Step into teacher Faith Goh's apartment in Commonwealth Crescent and you would be hard-pressed to believe you are in a 59 sq m HDB flat. The clever use of space and extensive use of the colour white throughout the two-room flat make it look more spacious.
Designer Vincent Goi, 38, of interior design firm Hue D, says Ms Goh gave him carte blanche over the design of the place.
Ms Goh, 38, who teaches General Paper at River Valley High School, has been living there by herself for just over a year.
Mr Goi says: "Faith didn't really give much of a brief - she just wanted a nice master bedroom, a guest room and a larger bathroom."
On why he chose a white scheme, he says: "Many clients ask for a mix of colours and textures everywhere. A lot of the time, the design elements end up clashing, so we decided to stick with white for most things and the floor in grey to achieve a clean, modern look."
The walls, shelving and kitchen cabinetry are all painted white. The floor is largely made up of dark coloured, timber-grained panels.
The layout is neatly organised.
Visitors enter the flat into the dining room, which is lined with shelves holding Ms Goh's book collection, made up mostly of graphic novels such as American Bill Willingham's Fables and Briton Neil Gaiman's Sandman.
These and her collection of Lego buildings provide lively pops of colour around the whitewashed space.
Next to the dining room is a small living area Mr Goi created by removing the walls between what was initially the master bedroom and guest room. The kitchen is open concept.
He created discreet extra storage around the flat.
For example, what looks like a white wall beside a bookshelf in the dining room is a magnetic door that opens up to a small storeroom. He says: "This is just one of the many ways this apartment will surprise you. It's really a lot bigger than it looks."
He built a pillar in front of a structural one between the dining room and kitchen and it now serves as extra shelf space. He laminated it with a white faux leather fabric, which is also used on other surfaces throughout the flat. Little details such as these help the space look interesting.
Also, the edges of the bookshelves are slanted. Mr Goi says: "We decided to cut them instead of leaving them like a sharp or rounded corner as it would look very ugly. Sharp corners also pose a safety hazard. One of the things we always kept in mind is how to make things aesthetically pleasing, yet practical."
Ms Goh's bedroom is minimally furnished. Mr Goi points out a rack at waist level, hanging below a cupboard. "Instead of hooks, we decided to install this rack for the kinds of clothes you wear more than once before washing, so you can hang them there instead of throwing them back into the cupboard."
In the morning, Ms Goh says she likes to have breakfast in what used to be a room at the back of the kitchen.
Mr Goi removed the walls to create an open space. Sunlight streams in from a window that spans the length of the wall.
He says: "Faith loves the view of Commonwealth estate from her window. There's a beautiful tree that birds flock to each morning and I wanted her to be able to enjoy that view while having something to do. That's why she grows her plants here and has breakfast every morning as the sun rises."
Ms Goh adds that she is growing tomatoes and cucumbers using hydroponics in a corner.
The three-month-long renovation cost her about $70,000, including furniture, which was sourced from shops such as Scanteak and Cellini.
She considers it money well spent. "It's a very nice area to live in. The MRT is only about a 10-minute walk away and, whenever I get home from work late and grab a bite from the hawker centre opposite, the uncles and aunties will recognise me and chide me playfully for eating so late.
"I can see myself living here for a long time."
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