This HDB is so #instaworthy, every spot is perfect for pictures 

Singapore has a world-class public housing system that helps Singaporeans own their own
homes, from 9% in 1960 to over 90% today.

Yes, Singapore is often
talked about and used as a successful example of public housing done right. Our
home ownership of 91% lands us in the top three highest in the world, and over
80% of Singaporeans live in high quality and affordable HDB flats.

Housing a Nation

This was not the
case in the early years, when most people lived in over-crowded and unhygienic

The late Mr Lee Kuan Yew is a key driver in
of public housing in Singapore. The nation’s founding prime minister had set up
the HDB in 1960, and launched an ambitious building programme to provide proper
homes for Singaporeans – Housing a nation.

Watch this to find out how Singapore
fixed its housing problem,

Let’s Meet the People Living in these
HDB Flats

You should have noticed by now that
we’re publishing a series of #myHDBstory where we check out Singaporeans’ HDB
homes and invite them to share with us their HDB stories. 

We have already covered #myHDBstory of
a middle-aged couple with five kids as well as a young couple with a baby girl, let’s check out the home of a single
person this round.

we’re checking out the home of Bob

day job is a Business Manager with, one of the leading bridal resource
portals in Singapore. But when he’s not working, Bob transforms into a
tastemaker of sorts. Here is someone who has always loved all things

in this career, he was a highly accomplished makeup artist who helped women
look more beautiful. Some years back, he was also running a wedding gift tray business and mind you, he was so good at making
beautiful wedding gift trays he was perpetually booked! 

when he’s not working, he’s an accidental Instagram-Influencer who spams lotsa
posts of beautiful
fabulous reno and cool
And believe you me, his casual post about something he bought can cause the
item to be sold out at all outlets! He also likes to feature yummy food and
seemingly fabulous people too!

Bob’s #myHDBstory is

Home to Bob is a 4-room resale flat in
Bukit Panjang, a place where Bob insists is much much nearer to town than most
people think. It’s also near where his family is staying. The flat was
completed in 1998, so it’s around 20 years old. 

He knew he wanted a flat near his
family home, so that helped lots to narrow down where to start looking. But
even then, he shared that he viewed a total of 13(!!) units! The funny thing is
he ended up buying the very first flat he’d viewed. He took over the flat on
19th December 2016, signed the renovation contract on 1st January 2017 and he
has been living there in solo bliss for over two years now. 

View this post on Instagram

; house keys. finally. just now went over to azankan the house – felt so imam imam now. can marry already. #bobsretirementhome

A post shared by Bob Mubarak Nasir (@bobmubarak) on

Bob had bought the flat for around
$350,000 in late 2016. Did you know that about 80% of first-time homebuyers are
able to pay their monthly mortgage instalment fully with CPF? This means that
they do not pay any cash out-of-pocket. That’s the same for Bob too! His
monthly housing instalments are all taken care of via his CPF, so no cash
out-of-pocket for him too!

Bob’s #myHDBstory is every single
Singaporean’s dream

Guess how many IDs Bob had checked out
before deciding? Eight.

Whoa. Not only did he top the number of
viewings I’ve ever heard of, he’s also right up there in terms of the most
number of contractors a homeowner has met for quotes. Anyway, he eventually
decided on Tid Plus, an ID that he highly recommends. He says they’re great
value-for-money and deliver good work.

Let’s go on a tour of #bobsretirementhome now!

Don’t you just love that gate! And
white doors are quite rare in HDB estates!

Come, let’s go in!

Bob shared that he had initially wanted
a black-and-white look in the colonial style.  

But once he decided on this unit and
fell in love with the abundance of light flowing into the living space, he
decided that the natural light would be wasted on a high-contrast
black-and-white look. He next considered to go full-on white, but his ID
advised him against it. An all-white look might look too sterile and clinical
for a home.

In the end, Bob went
for a white-and-grey palette which was light and airy, whilst providing some

Bob truly believes that adding dashes of green in the form of plants works wonders. It warms the space immediately, and gives it life.

I love how the plants and his soft furnishing break the straight lines of the renovation and furniture, softening it nicely to add homeliness to the cool, modern look.

Bob has always wanted an open-concept kitchen. So he worked with the ID to hack away a curved wall that the previous owner had erected. So yea, he got his open kitchen that flows seamlessly into the dining area and opens up to the living space.

Incidentally, this is also where Bob does his work too!

His employer is apparently a very progressive one. Since started in 2000, the team has always worked from home. Very good, they were green and contributing to reducing carbon footprint even before it’s a thing!

And as if he ain’t talented enough, Bob
is also a good cook! Man, what can’t this bachelor do?? 

He loves having his friends over and
feeding them delish food that he’ll whip up himself. So yea, the kitchen is not
mere showpiece for photography, he actually puts it to good use too!

Let’s check out the bedrooms now!

Whoa, I quite like the master bedroom!
So fancy!

And, did you know that the room can look and feel completely different with
just a change of bedlinen? Check out this,

and this!

And did you think no one will actually sit on that chair? WRONG. Bob does!

We asked him where is his favourite spot at home, and he said it’s right here!

There are two other bedrooms, but we only took photos of one of them since Bob uses the third bedroom for storage.

The second bedroom, with the sofa-bed, effectively is a guestroom.

By now you must be very curious how
much the renovation and all cost. Bob had spent $46,000 on the renovation. This
seems to be a reasonable amount as resale flats sometimes can cost
significantly more than BTO in terms of renovation costs because there are
usually hacking and remodelling work, etc.

The TV and refrigerator were gifted to
Bob, but even then, he had spent only $5,000 on furniture and appliances! He
was very careful with what he spent on, and he even had a rule of not buying
anything over $1,000. He would watch the sales and promotions with eagle eyes,
and he enlisted the help of his Chinese friends to help him order items on Taobao.

His efforts sure paid off and his home
is one of the nicest we’ve featured for the #myHDBstory series. 

More about the Single Citizen Scheme

As with most developed cities,
Singapore is also seeing her citizens getting married later in life, and there
are also Singaporeans who choose to remain single. The Government has
recognised this trend and in order to cater to the needs of singles,  HDB
first implemented the Single Citizen Scheme to allow Singaporeans who are 35 years
old and above to own their own HDB flats in July 2013. 

Singles can choose to buy BTO or resale
flats. Singles can apply for 2-room BTO Flexi units at non-mature estates and
for resale units, there are no restrictions on location or size; so singles
who want bigger flats or want their flats immediately will usually go the
resale route.

There have always been grants for first-time home buyers, be it families or singles. But earlier this month, the Government announced even more good news and these enhancements were effective from 11th September 2019.

  • Eligible first-timer singles aged 35 and above, and earning not more than $4,500 a month, can also enjoy an Enhanced Housing Grant (EHG for singles) of up to $40,000, and are subject to the same conditions.
  • The monthly household income ceiling for eligible first-timer singles aged 35 and above will also be raised from $6,000 to $7,000.

about #bobsretirementhome: To sell or not to sell?

was penduluming between the thought of selling the current flat off after the
Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) of five years, or to carry out another round of
renovation at the current unit.

View this post on Instagram

; #bobsretirementhome | totally loveeee the morning ray on a sunday. why i am up at 7.00am on a sunday, i have no idea. but when your age is approaching 40, it has a funny way of telling you to sleep at 10.00pm and be wide awake at 6.00am. • yes, especially on a sunday. • … and the public holidays. • i was talking to @msofian about selling my house after the minimum occupation period of five years, and then downgrading to three-room flat and try to be as debt free as possible, while simultaneously talking to @tidplus_design to renovate this house to do #bobsretirementhome version 2.0. • this is another peril of old age. an almost immediate dementia. talked about selling the house, and then five minutes later, planning new renovation design of the very home that i intend to sell. • #bobsretirementhome have given me so much. like the huge amount of sunlight streaming through every morning, so many opportunities have opened up for me because of this home too. to sell, or not to sell, that is the question. the answer is, will sell if can earn 100% profit. eh? • and yes, eldershield will be reaching me next year. kurang ajar punya government. tak payah nak remind lah hawau!

A post shared by Bob Mubarak Nasir (@bobmubarak) on

He was wondering if he could make 100%
profit if he were to sell off the unit. ONE HUNDRED PER CENT?! That would mean
$700,000 leh, so I don’t think so? But it’s entirely probable that he will make
a reasonably tidy sum if he were to sell it.

At 25 years upon MOP, the flat is still relatively “young”. 

remember this: Every flat will be upgraded twice.

keep all HDB flats safe and liveable, there will be one round of upgrading when
your flat is about 30 years old through the Home Improvement Programme (HIP),
and a second round when your flat is about 60-70 years old through HIP II. The
upgrades will address common maintenance issues such as repairing spalling

from upgrading, the Government will redevelop old estates through the Voluntary
Early Redevelopment Scheme (VERS) to ensure they remain vibrant places to live.
Residents offered VERS will vote as a precinct on whether they wish to return
their flats to the Government. They will be compensated for their flats.

my guess is if Bob were to sell his Bukit Panjang flat, there should be some
more upside given the flat’s relatively young “age”, and also that there should
be one round of upgrading at around 2028 when it turns 30.

about #bobsretirementhome: Unlocking the value

Bob decides to keep the unit and really make it #bobsretirementhome, there are
also several ways to monetarise the flat later, especially if he needs money in
his silver years.

  • Firstly, Bob can receive cash monthly by renting out his bedroom(s) or even the entire flat and he can go live with his siblings or friends.
  • Secondly, Bob can also sell part of the flat’s remaining lease to get a lump sum cash and monthly payouts in cash, for life. This is under the Lease Buyback Scheme.
  • Thirdly, he can still sell the Bukit Panjang flat later in life, and buy a smaller flat or a flat with a shorter lease. 
  • Lastly, those moving from a larger flat to a 3-room or smaller flat can consider taking up the Silver Housing Bonus, to receive up to $20,000 in cash.

Secrets From Experts: Tips On Buying The Right Furniture & Personalising Your Home

You know what they say, there ain’t no place like home! And for good reason too, because when you shop at Tan Boon Liat, your crib is gonna be pretty hard to beat.

[caption id="attachment_18880" align="alignnone" width="580"]Tan Boon Liat Ethnicraft Online (#02-01) takes the cake for quality and durable furniture.

Retailing modern, solid teak, walnut and oak wood pieces designed in Belgium, their furniture is also known for its environmental stewardship and ethical craftsmanship.

[caption id="attachment_18881" align="alignnone" width="970"]Ethnicraft Online Ethnicraft Online[/caption]

What’s more, they provide lifetime warranty and lifetime maintenance service on all products.

Tip: To ensure that your pieces live to a ripe old age, it’s best to look for pieces from reputable, well-established brands or companies. These pieces are fumigated to ensure the absence of mould and pests, and kiln-dried to minimize the risk of warping and cracking. Last but not least, make sure your purchase is covered by a product warranty or after-sales maintenance services.

2) Purchase modular pieces to mix and match, and furniture designed with extra functionality in mind

Pieces that can be taken apart and re-arranged will increase their mileage as you assemble them to create an infinite number of new looks.

For instance, the Theo Wall Unit from Journey East (#03-02) is the master of all trades.

Tip: A module-based system gives homeowners the power to customise the furniture based on their needs.

[caption id="attachment_18882" align="alignnone" width="1800"]Journey East Journey East[/caption]

Where space constraint is the name of the game, this versatile piece contains modular units that can be taken apart, or combined together in a multitude of ways to fit any space. Plus, it’s made of hard-fumed oak, which translates to high quality.

Next up is the PLAYplay collection from Journey East as well.

Designed by award-winning design studio Lanzavecchia + Wai for Journey East, each piece was carefully conceptualised with the modern home in mind; in terms of design, proportion, and functionality.

Hamburger Side Table

These colourful little “hamburgers” are sure to be conversational starters.

[caption id="attachment_18905" align="alignnone" width="5760"]Journey East Journey East[/caption]

Take off the top “bun” for a slightly larger coffee table surface when you have friends over during a house party. Take your pick from 3 designs: round, oval and pentagon.

Cots from  (#07-05).

[caption id="attachment_18910" align="alignnone" width="4110"]
Fynn Cotbed from Deer Industries Fynn Cotbed from Ethnicraft Online Ethnicraft Online[/caption]

Neatly hidden when not in use, no one will be any the wiser when you whip out this party trick.

3. Seek out items with high transformative value and small price tags

Tip: A little goes a long way. Here’s why – small accessories can play up the value of a piece of furniture, transforming a cut-rate table to one that looks like a big-ticket item straight out of a designer showroom.

For home accessories, head to Arete Culture (#06-01), Make Room (#11-09B), or Plain Vanilla Home (#08-06). Bang-for-your-buck accessories include:

  • Flowers: Arete Culture stocks a wide range of high-quality artificial flowers that require no maintenance, and they can even be washed.

Arete Culture

[caption id="attachment_18924" align="alignnone" width="3344"]arete-culture_fake-flowers-2-min Floral Kokoro.

[caption id="attachment_18926" align="alignnone" width="600"]Floral Kokoro Cochine, Maison by Amanda Dyer, and Park London. [caption id="attachment_18911" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Cochine Candles Cochine Candles[/caption]
  • Trays: Trays are always useful when entertaining at a house party or serving dinner guests. Featured below are Ethnicraft Online’s Notre Monde Trays, which are individually hand-crafted and double as pieces of art.
[caption id="attachment_18930" align="alignnone" width="3362"]Notre Monde Tribal Quest Trays from Ethnicraft Online Ethnicraft Online‘s Notre Monde Tribal Quest Trays[/caption]

4. Collect meaningful memorabilia and make full use of Nature’s gifts to personalise your home

To go about making your home the most beautiful place on earth:

  • Travel mementoes and personal memorabilia are a fun way of incorporating your personality throughout the home!

Tip: The trick is to edit: Display only your absolute favourites.

[caption id="attachment_18912" align="alignnone" width="650"]Tip Junkie Pinterest Pinterest[/caption]
  • Pick a wall and paint a mural or a statement colour. You can also wallpaper it.
[caption id="attachment_18920" align="alignnone" width="600"]Decoist
  • Bring the outdoors in: Natural touches such as branches and shells are an elegant way of adding more organic textures and shapes to your home. This lends a tranquil touch to a visually-interesting space.
  • [caption id="attachment_18928" align="alignnone" width="455"]Pinterest Pinterest[/caption]

    Bonus Tip: How to Doll Up Your Home for the Christmas Season

    • For some holiday cheer, all you need is a little sparkle. Create a simple but stunning table centerpiece with some tree branches in vase, which you can spray paint or decorate with Christmas baubles.
    • To spice things up for the Christmas season, fill up a clear bottle or vase with festive items e.g. coloured eggs for Easter, and pussy willow for Chinese New Year.

    The best part? Make Room currently has a collection of Christmas items, such as recycled wooden Christmas trees and a wide range of Christmas décor.

    To keep things sophisticated, stick to the same colour family. Silvers and golds add a touch of glamour, and red is a good idea for the season.

    [caption id="attachment_18932" align="alignnone" width="554"]Pinterest Pinterest[/caption]

    To lend your home a burst of character, do also drop by Singapore Trading Post (#07-01) or FairPrice Antique (#01-10) for fun and eclectic accessories.

    Tan Boon Liat Block Party

    This weekend (26 and 27 November), Tan Boon Liat will be throwing its first ever Block Party!

    14680714_1331649423546202_5091117934796405056_n20 participating showrooms such as Journey East, Arete Culture and Make Room will be opening their doors for a train of design workshops, food and wine tastings, seasonal gift ideas and special offers.

    It doesn’t just end there – over $5,000 worth of prizes are up for grabs!

    For more information, check out their Facebook Page.

    Tan Boon Liat Building
    315 Outram Road, Singapore 169074

    Header image credits:

    5 Best Stores To Get A Scandinavian-Style Home Without Ikea!

    With all things Scandinavian gaining popularity nowadays, we thought we’d suss out the best furniture stores stocking Scandinavian-style pieces for your dream home. And no, we’re not talking about Ikea. 

    What is Scandinavian design anyway? In the words of a Scandinavian designer, it refers to the style of design originating from Nordic countries, which is known for prioritizing functionality without eliminating grace and beauty”. That is, simple, aesthetically pleasing, and practical design- thus the current minimalist trend.

    Now, on to the picks:

    Danish Design Co

    Adopting the philosophy that form follows design, Danish Design Co stocks high quality items from award-winning and socially responsible brands from Denmark. From Holmris’s innovative adjustable desks, to Montana’s colourful modular storage units, to Gubi’s rustic furniture in warm neutrals, this store promises “a true quality slice of Scandinavia”.


    Danish Design Co
    Address: Century Warehouse, #06-03 100E Pasir Panjang Road Singapore 118521
    Phone:+65 6270 8483
    Opening Hours: 11am to 6pm daily

    Click here for branch location at Harbourside Building.

    Foundry Store

    Among their range of furniture from global brands, you’ll be able to find pieces from Scandinavian labels at Foundry, such as the form-pressed birch lamps from Finland’s Secto Design, and the oak-framed Fly sofa with foam and feather pillows from Denmark’s &Tradition. They also have a namesake collection that adds to their selection of timeless designs.

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    Foundry Store
    Address: 3 Seah Street Unit 1/1 Singapore 188379
    Phone: +65 6339 6381
    Opening Hours: Mon to Sat 10am to 7pm


    Another store that carries furniture from &Tradition, along with other Scandinavian labels like Wendelbo and HAY, Grafunkt is a lifestyle brand with a focus on well thought out design. Helmed by Jefery Kurniadidjaja and 2008 Designer of the Year Nathan Yong, the company’s dedication to stocking the best products is reflected in their wide range of furniture labels, sourced from America to Milan to Slovenia and more.

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    Address: 9 Raffles Boulevard #02-34/35/36 Millenia Walk Singapore 039596 (flagship store)
    Phone:  +65 6336 6046
    Opening hours: 11.30am to 8.30pm daily

    View here for branch location at Conde House.

    Galanga Living

    Galanga Living is known for their collection of Scandinavian and European pieces, ranging from minimalistic items like ivory couches and marble utensil holders, to attention-grabbing pillows and rugs in bright fuchsia and aquamarine hues. This furniture and lifestyle store also stocks pieces with an Asian edge, such as their range of rattan home accessories.

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    Galanga Living
    Address: 211 Henderson Road #01-02 Henderson Industrial Park Singapore 159552
    Phone: +65 6475 2633
    Opening hours: 10am to 6pm daily


    DREAM is a luxury, multi-label furniture brand that includes works by acclaimed designers including Finnish designer Eero Saarinen and Swiss-born French designer Le Corbusier. Whether you’re creating a cosy, wood-themed home or a sleek, monochromatic space, you won’t be disappointed by their selection of the finest furniture from premium brands all around the world. 

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    Address: 456 River Valley Road Singapore 248342
    Phone: +65 6235 0220
    Opening Hours: Mon to Sat 11am to 7pm, Sun 11am to 6pm

    Comfort Design Furniture

    Having designed the interior for not only homes but also Empire Bar & Lounge, Sear Restaurant, and others, Comfort Design Furniture specialises in chair and table designs. Minimalists would love their Scandinavian themed collection of simple and functional pieces, including their Hexio Coffee Table that’s a hexogonal piece in dark wood, and their modular Aziz Wall Shelves with a slidable design for easy customisation.

    Comfort Design Furniture
    Address: 110 Eunos Ave 7, Comfort Design Building, Singapore 409573
    Phone: +65 6747 4809
    Opening hours: Mon to Sat 9am to 6pm, Sun 10am to 6pm


    So it turns out that Ikea isn’t the only place to stock up on Scandinavian-style furniture for your home! Now that you’re in the know, which of these stores will you visit?


    (Header image credit: original image by Danish Design Co, edited by author.)