Tour a stunning $60,000 HDB flat makeover: How a couple themselves designed a modern seaside retreat, Lifestyle News

Since we mainly live on an island, it’s interesting that we don’t see many coastal-inspired designer homes in Singapore.

And although the coastal house design is not popular here, it has already been around for a long time. The label may not have been obvious at the time, but these designs were popular with traditional homes located near the coast.

While there may be differences, such as dark or light wood stains, the essence remains the same.

A coastal design home exudes serenity and fun. It’s the same feeling you get when staying in a vacation home near the beach or lake.

For Marina (mareenah) and her husband, they always had a soft spot for the coast. “Some of the cherished memories are family vacations in Australia and a beach honeymoon in the Maldives, and it is undeniable that those times had a huge impact on our inspiration for our dream home,” she recalls.

She added that even then, she remembered looking at all the great white-coast houses, thinking they were simply alluring.

Her house is a resale HDB located in Pasir Reis and just one block away from her parents house.


“We’ve always wanted to stay close to them, but the units listed in the area are hard to reach because of the ethnic quota,” she said.

“So the moment this house was listed by a Malaysian seller, we didn’t hesitate to buy it.”

They were looking for a good-to-use property with an existing open concept layout. While the couple wanted to renovate everything in the house they would buy, they also wanted to save on hacking costs.

She said her unit was a perfect fit for all their criteria, and it was love at first sight.

Their home is currently occupied by her small family which includes Marina, her husband and their son. Let’s discover their renovation journey and how their coastal home unfolded.

How did the journey of renewal turn out?

Marina and her husband were on their way to a simple renovation with minimal fixtures, so they limited their initial budget to just $45,000. However, they ended up putting more aside because they expected the costs could escalate.

“That’s true enough,” she said, “due to electrical wiring, mosaic tiles, and local carpentry sources during a period when employment was limited, and renovations totaled nearly $60,000.”

“And that doesn’t even include hardware and furnishing costs.”

The couple was looking for a perfect balance between modern and coastal. They decide to play with pure, clean colors because it is easier for them to add a touch of color whenever they feel like embellishing things.

Soft curves are also prominent in their design as they help relax the space.

“Plus, it’s very safe for our little one to run,” she added.

She admitted that they liked braces but did not want to go overboard with them. Thus, they positioned them in areas where they felt that there were a lot of right angles.

“A home made for comfort is what we wanted to achieve, so we had items like rattan to make us feel like we were in a tropical getaway.”

And while open concept design was high on their list of priorities, they also wanted to preserve the original design of the house as much as possible. This will also help them save on hacking cost.
Marina said it was a dream worker for them to have the rooms clustered in a corner. As such, they had their master bedroom extending outward to make room for an L-shaped wardrobe.

This setup will also allow the room doors to face each other when corners are cropped.

Let’s take a visual tour of how their coastal-themed home turned out.


Since they wanted to accommodate the open concept design, the couple had to make sure the common spaces flowed smoothly.

They had the option of completely hiding the previously hacked wall in the entrance, but built a half-wall with arched shelves instead.

“This helps make the living space and entryway more breathable,” said Marina.

Living room

In order for the living room space to be functional as a conversation area, they moved the TV area to a less traditional setting.

Marina said that many guests tend to question their TV spot because it’s camouflaged as a frame.

“We wanted to make it look like passing art on a sideboard.” Thus, they installed the TV at a further distance from the sofa.
With the big rug, plush sofa and comfy pillows – the living room is a really cozy place to live.

dinner room

For the dining room, the couple wanted to preserve as much of the suspended ceiling as possible.

So Marina said they cut the previous single-shape roof design into a box shape. They also replaced the pendant lamp with a ceiling fan to make it more efficient.
They chose the wooden floors to be laid in a herringbone design, which goes well with the rattan furniture.

It all comes together well to create the fun and laid-back vibe common in coastal style homes.


They manage to create a clear division between the kitchen and dining area with a curved kitchen peninsula, which also adds more ease of use to the space.
Since they chose open shelves for the upper half of the kitchen wall, they had more closed cabinets created in the lower half to make up for the lack of storage space.
They also had to expand the kitchen area because they needed to allocate a corner for laundry space. The attention to detail here is also notable, with appropriately themed tiles as part of the backsplash.

bed room

The couple wanted to make room for an L-shaped wardrobe, so they had to expand the master bedroom into the original living space.

We can’t help but notice the irregular, flowing shape of the window, which reminds us of how water flows.
The room had a strangely shaped beam, so they used an arched partition to hide it. In addition, they ensured that there was enough space in the house in case they needed a cot should they expand their family one day.

Their son’s bedroom is filled with vibrant colors in contrast to the quiet setting of their master bedroom. But nevertheless, they made sure that the theme of the mezzanine still had a joyful coastal vibe.
We love how vibrant the colors are, and how carefully the toys are packed into different, brightly colored boxes.
For the shared bedroom, Mareenah chose a Hemnes dresser and matching daybed from Ikea. It is simple but fits well with the theme of the house.

And it’s not just about looks – you can turn it into a double bed when guests come.
The room also has space at the foot for a good sized study table. Like the rest of the house, the final design pieces chosen are impeccable.


While they renovated both bathrooms, they decided not to make any changes to the plumbing layout.

One of their bathrooms has a cozy feel with terrazzo tiles.
The other bathroom is on the cooler side with its marble-like tiles.

Turning a vision into a reality

Marina stated that the end result is similar to what he envisioned during the planning stage.

Although the pandemic has been known to negatively affect most renovation projects, it has actually been a boon to this couple.

“Due to the delays caused by the Covid situation, the keys were not delivered until about a year later.

“It gave us plenty of time to properly plan and design the space.” Marinette admitted.

The delay helped because they didn’t have any 3D renderings at the time and they played with ideas in their heads.

They knew exactly what they wanted while discussing their ideas, so it was just a matter of expressing it in a concrete plan.

For this reason, they were able to communicate well with the renovation contractor, who executed their plan correctly.
Majestic is the main contractor that has done hacking, tiling, electrical, plumbing, kitchen and carpentry work. The couple sourced other vendors themselves and coordinated with them to suit their schedule.

Doing so also helped them lower the cost of renovation.

Their experience with Majestic was good.

“We love how easy it is to convey our thoughts to them,” she said. “They are very professional and were able to tell us what was most effective and what was most aesthetically pleasing.”


This is not common, but their renovation contractor enabled Marina and her husband to make a better decision on the design that would fit well with their lifestyle and daily routine.

We asked her about their process in getting their furniture, and Marinette replied that they had to do it carefully to make sure the pieces would be able to grow with them.

They also wanted to reduce the built-in furniture so they could bring them to the next home if they had to move in the future.

“Since our kid was young at the time, we didn’t go to many places while looking for furniture,” she said. “We did some research on products online before visiting stores to confirm our purchases.”

All of their custom furniture with a rattan weave is from Second Charm, while timeless pieces of furniture like the bed frames, sofa, and chairs are from Castlery. Their ornate furniture, like the Moroccan console and coffee table, is from Island Living.
“We were also able to score some gems from Carousell and Marketplace, such as the bedside table set and a pair of antique chairs.”

She said the rest are mostly from the always reliable IKEA.

For their favorite part of the house, it was hard to pick one, especially after the renovation.

Marina said they loved how their living room and kitchen were, but if they really had to choose, it would be their living area.
“Our family spends more time there on a daily basis because it is simply comfortable,” she said.

“I especially like how open the common spaces are so that I can cook in the kitchen and my husband does the laundry, and at the same time we can watch our son play or watch TV.”

It’s the same experience when they have guests. While preparing food in the kitchen, they can easily host even if the guests are relaxing in the living room.

Lessons learned from a successful renewal journey

The biggest challenge Marina and her husband faced during their renovation was keeping up with the schedule as they had to coordinate with Majestic and the other vendors themselves.

While they made some mistakes and had some flaws during the renewal period, they learned a lot along the way.

“We had a false wall bracket section done before the windows were installed, so when we removed the windows, he tore off the sides of the section.”

The damage can’t be undone, but she said they learned to embrace it and other imperfections in a resale home.
The couple learned a lot, especially in terms of time planning.

“After we went through a renovation process with the contractor, we learned how to better manage and plan the different phases of the renovation.”

She said if they had a chance to renovate their next home, they would plan to hook up the HVAC, plumbing, and electrical lines ahead of time.

Marina shares these invaluable ideas with those looking to beautify their homes.

“A home will always be a work in progress, so take the time to slowly transform your home into a home while you fully live in it. The most inviting communal spaces are always sculpturally designed and carefully undone.”

We couldn’t agree more.

This article was first published on Stackedhomes.

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