HDB Living Room – Unleashing the Charm of Singaporean Lifestyles


At SIXiDES, we have the privilege of encountering stunning homes every day. These awe-inspiring images are generously shared by our community of Verified Interior Designers. Often, we find ourselves captivated by these breath-taking projects, leaving us brimming with inspiration. In fact, we were so inspired that we couldn't resist delving into the various living room design styles that homeowners in Singapore adore for their own abodes. In this article, we included a “Pro Tip” segment, so that we can help you identify the elements for each style and help you adopt it for your home renovation.

The Heart of The Home:

The living room serves as the heart of any home, and for Singaporeans living in HDB flats, it is no different. Apart from being a space to relax and unwind after a long day, HDB living rooms often transform into multi-functional areas that accommodate various activities. From enjoying quality time with family and friends to hosting exercise routines and movie nights, the living room plays a vital role in elevating the overall living experience. In this article, we will explore popular interior design styles such as Japandi and modern classic and discuss how Singaporeans harness the potential of their living spaces to create a comfortable, inviting, and functional environment.

1. Japandi Style:

Japandi style combines the simplicity and tranquillity of Japanese aesthetics with the modern minimalism of Scandinavian design. This fusion results in a harmonious blend of functionality and elegance. In HDB living rooms, Japandi-inspired interiors are characterized by natural materials such as light-coloured wood, bamboo accents, and clean lines. To create a cosy atmosphere, Singaporeans often incorporate shoji screens to provide privacy and soften the natural light streaming through their windows. Japandi style allows for a clutter-free space, promoting a sense of tranquillity and relaxation.

(Image Source: Aart Box Interior)

Pro Tips: Think Muji, think Zen and then imagine them getting married with Ikea. Use light wood, preferably those that are coated with a greyish tint to give it a modern touch. Make sure to avoid bulky furniture. In Japandi, scale is very important, make sure the space is airy and proportionate.

2. Modern Classic Style:

Embracing timeless elegance, the modern classic style offers Singaporeans a sophisticated and refined living room design. Characterized by its neutral colour palette, this style often includes luxurious materials like marble, velvet, and brass accents. Modern classic design encourages the use of statement pieces, such as chandeliers, large mirrors, and intricate furniture to add a touch of grandeur. Singaporeans aiming for a modern classic living room frequently combine contemporary furniture with ornate decorative elements to strike a delicate balance between opulence and simplicity.

(Image Source: Home Philosophy)

Pro Tips: Modern and Classic are 2 opposing styles, so it’s not difficult to figure out how to dress a space with these 2 looks, just contrast it. Find anything classical, like cornices or wainscot and dress it with modern furniture or light fixtures.

3. Modern Luxury (Modern Lux): 

Embracing elegance and sophistication, modern luxury interior design style offers a lavish and refined ambiance. This style showcases sleek lines, sumptuous materials, and a harmonious colour palette. The living hall is adorned with high-quality furniture pieces that boast clean, minimalist designs. Touches of opulence are incorporated through carefully selected accents such as crystal chandeliers, plush velvet upholstery, and intricate artwork. Every element is thoughtfully chosen to create an atmosphere of timeless beauty and indulgence.

(Image Source: Free Space Intent)

Pro Tips: Use exquisite and luxurious materials, such as leather, marble slabs, tactile wallpaper, veneer and marry it with unique pieces of furniture. Avoid faux leather or marble, as it will ultimately create a tacky and appear “trying too hard”.

4. Contemporary: 

The contemporary design style is all about breaking boundaries and embracing minimalism with a touch of artistic flair. Clean lines, open spaces, and simplicity characterize this style, giving the living hall a fresh and uncluttered feel. Neutral colour palettes are often combined with bold pops of colour or striking patterns to create visual interest. Furniture pieces with sleek silhouettes, unique shapes, and modern materials, such as metal and glass, are commonly found in contemporary living halls. The emphasis is on clean, functional, and futuristic design, reflecting a modern and dynamic lifestyle.

(Image Source: Honeycomb Design Studio)

Pro Tips: The best way to achieve this is to dress the home with minimalist built in furniture and dress the space with expressive and unique pieces of furniture to give it a trendy look! Try exploring the furniture boutiques found in Tan Boon Liat building for those one-of-a-kind pieces.

5. Industrial Look: 

Inspired by the raw and urban aesthetics of converted factories and warehouses, the industrial look infuses living halls with a cool and edgy vibe. Exposed brick walls, concrete floors, and open ceiling beams are often incorporated to showcase the space's industrial roots. Metal accents, salvaged wood, and weathered textures contribute to the overall industrial charm. The living hall is furnished with robust and utilitarian pieces, such as leather sofas, metal chairs, and reclaimed wooden tables. The combination of rough yet stylish elements create a unique and inviting atmosphere.

(Image Source: Kaizen Architecture)

Pro Tips: Use cement, use raw wood finishes like birch plywood and find old industrial racks that can be repurposed for your storage looks. Expose the ducts, pipes, and conduits to pronounce the look. If you need more inspiration, just head to a carpark, and observe all the details there.

6. Vintage/Retro:

 Bringing a sense of nostalgia and warmth to the living hall, the vintage/retro style celebrates design influences from the past decades. This style often combines timeless pieces from different eras to create an eclectic and charming look. Vintage furniture, classic patterns, and retro colour palettes evoke a sense of familiarity and comfort. Elements like mid-century modern armchairs, antique rugs, and retro wallpaper can be incorporated to achieve the desired vintage aesthetic. The living hall exudes character and personality, inviting both conversation and relaxation in a space that feels like a trip down memory lane.

(Image Source: Pith Interior)

Pro Tips: Visiting antique shops is key to this design. Often, a single piece of furniture or an artefact can form the narrative to the space. 

Multi-functional Living Spaces

Singaporeans are known for their resourcefulness in optimizing limited spaces, and HDB and Condo living rooms exemplify this attribute. In most circumstances, the living room is the largest part of the home and thoughtful designers and homeowners have found ways to optimise their spaces.

(Image Source: Kaizen Architecture)

Beyond being an area for relaxation, the living room often serves as an exercise space, a supper hangout, a mini home theatre, and a gathering spot for friends. To accommodate these multiple purposes, furniture is chosen strategically. Folding or compact exercise equipment is stored discreetly when not in use, allowing the living room to transform into a yoga studio or workout area.

Creating a Movie Theatre Experience:

To replicate the cinema experience without leaving the comfort of their homes, Singaporeans often transform their living rooms into mini theatres. Large flat-screen televisions, surround sound systems, and comfortable seating arrangements are common staples.

(Image Source: Interior Box Studio)

Additionally, dimmable lighting, blackout blinds, and the use of luxurious materials like velvet curtains can contribute to the cosy atmosphere. By incorporating technology and clever design choices, HDB living rooms can be effortlessly transformed into the perfect setting for movie nights with loved ones.

Hosting and Socializing:

Singaporeans take great pride in being gracious hosts, and the living room is where they create inviting spaces for entertaining guests. Flexible furniture arrangements that allow for easy conversation and interaction are popular for this purpose. Comfortable sofas and armchairs paired with stylish coffee tables and side tables create an inviting atmosphere for friends to gather and relax. Strategic storage solutions for board games, entertainment equipment, and serving utensils ensure that everything required for hosting is readily accessible while maintaining a clutter-free space.

(Image Source: Carpenters)

Multi-functional furniture: 

In land scarce Singapore, these innovative pieces are marriage savers as well! They serve dual purposes, maximizing the functionality of the living hall while minimizing clutter. For example, a sofa with built-in storage compartments or a coffee table that doubles as a workspace provides extra storage solutions without sacrificing style. By integrating these smart furniture choices, homeowners can maintain a clean and uncluttered environment while still having functional living spaces.

Go vertical:

Condo dwellers have a slight edge here as most condo and apartments in Singapore is around 2.9m whereas HDB flats are usually 2.6m before any false ceiling drop. Despite these slight differences, vertical space is often maximized to create storage opportunities. Wall-mounted shelves and cabinets are popular choices, allowing homeowners to take advantage of the available height without sacrificing floor space. These storage solutions not only provide ample room for displaying decorative items but also help organize belongings, keeping the living hall neat and tidy.

Mirror, mirror on the wall:

Another practical aspect is the effective use of mirrors. Mirrors are not only decorative elements but can also create an illusion of a larger space. Strategically placing mirrors on walls can reflect natural light, making the living hall appear brighter and more spacious. This simple trick opens the room and gives an airy feel, enhancing the overall design and creating a more inviting atmosphere.

(Image Source: Carpenters)

Beauty of built in furniture:

If there’s any reason why you hire an interior designer these days, it is to optimize space. Designers and homeowners are always ideating and discussing ways to incorporate built-in furniture and customized storage solutions all within a certain look and feel. Customized wardrobes, cabinets, and shelving units can be tailored to fit specific dimensions and utilize every nook and cranny effectively. These bespoke designs seamlessly blend into the living hall, offering storage solutions that are tailored to the homeowner's needs, while maintaining a cohesive and aesthetically pleasing interior.

In a nutshell:

Designing an HDB or Condo living room requires careful consideration of the diverse activities it accommodates. From the popular Japandi and modern classic design styles to the integration of multi-functionality, HDB and Condo dwellers in Singapore strive to maximize the potential of their living spaces. Whether it is chilling with family, exercising, hosting friends, or creating a cinematic experience, the living room plays a significant role in enhancing the quality of Singaporean lifestyles. While this article serves as a simple guide for references, it is still recommended that you speak to a professional to truly maximise and optimise the potential of your living hall.

Posted on 7th November 2023

Written by Astley Ng – the designerd.

SIXIDES Editorial Team


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