SINGAPORE - Touring this 1,001 sq ft family home in Bedok, one would not guess that a family of four has been living here for almost a year. The open-plan interior is immaculate, the surfaces are clutter-free and the finishes look pristine.
The owners, Singaporean software engineer Hilmi Johari and French-Canadian data scientist Pascale Bouchard-Cannon - both in their 30s, with two daughters aged eight and four - had split their time between their home countries for 12 years before deciding to permanently relocate to Singapore in 2019.
They lived in a rented Housing Board flat while balloting for a Build-To-Order unit - an experience which Ms Bouchard-Cannon says helped them find out what they liked. "We don't like clutter, which has been a challenge because we have two very active, independent daughters," she quips.
The four-room flat they successfully balloted for was an SBF (Sale of Balance Flat) in Bedok, in the same neighbourhood where Mr Hilmi's mother and sisterlive. They moved in in January 2021.
The unit had been built - but remained unsold - for five years and was a blank canvas. Ms Bouchard-Cannon wanted an open living and dining area, where the children can roam and the adults can supervise from the kitchen.
Helping the couple translate their wish list into a built environment was interior design firm Distinct Identity.
Ms Bouchard-Cannon cooks often, so she wanted a spacious kitchen and yard for her appliances - a huge fridge, two ovens, stovetops, a dishwasher, and a washer and dryer. Meanwhile, their daughters requested a bathtub and their own sinks.
As such, the couple's vision for the home focused on the kitchen and bathroom, and required refurbishment of the plumbing system. The result of the three-month, $60,000 renovation is an open layout with a clean aesthetic.
The entrance opens up to the dining room. Next to it is a long, L-shape kitchen counter that runs the length of the dining space and turns to the end of the yard, forming a long galley kitchen flanked by storage and neatly installed appliances.
The breakfast counter near the dining area houses opaque cabinets storing tableware, plus open shelves displaying teacups. The cabinets are installed flush with one another, creating a clean and minimalist look.
"Open shelves that display beautiful crockery and appliances are nice, but my kids would have stuck their stuff into every gap and hole they could find, and we just don't want to deal with that," says Ms Bouchard-Cannon.
They opted for solid cabinets instead to keep things neat. The floating open shelves with LED strips above the counter double as displays, but are safely out of the children's reach.
All the clean lines have been tempered with subtle motifs and textures, like the marble-look tile backsplash from building material supplier Hafary and timber-feel floor tiles from Italy. The palette is mostly white and navy blue so the family can cool off quickly in Singapore's tropical climate.
White-on-white wall trimming, in the style of classic French design, has been paired with geometric wall and pendant lights from Shiok Lighting. A television console and L-shape King Living sofa occupy a former bedroom that had been removed to create a larger communal space. Behind the couch are a piano and a multipurpose space.
"We were planning for a reading nook there, but when the pandemic happened, leaving it empty is actually very useful, for learning, dancing, for a space to build a tent for the girls or to simply be breathing room," says Ms Bouchard-Cannon.
The two existing bathrooms have been merged into a large one with two areas: a dry space comprising sinks and closets; and a wet section that houses a generous bathtub and shower for the children to soak and splash around.
The bedrooms are minimally furnished, featuring only a bed and a wardrobe. "They're purely functional. There is nothing in this home that doesn't have a purpose and we chose the finishes hoping that they'll stay in shape for a long time," says Ms Bouchard-Cannon.
* This article first appeared in the December 2021 issue of Home & Decor, which is published by SPH Magazines. Get the February 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 homeanddecor.com.sg