Nostalgia revisited: HDB flat replicates features of owner's childhood home

Antique-style pendant lamps (above) in the home evoke a bygone era, while the base of an old sewing machine has been repurposed into a counter for the sink.
Antique-style pendant lamps (above) in the home evoke a bygone era, while the base of an old sewing machine has been repurposed into a counter for the sink.PHOTO: SPH MAGAZINES; ART DIRECTION: KAFFY TAN
Wood furniture adds warmth to the three-room flat.
Wood furniture adds warmth to the three-room flat.PHOTO: SPH MAGAZINES; ART DIRECTION: KAFFY TAN
Antique-style pendant lamps in the home evoke a bygone era, while the base of an old sewing machine has been repurposed into a counter for the sink (above).
Antique-style pendant lamps in the home evoke a bygone era, while the base of an old sewing machine has been repurposed into a counter for the sink (above).PHOTO: SPH MAGAZINES; ART DIRECTION: KAFFY TAN
In a bedroom (above), wiring is concealed in metal piping and turned into a design feature. The bathroom features partially tiled walls to mimic the cost-saving style favoured by builders in the 1960s.
In a bedroom (above), wiring is concealed in metal piping and turned into a design feature. The bathroom features partially tiled walls to mimic the cost-saving style favoured by builders in the 1960s.PHOTO: SPH MAGAZINES; ART DIRECTION: KAFFY TAN
In a bedroom, wiring is concealed in metal piping and turned into a design feature. The bathroom (above) features partially tiled walls to mimic the cost-saving style favoured by builders in the 1960s.
In a bedroom, wiring is concealed in metal piping and turned into a design feature. The bathroom (above) features partially tiled walls to mimic the cost-saving style favoured by builders in the 1960s.PHOTO: SPH MAGAZINES; ART DIRECTION: KAFFY TAN

This three-room Housing Board flat replicates features of the owner's childhood home

Growing up in a post-war flat in the iconic Tiong Bahru district, Mr Lim Siew Wee has fond memories of his family home.

So, when the 38-year-old got his own place, it was no surprise he wanted his apartment to have a vibe similar to the one in his old home.

But the nostalgic look of the three-room Housing Board flat in Sin Ming, which the bachelor bought in 2016, did not come instantly. He moved in last year.

"For the longest time, I procrastinated looking for an interior designer. But when I saw film director Royston Tan's newly renovated home, I asked for an introduction and met Raymond," he says, referring tolocal interior company Free Space Intent's principal designer Raymond Seow.

Mr Lim is head of development and communications at home-grown theatre group The Theatre Practice.

Upon discovering a shared passion for Hong Kong film-maker Wong Kar Wai's films, the two hit it off.

Given Mr Lim's strong connection to his childhood home, he decided to make his 800 sq ft apartment a "home away from home".

For example, Mr Seow adapted a cluster of three horizontal lines from Mr Lim's family home, which can be seen on the windows and doors of the Sin Ming flat.

Mr Seow says: "His father has a collection of vintage items from the 1960s to the 1980s - plenty of stuff with a nostalgic feel."

Many of those items were taken into consideration in the interior design. In the open kitchen, for example, there is customised storage for Mr Lim's vinyl collection.

Mr Lim also wanted a kitchen much like the one at his family home. So, among other things, Mr Seow introduced distinctive green coffee-shop tiles to the space.

He says: "Trying to get the elements of his Tiong Bahru home replicated in his new place was one of the main challenges."

Both men sourced for new and old furniture and lighting, pulling the look together. The renovation took three months and cost about $85,000.

Mr Seow says: "What I loved most about working on the project was the opportunity to study old Tiong Bahru apartments. It helped me to understand and relearn the lifestyle and the heritage of the materials and furniture used in that area during the 1980s and 1990s."

As for Mr Lim, it can be said that his new home is a space for making fresh memories, while retaining a connection to his early life.

• If you have a home you would like featured, e-mail your pictures, with the header The Chic Home, to stlife@sph.com.sg

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

• Get the November and latest issue of Home & Decor (below) 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 www.homeanddecor.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 27, 2018, with the headline 'Nostalgia revisited'. Print Edition | Subscribe