Beautiful things really do come in small packages, as Polly Sweet discovers on her tour of this HDB apartment.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Excellent finishings and intricate details are highlights of the home’s interior design.

Clean lines draw the eye from floor to ceiling in this stylish apartment.
My Reading Room


A school teacher HOME Two-bedroom HDB apartment SIZE 850 sq ft 
My Reading Room

The doors go all the way up to the ceiling, making the corridor feel more open.


The designer kept the treatment of the walls plain but elegant.


The grey palette used throughout the home, including the kitchen, adds a pensive mood and a touch of masculinity to the space.

A nook in the bathroom was turned into shelving to optimise space.
My Reading Room

High up on the 46th floor of one of Tiong Bahru’s most prominent HDB blocks is this dainty two-bedroom apartment, an aesthete’s haven. A world away from the chaos of community living, it is all muted tones and sleek lines, a lesson in restraint right in the heart of this colourful part of the city.

At a diminutive 850 sq ft, the apartment may be on the small side, but what it lacks in square footage it more than makes up for in style. The owner is a teacher who is clearly something of a tastemaker, and who quite simply wanted the property to feel like a luxury hotel. “Sophisticated and stylish – that was what I was really after,” he explains as he recalls the origins of his apartment’s transformation. It took several months to find the right interior architect to fulfil this lofty ambition, but when he eventually came across Joey Khu of Joey Khu Interior Design, the homeowner was immediately drawn to his lowkey, high-performance approach – especially when it came to bathroom design. “Bathrooms are so often overlooked, but for me they really are the main event,” he says with a laugh, naming a handful of five-star hotels he has stayed at, where ablutions were the highlights.

The decor that Joey ultimately put together takes into consideration all the available space in the apartment and maximises it. This has resulted in a home of surprisingly grandiose proportions. Joey and his team used every trick of the trade to amplify the apartment’s liveability, using features such as concealed storage, open shelving, custom-made furniture and seamless door frames. It now comfortably houses three members of the family, with room even for the odd visiting niece or nephew.

“When I first saw the apartment, I knew that space would be the primary challenge,” explains Joey, who has worked on similar projects before. “That and getting all our materials up 46 flights of stairs! But I decided to play on the compact cosiness of the home by creating clearly defined pockets that would allow all the occupants of the flat to have their own privacy.”

Joey began by selecting a gentle colour scheme in a masculine burnt ash, and then blurred all the lines between carpets, walls and ceiling. In doing so, and by playing on subtle variations in colour, he successfully created a sense of unity throughout the home while also visually enhancing the height of each room. Next, he worked simple details into the cabinetry to create depth and texture without the need for busy patterns and colours. The result is elegant and seamless without being boring. Mirrors were also strategically positioned to open up the corridor, and furniture with exposed legs was placed in the living room – small details that go a long way towards big living.

Storage was one of the owner’s principal concerns in the planning phase, so Joey immediately took this into consideration when he was looking into furniture options. “The owner really wanted to have enough storage for every family member, which was hard, given the space. So I looked at where I could work it into their individual bedrooms, finding that custom-made beds and cabinets as well as concealed wardrobes offered a surprisingly large capacity.”

Joey also added a small balcony to the back of the kitchen to capitalise on the natural breeze that wafts through the front door and keeps the apartment cool even during the steamiest months of the year. This balcony is now one of the owner’s favourite spots in the morning, a place where he gets to enjoy the panoramic views that sweep from Marina Bay right across to West Coast Park.

The designer paid extra attention to minute details such as the placement of the mirror and sofa in the living area, as well as the proportions of the furniture, to ensure that the room would have a harmonious look.
My Reading Room
Dark panels along the wall create the impression of a larger bedroom by drawing the eye horizontally across the space.