It’s not unusual for homeowners to latch onto one interior design trend like Scandinavian or Mid-century Modern. Rather than let a broad theme define her home’s personality, Jane – also known as @tinybighaus on Instagram – decided to combine the old and the new when renovating her 5-room, 1,291sqft resale flat in Hougang.
The classic arched motif present in many of the estate’s older flats was given a bright pastel makeover. Terrazzo tiles, a staple in old-world European cafes, found themselves plastered on modern sinks and kitchen backsplashes. We stepped into Jane’s humble abode to see how all these trends came together cohesively under one roof.
Keeping the arch motifs and windows from the original house
Peep the semi-circular terracotta tiles to match the semi-circle shape of the balcony.
HDB was pretty playful in the 1980s when it came to the design and layout of flats. Some of them in Hougang were given large curved balconies that resembled the view from inside Robocop’s helmet. It was what caught Jane’s eye – and ours, TBH – when she first viewed this flat and was a large part of why she decided to put down an offer for this home.
However, the previous owners – who were also the original owners – had windows by the balcony that dulled its grandeur. To open up the space and let the outside in, Jane decided to strip them out and install only an invisible grill for the protection of her Maine Coon mix, Daisy.
The original window grills were not it.
Image credit: Jane/@tinybighaus
With the terracotta tiles laid down and an outdoor rattan loveseat from Taobao placed by the corner, the balcony has quickly turned into one of Jane’s favourite parts of the home.
The only downside to the open balcony is that heavy rain will come in hard and fast, wetting the entire floor; we heard it once soaked the living room! To prevent that from happening again, Jane and her interior designer from Key Concept got invisible sliding doors built so they can close during storms and still let in whatever light that can penetrate through the dark clouds.
The curved lines in the balcony echoed in the main living area as well. Visiting friends and family will have to step through an arched doorway that was given a fresh coat of plaster.
One of the arched doorways.
Aside from all the arches that came complimentary with the house, Jane also bought a few pieces of furniture from Taobao that lends the home more dimension. After all, a home with straight lines can get boring real quick.
One of the most arresting pieces bought solely for decorative purposes was the fireplace.
Arched fireplace from Taobao.
If a fireplace in Singapore is rare, a fireplace in an HDB flat is a unicorn. Fire hazards are also not a concern as no hearths are lit here, except for a soft glow emanating from the recessed LED lights by the fireplace’s arch.
On the opposite side of the fireplace and at the other end of the living area is the dining table. However, the centrepiece of the space is a golden arched chandelier hanging from the ceiling.
Arched lights above the dining table.
The modern chandelier is also another standout piece of furniture acquired from the cornucopia that is Taobao. With soft, diffused lightbulbs rather than glaring lamps, the chandelier bridges the old-timey arch shapes and the modern aesthetic of the home well enough.
As Jane was showing us around her home, she pointed out a charming window hidden by the kitchen corner.
The original purpose of the window was to pass fresh-off-the-stove dishes into the living room. As convenient as that may have been, the space opposite the window has since been converted into a storage area housing the rest of Jane and her family’s barang barang.
Furnishing the home with rattan chairs and lights from Taobao
Rattan chair from Taobao.
Even though Jane and her family only moved in 3 months ago in March, the house exudes a cosy, lived-in atmosphere. That can be credited to the warm tones and homely furniture, many of which came from Taobao.
Aside from the aforementioned fireplace and chandelier, the rattan loveseat by the balcony is one of Jane’s favourite pieces from the e-commerce giant.
TV console from Taobao.
Jane had little experience navigating Taobao’s website and app, so she turned to her brother who helped arrange for all the pieces to arrive via a freight forwarder. It was definitely worth the wait and the slight inconvenience, considering similar pieces she was looking for would’ve cost 2-3 times as much compared to her Taobao haul.
The bedside table and the terrazzo lamp are from Taobao.
In total, Jane only spent around $2K on furnishing from Taobao, with the rest of the furniture like the couch and dining table coming from her previous home.
Trendy terrazzo tiles in the bathrooms and kitchens
The master bathroom’s ensuite with pink terrazzo tiles sporting a black and white pattern.
Terrazzo tiles are as retro as it comes, having been a Venetian mainstay since the 15th century. Coupled with modern technology and design, terrazzo is now one of the hottest trends to grace the home & living scene in the past few years. And Jane was not one to miss out on it.
Both the master and guest bathrooms are outfitted with differing tones of terrazzo. The master ensuite has a more feminine style with pink terrazzo tiles and gold furnishings – also bought from Taobao – to complement the soft colour palate.
Even the sink, another one of Jane’s Taobao purchases, was not exempt from the bathroom’s terrazzo theme.
The white terrazzo used in the guest bathroom gives the space a more neutral mood, while the warm and earthy pattern adds texture and dynamism.
The kitchen backsplash also comes in a terrazzo pattern, albeit one that is more widely spread than the tiles used in the bathroom.
Resale flat in Hougang that checks all the interior design trends
While most homeowners just run with one or two main interior design trends, Jane decided to buck that and included all the ones that tickled her fancy. Scandinavian? Check. Terrazzo? Check. Arches and curves? Check. Taobao furniture? Check.
The spacious home also doesn’t feel devoid of life with the friendly Daisy roaming around and making herself at home in the shaded corners of the home.
But with a young toddler, she understands that the house won’t stay the same forever.
A blank canvas for Jane’s son to decorate when he grows older.
The next steps in the coming years would be to add more plants to the balcony and for her son to decorate his room. Jungalow? An incoming check.
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Photography by Clement Sim.