House Tour: Dave and Kate's Clean and Simple Minimalist HDB Home
For the homeowners, minimalism is not only their chosen interior theme—it’s also their lifestyle.
“The Japanese has this concept called ‘MA’ where everything in your house has a purpose. You don’t have anything extra. You don’t have any clutter. You know exactly what you have. You don’t feel like, ‘Oh my gosh, [there’s too much clutter] I have to get out of here,” begins Kate, who lives in a 5-room minimalist HDB flat in Compassvale Bow with her husband Dave and their daughter.
A look around their home confirms the adaptation of the concept. The most basic of furniture pieces—dining set, bean bags, a bookshelf, TV console, and a floor table with tatami chairs—fills the open-plan layout. Walls are bare. Light flows through openly and bounteously. Space is abundant. “Our daughter loves running around. There is so much space here,” Dave says.
Dave and Kate are practicing minimalists who blog about their endeavours in Minimalist in the City. “What we’re trying to do in the blog is for people to learn more about minimalism. We hope to build a community in Singapore and spread awareness on minimalism. Minimalism is a lifestyle. It’s a choice. It blends well with our values and what we’re looking for,” says Kate. “It’s a journey.”
When the couple obtained the keys to their HDB flat in May 2016, they decided that their home has to embody who they are and the principles they adhere to. They sought the help of The Minimalist Society to create an airy minimalist space with hints of Japanese Zen living. Before moving, they majorly decluttered—Dave had to donate 12 bags of used clothes. “I realised I have lots of shirts but I only wear a few, about 10 pieces. I managed to declutter. When I moved here, I was left with only three boxes of stuff,” Dave says.
“We don’t have a lot of things, so you can feel the space here,” Kate adds. “If you have a lot of stuff, then obviously you need a lot of storage. For us, we just live with what we need. We’re not the ‘oh let’s buy this we might need this someday’ types. We’re highly adaptable.”
When the renovation was finished, Dave and Kate rejoiced over their new home, a cosy and bright space filled with essentials and nothing else. Check out their flat below:
The living room features a floor table and tatami chairs sourced from Taobao. “I wanted a floor table. I used to study in Japan,” says Kate. “The low level is perfect for our little girl. We actually dine in that table.”
The couple also wanted furniture pieces with rounded edges. Even their TV console, also bought from Taobao, features rounded edges to ensure child safety.
Their Muji shelf houses their books, including those about minimalism.
The dining set, also sourced from Taobao, is the only furniture piece in this area.
For the flooring, the couple opted for vinyl. “For BTO flats, you can either opt in for flooring or you don’t, right? So we didn’t opt in. We decided to go for the vinyl flooring, but we requested HDB to do the cement screeding for us since it’s free of charge. We made the appeal sometime in June and it was done mid-July,” Dave narrates.
No visual distractions, no clutter—their kitchen is a minimalist’s dream. “We try to keep the countertop as clean as possible,” Dave says.
“We cook a lot. We seldom dine outside because the house is so comfortable,” adds Dave.
Because the couple wanted to keep their place spacious and devoid of too many built-ins, the only major renovation works took place in the kitchen and the bathroom.
What you’ll only find in the couple’s master bedroom: a wardrobe and a futon. “The first night I slept here, the whole room just had a wardrobe and a futon. We don’t have a TV here, so we don’t get distracted. It feels so good. It’s like your mind is so clear you could just doze off,” says Dave.
Why go for a staycation when the family already lives in a relaxing haven? “We can just laze around in this house. It’s the most comfortable place for us,” Kate says.
Dave and Kate’s spacious HDB flat teaches us the lesson of smart purchasing. “With impulse buying, you’ll go ‘oh this is cheap I’ll buy it even if I don’t need it.’ If you give a little more thought into each purchase, you’ll realise that you actually don’t need that much,” says Kate. This explains why they were able to fit all their daughter’s belongings in one armoire. This explains why their home feels visually light and free.
Type of property: HDB 5 Room
Total space: 113 sq. m.
Interior designer: The Minimalist Society
Budget: $50,000 ($30,000 for the renovation, $20,000 for furniture and appliances)
Time to complete works: 1 1/2 to 2 months
Dave and Kate’s renovation tips for homeowners
1. Hire an interior designer/contractor you feel at ease with. “The comfort level is quite important since you’ll see each other many times for a couple of months,” says Kate.
2. Having kids soon? Adjust your home design with them in mind. “If you foresee that you would have kids in the future, you might want to think about the designs you have right now. It doesn’t mean you have to compromise your design for safety; it’s just something good to bear in mind [when you renovate],” Kate expounds.
3. Prepare a budget spreadsheet. “One of the greatest challenges was sourcing for all the appliances. It was a painful process—searching for model, comparing prices. So it’s important to know what you want. Prepare a spreadsheet, so you can work out your budget. You can check item by item on your spreadsheet, and with every item you go through, ask yourself, ‘Do you need the latest model?’ It helps keep you within your budget,” Dave says.
Check out the couple’s blog on minimalism here.
Interview By Samantha Echavez
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The Minimalist Society is a brand that focuses deeply on purpose and social good for our society at large. We do so by crafting experiences that makes people’s lives simple through interior design. We have been featured extensively by renowned online portals, in print and on screen, such as The Straits Times, Business Insider, Lianhe Zaobao, The Business Times, Singapore Home and Decor, Lookbox Living, Houzz, Cromly, Qanvast, Vulcan Post, Yahoo and MM2 Entertainment Singapore. At Team Minimalist, simplicity is a goal, a work style, and a measuring stick. By leading a life of purpose, our home owners can embrace only on the things that will add to the mission of significance and ultimately living their best story.