Freelance graphic designer Chia Ching Kai bought this three-room Housing Board flat in its original condition and decided to take on the interior design himself.

The bachelor, 39, says of the 44-year-old flat in Hougang: "I was very clear about the design concept and layout and how I wanted it furnished. I also knew how the space should function as a home and for work.

"Having collaborated with a reliable contractor on a few smaller renovation projects, I didn't see the need to involve a third party in this case."

The original walls dividing the two bedrooms and the living room were removed to create one large space, much like a studio apartment. This is Mr Chia's idea of "openness", where there are "no secrets, just airiness and lots of natural light".

The main living and work area of the 750 sq ft flat reflects a minimalist approach, from the decor and palette to the furniture and storage solutions. "It has been distilled to what I need in my daily life and work," he says.

The only furniture in the space is a large worktop that also serves as a communal dining table when he is entertaining. It is complemented by three Hans J. Wegner Wishbone Chairs and a long wooden bench.

An assortment of plants is arranged along the windows, with a solitary armchair in the corner.

Instead of the usual television console against a feature wall backdrop, Mr Chia designed a row of built-in cabinets that stretches across the full length of the space.

  • How to design your home

  • For those who are considering designing their own homes, Mr Chia Ching Kai's advice is to start clean.

    "Rely on the art of furnishing and decoration whereby you can move or change things around to give character to the space, instead of using permanent fixtures that may become dated as design trends evolve."

    He also stresses the importance of finding a look home owners really like and putting together a mood board of colours, materials and textures.

    "Have this readily accessible in your phone for easy reference."

    Another tip is to work closely with your contractors and sub-contractors, so as to fully understand the potential and limitations of the ideas you are exploring.

    "That said, you do not need to fall in love with them, so, if things go awry, don't be shy to request that they redo. It is your home and you are the one who has to wake up to it every day," he says.

The cabinet doors are intended to appear as a feature wall when closed and he went to great lengths to achieve this. He wanted a raw cement look, but practical considerations associated with the weight of cement slabs meant he had to seek an alternative solution.

"I cladded the plywood cabinet doors with MDF panels for better paint adherence and applied the faux cement finish myself," he says.

The sleeping area is tucked away at the far end, separated from the main space by a simple curtain, which can be drawn when privacy is desired. This space, with just a double bed and a bedside lamp, exemplifies his "less is more" mantra.

The most challenging aspect of designing his home was staying true to his vRead More – Source


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