Be it a choice that is the source of eternal regret or relief, most homeowners have that one renovation decision that they still look back upon to this day. For those who have just gotten the keys to their new forever home, an invaluable renovation tip from these 11 Singaporeans who have already been through the ups and downs of renovations may just be the thing they need to make the most out of their own interior design journey.
Find an interior designer with whom you can see eye-to-eye
Image credit: American Home Shield
“When you’re looking for an interior designer to work with, you have to ensure that both of you remain on the same wavelength. If you and your interior designer can’t be on the same page, it can oftentimes be stressful to communicate ideas with each other.
It is also important to know exactly what you want instead of going along with the interior designer’s suggestions. You might end up disliking the renovation only after its completion and have to redo things. This increases the cost and time spent on refurbishments.”
En Hui, 45, Stay-at-home mother
Doing everything yourself
An open-concept flat.
Image credit: Sweeten
“You know yourself best – I find that doing everything myself allows for greater control over the renovations. By deciding everything by myself, everything will fall perfectly in line with my tastes. This is especially so as I have a very particular preference for interior design.
I am really selective when it comes to my renovations and even go to various shops to see the swatches of fabric in person, then bring them home to test the colours against my home’s aesthetic. I also prefer open concepts as it allows my home to look more spacious. As a result, I knock down whatever walls I can.
The only person that I consult would be a feng shui master, but that’s only if I feel that the house came in a relatively “bad” condition.”
Cynthia, 48, Stay-at-home mother
Practicality trumps aesthetics
A simple bedroom.
Image credit: Kukun
“I am someone who prioritises practicality over fanciful or artsy designs. I personally feel that one should stick to their budget instead of overspending on aesthetics.
This is because interior design trends are constantly changing, and trying to keep up with them is like pouring money into a bottomless pit. I believe that it is more important to choose furniture and design spaces that suit your everyday needs. You could even plan ahead, such as preparing furniture suitable for children that you may have in the future.
You should also consider the resale value of the house before making any significant changes. For example, I suggest abstaining from knocking down walls to merge rooms. This may deter future potential buyers as it may mean more remodelling work for them, should they purchase the property.”
Georgine, 45, Stay-at-home mother
Image credit: @foongfamilyflat
“After removing my rose-tinted glasses, I’ve been able to pick up on things that I wish I’d done during my renovation.
Choosing to forego practicality over decor, I built wide, open shelves in the bathroom, which means that things topple over and fall out easily.
Another problem I’ve encountered is that my large sinks get dirty really quickly. This is because the shape of the bowl is flat, so it collects dirt more easily instead of being washed down. The drainage‘s rim also keeps getting pink buildup.
In addition, I regret choosing a hinged door for the bathroom as it takes up a lot of space. As a result, we can’t have a closed shower area.”
@ange.blogspot on Lemon8
Custom-built items aren’t as good as they seem
A built-in wardrobe.
Image credit: Obsessed4interiors
“If there’s one thing that I learnt from my renovation, it’s that one should have less built-in furniture.
This allows your children to redecorate their rooms easily in the future. In addition, it gives homeowners more flexibility to change up the look of their home whenever they’d like.
This also makes it easier to resell your property in the future. You need not seal up holes and tear down permanent fixtures before putting up your property for sale, which allows for easier negotiation with future homeowners.”
Amelia, 40, Stay-at-home mother
An example of a built-in desk.
Image credit: Dwell
“You should consider buying standalone furniture pieces instead of getting your interior designer to build custom-made items such as consoles, shelves, and study tables.
This gives you a lot more flexibility. For example, you could shift a desk around if you find the current position suboptimal. However, with a built-in desk, you can forget about changing your room’s layout. Furthermore, on average, workmanship is very poor for the built-to-measure furniture that Singapore contractors supply.”
Plan every detail of the layout ahead of time
Image for illustration only.
Image credit: Victorian Plumbing
“I have lots of advice after living in my house for a few years. For instance, you should plan where the wifi router goes before placing furniture around it.
For the kitchen, get under counter drawers in the kitchen instead of shelves. There should be drawers for pots, pans, pantry items, as well as a pull-out trash can under the sink. This reduces the need to stoop down to look for things in the back of the cupboard. Additionally, don’t place your rice cooker near your laminate cupboards where the steam will warp its glue.
For the toilet, get a toilet bowl that sits flush against the wall so that you don’t have to clean behind it. Have a water hose next to the toilet for power washing, bathroom cleaning, and to use as a bidet.”
u/sgavatarbender on Reddit
Image credit: @momorie
“I have some advice about electrical points planning that might help others avoid the same mistake.
We only realised how inconvenient our electrical points were after moving in. We did not install an electrical point anywhere near our toilets or mirrors, so styling our hair was especially tough when we had to use a hair dryer or hair styler. As a result, we had to make do with the existing sockets and install a tiny mirror near it.
I highly suggest thinking through the placement of electrical points instead of relying on your electrician or interior designer for planning. This allows you to tailor the placements to your daily needs.
Take some time to envision your daily routine in your new home and list down what you’ll need.”
@momorie on Lemon8
A KompacPlus tabletop.
Image credit: kompacplus
“You should plan your kitchen space according to your needs. If you cook a lot, oil gets everywhere. I have a black galaxy granite countertop that has to be cleaned and shined all the time. In retrospect, I should’ve gotten KompacPlus instead.
I also feel that getting non-glossy laminate for your cabinets is better as it’s easier to maintain. Otherwise, there will be water stains everywhere”
Get money-saving advice
Image credit: @gohinghomee
“To save money on renovation, we decided to do minimal carpentry work and buy loose furniture off the shelves instead. This allowed us to save on costs while making it easier to change our interior design in the future.
We also used a single paint colour for the entire house, which further helped us save on costs. I prefer practicality over brands for items, which is also seen in things such as our spice rack and soft-closing hinges.
Furthermore, I suggest overlaying vinyl flooring instead of hacking tiles, minimising changes in house layout, and setting aside additional funds for unseen circumstances. Most of all, just enjoy the process.”
@gohinghomee on Lemon8
Image credit: @mentaikopeanuts
“As someone who has tried their best to cut down on their BTO renovation costs, I’d suggest keeping built-in carpentry minimal as it may contribute to a huge part of your renovation spending.
A simple L-shaped wardrobe can cost up to thousands of dollars. We only did custom carpentry for the kitchen cabinets and wardrobe to cut down on costs. After which, we got our loose furniture from IKEA and Taobao.
You should also keep BTO default fixtures. We kept the drying rack, main door, gate, room doors, and toilet bowls provided by HDB. This saved us a lot of replacement costs. While an electric drying rack and nicer toilet bowls may be tempting, the default fixtures do just fine, especially after you get used to them.
Glasswork should also be kept to a minimum. While it may make your home look posh, it is as expensive as it looks. We decided to hack down walls to create an office area, but leave it fully open instead of installing glass panels.
I also advise using vinyl for flooring instead of tiles. We used just one type of vinyl to reduce costs.”
@mentaikopeanuts on Lemon8
Ultimate renovation advice from Singaporean homeowners
We hope that some of these tips have been a help in your future renovation decision-making process. After all, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, and the advice from seasoned Singaporean homeowners may just prevent any decisions you may regret in the future while in pursuit of your perfect home.
Responses have been edited for clarity and length.
Read more of our renovation articles here:
- Singaporean Renovation Regrets
- How Do You Save Thousands Of Dollars On Renovation?
- 7 Things To Look Out For When Signing A Renovation Contract
Cover image adapted from: kompacplus, Dwell
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