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How To Turn Your HDB Flat into a Loft Style Apartment (no special approval needed)

The appeal of living in a loft-like space reminiscent of the loft apartments in SoHo, New York lies mainly in the openness, the bright, expansive space and the high ceilings. For HDB dwellers, that might seem like a pipe dream–unless you live in a maisonette, of course. But if you don’t, here are some design tips to help get your flat looking (and feeling) as close to a loft style apartment as possible, all without having to write in to HDB for special approval.

1. Devise an open plan

Loft apartments have large, open spaces. So you might want to think about hacking some walls in your HDB flat – non-structural ones, of course. Think open kitchens that lead into the living and dining rooms. Open spaces are great for entertaining as they facilitate traffic and allow your guests to move around with ease, but they are also great for creating the appearance of a bigger space. Plus, they allow for ventilation and light to reach even the darkest corners of your home.

Design: Linear Space Concepts

Design: Dezzo


2. Don’t block out the natural sun

You will want plenty of light in your loft apartment. So don’t go covering your windows with heavyset curtains or black-out drapes, which not only block out light but also feel dreary. Instead, let in plenty of daylight by leaving your windows bare. If you need privacy, consider blinds that better fit in with the loft aesthetic. Solar films from brands like 3M can also cut on the unwanted UV glare without sacrificing your view and light.


Design: UNO Interior


3. Do up brick walls

Many of New York’s true lofts were actually repurposed and converted from commercial or factory spaces, which is why their original features – like brick walls – are often retained and juxtaposed alongside newer features.

If you’re looking to turn your flat into a loft, having brick walls or an exposed brick accent wall – the more distressed it looks the better – will get you halfway there. You will want it to look more realistic so opt for stucco or CraftStone rather than wallpaper.

Design: The Association

Design: Fuse Concept

Design: M3 Studio


4. Make your ceiling beams noticeable

Like brick walls, the obtrusive and exposed ceiling beams in many of the loft apartments are a tribute to the past. You can create this stripped-back loft style aesthetic in your HDB flat by laying out ceiling beams across your ceiling. However, if you’re worried about extra ceiling structures making your room appear shorter, a good alternative would be painting your existing structural beams to make them stand out in your open space.


Design: The Local Inn.terior

loft style ceiling beams

Design: Fuse Concept

Design: DistinctIdentity


5. Zone areas in your home with unobtrusive dividers

With the absence of internal walls thanks to the penchant for open spaces, loft apartments tend to feature temporal and unrestrictive interior partitions to create different zones in the space. Our favourite loft look uses the black-framed glass divider, an ultra-chic design perfect for keeping the space open and bright while still providing privacy when necessary. You can also opt for curtain dividers to separate your bedroom from the rest of your communal spaces.

Design: The Scientist

Design: DistinctIdentity


6. Keep the rest of your walls in neutral shades

The rest of your walls should be kept in light, neutral shades for a chic, urban loft aesthetic. If cement screed for your walls isn’t an option, we recommend whitewashing them or swathing them in an anonymous grey. Not only will a light colour scheme help to make your space appear bigger and more open, it will also draw attention to the structural elements in your loft style home.

Design: Museum Homes

Design: Versaform


7. Cement screed or hardwood flooring, but probably get the look-alikes!

While cement screed and hardwood are great options for flooring if you’re looking to recreate the loft style, both aren’t the best materials for a high-traffic surface like the floor since cement screed and hardwood surfaces are prone to dents and scratches. Instead, opt for look-alike laminates or tiles that come with all the raw appeal minus all the upkeep and fuss.

Design: Three-d Conceptwerke



8. Mezzanine levels not allowed? Fake it with a platform

Loft apartments tend to have an extra mezzanine level in order to extend limited floor space and take advantage of the taller ceilings. An extra mezzanine level is usually not permitted in an HDB flat. So rather than hanker after the impossible or worse, constructing an illegal structure that is probably a safety hazard, do up a totally legal platform to give the sense of an extra level within your loft-like home.

Design: Linear Space Concepts

There are some rather strict HDB rules when it comes to platforms you should be aware of. One, you aren’t allowed to build storage at the void between the platform surface and the floor. And two, you can’t build it too high. The height between the platform and the ceiling should be at least 2.4 metres.


9. Mix and match furniture eras and styles

The great thing about the loft style is how casual it is, which translates to the choice of furniture in a loft apartment as well. Loft furniture tends to be a mix of designs and styles with contemporary leanings. There aren’t any steadfast rules!

Design: Three-D Conceptwerke

In lofts, new elements are often created alongside old architectural structures. In a similar vein, you can position a classic chesterfield sofa alongside more contemporary pieces in your flat. Or pair different furniture made from different materials together, like wooden dining chairs with a glass dining table for instance. The key to making it work is to have a few choice pieces that really exude character, while keeping the rest timeless. But more importantly, go for what you love!

Design: Three-D Conceptwerke


10. Decorate the space with a large area rug

Another way to define spaces in an expansive loft space is by using area rugs. Not only do they make an eye-catching statement, it also helps to allay the austerity and rawness, characteristic of a loft apartment. We like ones that have bold and snazzy patterns that help to enliven a neutral-hued space, or distressed ones that give your apartment extra character.

Design: DistinctIdentity

Design: 0932 Design Consultants


11. Frame up art pieces

Loft style apartments have plenty of large, uninterrupted walls – all the better to dress them up with art! While wall space tends to be more limited in an HDB flat, you can still work them in. Instead of going for a full gallery wall that can look cluttered if not done properly, go for a few dramatic pieces that take centre stage amidst the rest of your furnishings.

Design: Free Space Intent

Design: Artistroom


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