A large living space and cosy corners: How this couple transformed their flat into a dream abode

Not only does their new home look sleek and timeless, it is also close to family and nature

Mr Sufian Mohamed Arip and Mdm Amalina Zainal moved to Punggol to live closer to their family. PHOTO: SPH MEDIA

Located in the north-eastern part of Singapore, Punggol might seem quite a distance from the city centre to some, but for this couple, the location is a no-brainer. Mdm Amalina Zainal and her husband, Mr Sufian Mohamed Arip, both 36, were sure they wanted to make this town their home base.

After all, it is close to where their parents and Mr Sufian’s brother live, making it easy for the close-knit extended family to visit one another. The eco-town, which has become a popular choice with young families, also offers easy access to recreational spaces and attractions such as Coney Island, Punggol Settlement and the Punggol Waterway.

Watch to find out why this couple decided to purchase a resale flat in Punggol. 

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“We were attracted by the close proximity to Punggol Waterway and the surrounding parks. It is nice and tranquil, and we like to take walks around the area. Coney Island, which is a very beautiful place, is close by too,” says Mdm Amalina, who teaches at a primary school.

Finding their nest

As second-time homeowners, the couple had prior experience with the house-hunting process and already had a good idea of their criteria for their next flat.

Price was an important factor: They were looking for a flat within their budget of $350,000 to $400,000.

“We did not want to overstretch our finances, so budget was the main criteria for us. The condition of the flat was less important for us, as the interior could be renovated to our liking,” says Mr Sufian, who’s a real estate agent.

The couple designed the study room with minimal furniture, creating a bright and airy space, suitable for both work and relaxation. PHOTO: SPH MEDIA / KOH MINGGUANG

Aside from being close to their extended family, another factor that swayed the couple towards buying a resale flat in Punggol, a non-mature estate, was the relatively newer flats and more affordable prices.

Punggol is an up-and-coming area which is growing in popularity among home buyers, which means there will be more amenities and new developments in the town,” says Mr Sufian.

Having previously lived in a 5-room flat in neighbouring Sengkang, the couple decided to go for a 4-room unit this time round. 

This being their second home, the couple knew exactly what they wanted for their flat. PHOTO: SPH MEDIA / KOH MINGGUANG

“A 4-room flat would be sufficient for the two of us. It also means less space to clean when it comes to doing household chores,” says Mdm Amalina.

After viewing around seven flats in the area, they eventually landed on the 4-room unit, which costs $360,000. With their new home located near their parents, the couple qualified for the Proximity Housing Grant of $20,000.

Mr Sufian shares some advice for home seekers: “Financial planning is key. Research on the prices of flats in your preferred location, and how much grants you are eligible for, so that you can have a better idea of your housing options.”

Renovating their new home

As they had anticipated, the 18-year-old flat showed some signs of wear and tear. Mdm Amalina says: “The unit was well-used, but we did not mind as we had always intended to redo the interior decor. We studied the floor plan and had a good idea of our renovation plan before we put up an offer to the seller.”

What attracted them to the flat was the large living space, which the previous owner had created by removing the wall of one bedroom to combine with the original living room.

“Even though we have one room less, it suited us as the living room is where we spend most of our time,” says Mdm Amalina.

Mr Sufian and Mdm Amalina often hang out at the bar counter from where they enjoy good views of the greenery outside. PHOTO: SPH MEDIA / KOH MINGGUANG

To take advantage of the garden view from the full-height windows in the living room, they built a slim bar counter across the width of the windows. This is where they hang out or grab a quick bite.

Having set their minds on a minimalist Scandinavian theme, the couple decided not to hire an interior designer. Instead, they worked directly with a renovation contractor and managed the renovation process themselves. This helped them to keep within their budget.

Opting for a sleek and timeless look, Mr Sufian and Mdm Amalina gave the original bedroom (above) a makeover with calming, neutral colours to create a restful ambience (below). PHOTOS: AMALINA ZAINAL

The result was a cosy home with soothing, neutral tones. “It took a lot of work and patience. But it turned out well in the end,” says Mdm Amalina of the process.

“We wanted to come home to a calming atmosphere with not too many contrasting colours. We also needed cosy corners in our flat, and functional spaces that cater to our lifestyle. It’s everything we envisioned.”

Managing to keep within their renovation budget, Mdm Amalina even managed to fulfil her wish of installing herringbone wooden flooring. PHOTO: SPH MEDIA

One of their favourite spots is their spacious living and dining area, which features display shelves for their travel mementos and built-in cabinets for concealed storage. The dining table is the heart of the home, where they entertain friends and family over meals and conversations.

The couple created an alcove pantry in the dining area, which is perfect for serving up drinks and snacks when they have guests over. PHOTO: SPH MEDIA / KOH MINGGUANG

Settling in

The couple moved into the flat in January 2021 after a two-month renovation period. Since then, their home has played host to many family gatherings.

The spacious living area easily accommodates large gatherings, whenever their family members and friends visit. PHOTO: AMALINA ZAINAL

“On weekends, we either have our family over or we will go to one of our parents’ homes,” says Mr Sufian. His nephews who live a couple of bus stops away, also often drop by their place on weekdays.

The close proximity to amenities such as the supermarket and food centres at Oasis Terraces Neighbourhood Centre, next to Punggol Waterway, makes it easier for the couple to shop for groceries and essentials when they have guests.

The couple enjoys the convenience of shops and amenities at Oasis Terraces, a stone’s throw away from their home. PHOTO: SPH MEDIA

“Many residents in Punggol are couples in their 20s and 30s, with young families,” says Mdm Amalina. “We also have nice neighbours, which adds to the warm vibes of the neighbourhood.”

This is the fourth of a four-part series on how first-time HDB flat owners can utilise the various housing grants available to them to create their dream homes for life. Find out more about home buying and renovation here at the MyNiceHome website.

In partnership with the Housing & Development Board

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