It helps when the customer is a trusted friend. This was the case with creative director Melvin Tan, a Singaporean who has been running his own interior design agency, the Jakarta-based Hello Embryo, for the past five years.
"My friend left most of the design choices to me. That gave me plenty of room, literally, to play around with ideas," he says. "She co-owns the flat with her brother and sister-in-law, and the three wanted a modern space that suits their lifestyle - they enjoy having guests over and love entertaining."
The result is an easy, relaxing style that is designed to let in as much natural light as possible.
"It's a top-floor unit, so it makes sense to create a bright, airy interior filled with dashes of green," says Mr Tan.
The 1,300 sq ft five-room Housing Board flat in Clementi was renovated and furnished for $85,000.
Wooden accents have been incorporated in the living room to enhance the "natural" feel of the space. Solid pieces of teak form a wall panel, lending an earthy touch to the breezy interior. The wood panelling is framed in grids of Scandinavian blue laminate, giving it a vivid pop of colour and making it a standout wall feature.
Mr Tan also added more character to the living area with a spacious bay window, which serves as a cosy niche for reading comics, relaxing and playing card games with friends - hobbies its occupants enjoy.
• This article first appeared in the January issue of Home & Decor, which is published by SPH Magazines.
The original marble flooring in the living room remains, but the entrance foyer is newly swathed in homogeneous cement-like tiles - a subtle way of demarcating both spaces.
For a dose of whimsy, hanging lamps with solid-hued shades overlook the dining area and the kitchen backsplash has a display of geometric-patterned tiles.
More restraint was practised in the style and furnishings of both bedrooms.
"The bedroom is a place to rest, so I wanted as few distractions as possible," says Mr Tan. "I opted for simple bed heads for both rooms and the flooring is in concrete screed for a raw yet cool, relaxed feel.
"The only discreet accents are the gold-hued track lights. Even the bathrooms are kept simple with glass partitions for the shower areas, accented with an aluminium rim spray-painted in black."
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