The Chic Home: Vintage charm in East Coast HDB flat

The Chic Home: Vintage charm in East Coast HDB flat

SINGAPORE – In the 1970s, Mr Vince Tan and his sister bought this 40-year-old three-room Housing Board flat in the east for $55,000.

They both lived there for a while before moving out – Mr Tan moved in with a cousin, while his sister got married – and renting the flat out.

Last year, Mr Tan decided to renovate the 915 sq ft flat, which comes with a sea view, and turn it into a “retirement home” for himself and his cousin.

“I bought my sister’s share of the flat a while back. My cousin has also retired, so we decided to sell his condo and make this flat our home,” he says.

The pair – both retirees in their 60s who declined to state their former occupations – started looking for an interior designer in March 2021. Their design brief had three considerations: ample storage space, quality materials and ease of maintenance. They ended up going with SHE Interior Design, helmed by Ms Jess Loo.

“I tend to over-embellish everything, while Vince is the complete opposite,” quips Mr Tan’s cousin, who declined to reveal his name.

The space balances their different tastes with a simplified floor plan as well as details that are both functional and whimsical.

Cool colours, low-maintenance wood vinyl and Peranakan-inspired decorative tiles are paired with solid dark timber and brass. Antique and heirloom furniture co-exists with modern pieces and smart home elements.

One bedroom’s walls were removed to create an open living room that flows seamlessly to the dining and kitchen areas.

Presiding over the dining area is a display wall finished in sage-green laminate with brass trimming and LED strips, where Mr Tan’s cousin displays his vast collection of antique furniture, porcelain figurines, Limoges boxes, snuff bottles, jewellery and loose gemstones.

Design and travel books line cobalt-blue shelves, creating a dramatic backdrop to the two Herman Miller Eames lounge chairs in the living room.