The Chic Home: Margaret Drive BTO flat perfect for a family of three

A low sofa and coffee table mean that the unit, which is located on a high floor, has an unobstructed view. PHOTO: SPH MAGAZINES; ART DIRECTION: NONIE CHEN
Downsizing meant decluttering, but sentimental keepsakes like these old photos have been kept and lovingly displayed. PHOTO: SPH MAGAZINES; ART DIRECTION: NONIE CHEN
Drawers at the bottom of the bed frame in the son's bedroom provide extra storage. PHOTO: SPH MAGAZINES; ART DIRECTION: NONIE CHEN
The kitchen backsplash features tiles with plant motifs perfect for Mr Phil Lam, who loves plants. PHOTO: SPH MAGAZINES; ART DIRECTION: NONIE CHEN

SINGAPORE – In anticipation of his retirement, 59-year-old civil servant Phil Lam decided to downsize from a five-room flat to this 668 sq ft three-room Housing Board Build-To-Order (BTO) unit in Margaret Drive.

With just him, his wife Cynthia Lee and their 32-year-old son, the modestly sized unit suited them just fine.

Mr Lam’s family had several objects of sentimental value from their previous home, so a priority for the new unit’s design was to maximise storage.

He trawled social media for interior designers and eventually chose home-grown firm Ovon Design after seeing one of its projects in the minimalist style of Japanese household brand Muji.

By hacking the kitchen and yard walls, Ovon Design’s chief designer Leon Leong opened up the spaces and made the transition between the dining, kitchen and yard areas seamless. They are now a connected space that flows into the living area.

Demolishing the kitchen wall also made room for additional storage cabinets, open display shelves and counter space.

“A peninsula island perpendicular to the kitchen counter not only visually extends the space, but also provides some spatial definition between the living room and the kitchen without completely cutting off the spaces from one another,” Mr Leong says.

An open-concept kitchen suits the family, as they seldom cook. PHOTO: SPH MAGAZINES; ART DIRECTION: NONIE CHEN

Apart from being used as a dining table, the peninsula island doubles as a desk when Mr Lam works from home.

The living room is simple with minimal furniture. The family dispensed with a television console to free up space and all the wiring is concealed within the wall.

The master bed platform has panels which lift up to reveal hidden storage and also incorporates drawers on the side. PHOTO: SPH MAGAZINES; ART DIRECTION: NONIE CHEN

In the master bedroom, Mr Leong designed a platform that doubles as a bed base for storage. The wood finishes, cool tones and absence of clutter make the master bedroom feel restful and serene.

The two bathrooms – one common bathroom and one attached to the master bedroom – are small but efficiently laid out. The original bathroom tiles were overlaid with new ones and Mr Leong added overhead shelves to display travel mementos.

The original tiles in the bathrooms were overlaid with new tiles. The rooms now feature overhead shelves where the family can display travel mementos. PHOTO: SPH MAGAZINES; ART DIRECTION: NONIE CHEN

Since moving into the home in June 2022 after a 2½-month, $50,000 renovation, Mr Lam has put together a corner of plants at the home’s main entrance. It welcomes visitors to the home, and showcases the plant lover’s creativity and expertise.

He also incorporated more travel collectibles into the space, such as giant pine cones from a family trip to Lake Tahoe.

Visitors are greeted by a landscaped area that the home owner designed and put together himself, with large plants that act as a screen from the common rubbish chute. PHOTO: SPH MAGAZINES; ART DIRECTION: NONIE CHEN

The family’s previous home had a darker colour scheme with a black ceiling, but Mr Lam picked a pastel palette for the smaller home. Despite the limited space, the high floor and unblocked views all the way to Bukit Timah and even Johor Bahru make the flat feel bigger.

  • This article first appeared in the December 2022 issue of Home & Decor, which is published by SPH Magazines.
  • Get the January 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

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