This modest-sized flat in Tiong Bahru was reconfigured to fit a baby grand piano. JACQUELINE TAN finds out how the owners kept their home spacious, and infused it with modern and retro elements for character.
The owners planned the layout of the interior around a baby grand piano. The three-bedroom apartment became a two-bedder to open up the living section, and floor-toceiling mirrors were installed to create the illusion of space.
Talk about going back to your roots. The Tiong Bahru neighbourhood was Edwin Goh’s childhood haunt, and it’s where his residence is located today. His father ran a food stall at the old Seng Poh Road Market there, and still does so, at the renamed Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre. The old estate always had a place in his heart, so it wasn’t surprising that the banker eventually moved into a two-bedroom SIT flat (it was originally a three-room unit) with his partner, Vernon Voon, a lawyer.
“The place oozes nostalgia, but we also love the uniqueness, feel and character of the SIT flat,” says Edwin. “It’s a slice of Singapore history, built apparently by Samsui women, has a low density living and, of course, is just right next to the famous Tiong Bahru market!” Both also fell in love with the longer window panels not found in standard HDB flats. “The windows give us a sense of space of the surroundings and a good view of the beautiful heritage trees,” elaborates Edwin.
For a contrast with the retro theme that permeates the rest of the home, the owners opted for a vibrant pop of their favourite colour “blue” for the kitchen cabinets.
Setting up their dream home in an SIT flat, which cost about $90,000 to renovate, didn’t come without challenges. They had to plan the layout of the interior around a baby grand piano, which was brought over from their terrace home. “Vernon plays the piano and we wanted a bigger living room that could fit it, so we went for a complete overhaul and reconfigured the three-bedroom apartment into a two-bedder, which also resulted in a bigger en-suite master bedroom with built-in wardrobes,” says Edwin. “We wanted a modern retro design, something that also blends with the history and heritage of Tiong Bahru.”
They had floor-to-ceiling mirrors installed to create the illusion of space, lending dimension to their living sections from different angles.
In a nod to the few remaining coffee shops in the neighbourhood, the owners got a kopitiam-style dining table, customised with slim, sleek legs for a modern touch.
Who lives here
A banker and his partner, a lawyer
HOME Two-bedroom SIT (Singapore Improvement Trust) apartment in Tiong Bahru
SIZE 947 sq ft
Their home is decked with treasured furniture pieces from their previous house. They kept their four-poster bed and study table from John Erdos, which have been with them for seven years. They also bought new furniture that have a mid-century, modern retro feel from Commune to complement the existing furniture. The dining table and chairs are from Second Charm, another shop known for modern vintage furniture.
The original retro inlaid marble flooring in the living room was also too precious to hack, so Edwin and Vernon decided to retain it and had it repolished.
The original retro inlaid marble flooring served as a connection to the past, as it reminded one of the homeowners of his childhood home.
THE LONG WINDOW PANELS GIVE A SENSE OF SPACE OF THE SURROUNDINGS AND A GOOD VIEW OF THE BEAUTIFUL HERITAGE TREES.
- EDWIN GOH, HOMEOWNER
“The beautiful retro marble reminded me of the home I grew up in the ’70s, so retaining it is like having a connection to the past. It’s like owning a piece of history,” explains Edwin. “My dad also told me that this type of flooring was individually laid in the past and you don’t get that nowadays, as everything now is prefabricated.”
The living area is also a bold display of different tiles, with Peranakan-inspired ones covering the piano section. “We felt the Peranakan-style tiles blended in nicely with the original terrazzo skirting. Having different tiles also helps to delineate the different sections of the home,” says Edwin.
The master bedroom displays a bold use of colour and floral motif, making a statement in different shades of grey.
While they do not entertain at home often, Edwin cooks and bakes quite a fair bit, and they host occasional gatherings with friends. “The kitchen has to be spacious enough for me to do my baking or cooking. As it overlooks the living room, I can also watch TV while busying myself in the kitchen,” says Edwin. Kitchen cabinets are in a vibrant pop of blue (“it’s our favourite colour”) for a contrasting look with the retro feel that permeates the rest of the home.
Equally charming – if not bolder, in the use of colour and motif – is their master bedroom. The cosy sanctuary makes a statement in different shades of grey and a partition wall was created to separate the master bedroom from the bathroom. They wanted the wall to stand out as a feature piece and chose to clad it in floral wallpaper.
A partition wall was created to separate the master bedroom from the master bathroom. Dressed in floral wallpaper, the wall is transformed into a feature piece with its grey shades matching the bedroom flooring.
“We wanted something that was bold yet would match with the grey vinyl flooring. The wallpaper has some shades of grey, which matches well with our flooring,” says Edwin.
Photography ANGELA GUO
Art direction NONIE CHEN