SINGAPORE - Former national footballer Chia Boon Leong and his wife Lily had lived in their two-storey terrace house for half a century.
Despite being in their 90s and 80s respectively, Mr Chia and Mrs Chia remain independent.
However, their landed property required considerable maintenance. Climbing stairs had also become challenging in a house with many split levels.
So, they decided to downsize and their son TJ helped them hunt for an apartment.
"We agreed that we should look for a place near my home so I could check in on them regularly," says the marketing consultant.
His parents settled on a three-bedroom, 1,648 sq ft condominium unit down the road from TJ's home in the east of Singapore.
"It is spacious, has a great layout and there are no shared walls with neighbours. We get the morning sun and a view of the sea. Its proximity to nearby amenities, hospitals and the future Siglap MRT station is a big plus too. We also have close relatives living in the next block," TJ adds.
He also took on the role of interior designer. As a teenager, he had harboured dreams of designing and decorating his future home.
He purchased his first home at age 29 and has designed three more since.
For his parents' new apartment, he worked with a $150,000 renovation budget, excluding furniture and furnishings, and drew inspiration from interior design programmes and visits to apartments for sale.
"The plan is for me to move into the apartment eventually, so the contemporary vintage theme is a synthesis of all our preferences," he says.
More importantly, it had to be elder-friendly.
The apartment has no steps or drops, not even in the bathrooms or wet areas, and is wheelchair- accessible.
All tiles are non-slip, switches are placed lower and grab bars are installed in the bathrooms.
There is also ample storage so clutter does not obstruct passageways.
Furniture was also carefully picked out, such as bed frames and mattresses of an appropriate height and a low swivel chair that makes it easier for one to sit and put on and take off shoes.
TJ had help from his friend, Mr Jon Poh, founder of Provolk Architects, who assisted him with the mood boards, 3D perspectives and detailed drawings and specifications.
He also worked with contractor Jensen Lim from Premium D'sign.
TJ also managed the project personally and was on-site daily.
The renovation took about three months and his parents moved into the home in March last year.
The family often sits on the balcony and admire Mrs Chia's sky garden of air plants and the sea view.
She says: "I have a passion for cooking, so I love my beautiful new kitchen too."
Mr Chia's favourite spots are the living room and the study.
The retired accountant - who played at the 1948 Olympic Games in London - enjoys watching shows on the big-screen television set TJ bought, organising the family accounts and putting together articles documenting his time at the Olympics and meetings with the British royal family.
• This article first appeared in the March 2021 issue of Home & Decor, which is published by SPH Magazines. Get the May and latest issue of Home & Decor now at all newsstands or download the digital edition of Home & Decor from the App Store, Magzter or Google Play. Also, see more inspiring homes at Home & Decor's website.