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5 Things You Should Know Before Carrying Out Your HDB Renovation in Singapore

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Getting the key to their HDB flat is a significant milestone in the lives of many Singaporeans. This means that they are now homeowners with a place they can finally call their own. And like most proud homeowners, the next step is likely to carry out their HDB renovation to suit their taste and comfort.

If you are among one of the newly crowned homeowners, this is an article for you to read before you embark in your HDB interior design journey. Now, you may be thinking why bother with the details when you can leave them to the appointed interior design firm to sort them out? Well, although interior design (ID) firms can deck up your home to your liking, as the homeowner, you are ultimately responsible in ensuring that the renovation guidelines laid out by HDB are complied with.

Here is the 5 less exciting but crucial information you should know before you start your renovation journey in Singapore.

1. Make sure your ID professional is listed in the Directory of Renovation Contractor (DRC)

HDB only allows DRC-listed ID contractors to carry out HDB renovation. This is to ensure that the work carried out is conducted safely and does not damage the HDB property. To be listed in the directory, these ID professionals have to complete the training course stipulated by the HDB and have the necessary experience and a good track record. If you use an unapproved contractor, you may end up with a fine of up to $5,000 plus other penalties. Most reputable ID firms would be listed in DRC, but do check before you sign the dotted line.

2. Get HDB’s written approval before tearing down the walls

Any demolition and hacking of walls – whether partially or entirely – requires HDB prior written approval. I repeat, written, not verbal. This is for HDB to ensure that the hacking does not affect the structural integrity of the building nor compromise the safety of the public. Like before, there may be legal consequences for you as the homeowner if you do not comply with the rule.

3. Display your Notice of Renovation during the renovation period

Your appointed ID firm or contractor must get a permit from the HDB before carrying out any HDB renovation. Once the permit is obtained, the Notice of Renovation must be prominently displayed at the entrance of the flat before and throughout the approved renovation period. If your renovation involves noisy work such as hacking of walls or tiles, a written notice to your immediate neighbours must also be given at least 3 days in advance.

4. Renovation must be done within the approved period and time

HDB also limits the timings for carrying out HDB renovation. For general renovations, they can only be done between 9 am to 6 pm on weekdays and Saturdays, and no work is allowed on Sundays and public holidays. If the renovation involves noisy and excessive drilling works like knocking down walls or removing wall or floor finishes, work can only be done on weekdays between 9 am and 5 pm (no work to be carried out on weekends and public holidays). If your unit is a Build-To-Order (BTO) flat, your renovation needs to be completed within 3 months. For existing units, work must be completed within 1 month from the date of the permit.

5. Contractors must use only HDB approved materials

To ensure a cleaner environment and more uniform finishes, the HDB mandates that only HDB approved materials such as pre-packed cement screed for the floor and pre-packed plaster for the walls are allowed. As pre-packed screed is pre-mixed in a standard ratio at the factory, it requires minimal on-site preparation and higher consistency in the finished work. It also reduces the overall time needed to complete the renovation.

By following these guidelines, you can be assured that your renovation is completed legally and following HDB’s requirements. For more information on HDB renovation, contact any of our interior designers for a little chat!

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House Everything? Episode 8: Modern Style: Less is More

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As the saying goes, “All good things must come to an end”. So does House Everything?, which has featured Starry Homestead’s interior design team for eight awesome weeks in this Channel 8 reality show. While it is sad to say goodbye to the series, let’s ignore the emptiness we’ll feel inside without it and saviour one more episode! In this finale, we encounter the most challenging task ever – overhauling the cluttered and messy living room of a family of five!

The Scenario

Meet Angeline and Malcolm, a married couple living with three kids aged 17, 13 and 3. Like any typical dual-income family, their busy lifestyle left them with scarcely any time to tidy up their home of 18 years. As a result, the living room was cluttered with mountains of clothes, toys, books, memorabilia and other personal items, all of which were piled up high – unorganised and unsorted – in the living room.

Also, the room had only a small window in the corner, which provided limited natural lighting. Added to that, the owners had chosen the wrong type of lighting fixture, which offered insufficient lighting and could only illuminate the room partially.

Having lived in chaos for years, the family of 5 finally gets an overhauled and uncluttered home.

The Challenge

The team’s challenge is to turn the messy living room into a comfortable and cosy sanctuary that the family can call home. It should be a place where they can dine together, relax after a long day and where the children can enjoy their playtime.

The Solution

Interior designer Steven has chosen the Modern style of interior design because he has felt that a simple, modern home is exactly what a busy couple like Angeline and Malcolm needs. The design concept employs a clean, crisp linear style and basic colour palette to minimise clutter. It also plays with a sense of simplicity in the decorating elements and in the choice of furniture.

With white and grey as the primary colours and the generous use of natural materials such as wood, the room exudes a cosy vibe. Wood is used extensively at the entrance, extending from the floor to the ceiling so that one feels welcomed by the warmth upon entering the home. It is also a way to designate areas for different functionalities within the same space. Angeline’s piano is placed here as the design centrepiece in this area.

Wood is a timeless and versatile material that is perfect for the Modern style.

Moving to the living room, one feels comfortable immediately because of the linear, uncluttered design and the light, breezy colours. Wall-to-wall custom-built storage cabinets with movable shelves are incorporated so that the family members can adjust the height of the shelves for different storing needs. The cabinet interior has a grid design etched with open display shelves, which keeps the structure from looking too plain. The TV wall feature also incorporates top hung cabinet with length that is longer than the column space so as to redefine the structure of the space. The corner is deliberately cleared out so that the kids have space to play in the living room.

A partition with storage space is constructed behind the piano to provide the family with more means to stow away their things. Built with a see-through glass at the eye level, the partition also offers them some privacy for their bedrooms while allowing visibility of the main door. And to complete the design, a dining set with colours and wood pattern that match the rest of the living room is selected.

To brighten up the room, a range of lighting fixtures is installed for different functionalities, including general lighting, task and accent lightings and pendant lighting in the dining area. Much time is spent in getting the right colour temperature for the lighting. For example, the L-shaped cove lighting illuminates the space indirectly so that it can replicate daylight, and it comes with an independent switch for the owners to adjust the level of brightness to achieve the desired mood in the room at night. The right colour temperature is also crucial for the downlights and the spotlights in the walkway because wood tends to reflect yellow lighting, and thus creating a different effect on the overall ambience. Moreover, with young kids in the home, a brighter and whiter lighting is more appropriate for reading and studying.

The Modern style: Less is more.

The Bonus

As Malcolm is an avid collector of comic figurines, a display shelf is specially added to the TV console to showcase his collection of figurines.

Malcolm’s impressive collection of figurines proudly displayed.

For more information about the Modern style of interior design, please contact the designer of this episode, Steven at tel. no. 6778 6866.

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House Everything? Episode 7: A Man’s Personality Defines His Space

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How does the room of an air steward who is away from home half of the time AND busy cramping for ACCA exams look like? In episode 7 of House Everything? we meet with the homeowner, Xavier, to help him organise his life through a customised interior design solution that suits his situation.

The Scenario

Xavier’s bedroom served two purposes – a place for him to rest and to study for his Association of Chartered Certified (ACCA) course. While the bedroom had an average size square footage, it was cramped with oversized furniture, such as a king-sized bed and two wardrobes, leaving him with hardly any room left for other usages. The unusual layout of the room, which included an oval-shaped wall at the windows, also limited space usability.

The bedroom also did not have any proper curtains. To screen the sunlight, Xavier hung makeshift curtains made from rags, which were unsightly and ineffective. Additionally, old and worn electrical cables were haphazardly strewn across the room, creating a safety hazard to the owner.

A refreshing start after years of living in chaos.

The Challenge

The team is tasked to design a bedroom that not only offers Xavier a comfortable place to rest, but also to study for his exams. He has also requested to have an exercise area where he could do sit-ups while watching TV.

The Solution

Having considered the various needs and preferences of the owner, interior designer Darren has decided on the design concept of Modern Industrial style. A simplified version of the Industrial interior design, Modern Industrial design juxtaposes the raw with the refined as well as the sleek and modern with the vintage and classic. After getting to know Xavier, Darren has felt that this bolder, statement-making style of interior decoration would suit his personality perfectly.

A striking design for a bold personality.

Firstly, Darren has repositioned the bed from the previous location which faced the window to the corner of the room. By doing so, Xavier would not be bothered by the sunlight that streams into the room. The new headboard is erected to differentiate the study and sleeping area as well as to partially block the light, thus making sleep more comfortable. At the same time, Darren has chosen dusty green – a more adventurous colour – for the sleeping area.

The design uses different types of wood to bring out the warmth in the place. Metal, in the form of lighting, is also used to create a contrast between the warm and cool elements. Generous amount storage room, such as bookshelves at the head of the bed and stowaways underneath the platform bed, is tailor-made to maximise floor space.

Using the bed frame as a divider, a space designated as the study cum workout area is carved out at the end of the bed. A customised large study desk and cabinet fit the odd-shaped space perfectly. The semi-circle windows beside and behind the study desk provide a natural source of lighting for the area. Dark brown curtains also offer privacy to the owner as and when required.

To complete the Modern Industrial look, a rough-hewn wood door is added as a design element, which also helps to conceal the bathroom entirely.

Finally, a designated area for study and workout!

The Bonus

Xavier has requested to have a place for him to do his workouts. As the study area also doubles as the exercise area, the team has mounted a sit-up bar under the study desk to serve as leverage for his sit-ups.

For more information about the Modern Industrial style of interior design, please contact the designer of this episode, Darren at tel. no. 6778 6866.

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House Everything? Episode 6: The Understated Elegance of Light French Style

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How would you design a new home for a family of music lovers? Find out more in this episode of House Everything?, Channel 8’s reality TV show about decluttering and home renovation. In this episode, we are introduced to a family of three comprising a retired couple and their daughter.

The Scenario

While the living room was relatively clean and neat, the father’s passion for audio and stereo equipment, PCs and laptops resulted in a significant portion of the space being taken up to store these items. Coupled with their habit of hoarding used cardboard boxes, the family had barely any space left for relaxation in the cluttered room.

Additionally, the odd arrangement of the furniture made daily activities difficult, and a tall shelf placed at the window blocked natural light from entering the room.

Out with the old, in with the new!

The Challenge

The challenge for the team is to transform the living room into an area for the family to relax and enjoy watching TV and listening to music. It should also be a place for the daughter to play the piano and for the granddaughter to play in.

The Solution

After taking into consideration the taste and interest of the family, Designer Jayne Pang has decided on the design concept of Light French style. The concept features a clean yet elegant design that is often associated with exquisite taste and sophistication. Jayne has felt that a classic interior design style would suit the family since they enjoy the finer things in life, such as music and reading. And because their living room is rather small, she has wanted a minimalist look so as not to clutter the interior any further.

The primary colour is reserved white, chosen for its lightness which makes the room look more spacious. Splashes of bolder colours are added through furniture such as the sofa and artwork. On one side of the wall, customised cabinets are built to provide storage and as a design element. Cornices are added to the walls and cabinet doors with matching door knobs from Italy to bring out the light French style. To brighten up the space, general, task and accent lightings are used in accordance with the functionality and style.

Smaller furniture such as a L-shaped ribbon sofa, a box functional square coffee table and an antique writing bureau are selected to fit the tiny space. The team has also constructed a low partition wall which forms a recess area behind the sofa for the family to place decorative items and travel memorabilia. To complete the look, a faux brick accent wall is created.

Another key design feature created by the team is the bi-fold door which portrays in a form of artwork. Inspired by the nostalgic floor tiles, the colours of the artwork are created by special wall paint to match those of the tiles. The artwork is used to extend the wall design visually.

The Light French style of interior decor exudes an effortlessly chic vibe.

The Bonus

The piano is one of the largest furnishing items in the living room and an essential part of the owners’ life. Jayne has repositioned the piano to a prominent place in the living room to accentuate the owners’ interest in music and to use it as a centrepiece for the interior. A niche is created to become a new home for the piano and the storage cabinet helps to enhance its design.

By designating an area for the piano, the family can now enjoy more music for the soul.

For more information about the Light French style of interior design, please contact the designer of this episode, Jayne Pang at tel. no. 6778 6866.

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House Everything? Episode 5: House With Awkward Corners

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It’s time to celebrate another episode of House Everything?. This reality TV show on Channel 8 features Starry Homestead as the interior design team that helps to transform the participants’ home interior from a cluttered space to a lovely home.

In this episode, we visit a family of four that has called their HDB flat home for the past 21 years and help them deal with the accumulated clutter in their living room.

The Scenario

As two members of the family shared a love for shoes, the most apparent chaos in the home was the overflowing shoe racks at the entrance. Moreover, each family member owned multiple pair of shoes. As a result, there was insufficient storage space for all the footwear.

While the living room was rather spacious, it had an irregular-shaped layout with several awkward corners and strange angles. Shaped like a heart, its two L-shaped wings led out to the window in the living room and to the kitchen respectively. This made the placement of furniture challenging, such as the inability to align the sofa and the TV in a parallel way. Also, the dining area was comparatively darker as the only natural light was from the window in the living room area, which could not illuminate the deeper part of the room.

From old to new – same apartment with a completely different vibe!

 

The Challenge

The team is tasked with the challenge of providing a comfortable living room for the family. At the same time, there should be plenty of storage space to accommodate the many pairs of shoes and the various keepsakes, personal items and decorative memorabilia that the family has accumulated over the years.

The Solution

The design concept for this project is known as the Mid-century Modern style, which incorporates some prominent trends from the 50s to the 70s to create fun, cheerful and highly textured home decors. The interior design also focuses on organic and geometric forms and functionality.

Interior designer Rayson has noticed that the owners had collected many vintage decorative items, and thus, he has decided that the retro design concept would suit them well. However, through his experience, he has realised that some people may be reluctant to accept a full Mid-century Modern style, and so, he has incorporated elements of modern design into the concept.

Colours such as olive green, mustard yellow and cream white offer a warm and welcoming feel to the room.

The overall vibe is somewhat retro and nostalgic with touches of soft colours and matt finishing. Colourful 3-D wall design is included to create a textured look. A brown sofa and brown dining chairs are also carefully selected to match the overall design.

To fully utilise the odd-shaped space, curved cabinets are tailor-made to tackle the irregular corners. The wall-to-wall built-ins are designed not just to provide plenty of storage space for the family, but are also used as aesthetic narratives for the design concept. Included in these cabinets are racks for storing shoes which can conceal the unsightly bomb shelter door at the same time.

Goodbye, untidiness! Hello, hidden shoe racks!

For more stowaway space, customised settee cum storage is also built under the window. To increase the illumination of the room, a large semi-circle mirror is mounted on the wall of the dining area, allowing it to reflect light and brighten the space.

Organic curves are iconic design elements of the Mid-century Modern style. Here in the living room, Rayson has cleverly incorporated them into the built-in cabinets by carving out a perfect circle in the centre to display decorative items. The built-in TV console also has a top shelf for the family to showcase the vintage keepsakes passed down from the owners’ parents.

Colours such as olive green, mustard yellow and cream white offer a warm and welcoming feel to the room.

 

The Bonus

The bonus for this episode is the refurbished dining table, which blends in nicely with the overall design concept. Rather than throwing it away, the team decided to repaint the table legs and put it to good use again.

Say no to wastage by refurbishing furniture that is still useful.

For more information about the Mid-century Modern style, please contact the designer of this episode, Rayson at tel. no. 6778 6866.

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House Everything? Episode 3: European Style: A Lady’s Boudoir

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Are you addicted to the reality TV show, House Everything? on Channel 8? If you are, you’re probably not the only one! We’ve received positive feedback on our interior design since the airing of the show in October 2019.

In this week’s episode, Starry Homestead’s designer, Ashton, helps to transform a young marketing executive’s bedroom from a disastrous mess into a lady’s boudoir.

 

The Scenario

Because of her busy work schedule, the owner of the bedroom didn’t have much spare time in tidying up her room. Coupled with her hoarding habit, she found herself living in a chaotic mess of a bedroom. Washed and unwashed clothes, travel memorabilia, cosmetics and other personal items were scattered all over. A refrigerator and packages of instant noodles were also kept in the room.

Her patchwork solution was more wardrobes to keep her plethora of items that had been accumulated over the years in the tiny space. This resulted in a perplex bedroom layout and a disorder of storage space. The additional wardrobe and refrigerator were haphazardly placed in the middle of the room, blocking the doors of existing storage areas. There wasn’t any walking or even standing space. Electrical cables were also buried under piles of recyclable items, making the living space unsafe. Added to that, the room was stuffy with no air-conditioning or fan to ventilate the place.

Before and after – what a world of difference!

 

The Challenge

The challenge for the team is to rearrange the layout of the bedroom so that space can be fully and efficiently utilised. Sufficient multi-usage storage space needs to be created to keep the owner’s many different types of personal items. The owner has also requested to have a workspace for her so that she can work at home.

 

The Solution

Interior designer Ashton picked the European interior style for the bedroom, which he likened to a lady’s boudoir (a French word for a woman’s private bedroom). He noticed that while the owner possesses a distinctive personality, she also has the sentiment of a young lady. To bring out a sense of youthfulness in the design, he included pink in the overall concept.

 

White is used as the base colour to make the room look more spacious. A mirror placed in the corner of the room also offers a similar effect. The colour teal, as well as added texture in the design, are cleverly employed to create more excitement and a sense of European stylishness in the space. Lights are added to brighten up the room.

However, the key to this design is the smart planning of storage space. Multi-usage storage solutions, including wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling cabinets are built around the perimeter of the room. Additionally, storage underneath, at the side and above the bed is also constructed to ensure enough cache is available to stash away the owner’s possessions. There is even a hidden ladder built underneath the bed for the owner to reach the top cabinets!

To maximise space, a work desk cum vanity table is customised beside the window. At the table’s side shelves, a stencil of the popular Japanese cartoon icon, Hello Kitten, is etched on the sliding door. There is also a cork memo board on the other side of the table for her to pin messages or other information on it.

A room fit for a lady!

 

The Bonus

A boudoir is incomplete without a private sitting area for our lady. Thus, under a small ceiling fan, a corner has been designated as the space for relaxation. A refrigerator, which was salvaged, painted pink and decorated with studded jewellery, serves as a pretty decoration cum side table.

For more information about the European style of interior design, please contact the designer of this episode, Ashton Siow at tel. no. 6778 6866.

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Before And After HDB Makeover You Won’t Want To Miss

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If you, like us, form part of the majority who dwell in an HDB flat, then there’s a chance that one of these magazine-worthy interiors belongs to your next-door neighbor or someone who stays in the same block as you. We never tire of transformation stories of the humble HDB apartment – mainly because most of us can relate to the situation, no matter if you’re staying in a timeworn resale flat or waiting anxiously for your first BTO apartment. Here, let us present to you dramatic before-and-after makeovers of flats from around our little sunny island that prove you can live big in a small space.

Area: Bukit Panjang Ring Road
The original condition of this resale flat may not be horrific to begin with, but it just didn’t suit the vibe of its hip young owners. Those antiquated tiles, surfaces and woodwork just had to go. A renovation was definitely in order for the couple.


Entry way
Talk about bad first impressions. The unsightly wall partition that stood beyond the home’s main door simply didn’t cut it. Now in its place is a super functional and versatile partition that also doubles as a showcase and storage piece. If you haven’t already noticed, check out the new front gate that exudes effortless old school vibe without looking passé.

Communal room
Pure white walls breathe new life into this revamped communal zone, while pale wood tone floors and wooden accent pieces ground its all-white look. There are reminders of Singapore’s yesteryears stylistically placed and interspersed within the apartment – and thankfully, no hints left of the interior’s old state.


Kitchen
Tight, cramped and dated cooking space – begone! The light and airy colour palette continues into the kitchen where it works its magic by making this area appear larger.


Common bathroom
We’d probably lose the urge to use the lavatory if it was still in the original condition. Fast forward to post-renovation and what we see now is what we like: a black-and-white bath space that may be simple but exudes minimal chic vibes.


Master bathroom
Black, white and grey hues make a winning combination in the bath space that once sported faded blue and yellowed tiles.

Area: Jalan Rumah Tinggi
The ‘60s was a cool era, but this flat sadly wasn’t. In fact, it exemplified everything we do not want in a home: a claustrophobic and narrow layout, tiny window openings, and loose pieces of mismatched furniture that look like they don’t belong into any sort of décor style at all. 
Before: Living room

After: Living room
Atmospheric and brimming with rockstar attitude, this living quarters is barely recognizable from its former self. The daring use of dark tones that sheath the space only serves to inject it with an aura of enigma. What’s more, the stunning red brick wall offers textural appeal and brings about warmth into the apartment.


Dining room
From hawker center style plastic chairs to top-notch bar counter with an edgy vibe, the new dining area even boasts a handsome wall of display shelves that further augment the zone’s bar-like ambience.


Kitchen
The removal of a wall partition at the entrance of this kitchen made a massive impact. The result? A much more spacious cooking space that enables the owner to easily maneuver around the area.


Bedroom
From a bedroom that reeked of the past to a sleeping sanctuary that’s current, cool and on trend – this space has positively improved by leaps and bounds.


Bathroom
With its old-fashioned tiles and fittings, the previous bathroom truly looked like it belonged in the past – and there it should remain. The new space is covered with textured finishes that give it tons of character – making users overlook the cramped quarters and simply enjoy its ambience.

Area: Tampines
This resale flat located in the East lacked style and was terribly outdated, and it didn’t suit its young homeowners at all. To make matters worse, the wooden furniture and fittings made the tiny flat feel smaller than let on. What the home dwellers needed was a fresh start in this timeworn apartment.

Before: Living room


After: Living room
Inspired by Scandinavian homes, the living room is now brighter, breezier and perfectly built for the young couple. Who knew you could include so much in a single room? A feature worth noting is the wall partition that is used to mount the television on one side, and works as a seating and storage space on the other. We love how it effectively delineates two zones – the entry way and the living room – and also provides privacy to those unwinding on the sofa or chilling on the mini golf course.


Kitchen
A far cry from the days spent in a dull and inspiring cooking space, the revamped kitchen enjoys a sense of spaciousness with spanking new white and pale wood cabinet fronts combined with a sandy toned counter top. Notice the contrasting dark blue accent? We love how this unexpected jolt of colour adds a youthful vibe into this part of the home.


Bathroom
No more struggling to find space to hang towels or to stash away toiletries, the current bathroom is fully equipped with concealed storage, drawer compartments, towel rails, as well as handy nooks to keep the area free of chaos.


Bedroom
Minimal, clutter-free and completely Zen, this master suite allows the love birds to focus solely on getting their well-deserved R&R.

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