A Designer and Teacher's Practical Home in Canberra Crescent

December 19, 2018
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When two designers collaborate, you know you're in for a visual treat!

After being impressed by Space Atelier’s workmanship, graphic designer Rene and his wife, Christina - who is a teacher - decided to enlist the interior firm's help to bring their vision to life.

We sat down with Rene and got him to share about his pre-renovation budget planning strategy and more.

HDB Renovation in Canberra Crescent by Space Atelier

Before their renovation

Rene (R): I asked my friends for their designer’s quotations and worked out the itemised list to get a rough idea of the general charges for carpentry works. For example, when I saw the cost for their 9-feet built-in wardrobe, I was able to work out how much a wardrobe costs per foot run. With that knowledge in mind, I could then assess whether an interior designer’s services were within our budget or not.

This helped us to save a lot of time because we didn’t have to meet up with designers whose services were not within our budget.

HDB Renovation in Canberra Crescent by Space Atelier

On selecting Ray from Space Atelier as their designer

R: We had a few rounds of discussions with various interior designers and contractors, and found out that their cost was surprisingly quite similar. Since the quotations were generally the same, we then assessed the designers and contractors based on the chemistry we had with them and their workmanship.

Ray was the only designer who brought us to see the workmanship for his previous projects and we knew that we wanted to work with him as his workmanship was up to our standard.

HDB Renovation in Canberra Crescent by Space Atelier

On their requirements for their home

R: Our requirements for Ray were quite simple. We told him that we didn’t want to change the existing layout of the home and that we wanted our home to have a practical design that is easy to clean. We also told him that we wanted a half-wall in the living room to open up the space.

In terms of aesthetics, we wanted our home’s design to have a touch of Japanese influence to it.

HDB Renovation in Canberra Crescent by Space Atelier

About working with Ray

R: Ray was very upfront with us about the cost. There were no surprise costs and we were always clear about what he was charging us for.

As a designer, he is very experienced. He let us know what could and could not be done with our budget, and advised us on suitable materials. When it came to updating us on the progress of the renovation work, Ray was quite prompt even though he was busy managing a few projects concurrently.

HDB Renovation in Canberra Crescent by Space Atelier

About their furniture

R: We bought our dining bench and chair from Mula Mu. The furniture sold there is really affordable although it may not be of the highest quality. We also got some furniture like our coffee table from Taobao.

Ray recommended that we get our lighting in JB so we went there to get it. As for our track lights, we got that from a shop along Circuit Road.

HDB Renovation in Canberra Crescent by Space Atelier

Their biggest splurge

R: That will be the tiling for the whole house. We didn’t opt-in for the floor finishes when we bought the place so we had to do the tiles for the entire home – and tiles are not cheap at all!

About the workmanship

R: As a graphic designer, I really pay attention to the small details and there were areas that I felt could be improved. While they did the micro joints and skirting nicely, I felt like the workers could have done more when it came to concealing the visible screw holes. I know that some carpenters will use screw hole button plugs to cover up these screw holes but in the case of Space Atelier, the workers only used stickers after I requested that the holes be covered up. On a whole, the workmanship was okay.

HDB Renovation in Canberra Crescent by Space Atelier

Their advice for homeowners

R: You have to be proactive during the renovation and not leave everything to your designer. Although your designer might give you updates on the renovation progress, it’s still good for you to go down to your home to take a look at the renovation works for yourselves because sometimes designers get their updates from the contractors and might not be around themselves to oversee the renovation. It’s also good for you to observe how the workers are fixing up certain things like the installation of the air-conditioners.

HDB Renovation in Canberra Crescent by Space Atelier

Post-renovation thoughts

R: I really wanted a concrete for the countertop for our kitchen but after moving in and staying in our house for a few months, we realised the concrete countertop is not easy to maintain.

Because of the way concrete sets, hairline cracks began to develop at the edges of the counter as time passed. Just the other day we knocked on the edge accidentally and a part of it chipped off. I wouldn’t recommend homeowners to get a concrete countertop.

HDB Renovation in Canberra Crescent by Space Atelier
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