It might be a family home with clean-lined, efficient spaces now, but things weren’t always like that...
Looking back to when she first stepped into her family’s new apartment at Palm Gardens, homeowner Mrs Neoh knew from the start that a gut renovation was going to be a necessity rather than a choice.
“It (the house) was in this lived-in state, and parts of it, like the kitchen, could get really dark even in daytime,” describes the IT professional who resides with her husband and two children. “Even my kids were asking me, ‘Mom, why did we buy this condo?’ [laughs]”
Naturally, Mrs Neoh’s next step was to seek out professional help to turn her apartment into the easy-to-maintain, spacious three-bedder she had in mind, and that assistance came in the form of a meticulous and practical makeover helmed by Schemacraft design consultant Rene Tai.
“Along the way, she (Rene) did a lot of things that added value to the house,” Mrs Neoh says. “We had spoken to other interior designers and their ideas weren’t always feasible. On the other hand, Rene managed to address most of the issues that we had (with the house).” To find out about what needed fixing, read on!
About herself, her family and their home
Mrs Neoh (MN): The main reason why we moved here is because we wanted the children to be closer to their schools, but it’s also a convenient location for us. If you go down to the first level, you’ll see plenty of greenery and various facilities.
As for the house itself, it’s about 19 years old and we’re the second owners. It’s also actually quite large, about 1,206 square feet (112 square meters), but it didn’t look very spacious at first. The current layout is similar to the original one, but we changed some of the features in the lobby and the master bedroom to make them more efficient.
For example, previously, the main door was facing inwards towards the living room, and we decided to orientate it to face the main hallway instead. I feel the flow is better this way, and it also makes more sense, because there’s now a direct path to our bedrooms, which we would usually head to first when we return home.
About her home’s new look
MN: One of the changes we really needed was to have a higher ceiling – my husband is quite tall and before the renovation, he would hit the ceiling even if he jumps just a little! [laughs] I guess it was that low originally because of the bathroom’s water heater and the living room’s overhead air-con pipes, which made the false ceiling bulkier.
Compared to before, the house is much brighter due to the new glass windows at the lobby. I think re-designing the main entrance was one of the biggest challenges for Rene because it was hard finding a local door supplier who was willing to customise one based on her plans, but she got the job done with the help of her carpentry contacts.
Reorienting the main entrance also gave us enough space to build in a small work corner/storage cabinet at the side of the living room; it’s useful, even though we spend most of our family time in the dining area where we have a large table for gatherings.
Just like the lobby, we requested Rene to completely redesign the kitchen – originally, it was closed up and there was only one entrance that was really tight. After the walls were hacked away, they were replaced with folding glass panels to allow natural light to enter the space.
Also, even though the kitchen is quite small, I wanted to have an island and Rene accommodated my request by changing the original U-shaped counter configuration to an L-shaped one. I can tell the kitchen’s flow has definitely improved, because now it’s easy to work/move about inside even when there’s two people around.
For the master bedroom’s sleeping area, we didn’t change much. Fittings-wise, we just got a nice bed and had a headboard with lamps installed; the parquet flooring in the bedroom was also kept and varnished. Our goal here was to create a simple, but cosy space where we can rest in.
Compared to the sleeping area, the renovation works for the master bathroom were more extensive. Previously, there was a bathtub where the new shower area currently is. We asked Schemacraft to have it hacked away, both because we didn’t need it and because it made the bathroom feel even smaller than it already is.
Rene also proposed building a dressing area here (the master ensuite). This nook used to be where the original shower area was. So, yes, there was both a bathtub, plus a shower in the same bathroom. For easier organisation, Rene suggested that we built in some drawers underneath the counter.
Oh, and also what’s really interesting is that the counter’s mirror actually has a window hidden behind it. On bright mornings, the sunlight shines through the translucent parts and it creates a very natural glowing effect that looks really nice!
To sum up
MN: Overall, I think the final result is perfect. Both Rene and Schemacraft were very professional and pleasant to work with. Even though their quote was on the higher end compared to other designers we met through Qanvast, we felt that every cent we paid was worthwhile because we could trust Rene to handle to manage the renovation on our behalf.
She would often go the extra mile for us, and we really appreciate her help, whether it’s accommodating our work schedules for late-night discussions or addressing our concerns with practical solutions.
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