A 1,054 sq ft BTO flat that looks like a retro American diner – with a jukebox
CNA Lifestyle’s Making Room series looks at small homes with big transformations. This week, we check out a brand-new four-room apartment that’s straight out of the 1950s.
Hollywood movies, American pop art and pop culture were all things that homeowners Henry and Joy loved. So they went for a friendly, flashy, retro Americana look when it came to doing up their new home in Punggol.
The brand-new four-room HDB BTO flat also had to be cosy enough for when they had friends come over for movies and meals.
Interior designer Raymond Seow of Free Space Intent was tasked to put all of these in place. “Instead of the the traditional, very clean, airy look”, he decided it should be “a little more dark, more masculine”.
He added: “To entertain in a small place, you need to have open spaces so people can hang around in different pockets. If you don’t have the space, try and make it look cosy.”
The flooring of the entire 1,054 sq ft apartment was done up in dark grey marble-look tiles, to connect the spaces and create a clean, unified and cohesive look.
Most of the walls in the living and dining areas, as well as the corridor leading to the bedrooms and bathrooms, were clad in exposed red brick to create an industrial New York vibe. The other remaining walls were finished in smooth cement screed to provide some relief and contrast from the brickwork.Black track lighting and ceiling fans were used throughout for consistency.
The overall effect is warm and inviting, and forms a canvas against which the couple’s collection of pop art-inspired decor pieces can, well, pop better.
The most eye-catching statement piece is undoubtably the huge 1950s-inspired jukebox that takes centrestage between the living and the dining area. Already eye-catching enough thanks to its hefty size and glossy curves, its built-in colour-changing light tube creates a playful party vibe, setting the theme for the entire home while providing a cool and interactive way to enjoy music.
Inspired by the mesmerisingly flashy light shows put on by the jukebox, the interior designer even went as far as to install colour-changing lighting throughout the entire flat, right down to the kitchen and the bathrooms.
“The whole place is supposed to look like a mini club during the night. I want the design and lighting effect to be consistent; I want people to come in and feel that the design flows, all the way to the bathroom,” he said.
The living area, with its front and back walls all clad in brick, is a friendly, informal, cosy space. A large Warhol-esque artwork featuring multiple images of Marilyn Monroe’s face in different colourways serves as the focal point.
The sleek, retro-futuristic blue leather sofa is accented by a scatter of cushions featuring pop art imagery of soft drink and soup cans. Opposite, a large flat screen TV sits atop a long, clean-lined TV console bench with a rustic-industrial wooden-plank finish.
An industrial-looking metal rolling cart serves as the coffee table for this ensemble, while accessories such as a lava lamp and a clock featuring an American pin-up girl motif further drive home the retro theme.
To create a more spacious feel in the apartment, the wall between the kitchen and dining area was removed, resulting in an open kitchen fronted by a bar/dining counter – just like what you’d find in an American diner.
Bright red bar chairs add a splash of colour. A steel service bell placed at the edge of the dining counter playfully extends the American diner theme. On the wall beside the dining counter hangs a row of framed Star Wars movie posters.
Raymond cleverly built a black steel framed glass door, as well as matching half-height bi-fold windows, so the kitchen could be closed up completely when there’s heavy cooking taking place. The back of the kitchen opens up to a service yard and laundry area.
And, rather than go full-on with the brightly-coloured tiles and shiny chrome finishes one associates with 50s-themed kitchens, he kept it looking simple and unassuming, with plain white countertops, glass backsplash, and wood-look cabinetry.
The 50s-styled accessories such as a radio and coffeemaker set the tone, albeit ever-so-subtly, while those concealed colour-changing lights set the mood by magically saturating the kitchen in any hue the owners desire.
Meanwhile, the master bedroom is kept minimal. A more restful colour palette was chosen – muted khaki walls, plain white ceilings, a black bed with a tufted headboard, and wardrobe cabinetry in deep wood tones. But a large Lichtenstein-style graphic artwork hanging over the bed, which depicts a couple kissing, is retro-pop and romantic all at once.
The other bedroom, repurposed as a home office, is also kept bare bones, furnished simply with just a work desk, an office chair, and a large industrial metal shelving unit.
The two bathrooms, on the other hand, depart completely from the retro 50s American theme. They look more like what you’d expect to find in a spa, thanks to earthy tones, walls that are either pebble-dashed or clad in tiles that resemble stone and rattan weave, and a wash basins that look carved out of either stone or wood.
But what the bathrooms have in common with the rest of the home, is the jukebox-inspired lighting. “The owners can pick different colours, and it creates a very resort, very cosy spa kind of look,” Raymond explained.