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How to Design Your HDB flat for Hosting and Entertaining, Singapore Style

Hosting and entertaining at home may be universal activities, but hosting and entertaining in an HDB flat is a uniquely Singapore undertaking in itself. There’s the issue of space (how to fit 15 people comfortably in under 90 square metres of space?), and then there’s the other problem of making sure your bedrooms don’t get invaded by your kaypoh relatives.

With the holiday season just around the corner, we thought to offer a few design and renovation solutions to create that perfect HDB flat for that dinner party. Read the following tips if you want to design an entertaining-friendly home:


1. Go for open concept with lots of breakout spaces

Here’s the obvious solution: go open plan in your living room and dining room areas. The absence of walls and dividers will mean you can fit in more people, plus it makes your flat seem a lot less claustrophobic when you do have more people over.

With no barriers, your home appears more open and welcoming, allowing your guests to mingle and wander around freely.

Design: The Scientist

As people tend to congregate in smaller groups than in one large group, you’ll want to make sure your open space has plenty of breakout zones. They could take the form of a couple of chairs surrounding a side table, a home bar area with bar stools or even a casual corner decked out in beanbags. The importance of breakout areas is that they prevent overcrowding in one particular spot. Make your breakout zones as comfortable and conducive for conversations as possible.

In this entertaining-centred home, the dining area and dry kitchen take centre stage. The living room was moved to an extra bedroom that was converted. You see plenty of breakout areas in the communal space.

Design: The 80’s Studio


2. Consider a divider for your kitchen

Okay, so we’ve talked about going open concept for the living and dining area. But your kitchen should come with a divider that can be opened when you want to mingle with guests while you’re whipping up tapas or drinks, and closed when you’re cooking curry and don’t want visitors to be smothered by the rich aromas of that spiced dish.

A black-framed glass divider keeps this kitchen/dining space flexible. Keep it open to extend the dining table and keep it closed when a heavy cooking session is underway.

Design: Icon Interior Design

Our HDB flats aren’t known for their exceptional ventilation and since most of us do Asian style cooking, you’ll want to keep the fumes and smells contained rather than have them linger on your dinner party’s evening wear. Plus, if you’re particularly harried when you cook, a closed-off kitchen will signal to your visitors that you don’t want to be disturbed when you’re whipping up a storm. Bonus: a divider can also hide the kitchen mess until you’re ready to deal with it after the party.

3. Create multipurpose zones

With us already struggling for space in an HDB flat, creating a home for the sole purpose of entertaining and hosting would seem like an indulgence. The solution? Multipurpose zones that make the most of your limited square footage. Consider a study that can be converted into a dedicated home bar at a moment’s notice, a walk-in wardrobe that can be transformed into a guest room or a pantry area that hides your dining set.

This study area in the living room doubles as a home bar when guests come over, with custom-built open shelves that provide the perfect storage room for the homeowner’s collection of wines.

Design: UNO Interior

A portion of this closet can be pulled down to reveal a guest bed.

Design: Rezt & Relax Interior

A folded dining table can be extended from underneath the pantry area. Chairs are stacked neatly to the side when not in use.

Design: Chapter B


4. Don’t discount the amount of seating you need

Your guests cannot be standing all day, so make sure there are enough seats for everybody. But with a small HDB apartment, you don’t want to clog your space with too many chairs so have some of them do double duty. For instance, a foot stool can double as an extra chair, an ottoman can hide inner storage, and an entryway bench can work as a bench at the dining table when you have guests over.

A cushioned bay window with storage underneath provides extra seating room.

Design: Hello Embryo

Consider also getting stackable stools that can be stowed away neatly without taking up too much space. Or chairs that can be squirrelled underneath a tall console when the party is over.


5. Design for both casual and formal dining

There are occasions when you like hosting more formal dinners but there are instances where you prefer doing a casual get-together, so let your home design accommodate both.

This kitchen island works for both casual and formal parties.

Design: Versaform

In terms of dining, you might want a kitchen island for more casual dinners and a proper dining set for sit-down meals. But if you’re short on space, consider combining your island and dining table together or even use your island as a formal dining table by having a reasonable amount of overhang (at least 25-30cm) for knee room.

The dining table joins together with the kitchen island to save space.

Design: Ascend Designs


6. Bathroom breaks are real

Besides thinking about the communal areas in your HDB flat, think also about the common bathroom for your guests. How you design your common bathroom can reflect who you are as a host, and it’s especially important if you’re hosting some of your guests overnight.

Throw in more than the essentials for a luxe bathroom experience.

Design: Spire id

Of paramount importance, make sure the bathroom is kept clean and dry constantly. An exhaust fan will help. Have proper storage to stow away extra bathroom essentials that your visitors might want to use. Open storage works best so they can see at a glance where everything is and don’t have to spend the next few minutes opening up cupboards. Ensure there’s enough room on the vanity counter for them to store their own essentials. Finally, throw in that extra hand towel, invest in Aesop hand washing liquids and get in those scents for that luxe hotel en-suite experience.

If you have guests staying over, a vanity counter with space gives them room to display their own bathroom essentials.

Design: DB Studio


7. Have plenty of storage space for entertaining essentials

When you entertain often, you tend to amass a few entertaining essentials that you will eventually need room for. They can be served wares like trays, platters and carafes, dining table linens, mood decoration items or extra pillows and blankets. So when designing your HDB flat for hosting and entertaining, always incorporate more hidden storage to keep everything out of sight and clutter-free.

The handsome wood cabinets by the side of the long dining table display the homeowner’s whisky collection on the open shelves and other entertaining essentials within the closed cupboards.

Design: Reimage Decor

This open concept HDB flat went with an ultra-long kitchen area, all the better to custom build shelves for storage.

Design: Artistroom


8. Close off your private spaces

Instead of going to the extent of locking your bedroom door, you might want to opt for a softer approach to make it clear to your guests that you don’t like them meandering around the private spaces of your home. A door that closes off the corridor into the entrances of your bedrooms could be a good way to let your visitors know you don’t want them nosing about. Make it a hidden door if you want to make it more covert and hard to find. The additional door will also help to keep your air-conditioning cool within the communal spaces.

A barn-style door closes off the bedroom areas from the rest of the communal spaces.

Design: The 80’s Studio


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