Home is a place of memories, and some of us wish that our cherished place will never change. As with all things however, houses age and become dilapidated over time: Waterproofing starts to fail; plumbing, sanitary and electrical infrastructure needs to be replaced; and floor and wall finishes need to be periodically refreshed to keep up with the times. For some, this is a good excuse to demolish the house and rebuild it completely. But for other homeowners who feel attached to their abode, a light-handed approach might be more appropriate. And they can integrate new design elements into their beloved home.

Ming Architects recently completed renovation works for a Good Class Bungalow (GCB) on Swettenham Road that was built in the early 1990s. The success of the project lay in achieving a perfect balance between the classical style of the original bungalow and the introduction of contemporary design elements.

Here are key considerations for homeowners looking for a similar upscale makeover for their homes:  


CELEBRATE YOUR HERITAGE by reinvigorating the existing features of your estate. Seize the chance to redo the electrical wiring and sanitary plumbing, revamp floor and wall finishes, and use modern lighting techniques such as concealed LED cove lights and light fittings to accentuate your house’s classical architecture and highlight its best features.


CHERISH HEIRLOOMS and restore them as accents for your new home. The grand crystal chandelier as well as all the existing pendant alabaster lamps in the GCB underwent a complete restoration with polishing of the crystals and stones, and replating of the gold finish. Many of the timber doors were restored and reused as well.


DEFINE YOUR COLOUR and material palette to create a consistent look throughout the house. Materials such as blackstained walnut, white Italian Carrara marble and polished gold accents lend the spaces elegance and class, and serve to unify both the classical and modern elements of the design. Stainless steel and low-emissive glass are utilised to suit the owner’s requirements.  


INVEST IN A TECHNOLOGICAL upgrade by using energy-saving appliances and embedding a smart automated system in everyday living. For a large bungalow, consider using exclusively LED lights, a VRV [variable refrigerant volume] air-conditioning system as well as a good home automation system that can control your lighting, blinds/curtains and air conditioning from anywhere within the house or even remotely via your smart phone. Here, Ming Architects has integrated classy technological features to suit the client’s lifestyle, including a custom temperature-controlled wine cellar, glass lift shaft and home theatre room.


DREAM OF SPACES TO ENJOY! Homeowners who relish being outdoors can gather family and friends at a poolside pavilion that comes fully equipped with air conditioning, a bar fridge, digital TV and state-of-the-art karaoke system. It’s the ideal place to entertain. 


Tan Cher Ming, principal of Ming Architects, is passionate about the process of creating well-designed homes that suit individual homeowners. He can be reached at ming@mingarchitects.com.

Stephanie Gautama is a freelance landscape architect and design writer. She can be reached at stephaniegautama@gmail.com. 


This article appeared in The Edge Property Pullout, Issue 723 (April 11, 2016) of The Edge Singapore.