Although a public housing scheme, HDB is surprisingly experimental; over the years they have come up with many ingenious designs. And uh… some that aren’t.
While all of the following are perfectly functional, they can pose additional challenges and give your interior designer a bit of a headache. Here are some of the layouts that may be best avoided if you want to spend more time with the renovations:
A quick explanation of why we love square bedrooms
Much of the criticism here centers around odd nooks and crannies and circular or curved walls. Although these may seem new (at first), they are difficult from an interior design perspective and tend to be expensive.
The simple fact is that most building materials and furniture are made in square shapes. Steel frames, countertops, floor tiles, etc. are square. Bed frames and sofa sets are almost always rectangular. It’s so intuitive that even tile or fabric samples are presented to us as squares.
So when you have a curved interior or one with a lot of angles, your contractor has to do more measuring, cutting, and adjusting to get things flush to the walls. Floor tiles also tend to have more alignment issues, when your room has irregular or circular shapes. Some contractors even charge extra if they need to do flooring for oddly shaped rooms.
For circular walls, you’ll probably need custom furniture, unless you prefer to push a square desk or bed up against a curved wall. This means a waste of space behind furniture, and the place is a pain to clean.
Additionally, circular halls can create a “soaring” effect (which is why some concert halls and opera houses have curved walls). Ideal if you want to hear an orchestra; less if you host a dinner party and every conversation is amplified.
Finally, twists make a room feel less spacious and are less conducive to natural lighting. Between a 200 square foot square room and a 150 square foot room with a 50 square foot corner, the square room will look and feel more spacious.
1. Goodview Gardens in Bukit Gombak (Blocks 393 to 395)
The units in this project consist mainly of four- and five-room apartments. They were one of the replacement options for residents of Hillview Avenue, whose homes went through the Selective Block Redevelopment Program (SERS) in 2003.
The five-room apartments here are a little larger than usual, as the typical size is between 107 and 113 m². However, the room layout is clunky and hard to work with. For unverifiable reasons*, all windows in the common rooms were designed to protrude at an odd 45 degree angle.
This makes it more difficult to use the space efficiently and obstructs some of the natural lighting.
*We are told that the apartment is close to the Gombak camp, which is a sensitive military area; so the windows are angled to look away from the hill.
By the way, we found a similar design at Blocks 11-15 on Farrer Park Road. The windows appear to be angled compared to the Istana, perhaps for similar security reasons. Here, the layout comes in three, four and five pieces.
2. Sembawang Blue Riverview (Blocks 468A to 468D)
This project offers spacious 5-room apartments of 118 m², as well as executive apartments of generous 137 m². Unfortunately, the space is made up for by the “pizza slice” configuration.
The funnel shape makes it difficult to position furniture, and something is wrong with a huge living room that tapers to one point. Visually, the layout is uncomfortable because it is difficult to determine where the center of the living room is. Consider how difficult it would be to find a place to center the coffee table/sofa set.
The space towards the tapered end looks easily crowded, as it tapers down its length; but at the same time, that’s a lot of wasted square footage, if you leave it bare.
3. Block 288A to 289G Bukit Batok Street 25
This is a rare two-story executive maisonette; huge at 165 m². The layout features an odd angle, with the stairwell cutting diagonally past the living room.
The two bedrooms upstairs have odd corners; and when you go up the stairs you face a strange corner rather than a wide landing or the bedrooms.
With so many odd corners, these units are a challenge to furnish.
4. Block 288A to 289G Bukit Batok Street 2
This executive apartment has one of the weirdest study areas we have seen. One of the study room walls is curved; and while that may sound interesting, there are few pieces of furniture (that aren’t custom-made) that are designed to fit such spaces.
In addition, the part of the living room that is between the office, the bathroom and the bedrooms is not very large. The space will quickly seem cluttered if you try to furnish it; but if you leave it empty, it’s a big waste of space.
5. Sembawang Sun Bliss and Sun Trellis (blocks 356A to 360C and blocks 340A to 341C)
The five-room layouts are some of the weirdest we’ve seen. The semi-circular balcony is new, but the master bedroom has plenty of dead space. Notice the hallway between the master bedroom entrance and the bathroom next door – it’s pure waste space, as putting anything here will block the entrance.
The slightly curved wall of the master bedroom is, as mentioned above, quite difficult to furnish. Few pieces of furniture fit well in rounded corners.
Finally, note the uncomfortably cramped bottleneck, which forms at the crossroads of the bedrooms, bathroom and study room. This area is also bound to be quite dark, as it does not admit much natural light.
This is another layout, which can be found in the same project. Like the one above, this is a layout that has a number of odd corners. The main chamber has one curved corner, while the other corners are at right angles: and it’s not a neat circle either. It’s likely to look weird no matter how you dress it.
The same development also had the layouts below, which had much of the same issues. Note the windows in the common rooms, which are pushed to one side of the wall rather than centered (Rooms 1 and 2).
6. Block 733, Sembawang Close
This spacious 139m² unit is decent in many ways, although there is some wasted space between the three bedrooms. The most unusual feature here is the windows in bedroom two and the circular nook it creates.
To be clear, these layouts aren’t terrible, and a good interior designer can always work around them. But they are likely to cost more and be suitable for a smaller range of themes. For help with these issues, contact us at Stacked, and you can also follow us for advice on new and resale developments to prevent
ALSO READ: How To Furnish An Introvert’s Home
This article was first published in Stackedhomes.