A home to call their own in Sengkang

Newlyweds Darren Lee (left) and How Kay Lii have transformed their 92 sq m flat into a home that matches their needs and lifestyle.

Senior manager How Kay Lii, 31, wanted her new home to be near her parents' flat in Sengkang. She sent in an application as soon as she learnt of Build-To-Order (BTO) flats being launched in the area in July 2011.

Her husband, Mr Darren Lee, 35, founder and director of a content and communications company, initially had reservations about the location as he had previously lived in Bedok. But he soon grew to love the peaceful neighbourhood.

Since moving in last July, the newlyweds have transformed their 92 sq m flat into a home that matches their needs and lifestyle.

  • About the flat

  • Location : Anchorvale Street, Sengkang
  • Flat price : $328,500 Flat size : 92 sq m
  • Renovation cost : $50,000
  • Loan period : 20 years
  • Monthly mortgage : $1,130 entirely from CPF
  • Median resale price for a four-room flat
    in Sengkang (4Q2015) : $402,900
  • Visit My Nice Home Gallery at HDB Hub (Monday to Saturday, 8.30am to 5pm) or visit mynicehome.sg for ideas to turn your flat into your nice home.

  • A special feature by

Why did you choose to buy a Build-To-Order (BTO) flat? Did you consider other options?

Ms How: We didn't really consider other options as we wanted something within our budget. We didn't take long to decide and applied as soon as we learnt of the launch.

We didn't get it on the first time but were lucky enough to get a good ballot number on our second application.

What was your first impression of your new flat?

Ms How: I just remember being super excited because we had looked forward to it for so long! We did the pineapple-rolling thing for good luck too, which was fun.

Mr Lee: I thought the living area was a bit small.

What steps did you take to turn the flat into your own space?

Mr Lee: As a kid, I'd always had a fish tank, and I wanted one in our new home too.

I wanted the equipment like the filters and pump to be concealed, and fuss-free maintenance.

Also, we enlarged the living room by breaking down the walls in one bedroom, and converted a second bedroom into our wardrobe.

Ms How: We wanted a lot of storage space and cupboards were our best bet. To maximise space, we installed a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf and kitchen cabinets.

There's also our walk-in wardrobe, which has gold accents that we love.

We chose wooden floors and light colours to keep the space airy and bright. The open space also lets our dog Sophie run around.

What personal touches have you added to the house?

Mr Lee: The fish tank. I spend a lot of time tinkering with it, adding aquatic plants. It's therapeutic.

Ms How: The bookshelf is a great centrepiece that represents us. There are Darren's old comics and fashion books and magazines from our time in publishing, my Harry Potter shelf and childhood books. The ladder is a fun reference to Belle from Beauty and the Beast.

What's your favourite part of your home and why?

Mr Lee: Work gets a little crazy sometimes. I enjoy relaxing in my "fish zen" area.

Ms How: Our bedroom. It's the least cluttered and very cosy. I put on some YouTube videos while I fold the clothes, and I read in bed. Sophie has her own dog bed in the corner.

You applied for the Married Child Priority Scheme. Did it help during your flat application process?

Ms How: It definitely helped to get us a better ballot number for our second application in September 2011; we were quite far behind in the queue during our first application in July that year. My parents live just across the street and I wanted to be near them.

What do you like about the surrounding environment and neighbourhood?

Ms How: I like having basically everything I need just downstairs, like a supermarket, mini-mart, bakery, clinics and kopitiams. Also, the hospital complex at Sengkang is under construction.

Since moving here with my parents in 2001, we've seen the estate grow so much. There was no MRT then and I had to take three buses to school. Some of my relatives and our close friends also live in the area.

Mr Lee: I like the surrounding greenery and sometimes walk the dog to Punggol Waterway Park. I hope these pockets of green, quiet spaces remain. They're like an escape from the city.

What advice would you give new BTO homebuyers?

Ms How: Know your priorities and build accordingly. Also, take your time to furnish the place; after living in a new space for a while, you'll realise what better suits your needs.

Mr Lee: Envision yourself using the space and how you're going to live in it. Then work with good people to make it happen.

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