Nothing is more responsible that living in the smallest space you possibly can
When we tell people we live in a 2-bedroom HDB flat and we will be moving to a smaller 2-bedroom BTO flat, they are totally puzzled. Why would you want to move to a smaller apartment when your family size has doubled? Most people are aware of our back-story: that our triplets were unplanned and we had already paid the down-payment of our new flat so it was impossible to back-peddle on an important financial commitment we made 2 years before we had our triplets. But what many people did not realize was my husband and I went through a significant and dramatic change to our personal values when we welcomed triplets into our family. We literally felt squeezed out by the number of human beings in our household that we started embracing minimalism, though I cannot recall if this happened by chance or naturally. Maybe a little of both. So much of our decisions after triplets were driven by living cheaply, focusing on quality and experiences, and saving as much as 50-70% of my husband’s paychecks because we felt that life for us was just so darn unpredictable. Nobody understands unpredictability better than us. We have gone through a crazy amount of shit-hits-the-fan situations from unemployment to the universe selecting us to raise triplets.
I will not lie. It bothered me that we were going to live in this really tiny, cramped BTO apartment. It bothered me every night from year 2012 right up to the point we saw the flat for the first time in Jan 2017. I cried when I saw the kitchen: I told my husband what is HDB thinking! Where do they expect us to put the fridge! Even the contractors we hired agreed that HDB really cut corners with our BTO in terms of space. My husband sat me down one of those days I whined again about our small apartment. He said we only need space for beds to sleep on. We lived in a nice area and we should take advantage of the outdoors and cheap public facilities. He always knew how to make me feel better. My friends also echoed the same sentiments. They assured me I would feel better after the renovation since I have put so much thought and research into it for so long.
Our situation was so sad that when we approached IDs about our BTO, very few people responded with interest. I am talking like a total of two interior design companies. Everyone else did not bother getting back to me at all. One company offered a really cheap quotation but would not take into consideration my needs. The other company, Dyel Design, offered something slightly above my budget but was really considerate of my needs. I went with the latter because it was very important to me that the ID has an appreciation of my family’s unique circumstances. That they knew how to enlarge small spaces and give me the minimalist home of my dreams. It was a VERY tall order. In the end Dyel Design really did an amazing job. I think a big part of it was that Ryan, the designer just instinctively understood my taste. When it came to choosing schemes, colors and laminates, he would narrow down the selection to just 2-3 choices most of the time and that was so much easier to choose than to go through whole catalogues of choices.
I think an unexpected part of living in such a small apartment is the cleaning. Its very quick. Our water and electric bills are also quite low and for at least 5 months every year, we get government rebates and have zero bills or only pay half our bills because its a 3-room flat. I also outfitted the apartment with all the time-saving appliances I could fit in like dryers, dishwashers and a robot-vacuum while at the same time choosing furnishing that were relevant. Generally there is almost no décor and we kept the general look of the place as basic as possible because our intention was to keep the space functional, spacious and comfortable. Instead we focused our spaces on utility and communal living ie., spaces where we can bond and have meaningful interactions. I also made sure my four daughters were able to access the things they need to encourage them to be more responsible over their routine and not depend on me for every little thing. We enjoy the location precisely because its in between two train lines, both within walkable distance so we could rely on reliable public transport and cut down on taxis. These train lines would also help my kids get to school on their own one day. I have felt extreme calm since moving in – finally a living space that suits us and cuts down on day-to-day stresses.
To see photos of our home, you can visit my Instagram.