The Straits Times
Apr 17, 2010
A couple's green efforts include retaining their home's layout and using hand-me-downs
New lease of life: Wine crates turn into rustic planters for herbs such as lemon balm. An old theatre light the home owner brought from Britain is mounted on a tripod to use as a floor lamp. -- PHOTOS: WINSTON CHUANG; ART DIRECTION: BETTY WONG; TEXT: WONG SIOW YUEN
Having an eco-home does not always mean recycled wood floors and energy-saving devices. It can be as easy as using old furniture and respecting the built environment, as this pair of home owners, who wanted to be known only as Vincent and Lynette, proves.
The couple's charming three-room HDB flat in Tiong Bahru contains, among other things, wooden louvred windows left behind by the flat's first owners and furniture their loved ones gave them.
Not one piece of furniture is new, including the stainless steel kitchen. What seems custom-made is actually a recycled kitchen from Lynette's sister-in-law, right down to the sink, oven and hood.
It took a lot of planning to relocate a kitchen from a sprawling bungalow into a flat. Avid cook Lynette says: 'Sadly, I had to dispose of a built-in deep fryer and grill because there was no space.'
Working with designer Diana Yeo from Design Channel, the couple turned the 1,000 sq ft walk-up apartment - which was built in the 1950s - into something that was completely different from the bland condominium that was their first home.
Besides the original louvred windows, the couple also retained the timber frames above the internal windows and the two balconies. In addition, they restored original elements such as the main and bathroom doors, complete with the bolting mechanism and hinges.
By keeping the balcony intact, the home owners enjoy natural light and better ventilation in their bedroom (above) without having to sacrifice privacy.
Keeping the two balconies that 'sandwich' the unit was vital as the couple like an outdoor feel and abundance of natural light.
The one that extends from the kitchen to the master bedroom was partitioned to create a laundry and storage area at the kitchen end and a study for Vincent, an architect, on the other. Here, he can work late without disturbing Lynette, a housewife, by closing the louvred windows between the two areas.
The colours in the HDB flat are kept muted and natural. The sofa came from the couple's old home, while the dining set and glass cabinet were hand-me-downs from their relatives
Throughout the home, the 'reduce, reuse, recycle' mantra is evident, such as a dining set that had belonged to Lynette's brother and a new bathroom sink her dad bought for their family home but was never installed.
The rest were acquired from garage sales and second-hand shops. Their friend, decorator Sean Lee, also made a sideboard and coffee table from metal braces of shipping containers and cargo pallets.
Set against a palette of cement, grey tiles, laminate flooring in a distressed wood finish and white walls, this home, which costs $40,000 to renovate and furnish, is a practical application of Vincent's back-to-basics design ideology.
This spread first appeared in this month's issue of Home & Decor, published by SPH Magazines.