what one would get in a typical five-room flat, the needs of the entire family (and extended one) are met.
Photography by Daniel Koh
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