It was a priority for Oliver and Estelle Lee to live close to their parents when they were planning to set up their own home.
“Our parents are especially important to us because we are both the only child in our families,” says Estelle, 24, a programme coordinator. “With everyone so busy, it is very easy to lose the connection with our parents if we don’t make the effort to remain tight-knit.”
Their five-room flat in Hougang, which they bought on the resale market, ticked all the boxes on their wish list: spacious, in ready-to-move-in condition, and above all, close to their parents’ homes.
Oliver and Estelle’s renovation tips for new homeowners
1. Be clear about your needs and the look and feel you want to achieve. This will help you to stay focused during the renovation process and make sure you don’t neglect any essential elements.
2. Find a neighbourhood with attributes that are important to you.
3. Ultimately, buying a home is like buying a pair of shoes — there is no “one size fits all”. Find something you love and rock it your way.
The newlyweds moved into their new home in November last year, right after they returned from their honeymoon.
“Both of us enjoy hosting gatherings very much, and our home allows us to throw get-togethers for family and friends,” says Oliver, 29, a civil servant.
The couple filled their home with furniture and décor pieces that they had hand-picked, such as a sunburst mirror picked up from their honeymoon in Barcelona.
“More than just a decorative piece, the symbol of the sun is a beautiful memory of our honeymoon and a reflection of our desire to experience the sun in different parts of the world,” says Estelle.
What personal touches have you added to your new home to make it uniquely your own?
Estelle: Oliver and I love the warmth of wood, and we opted for a midcentury modern style of interior design, with furniture to reflect this. To add visual interest, we built a wooden feature panel in the living room. Most of our visitors don’t realise it also conceals the door to one of the rooms.
What is it like to live close to your parents?
Oliver: There is a warm familiarity and comfort about the environment — we are just a five-minute drive away from our parents’ homes and to all the amenities that we have grown up with. Our parents visit on weekends, and we go over to their homes for dinner on weekdays.
Living close by, our parents can also help out in caring for their grandchildren when we eventually have kids. In fact, they have said they are looking forward to it.
Have you designed your home to prepare for the arrival of your children?
Estelle: We chose a five-room flat to allow room for our family to grow. We also minimised built-in furniture for more flexibility in the layout of the space — most of our furniture can be moved or removed as needed to make space for kids.
What do you like most about your surrounding environment and neighbourhood?
Oliver: The surrounding environment is very serene, which provides a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of our work. We have a nice little park located just downstairs for exercise.
How did you feel when you first entered your new home?
Oliver: The feeling was surreal. It was such a delight to have a place to call our own so soon after our marriage. We went through many rounds of discussions with our interior designer to make sure the final look and feel were what we envisioned our home to be. It felt great to finally be able to enjoy the fruits of our labour.
Estelle: Having stayed at several beautiful places during our three-week honeymoon in Europe, it was good to come back to a lovely home of our own.
Watch how this couple crowd source ingredients from their neighbours to bake a community cake: