While many Singaporeans are fans of overseas-based Scandinavian or Muji styles when it comes to their HDB renovation, some are looking closer to home for inspiration. Just ask Albert & Agnes, proud owners of a 4-room HDB in Tampines that is bursting with colourful local icons and unique overseas influences.
From Peranakan-style kitchens and a Toa Payoh Dragon-playground inspired dining area, to rooms straight out of Santorini, the flat is a treasure trove of surprises at every corner. We got in touch with the interior designer behind it, Kok Fong of Studio Super Safari, to find out the inspiration behind this quirky, unconventional house that couldn’t blend in even if it tried.
Using local icons for a touch of nostalgia
Living room area
According to Kok Fong, the homeowners wanted to have an eclectic, “uniquely Singapore” take on the living area. Hence, the choice of an iconic building such as Chinatown’s People’s Park Complex, where ‘levels’ of the building serve as shelves, and the vibrant yellow and green hues add an intentionally kitschy, retro feel to the space.
The local element is further brought out by the owners’ collection of local knick-knacks, including white and red plastic chairs reminiscent of kopitiam dining in place of a sofa, as well as ang ku kueh and pineapple tart cushions.
Beyond looks, the homeowners paid attention to functionality as well. They managed to carve out more nifty storage space in the form of built-in shelves inspired by the Singapore map, with one shelf as a sentimental nod to Pulau Ubin where the homeowners held their wedding.
Unlike many homes where a dining table makes a central statement as the heart of it, this Tampines flat also does away with clunky tables altogether, opting instead for a low-lying coffee table for casual meals and get-togethers.
The concrete table at the heart of the space is carefully designed by commissioned artist Dennis Quek from The Half-Half Studio, all atop a retro mosaic tile design. At the centre of it lies a motif that wouldn’t look out of place in a collection of #supportlocal merch: the iconic Toa Payoh dragon playground. One can almost imagine the camaraderie among elders at a HDB void deck here, chilling over a cup of kopi.
With so many unconventional elements gracing the living and dining area, the kitchen was not to be outshone. In line with the retro-vintage theme, the kitchen possesses a vibrant emerald backlash, as well as patterned Peranakan wall tiles that add to the old-school vibe.
Details like round cabinet knobs and dark, almost black wood call to mind the furnishings of yesteryear, making it a true walk down memory lane.
Rooms that bring you to travel hotspots
While the living and dining spaces are heavily inspired by all things local, the common corridor leading to the bedrooms served almost like an airplane boarding bridge, transporting us to ‘countries’ around the world in each.
The travel destinations were chosen based on Albert and Agnes’s favourite places of travel, leading to wildly different design styles and moods that matched the nature and purpose of each room.
Master bedroom – Santorini
First stop: Santorini, the picturesque Greek island known for its whitewashed walls and azure blue-topped buildings.
Here, the master bedroom boasts plenty of Santorini’s iconic arches as part of the wall and even door designs, evoking the island’s holiday vibe subtly. Light wood and an uncluttered design emanate a sense of zen, a perfect backdrop for rest after a hard day’s work.
“Santorini is one of our most unforgettable travel spots. The rugged volcanic landscape set against the Agean sea, and the villages of blue-domed houses are simply picturesque,” said Albert, and the island’s status as a popular honeymoon destination underscores the quiet romance of the design.
Stepping into the bathroom, the Greek island theme continues, recalling unique Cycladic architecture often spotted in cave houses in Santorini – all irregular shapes, rounded corners and grooves. In an urban home setting such as this, the effect is unexpected yet a classy tribute to the beauty of ‘imperfection’ in nature.
Study – Japan
As we move from master bedroom to study, the sense of calm continues, but this time inspired by the Zen minimalism of Japanese architecture. Done in a ryokan style, the study has sliding doors, hanging screens and of course, Muji-worthy wood to create a soothing ambience.
A circular portrait of Japan’s temples and cherry blossoms act like a “window” into the country, almost.
A modular raised platform was also created for additional storage, with some modules being able to transform seamlessly into a table top for the owners’ WFH needs.
Kid’s bedroom – Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar
We then do a hop, skip and jump away into a separate continent as we enter the kid’s bedroom – to Madagascar, Africa. Inspired by the Ranomafana National Park on their travels, the couple employed colourful safari murals and a full-blown treehouse for a room that is both whimsical and fun.
The kids can climb up to the treehouse ‘in the sky’, and Studio Super Safari also took pains to make sure the design was safe.
“The design of the child’s bedframe is customised to mimic the elevated treehouse within a forest, with porous framing to allow in the play of light and shadow,”” said Kok Fong. A wooden swing was also attached for additional play value.
Atop the treehouse.
Tying it all together for a unique home
With this many diverse elements going on in one 4-room HDB, Kok Fong said it was definitely a challenge to gel the different themes in a unique and harmonious way. Moreover, the pandemic further slowed renovation then due to disruptions in supply chains and manpower.
Yet, the team persevered, crafting customised carpentry and bringing in specialised furniture to realise the homeowners’ travel dreams – and fave local haunts – to the best of their ability. With the renovation totalling up to $90K, the resulting effect is anything but typical, with the 90sqm house being an unconventional “mini-museum” in its own right.
Whether it’s hanging out at Chinatown, or lounging about in the cool nooks of Santorini, one thing’s for sure, you’ll never get bored in this Tampines home that steers far away from cook-cutter, redefining the renovation of Singaporean HDB homes effortlessly.
Check out some of our other featured homes here:
- How A Couple Brought Bali Into Their 5-Room HDB Flat When We Couldn’t Hit Ubud Last Year
- This Executive Maisonette Has Terrazzo Tiles, Pastels & Aesthetic Furniture For Korean Cafe Vibes
- This Couple’s Chic Condo Will Take You To Paris With Artsy Details & A Faux Fireplace
All images are provided by Studio Super Safari.