Gone are the days when home transformations require a 6-figure reno budget. After Audrey Lim bought her 1-bedroom condo back in 2022, she was determined to not splurge on a makeover for her 431sqft apartment. Instead, she relied on simple DIY projects and small home improvements to fill the empty space with bibs and bobs to make it home.
The 32-year-old influencer and former creative director has been documenting her home and living journey since she moved into the space at the start of this year. And with the finishing touches finally in place, here’s a closer look at how she pulled off a small home transformation without any renovations.
Living on her own for the first time
Before we delve into Audrey’s renovation process, we got to know a bit more about how she first got the keys to her condo. Now that she’s in her 30s, she wanted a proper space to work from home and finally realise her dreams of living on her own.
“I never had the opportunity to rent a place, go for overseas exchanges or work abroad,” Audrey said. “So this is actually my first time living on my own. and I was thinking: ‘If not now, when?’”
She spent over 2 years looking at listings online before shortlisting 4 units that she viewed across 2 weekends in 2022.
Audrey also knew she didn’t have much time as the market was moving quickly, with one unit she saw being sold within an hour of her viewing. “It was an eye-opening experience for me, and there wasn’t much time to window shop per se,” she added. “I knew that I would have to move fast and make swift decisions if I liked something.”
She finally decided on this studio apartment in that sports an open-concept layout and lots of natural light for her to create content at home. “The lack of walls between the bedroom and living area made it feel open and inviting,” Audrey said.
But before she could get started properly, she had to make some edits to the apartment. “I could already see all the possibilities with the empty space, and how I would potentially transform it.”
Chose not to do any major renovation works
Audrey had 2 things working for her when she moved into her new home. For starters, she picked out a unit with floors that she liked and they were in nearly perfect condition. The walls were also already painted by the previous tenant so that was one less thing to worry about. With a base layer that she was happy with, she felt that she didn’t have to worry about making any major changes and decided to not do any major renovations at all.
Instead, she refreshed the existing carpentry and her doors with wallpaper from Wallhub. “I didn’t want to tear down any built-in cabinets as the development was less than a year old when I bought my unit,” Audrey explained.
Image credit: Audrey Lim
So the surfaces of the shoe cabinet, kitchen cabinets, wardrobe, bedroom wall, and study room were given a facelift with new wallpaper to make the place feel like hers.
In total, she spent around $8,000 on giving her surfaces a refresh.
Audrey also had Ziptrak installed on the balcony of her home to ensure her Ragamuffin, Brownie, does not succumb to his urges to explore the great outdoors.
All other changes to the house were light touchups to help spruce up the space. For example, Audrey got new ceiling lights installed, changed her kitchen tap, and had floor-to-ceiling curtains draped across all her windows.
Image credit: Audrey Lim
She also tried her hand at some mini DIY projects from decorating her balcony and installing a bidet spray in her bathroom.
Tips for those who want to live on their own
Audrey has been planning her solo living era for a long time, and it’s something she advised those who want to start living on their own to do early. She lived within her means for years, but she also said that frugality doesn’t have to be boring. “I cooked a lot while saving up for my first home, and started to get creative with cost-efficient meals,” she said.
But some sacrifices were made, mainly Starbucks and bubble tea, which Audrey did not touch for 2 years while saving. “It was a daily internal debate between ‘needs and wants’,” she shared.
Audrey also advises future solo homeowners to engage a property agent to help with all the nitty gritty. “He went for all the viewings with me, calculated my budget, came up with an Excel sheet with all the apartments within my budget, and met up with the lawyer for the final paperwork,” she said about how her property agent made the housebuying process smoother.
“Most importantly, embrace every part of the steep learning curve!”
Transforming a condo without renovating
After buying a house, the next logical step is usually to kickstart the renovation process. But influencer and content creator Audrey Lim decided to skip that to save money and get right into styling her home by herself the moment she got her keys. 4 months and a whole lot of sweat later, her cosy apartment is now hers to call home.
Follow Audrey Lim on Instagram at @tippytoess.
Check out other home transformations:
- Styling a bachelorette pad with no reno
- Renovating a condo to look like a Parisian home
- This colonial-styled HDB is inspired by Raffles Hotel
Photography by Brad Lee.
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