Annoying HDB Features, And How To ‘Fix’ Them


You’d think that the generic, cookie-cutter layout in newer builds of BTO units wouldn’t be an issue, but then there’s the challenge of dealing with unappealing architecture and awkward structures too.

1. Lopsided Walkway Entrances That Just Don’t Look Right

Interior Designer: DB Studio

While these lopsided walkways may seem fine to the less observant or detail-oriented, the perceivable difference in depth along the corridor upsets the equilibrium and symmetry of the space.

Interior Designer: Fifth Avenue Studio

With a low structural beam above (yes, yes another architectural eyesore!), keeping both sides flushed results in a corridor entrance that looks rigid and narrow.

The solution: Add a touch of colour, or have a snug dining area at the far end of the corridor. In any case, fill up the space as best as possible, without cramping the area (and your style).

2. Boxed-In Living Rooms That Are More ‘Box’ Than ‘Room’

Interior Designer: U & Me Interior

Smaller, new HDBs feature a modest space, which means the ends of your living room will either be chewed up by furniture or a TV console, leaving you with about a meter and a half of in-between space – yikes.

Interior Designer: DS 2000 Interior & Design

Depending on where they are positioned, the Consumer Unit (HDB’s name for the power distribution box) and bomb shelter make matters even more complicated. Plus, since you can’t hack away these structures, you’ll have to live with them.

The solution: Try not to build additional storage structures along the sides of your living room, which will eat up space in an already-compact and tight area.

3. Walls That Are Way Too Short

Interior Designer: Starry Homestead

You’re likely to find this problem in newer BTO flats where the front (or rear, depending on orientation) wall is shorter than its opposite number. Just look at how tight that TV fits on to the feature wall.

Interior Designer: NextDoor ID

This shortcoming (pun intended) is even more noticeable if your furniture is longer than the wall, and juts out. The worst part? Even if you do manage to find a piece that fits, it’ll look like you are squeezing too much into a tiny sliver of space.

The solution: This might come across as unconventional, but consider using the living room purely as a sitting area or study, so you won’t have to worry about sofas that are all too small or underwhelming feature walls.

4. These Awkwardly-Positioned Niches

Interior Designer: DB Studio

Unfortunately, these shallow niches are in fact a ‘necessary evil’, according to Schemacraft’s Managing Director Martin Ngo.

“The vertical ends of these recesses are support pillars, which are built along the perimeter of the building. As for the horizontal sections that run across the room, these are strengthening beams that prevent the concrete floor slabs (of upper floors) from sagging,” says Martin.

Interior Designer: MyStory Interior

Despite their importance, they truly are an immovable obstacle and challenge when it comes to space-planning.

The solution: Paint the inside of these awkward recesses with an accent colour – if you can’t hide it, highlight it. Or consider maximising the space by building overhead shelves/displays within them.

5. Tiny, Zoned-Off Service Yards

Interior Designer: Cozy Ideas Interior Design

Remember when HDB flats came with enough yard space for bamboo poles? We do too… These functional spaces have shrunk in size across the years, and it’s getting harder and harder to do your laundry.

More importantly, their boxed-up design does it no favours, making the yard seem even smaller than it actually is.

The solution: Opt for an open-concept; just remove the sliding door entrance as well as windows, and – voila! – everything looks bigger!

Interior Designer: MyStory Interior

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