Colourful family showcase

With 1,900 sq ft of space in his jumbo flat, there is more than enough room for Mr Heman Tan, 49, to display about 30 clay sculptures made by him, as well as five bicycles.

The spaciousness and price were the reasons the chef, ceramic artist and triathlete chose to live in this flat - a four-room unit combined with a three-room unit - in Woodlands Avenue 1 since 2007.

It has two living rooms, five bedrooms, three toilets, a large kitchen, a dining room, a laundry area, a storeroom and a corner for guests to put on and remove their shoes.

Living with him are his wife, pre-school teacher Lydia Lim, 50, their three teenage children as well as his mother, retiree Goh Mui Eng, 78.

Mr Tan works as "chief culinary officer" at modern Chinese restaurant Dining Place by Chef Heman.

Before this, the family lived in a five-room HDB flat in Choa Chu Kang.

He says: "I wanted a place big enough for all three generations of my family. My children are growing up, so I think it is important for them to have their own space, to develop their own personality.

"I also wanted some space to store my ceramic artworks, bicycles and books."

His daughters, Anna, 16, and Eunice, 14, share a bedroom. His son, Jabez, 12, has a room all to himself.

Mr Tan could have bought a condominium unit or an HDB maisonette, but he chose the jumbo flat because it was cheaper.

While he declines to reveal how much he paid for it, he says it was "significantly less" than the cost of a condominium unit of a similar size.

The fact that the entire apartment is on one level was another draw, as his elderly mother has difficulty climbing stairs.

The former owners of the jumbo flat were an elderly couple.

After buying the flat, Mr Tan spent about $30,000 on renovations - changing the windows, re-tiling the kitchen, renovating the toilets and painting the various rooms in bright colours such as vermilion red, sapphire blue, lime green and royal yellow.

He explains: "I'm not a fan of designer decor and wanted my home to have a sense of child-like wonder, since life is colourful and wonderful. I believe that our home should reflect our personality and interests."

On the couch in his living room sit cushions with patterns designed by his children and wife using permanent markers. On the table are succulents and plants.

Once a month, he opens his flat to church members for gatherings. About 15 people usually attend and Mr Tan cooks for them.

He has no plans to move for now, he says.

In the future, he might clear up some space to build additional shelves for books or a walk-in wardrobe.

"Nobody knows what will happen. But the good thing is that we have a lot of space to play around with."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 24, 2017, with the headline 'Colourful family showcase'. Print Edition | Subscribe