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How To Make Your HDB Look Expensive, When You’re Actually On A Budget

16 February 2023 | BY

You don’t need to break the bank just to make your HDB look fancy.

How To Make Your HDB Look Expensive, When You’re Actually On A Budget

We’ve seen a flurry of multi-million dollar HDB sales in recent months, and with rising property prices across the board, you too may have dropped most of your budget on your house alone, leaving you with a smaller budget for reno and decor.  While it may seem impossible to pull off an expensive HDB design on a budget, it’s actually doable with a bit of creativity and visual trickery. Here are some hacks you can use to make your humble abode look high-SES on a low-SES budget. 

1. Substitute marble with quartz

expensive hdb on a budget
Image credit: Lian Hin

If there’s anything that screams luxe, it’s marble countertops. That said, they do come with painfully heavy price tags.

For a more affordable option, look towards quartz, which is capable of achieving the same look as marble. Depending on factors such as thickness, quality, and choice of supplier, quartz countertops can roughly $90 per foot run, which makes it a more budget-friendly option. 

But that’s not all – besides being more affordable, quartz is also a more durable and stain-resistant material compared to marble, and does not get scratched or stained as easily. This also makes quartz countertops a practical choice if you have young kids in the house, or if you’re a messy cook. 

When it comes to quartz suppliers, look no further than places such as Aurastone and Caesarstone, which both offer a wide variety of quartz countertops from different brands, and are known for their quality and excellent testimonials. 

2. Use faux leather to create a posh look

expensive hdb on a budgetImage credit: Pinterest, Pinterest

Leather is a quintessential symbol of wealth and luxury, but only the Crazy Rich Asians among us can afford to drop thousands for an authentic leather sofa on a whim. Thankfully, we can always fake it till we make it, thanks to the quality faux options out there. 

expensive hdb on a budget
The Vita Chesterfield Tufted Faux Leather Sofa from Houzz.
Image credit: Houzz

For example, the Vita Chesterfield from Houzz comes with all the hallmarks of a fancy leather sofa – a warm cognac brown hue, exquisitely carved wooden legs, and detailed tufts on its surface. The catch is that it’s made of faux leather and only costs $725. In other words, it’s significantly cheaper than the real deal, which typically have price tags that run into the thousands.

Also, faux leather sofas are generally a lot easier to maintain than their genuine counterparts. While genuine leather sofas require specialised leather cleaning kits and frequent conditioning to maintain their lustre, faux leather sofas only need to be wiped down with a soft cloth to prevent stains and damage to the material. 

3. Add curated art to make a statement

expensive hdb on a budget
Image credit: Pinterest

Oftentimes, when new homeowners set out to add a personal touch to their homes with decor, they overlook the walls. As they are an integral part of the house and take up more visual space than you’d think, empty walls can make a house look lifeless and monotonous.

For a more sophisticated look, try putting up art pieces that help add flair and colour to a plain wall. And if you choose the right pieces, they can even act as a good conversation starter when you have friends or family over. Places like FortyTwo and Etsy are great places to check out if you’re looking for some artwork to spruce up a wall. 

While it may sound tempting to hang up all your newly purchased artworks at once, it is important to consider the spacing and overall layout of the pieces too. Otherwise, your formerly empty walls may end up looking cluttered in an instant.

4. Get secondhand expensive furniture

expensive hdb on a budget
Image credit: @hocksiong on Instagram

New furniture, especially if you’re trying to furnish an empty BTO flat, can rack up thousands of dollars quickly, which can be a hassle if you’re trying to decorate on a budget. 

IKEA is a tried and true option to source for relatively cheap furniture, but the adventurous folks amongst us may want to try giving secondhand furniture a whirl instead. Not only does secondhand furniture save you money, but preloved items can also help add some character in your house. 

Those who prefer online shopping can start by checking out the listings on Carousell – you’d be surprised by the number of quality pieces of furniture that go for cheap. 

The platform is popular with expats who have to move away from Singapore on short notice, hence they tend to let go of these pieces at lower-than-market rates. For example, a new TULLSTA chair from IKEA retails at $249, but Carousell has a listing of a used version for only $85.

Alternatively, head down to a secondhand furniture shop, where you can pick up antique items that are hard to be found elsewhere. Hock Siong offers a range of unique curios and refurbished vintage furniture, while others such as Lorgan’s The Retro Store carry a collection of genuine mid-century modern pieces.

5. Invest in architectural or luxe lighting

expensive hdb on a budget
Image credit: Cozymatic, Unsplash

Lighting can make or break the ambience. Their primary function may be simple, but they work wonders to dictate and change the vibes of your home, and should not be underestimated.

For a more upscale look, trade in plain lights for more options such as art deco lighting, pendants, architectural lighting, or even industrial-type lamps. 

These lights come in numerous shapes and sizes, and can be affordable if you know where to look. Horizon Lighting offers Nordic-style pendant lights for just $129, which is both easy on the wallet and the eyes. Alternatively, opt for Cozymatic’s Tania Modern Circular Chandelier, which is a unique set of looping lights that retail at $329.

6. Consider multifunctional furniture for a sleek look

expensive hdb on a budget
Image Credit: Josiah Neo

Clutter is never welcome in a home. Even if you’re a maximalist, it’s important to keep your place clutter-free and fill it with thoughtful, curated knick-knacks instead. In addition, HDB apartments aren’t exactly the roomiest, hence it’s important to maximise storage space wherever possible, and to think of ways to visually hide clutter.

To start off, invest in sleek furniture that come with hidden storage spaces or can be extended when needed. Bo Concept’s Granada dining table comes with a sleek and round walnut surface, as well as a pull-up lever that extends it into a larger oval shape to accommodate more guests or items. 

7. Use metallic or royal colours 

expensive hdb on a budget
Image credit: Pinterest

Singaporean homes are notorious for being bland, especially where colour is concerned. The walls of your house can dictate the entire ambience and mood of the place, and having endless stretches of white walls can make a home look empty and boring if they aren’t decorated – see point #3.

To make your walls truly pop with an elegant flair, go bold with paint colours such as gold, silver, deep navy, and emerald green. These colours are commonly associated with opulence, and can be paired with neutrals such as black, white, and grey to create a luxe, yet homely look.

Don’t worry if you aren’t confident in your wall-painting skills. Instead, hit up professional painters such as SG Painting Service, which offers budget options and fast completion. If you prefer doing more planning ahead before painting, a good option would be Nippon Paint, which offers preview services and employs trained professionals for the best results.

Getting an expensive HDB design on a budget

General living expenses and prices may have gone up recently, but it is not impossible to achieve hotel or luxury resort vibes on a tight budget. Instead, try getting savvy and creative with the way you decorate or renovate your home, and you may be handsomely rewarded for your efforts.

Check out more articles on decorating smart:

Cover image adapted from: Pinterest, Pinterest

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