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Paul and his wife Elsa have recently moved into their new home in Singapore (an 86m2 / 925 sq ft public housing apartment). Turning to magazines and blogs for inspiration they have created this fabulous minimalist apartment, a perfect respite from Singapore's hectic pace. Emailing with Paul he came up with an insight into Singapore's growing design scene.

Things have really started to move design and architecture-wise in Singapore over the past 5-6 years. Lots of interesting stuff now, but I think we are still some way away from finding our own design vernacular. There isn't a "Singapore" look, in the way that there is an American country-home look, or a Scandinavian aesthetic, or even the modern-Australian feel that so many of the Sydney and Melbourne homes that you have put up on your site have achieved. I guess it is a bit difficult with the cookie-cutter government housing flats that 80% of us live in, where everything is pre-fab. For a long time, the government was just trying to put together as much low-cost housing as possible to meet the demands of population growth. So build quality is alright, and the flats are relatively affordable, but they were absolutely zip in terms of design until recent years. More effort is being put in to the aesthetics of the new built flats now, but the one I just moved in to recently is about 10 years old, and was certainly built for function rather than form. I have always been a fan of mid-century modern and minimalist styles. What I tried to do with the flat is to keep it honest to its pre-fab / concrete / city-space background by taking on an industrial feel and meshing it with what the styles that I liked. It was challenging because neither my wife nor I have any background in design whatsoever, but really great fun. There are many other really interesting interpretations of public housing flats though – everything from modern baroque to faux-country house, and from Balinese resort to French petit-Chateau style. It will be interesting to see if all the different styles somehow converge into a "Singaporean" look in the future!

Reader Comments (46)

I'm in love with both the living and the dining room! Stunning!

29 Sep 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

Yes, yes, yes - my dream house would look exactly the same! I'm in love with mirror wall!!!

29 Sep 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGinta

Love the picture above the table!

29 Sep 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTandlerin

I love the picture above the table too. i'd will be very happy if i knew the author and where we can find his pictures.

29 Sep 2010 | Unregistered Commentercremlystella

Being Singaporean and also a huge Tintin fan, I absolutely adore their reading room and the way they managed to transform a typical HDB flat into their very own stylish yet personalised abode.

29 Sep 2010 | Unregistered CommenterR.Y

Thanks for the kind comments guys, and for putting up photos of our place Jo!

Ginta - the mirror wall is more practical than anything else. One panel hides Elsa's shoe display rack, and another is the entry to a big ugly bomb shelter that is required for every apartment by law in Singapore - we use it as a storeroom.

The picture above the dining table is actually a photograph by a Sydney-based Australian artist named Murray Hilton. We saw it hanging over a table at a fabulous restaurant at Bondi Beach, found out that he actually lived above the restaurant, got in touch with him and ended up buying the piece!

29 Sep 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPaul S

thank you paul!

29 Sep 2010 | Unregistered Commentercremlystella

I ma in love with that kitchen! You have a great blog, here you have a new follower!!
Regards from Spain

29 Sep 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMiss D

Beautiful! i love every detail (flooring, mirror wall, colour is great too) i'd like to see a plan cause i found this apartment absolutely inspiring

29 Sep 2010 | Unregistered Commenterz

I'd love to know what the flooring is- looks like carpet- but in the kitchen?

29 Sep 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGeorgia

Hi Georgia - the floor is cement screed. We managed to get that matt, textured look because we used a sealant that is absorbed into the concrete rather than the epoxy-based ones that form a shiny layer on top. I will also try to find a floor plan and post it somewhere on line.

29 Sep 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPaul S

Love the openness, the clean lines, and especially the cement floor.

29 Sep 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPearl

This home is absolutely gorgeous. Beautiful use of space - it looks much larger than it's square footage. Thanks so much for sharing!
XO Piper

A bit too spare for me. I would prefer a bit more color (even one wall) and some old mixed with new.

love, love, LOVE that gorgeous velvety floor. we're going for concrete in our place when we reno, and i'll have to keep this finish in mind because it makes you think of weimaraner puppies.

29 Sep 2010 | Unregistered Commenterpolish chick

I love it! What about those awesome grey chairs and the soft comfy chair in the last picture? I want one of that!

29 Sep 2010 | Unregistered CommenterValentina

Haha, yeah - the last sofa is a "Togo" by Ligne Roset. We were very lucky that they are celebrating their 150th anniversary this year, so some of their classic pieces, like the Togo, were going at 40% off. It's my favourite seat in the house!

29 Sep 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPaul S

I really like this post because it's social and cultural rather than just about the decor (not that i mind 'just' decor). The abundance of public housing in Singapore is really interesting... there's a cookie cutter aspect to it, sure, but it's still commendable to see a govt trying to make housing more affordable. Is it right that these flats are leased rather than owned, and does that limit how much you can do to them?

29 Sep 2010 | Unregistered Commentermsd

Wow, very very nice -- I love the design choices and furniture pieces. But I also loved the dialogue about a (hopefully) emerging Singaporean aesthetic. Thank you much for sharing!

29 Sep 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

I love it, great transformation and personalization of space. And as someone who grew up in Singapore, I'm so proud to see the growth of design over there.

Just wondering where you got the rug in the living room from? I love the colour and texture!

29 Sep 2010 | Unregistered Commenterolea

This is great. The owner has certainly maintained honesty, clarity and clutter-free top-priority.
It works well with the flat's spare bones. Luv the poured concrete in the bathroom. Very nice. That Teddy must be in highrise Heaven ; )

29 Sep 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlcira Molina-Ali

Tintin au Congo?? Seriously?

29 Sep 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLG

Wow, gorgeous. Time to start culling my objects!!

29 Sep 2010 | Unregistered Commentermudpuppy

Hi all, thanks for the very kind comments. MSD - the flats are owned rather than leased. However, the government subsidises their construction and land costs to keep prices low. There are restrictions on when you can buy and sell them, and on using such flats as investment properties, and quite a few limitations on construction. For example, we had to be careful with how much load bearing the floor could take with cement screed, what we could do with pipes and wires, hacking of walls etc - everything had to be submitted and approved by the relevant authorities before we started work.

Olea - the rug was a hand-woven silk rug we got from Orientalist. It is a great source for rugs, and everything goes at half-price during their sale. It was a bit of a stretch for us, but we just had to get it!

29 Sep 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPaul S

I really enjoyed this post. The photo of the bathroom with the red towel and the toilet seat up - not so much. Maybe men feel differently when they see that picture? Hmmm...

29 Sep 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKitty

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