HDB Renovation Tips To Maintain Personal Space

With many of us working from home, the idea of personal space is now more important than ever. We asked 4 Singaporean couples to share their HDB renovation experience and how they kept personal space in mind during the process.

1. Have separate rooms for different activities

hdb personal space jess lai agc

Jessica Lai and her husband are both introverts who enjoy their “me time”. Naturally, personal space was a priority for the couple during the planning stage of their HDB renovation. Besides personal space, aesthetics and cost were also key considerations. The couple did up their 4-room resale HDB flat in 2019, and the renovation process took 3 months.

hdb personal space jess lai workout space
The couple’s exercise corner with a pole for Jessica and gym equipment for her husband 

Each room in their home has a specific purpose. And while they use the same rooms, they each have their own space within the room. For example, they have separate work spaces in the study room. This came in handy when both of them were working from home last year. The couple also has a space allocated for their workouts, with a pole for Jessica to pole dance at home and gym equipment for her husband. 

In addition, they made sure their fittings allowed them to have personal space. These include individual beanbags and having a demarcation “wall” of sorts between their work desks. 

Jessica shared, “I like the fact that we can be in different parts of the house if we just want to do different things e.g. reading, gaming. Also, it’s very useful if you get into small arguments. It’s great to have a separate space to cool down, especially as a married couple.”

Tip: “Think about your current and future lifestyle to see what kind of renovations would be practical in the long run. For example, will you have kids, do you like working late while your partner sleeps, do you want to host friends while your partner hides away gaming. Think about these things when allocating space and compromise.”
—Jessica Lai

2. Keep your needs and lifestyles in mind

When Jessica Fang and her husband were looking to buy a flat, space was something they prioritised as they plan to have pets and kids in the future. In the end, they bought a resale HDB maisonette “with more than enough rooms and space” for the both of them. They did a complete overhaul of the home. Because of the Circuit Breaker, the renovation took 6 months.

They decided to make their living area larger, and hired an interior designer (ID) to execute this. Their ID suggested a partition that can open or close up the living room from the hall, dining room and kitchen for more privacy. Jessica shared, “I like that it gives us pockets of space so we’re able to sort of ‘shut’ ourselves away if we need to, especially if we have people over. This has been super helpful when working-from-home. At the same time, having an open concept also helps us be aware of what’s happening in the whole house at all times.”

A spare guest room doubles as a study, “for when one of us needs to shut ourselves away for work or a serious round of computer games.” Jessica elaborated, “I try to avoid doing work in the master bedroom for better work-life balance. Having a separate room for this, plus a living room and dining area to utilise, was a big priority for us.”

Lastly, they also have separate bathrooms, which “has truly done wonders for the well-being of our relationship,” Jessica revealed. 

Tip: “Plan as if you’re going to be living in this same set-up in 5 years’ time. If you’re planning to have kids, pets, a helper, or even parents living with you, you need to be firm on renovating according to these needs from the get-go. ‘Winging it’ and not taking these into account will be a costly and tedious affair in the future. 

Find examples of similar home layouts online and show these to your ID. Always ask them to provide a couple of options in terms of utilising space. A good ID should be able to give you feasible options according to your needs rather than insisting on just one option. Remember that it is your home—not the ID’s home—and you will be the one living here. Think about whether a design makes sense in terms of utility, how you move around your house and what sort of furniture you plan to get.”
—Jessica Fang

Also read:

Minimalist Interior Design In Singapore: How To MUJI-fy Your Home, Pick The Right ID, Plus Cost-Saving & Design Tips

3. Recognise the need for personal space and be flexible 

Amanda Feng grew up as an only child. It’s no wonder then, that she appreciates alone time. To her, personal space means she doesn’t need to be around her partner all the time. She can be herself in her “fortress of solitude”.

She added that one of the reasons she likes to have her own space is because her boyfriend and her wind down in different ways. “I like to use my time to relax and watch shows, and he uses his spare time to learn about finance or cryptocurrency.” 

Since the couple is still in the midst of renovating their 4-room resale flat, one of the things they have been debating is whether to have separate study rooms or to share a single room. “We did consider [building] 2 separate studies because we prefer having our own space. But if a kid comes along, we’d have to give up one of those rooms.” 

Before that happens however, Amanda would like to use the spare room as her own study. “If everyone is working from home, I think it’s healthiest if everyone has their own space,” she elaborated.

Tip: “It depends on your lifestyle. If both parties are homebodies, then it’s more important to have separate personal space so as to not disrupt each other.”
—Amanda Feng

4. Creating personal space doesn’t have to be a complicated or expensive affair

hdb personal space kayce
Kayce’s personal space includes a bookshelf with her own items

If you thought factoring personal space into your HDB renovation has to be an elaborate and costly affair, think again. It can be something as simple as having a bookshelf to yourself, which is the case for Kayce Teo. For Kayce’s husband, having a place to put his belongings when he comes home is enough.

Personal space was an important factor for the couple when they were renovating their 4-room BTO flat 6 years ago. With this in mind, Kayce divided one of their spare bedrooms into 2 parts: a walk-in wardrobe and a space for her work desk. The wardrobe served as a partition in the room.

Her husband, on the other hand, opted to have a sliding glass panel installed so that he could write on it using whiteboard markers to put his thoughts together.

Kayce shared, “I like having these spaces in my home so that when people enter the room, they can’t see exactly what I am doing.”

Tip: “Set up a partition that’s cosy and private in a way that you won’t be in full view of someone who just entered the room.”
—Kayce Teo

These 4 SG Couples Show Keeping Personal Space In Mind Is Possible During Your HDB Renovation Process

If you are someone who enjoys having alone time, having personal space in your home is important when you live with a partner. These couples show you how they have managed to incorporate personal space into their HDB flats and how you can do the same when planning your own HDB renovation. 

Cover: Source

Also read:

How To Renovate BTO Flats Under S$20,000 (S$630/month For 3 Years) With Quality Materials For Budget Singaporean Couples