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A Thoughtfully Designed Home That Grows with the Occupants

The built-ins were all planned out carefully to ensure maximum utilisation for the family of five.

When homeowner Shi Qi spoke about having a home that would grow with her family, she didn't mean having a condo flat with ever-expanding square footage. Rather, what she was looking for was a place that could cater to its occupants' changing needs across time.

“Space and style became more of a concern for us as the family expanded in size over the years. The old design was Scandinavian and quite minimalist, which made it tough to find space for newly acquired paraphernalia,” shared Shi Qi. She tried fixing that by “getting random pieces of storage furniture from various places to stash them away”, however, that only gave the home “a very mismatched and untidy look.”

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To resolve the issue, they decided to work with Liid Studio’s founder and interior designer Hwee Li. Here’s how the 9-year-old 3-bedder condominium was reconfigured for maximum storage utilisation in a manner that was stylish, yet practical.

About themselves

Shi Qi (SQ): Hi, my name is Shi Qi and I live with my husband plus our three young kids – two girls and a boy, ages 8, 6, and 4.

About the home

SQ: We bought this house when we first got married. While we did factor in potential family growth at the point of purchase, we still ran into storage issues quite early on, as keeping the children’s toys plus bulky items proved to be a challenge in our then minimalist-styled home.

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The home’s layout, post-renovation.

We like the fact that everything has its own rightful storage post-renovation. The house looks more spacious, and there are ample nooks and crannies for everyone to have their “alone time” – an important consideration for a family of five.

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Aside from outfitting the home with cabinets, storage space also comes in the form of open niches, all of which feature “border trims in different colours” for “contrast”.

On changes made to the living room and dining area

SQ: Our kids used to do their homework at the dining table, and it just wasn’t conducive – being in a common area meant they were easily distracted by activities going on elsewhere. It was also a safety hazard – things that were displayed on the bookshelf located just behind the dining table would be knocked over if they happened to move their chairs back too far. To prevent that, we shifted the bookshelf to the living room.

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The family worked in a feature display in place of the bookshelf that has been tweaked to make it more kid-friendly such as open shelves with curved edges and handleless cabinetry. There’s also an open niche for Shi Qi to showcase flower arrangements, which she changes up seasonally.

With the living room now being the new play area for our children, we had to change our main door, which was previously a swing door, to a sliding one with an anti-slam mechanism for more space and make the house even more kid-proof.

On changes made to the private lift lobby

SQ: Our lift lobby is a small narrow space and it gets quite claustrophobic when the whole family crams in all at once to wear their shoes. That’s why the settee we built comfortably seats up to four people – it opens up the space and the children can put on their shoes at the same time without quibbling at each other.

Oh, and it doubles as a storage area too – we keep the shoes that are frequently worn in the open niches beneath the settee for easy access, while dress shoes are stashed away in the top-hung cabinet.

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The conversion of the main door to a sliding door also allows for more natural light from the balcony to flow into the private lift lobby.

On changes made to the kitchen

SQ: There used to be a central island in the dry kitchen, but it took up too much space. That’s why we hacked that away and installed an L-shaped counter instead.

We wanted to keep our original flooring as it was still in good condition. As part of the renovation process to remove the central island, three of our marble tiles needed to be replaced. We were concerned that similar ones could not be found and the flooring would no longer have a ‘seamless look and feel’. However, Hwee Li was extremely resourceful and managed to find replacement marble tiles that were so similar to the original floor tiles that even we can’t even tell the difference!

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The kitchen, pre- and post-renovation. “We installed magnetic anti-slam cabinets in the kitchen with the mechanism positioned at a lower height to make it easier for our children to open the doors,” shared Shi Qi. “All they need to do is to give the doors a slight push, and they’ll open.”

SQ: From looking at my mood boards, Hwee Li noticed that I gravitated towards backsplashes, but I had several requirements for my own; I didn’t want to use uniform tiles, and was not into colour contrasting backsplashes, a prominent feature for many homes.

She helped pick out these neutral-coloured tiles that complemented the colour scheme of our renovated home but had subtle random patterns on them – it's unique and yet it doesn’t draw attention away from the other design aspects of the house.

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On changes made to the study

SQ: Now that my oldest is in primary school, I wanted my kids to have a conducive space to learn in. We installed a long table in the study so that we could have one parent supervising up to two kids at a time.

The wall behind the desk is actually a magnetic whiteboard – the children can stick up their drawings or school notices or use the board to take notes, which really helps when they’re studying.

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The bottom drawer nearest to the door are customised to fit Shi Qi’s eldest daughter’s violin, music books and music stands. With bulky items stored neatly away, the room looks neat, spacious and uncluttered.

On changes made to the master bedroom

SQ: Although our children have their own bedroom, they like to ‘camp out’ in the master bedroom from time to time for fun. To accommodate them, we extended the bay window by building a customised L-shaped seating area and mounted our bedside tables to free up floor space. This way, two kids can sleep on the sofa, and the last sleeps on a mattress placed on the floor, which we can slot in underneath the nightstand. In the day, the seating area also doubles as a comfortable reading corner for both children and adults alike.

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There are several storage areas in the master bedroom as well – under the seat of the newly extended bay window, the nooks and crannies by the sides, and compartments below their bed.

On working with Hwee Li and Liid Studio

SQ: It’s not the first time that I contacted Liid Studio. We first touched base in 2018 when I was looking to reconfigure the home and sent in a quote request via Qanvast. I got recommended five interior designers, but Hwee Li left the biggest impression on me. She provided great feedback and came very prepared – the first time she came to our home for a preliminary discussion, she started to take measurements which she later used in her proposal, a step up from other interior designers who were only doing the cursory.

However, we shelved it because we weren’t very prepared to change up the space at the time. We eventually came back to it, and I got in touch with Liid Studio directly because I felt that she was the only one who took the time and effort to provide a meaningful proposal and I value the fact that she paid extra attention to details.

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SQ: We eventually ‘re-engaged’ her in August 2019, but took our time to share our ideas. The design was finalised only in October, and the hacking was pushed back to coincide with the December holidays because it required us to move out. From there, she had roughly around 6 weeks to complete the renovation as I wanted to get it done before Chinese New Year which, unfortunately for Hwee Li, happened to be in January [laughs]. It was a good experience overall; her team was responsive, friendly and ironed out any hiccups – they had to make some changes to the study room design due to existing A/C vents – almost immediately.

To sum up

SQ: Not only did Hwee Li help to coordinate and oversee a lot of the nitty-gritty, but she always made herself available for consultation – on hindsight hiring an interior designer was the right choice for us and I’m glad we chose to work with her.

Now's a good time as any to start on your renovation plans!

Many Singapore homeowners have had to put their renovations on hold due to COVID-19 BUT that doesn't mean you can't start planning for yours now.

Ironing out the kinks in your home makeover plan will enable it to proceed smoothly once circumstances improve, so if you’d like some professional help let us know and we'll link you up with local interior firms that offer virtual consultations!

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