Enjoying the comforts of home in Upper Serangoon

With plans to have more children, the Jacobs chose a five-room flat for their new abode. To add colour to the unit, they put in small touches that reflect their energetic personalities

"The biggest and most pleasant surprise was the river view — from our flat, we had a great view of the Serangoon Reservoir," said Jonathan Jacob, 30. PHOTO: HDB

Teachers Jonathan Jacob and his wife Uma, both 30, were happy to finally move into their five-room flat with a river view in Upper Serangoon last June.

They were successful in their second flat application in January 2012. Having grown up in the west, they had originally set their mind on a flat in the same area. But they soon fell in love with their new home and neighbourhood.

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

Mrs Jacob: We initially considered buying a resale flat because we wanted a unit near our parents who live in the west. But at that time, we had just started working, so we decided to go for a BTO unit that we could pay for comfortably with our CPF savings.

We were happy to receive housing grants of $15,000, and could pay for everything through our CPF.

What was your first impression of your new flat?

Mr Jacob: The biggest and most pleasant surprise was the river view - from our flat, we had a great view of the Serangoon Reservoir. We are lucky that all our rooms get the view.

Mrs Jacob: We like the study area in our living room. It makes the place look much bigger.

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

Mr Jacob: We hacked the wall in the second room and shifted it, creating more space in our bedroom for the wardrobe.

To save costs, we did not hire an interior designer. We engaged a contractor to do some minor work such as overlaying the tiles in the kitchen and toilet. We picked our own tiles, furniture, and other décor items.

Mrs Jacob: Being fans of the TV series Mad Men, we wanted a mid-century modern look. I browsed through home and décor magazines and also looked at Pinterest for inspiration.

I made a scrapbook filled with cutouts from magazines and drew my own layout ideas. We also talked to my brother who works in the furniture and design field.

What personal touches did you add to make the house your own?

Mrs Jacob: We like little things that add colour to the house, such as our clock, wall painting and hanging lights. We went for an antique look for some of our cabinets, while the rest of our furniture - such as the coffee table, chairs, settee and side table - has a more modern touch. We converted the first room into a playroom for our two-year-old son, Noel, and set up a play area in the living room too. We often spend time reading to him and playing with him here. It has the best light during the day.

Mr Jacob: Now that we've got our new home, we want to spend more time in it. We love cooking and often invite our friends and families over during the festive season.

  • About the flat

  • Location : Upper Serangoon, Hougang
  • Flat price : $425,000, after $15,000 CPF housing grants
  • Flat size : 113 sq m
  • Renovation cost : $30,000
  • Loan period : 25 years
  • Monthly mortgage : $1,540 entirely from CPF
  • Median resale price for a five-room flat in Hougang (4Q2015): $490,000
  • 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

What I like most about the surrounding environment and neighbourhood is…

Mr Jacob: It is very convenient and close to many amenities. There's a supermarket and food court just downstairs. There's also an ice-cream parlour, medical and dental clinics, and a home furnishing store.

I love seeing the huge aeroplanes taking off at the nearby Paya Lebar Air Base. The noise doesn't bother me.

Sometimes, we spot a resident eagle, and the otter family swimming in the river. We like to take walks along the park connector. The nature around us makes me more conscious of the need to care for our environment. I hope our son will do the same in the future.

Mrs Jacob: I like that the location of our home has a good balance of the old and new. You have the older side of Hougang with the coffee shops, wet market, as well as old-school neighbourhood shops that sell electronic goods and offer dry-cleaning services.

Then you have the newer estates of Punggol and Sengkang nearby with all the new flats and cafés, as well as new developments like Punggol Waterway Park, Punggol Settlement and Coney Island.

I would advise new BTO home buyers to…

Mrs Jacob: Think about the amenities around your neighbourhood, research the cost of renovation and furniture, and plan early so that you can start saving.

Mr Jacob: Plan your renovations carefully, especially items that need to be constructed or built in. Ask yourself if you will still like the look in 10 years' time, before you fix them in place.

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