Renovation Journey: A Timeless Appeal
At A Glance:
Kay Siah and family
Home to 2 adults and 2 boys
Area size: 220 sqm / 2153 sqft
Location: Parc Villa (condo)
Cost of renovation: $90,000
Interior design firm: Habit
Interior designers: Yanling and Denise
When he first collected the keys to his home, Kay Siah was shocked by how the place looked – uneven tiles, unfinished walls, and stairs with cracks in them. Fast forward to the Instagrammable home that you see now and you wouldn’t believe that the place looked like a disaster just a year ago. We sat down with Kay Siah and got him to reveal his hacks for furniture shopping.
Qanvast: What were you looking for in an interior designer?
Kay Siah (KS): We needed someone to come up with something concrete based on the ideas that we had. We wanted our home to revolve around the Scandinavian theme while having a raw feel. I would say something that is half-Scandinavian and half-industrial. My wife also wanted cement screed walls for its unfinished effect. With this knowledge, we approached a few interior designers and were really impressed by the various ideas presented by Habit. In fact, they kept giving us ideas until we even got confused over which to choose! [laughs]
Qanvast: How was your experience working with Habit?
KS: We liked their portfolio and felt convinced that Habit could deliver what we wanted. Initially we were worried about bursting our budget if we went with Habit. However, after seeing the finished product, I find that it was worth it to enlist their services. Although they were the most expensive out of the other two interior designers that we met up with, their level of service and ideas were really outstanding. Their promptness and sincerity really impressed us.
The entire renovation went pretty well. The carpenters and contractors hired by Habit were really professional and the finishing was very fine.
Qanvast: We understand that Habit designed many of your storage spaces. Do share about these space-saving solutions!
KS: Our house lacked storage spaces so we asked Habit to design and build some for us. There was quite a lot of carpentry work done in our bedroom. Habit designed cabinets and pull-out drawers to meet our storage needs. There was also carpentry work done on our bedframe so that we can store things like clothes and bedsheets inside. We like that there is a mixture of pull out drawers and also, open shelves for easy access.
Qanvast: Where did you get your furniture from?
KS: We sourced for many furniture pieces online. For instance, I got my dining table from a direct importer located in Tuas whom I found online. Although his website wasn’t done up well, he was very convincing over the phone and I ended up buying the table for around $4,000. It was much cheaper than buying from those mainstream furniture stores; I once saw a similar table selling for about $11,000 in Outram.
We also purchased furniture from Taobao. Our dining chairs cost us about $50 each which was cheaper than if it we had bought it from shops like Courts where the retail price was around $200. We were a little worried before the purchase but when the items arrived, they were in good condition. In fact, we got most of the furniture in the kids’ rooms from the IKEA shelves on Taobao.
Our other furniture pieces like the lights and fan were recommended by Habit. They were really considerate in arranging a meeting between us and the lights retailer.
Qanvast: Wow. You are quite savvy when it comes to online furniture shopping. Any hacks for homeowners who are looking to buy furniture?
KS: The main problem which people face when buying from Taobao lies in the logistics; many people do not know where to store their bulky items while waiting for their renovation to be completed. Try an agent like Oops who will manage the purchase for you and store your items in their warehouse until you are ready for the shipment to be delivered to your home.
If possible, homeowners should also try to assemble the furniture themselves rather than hiring someone to do the furniture assembly as that would incur additional expenses. Most furniture that can be self-assembled comes with simple handiwork so you can do it yourself.
Qanvast: When it comes to desiging your new home, how did you and your spouse work together?
KS: I’m more of a practical person so my concern lies with matters such as storage or the practicality of the design. I don’t like the idea of building something which ends up being a white elephant. My wife took charge of the design aspects such as the theme, the colour scheme etc.
While we generally agreed on most aspects of the renovation, one area that we had a disagreement over was concerning the hacking of walls. I would prefer not to hack the walls as I want the option of using the room for another purpose in future. Hacking would limit the conversion of such a space. Thankfully, Habit managed to resolve this conflict with their suggestion that we keep the wall or a cabinet in place to segregate the two rooms.
Qanvast: Any parting words of advice for new homeowners?
KS: It’s important to stay calm no matter what. There are bound to be disagreements between you and your partner. Whenever you have differences in opinion, you should remain calm and work through these differences. If you can’t come to any agreement today, wait two or three days before discussing again. Take your time. There’s no need to rush!
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