Housing as a commodity is largely market driven. Being an income elastic good, its demand is triggered by investments of aspirational households, absence of formal rental housing markets and availability of easy/ soft housing loans. Supply, on the other hand, is influenced by the level of construction costs and potential movement of housing prices, all culminating in expectations of high profits
Back in 2019, Yu Ran and his partner were turning 35, thinking about buying a home and hanging out at The Great Escape bar at Shaw Towers when they hit upon the idea of living in a central area.
“We saw this HDB block from that spot,” says Yu Ran, referring to the Housing Board block in Bain Street where the two now live. “And I said: ‘Why don’t we look for a place there?'”
The couple, who declined to reveal their full names, found a 883 sq ft unit with three bedrooms on real estate portal PropertyGuru and went for a viewing the next day.
“It was love at first sight,” says Yu Ran. “The flat might be 40 years old, but it had never changed ownership and the previous owner had kept it in such good condition. We made an offer the following day and got it.”
Yu Ran works in the fashion industry and his partner is in public service. Both are design aficionados who knew what they wanted. They hired interior design studio Authors to help translate their vision into reality, and the result is an eclectic home that feels both familiar and fresh.
Most of the original surface finishes were retained, and the furnishings are an exciting mix of vintage, handmade, custom and heirloom pieces.
“We are not the most practical people,” says Yu Ran. By that, he means they went the extra mile to fill the home with treasured items which have stories to tell.
One common bedroom was opened up and converted into a formal dining room. Connected to the living room via an oversized archway, it sports teal walls and juxtaposes classic pieces with pop art. The curvy dining table and vintage wall sconces salvaged from Raffles Hotel are from used-furniture store Hock Siong.
The dining chairs are from Second Charm, while the 10kg typewriter is from Mexico. Pink Wheels, a photograph by Australian artist Kane Skennar, which the couple spotted at an exhibition in the Slow Hotel in Bali, hangs on the wall. They use this room not only for meals and entertaining, but also for work.
In the living room, a Paulistano cantilever leather chair sits beside vintage onyx floor lamps from Hock Siong, a leather sofa from furniture store Prestige Affairs, and Turkish and Indian carpets from Yu Ran’s parents. With the flat’s original terrazzo flooring and patterned wall tiles, the decor paints a cosy, nostalgic picture.
Also inherited from the old flat is the mosaic-inlaid archway to the kitchen, though the cabinets are new. “We didn’t try to match everything,” says Yu Ran.
Two bedrooms were combined to create a master suite with a walk-in wardrobe and a sleeping area separated by a fluted-glass sliding door. The wardrobe is trimmed with peach-toned neutrals, whereas the sleeping area is awash in deep green and blue hues.
Completed in September 2020 after a six-month delay caused by the pandemic, the renovation cost $68,000, excluding the furniture. Despite being happy with the result, the couple say the home is still a work in progress and are chronicling its evolution on Instagram,