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Renovation Journey: A Collectible Lover’s Dream

September 28, 2016
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At A Glance

  • Sheryl and Jeff, both in 30s, financial analyst and compliance officer
  • Home to: 2 adults, 1 kid and 1 dog
  • Size: 93 sqm / 1,000 sqft
  • Location: Punggol Drive
  • Cost of renovation: $42,000
  • Cost of furnishing and appliances: $30,000
  • Interior design firm: Prozfile Interior Design
  • Interior designer: Alvin
Renovation Journey: A Collectible Lover’s Dream

Industrial apartment are a dime a dozen in Singapore. What sets Jeff’s and Sheryl’s industrial apartment apart from the other cookie-cutter industrial homes is the unique design solutions which Alvin from Prozfile implemented in their home. We get the couple to share their tips for shopping for items on Taobao and their advice for how to prepare for a successful collaboration with an interior designer.

Renovation Journey: A Collectible Lover’s Dream

Qanvast: Share with us about your search for an interior designer.

Sheryl (S): From the start, we wanted an industrial theme and a shipping container concept for our living room so we concentrated our search on interior designers who had experience with designing industrial-themed homes. Out of the four interior designers that we met, we felt that Alvin was the only one who was confident in pulling off the container concept. As we felt comfortable working with him, we hence decided to engage his services.

Renovation Journey: A Collectible Lover’s Dream

Qanvast: How was it like working with Alvin?

S: It was good working with him as he is easygoing. He has creative ideas and so far, we haven’t chanced upon anything similar to what he has produced. We like that he listens to our ideas and makes an effort to incorporate them into his designs unlike other interior designers who say “it cannot be done” and ignore your inputs. He even helped us to receive the delivery for some of our furniture so we didn’t have to take additional days of leave from work.

Jeff (J): Yes, Alvin always takes our needs into account. Even when he has good ideas, he doesn’t overly push them so that we can have space to come up with our own ideas. If Alvin wasn’t so responsive, I don’t think we could have completed the renovation within two months! He was really helpful throughout the entire renovation process.

Renovation Journey: A Collectible Lover’s Dream

Qanvast: Where did you get your furniture from?

S: Most of our furnitures are from Picket and Rail. We also custom-made some furniture from PengHandcrafted. Some of our furnishings were purchased online from Taobao as my husband is quite adept at assembling things.

J: The residents in our estate are in a Facebook group where they would share the contact details of suppliers whom they have dealt with before. Through their recommendations, we got some contacts for suppliers of furniture and we ended up purchasing curtains from a supplier who stays in one of the blocks in our estate.

Renovation Journey: A Collectible Lover’s Dream

Qanvast: What advice would you give homeowners who are keen to purchase their furniture from online sites like Taobao?

S: Be aware of the risks involved when purchasing online. For us we decided not to get some of our furniture online even though it was cheap as we felt that it was too risky. In fact, one of our items arrived with broken parts. Thankfully, we were able to get a slight refund despite us not having purchased insurance for that item.

Also, homeowners should use precise terms when searching for items on Taobao. I would recommend that homeowners use the Chinese search function as the English search yields fewer results. Be patient, as it may take a while to find the items you want.

Renovation Journey: A Collectible Lover’s Dream

Qanvast: How did Alvin value add to the design process?

J: Alvin is a creative guy. The design of the wardrobe can be credited entirely to him. The same goes for the design of our kitchen. Initially, the kitchen had a very dark colour scheme. We wanted something brighter so Alvin came up with a two-toned design and picked geometric tiles to jazz up the look.

S: Alvin did indeed come up with some unique designs for us. My husband likes to collect LEGO models and other collectibles so Alvin customised a coffee table which doubles up as a display case. We like how it can be opened up and we can refresh the display pieces whenever we feel like it. We also like the display cabinet he did for us where the pipes act as the handles to open the cabinet.

Renovation Journey: A Collectible Lover’s Dream

Qanvast: How would you sum up your experience with Qanvast?

J: The app is neat, and easy-to-use, and we find that the request quote feature helpful. As first-timers, we didn’t know what was going on when we started the renovation and Qanvast provided us a platform where we could look at other homeowners’ home designs and get inspiration. We highly recommend Qanvast to other homeowners!

Renovation Journey: A Collectible Lover’s Dream

Qanvast: What advice do you have for first-time homeowners?

S: Once you decide on a concept, stick to it. Don't be too distracted by too many design elements. Also, conduct as much research and get as many ideas as you can. That way, it is easier to narrow down what flows and what doesn't when discussing with the interior designer. Also, find as much feedback as you can about the interior designers via Facebook, forums, apps, and word of mouth.

If possible, try to visit the interior designer’s previous projects to get a feel of the carpentry work and the design layout. It will be good if you can also see how other homeowners interact with the interior designer and the level of trust they have with him.

Finally, you should always make it a point to clarify any doubts before the interior designer begins work on site. Communication is key.


Planning a home renovation is much easier with Qanvast. Take a peek into many Singapore home designs and save pictures to your mood boards. Six months before your key collection, you can send in your request and we will match you with 5 trusted interior firms for free! Get the free app now on App Store and Google Play!

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