Zubir Said’s Old Home Transformed Into Chic Pad With Old-World Charm, Is Fitting Tribute To An Icon

Revamp Of National Anthem Composer’s Old Home Preserves Nostalgic Style With Modern Touches

With centuries of history, Singapore has quite a few iconic buildings and homes that are imbued with historical significance.

For the benefit of younger generations, they should be preserved as much as possible.

One of them is the apartment of Zubir Said — the composer of our beloved “Majulah Singapura” anthem.


While the musician has passed away, the latest renovation of his abode at Joo Chiat Place retains its old-world charm, ensuring his memory lives on.

Zubir Said lived there for more than 3 decades

The renowned composer moved into his apartment in the 1950s, and continued to live there until his passing in 1987.

Prior to the renovation, his humble abode had old-school style lighting and mid-century furniture.


Upon entering the home, our parents and grandparents would probably be reminded of their childhood because of the living room’s nostalgic style.



Interior design review website Qanvast spoke with Matthew, the current owner of the apartment, on his ambitious revamp of the apartment, done by Free Space Intent interior design agency.

Modern living room with rustic charm

Fortunately, the renovation was able to combine the older aesthetic with modern touches.

The arrangement in the living room was maintained closely to the original.

We can even imagine Zubir Said entertaining guests and mingling with friends in this cozy setting.


However, there are now glass panes in the new doors, to allow sunlight to brighten up the room.


Interestingly, the grilled metal windows with latches, of a similar design to the doors, remind us of those of yesteryear.

Shelves filled with antiques

A closer inspection reveals that the seating areas and shelves are composed of properly maintained antiques.


You’ll also find aged miniature figurines and photographs on display.


These small touches makes it seem like the composer still resides here.

Modest study room

Besides our national anthem, Zubir Said composed around 1,500 songs, with some featured in Malay films.

The magic may have happened in this study room with modest desks and shelves.


The desk directly faces the window, which enables natural light to seep through the workspace.

For a dose of inspiration, he may have looked outside to watch locals passing by.


Music room for teaching

As a further tribute, the music room was transformed into a second study, featuring posters and photos of the composer.

According to Matthew, this is the room where Zubir Said taught music lessons.


Just like his past students, we would hope his artistic genius would rub off on us if we spent an afternoon there.

Open kitchen concept

Long before an open kitchen layout was a trend, Zubir Said seemed to have adopted it in his dining area and kitchen.

A sleek mid-century Scandinavian dining table is located in the same line as the kitchen island.


Here, mothers can catch up with one another and simultaneously prepare delicious lunches and dinners.


If you’re bringing a few friends over, you can easily engage in conversation while whipping up a couple of cocktails or wines.


Classic style of master bedroom & bathroom

Moving on to the master bedroom, you’ll find that it has a classic design that never goes out of style.

Residents can rest in a massive poster bed framed by wooden antiques with bronze hues.


A thin overlay of geometric wood flooring was applied to the floor., which complements the patterned carpet and plain white walls.


Meanwhile, the bathroom keeps it simple with all-white tiles, toilets, and cabinets.

The overhead windows provide ample lighting to make spotless areas glow.


Combining the old and the new

Most home renovations adopt a modern design that depart from the vintage interior of previous owners.

This inspiring project, however, proves you can simultaneously modernise a place yet maintain its old-world charm with a bit of creativity, seamlessly combining old and new styles to get the best of both worlds.

We hope this virtual tour has inspired fans of this aesthetic. Check out Free Space Intent interior design agency’s website or view their Qanvast page to see their past and future creations.

Have news you must share? Get in touch with us via email at

Featured images adapted from Free Space Intent and Qanvast.

Monique Danao

When Monique's not writing, you'll find her enjoying funky food, listening to music and playing RPGs.

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