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Renovation Journey: Easygoing Nordics

At A Glance:

  • Home to the Chong siblings (Li Hua & Andrew), and their mum.
  • Size: 113 sqm
  • Location: Bukit Batok
  • Cost of Renovation: $29,500
  • Cost of Furniture and Appliances: $20,000
  • Interior Design Firm: U & Me Interior
  • Interior Designers: Kacey and Jessica

IKEA's easygoing Scandinavian style and fool-proof set up process may a godsend for first-time homeowners everywhere, but what's easier (and much more stylish)? Getting an interior designer to nail the look to a tee - and then some.

From translating their favourite styles from the furniture store to life to even helping them put up IKEA's quintessential LACK shelves, siblings Li Hua and Andrew reveal to us how Kacey and Jessica from U & Me Interior made their very first BTO renovation a seamless breeze.

Renovation Journey U & Me Interior
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Qanvast (Q): How did you both come across this BTO and why did you choose it?

Li Hua & Andrew (LH & A): We have lived in Bukit Batok since we were young and have been on the look out for new public housing in the area. So naturally, when HDB released its first batch of BTO flats in Bukit Batok after a long hiatus, we were very excited and thrilled that our application was successful!

Q: Did you both have an interior style in mind, and where did you get your inspiration from?

LH & A: From the start, we'd always liked the Scandinavian look due to its functional, simple and uncluttered style. In fact, we got most of our ideas and inspirations from IKEA, and some other websites.

Renovation Journey U & Me Interior
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LH & A: But beyond deciding on a Scandinavian theme, we didn't have a clear image of how else we'd want the interior would look like. So, visiting the IKEA showrooms really helped to familiarise us with variations of the Scandi look. From there, we just mixed and matched the different aspects we liked to form our own aesthetic.

Renovation Journey U & Me Interior
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Q: Out of the other IDs you've met, why U & Me Interior?

LH & A: Besides the budget, we felt that it was extremely important to have someone we could communicate and be comfortable with. The initial meetings with Kacey and Jessica went well and we had good vibes about them. They were easy to talk to, friendly, patient and responsive.

LH & A: We were also looking for an experienced ID and Kacey had more than 10 years of experience in this industry. This, compared to other IDs assigned to us from the bigger firms who were generally quite new and young. In addition, Kacey was the first ID from Qanvast to call me, and we also liked the fact that we would be dealing directly with the bosses (Kacey and Jessica are partners of the company).

Renovation Journey U & Me Interior
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Q: What was the design brief, and how did Kacey and Jessica achieve it?

LH & A: In short, we told them that we wanted a Scandinavian concept; specifically, a clean cut, simple looking apartment with lots of wood elements and storage space. To achieve the look, Kacey proposed a grooved design for the carpentry, which included kitchen cabinets, doors, wardrobes and vanity cabinets. No handles were used, which was fantastic as the whole interior had a seamless transition between materials.

Renovation Journey U & Me Interior
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Q: Were there any hiccups during the renovation?

LH & A: Hiccups are expected during a renovation. We had some minor ones, but overall the renovation was smooth and well organised. During the renovation, Kacey and Jessica would come by the new house almost every day to check on the progress and would send us pictures to update us – like the look after the first coat of paint or a sneak peek of the carpentry.

LH & A: As we lived nearby, we would drop by the new house every evening as well. Whenever we saw something that was not right or not to our liking, we would just take a picture and Whatsapp Kacey and Jessica, who would reply immediately and assure us they would rectify the problem!

Renovation Journey U & Me Interior
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Q: Besides keeping the renovation process fuss-free, how did Kacey and Jessica go the extra mile during the renovation?

LH & A: We were very thankful for the both of them, who really helped us in every step - before, during and after the renovation. Before works commenced, they helped out with our defects checking, and even after the renovation, Kacey and Jessica assisted us with putting up some IKEA shelves that we've bought, along with our paintings!

Renovation Journey U & Me Interior
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Q: Overall, everything seems to have gone smoothly! Any challenges did you guys encounter at all throughout the renovation?

LH & A: Believe it or not, choosing the right laminate/material was the most challenging aspect of the entire renovation process. The diversity of the laminate available was just simply overwhelming. We pored through a few laminate catalogues and had a very tough time deciding which ones to choose.

LH & A: Seeing how we could not make up our mind, Kacey and Jessica told us to shortlist those we like and arranged for us to go down to the laminate company; they even gave us helpful suggestions on the material we could use and we finally decided our laminates that afternoon. Phew!

Renovation Journey U & Me Interior
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Q: Where did you get some of your furniture from?

LH & A: Besides IKEA of course, we got our biggest bargains when we bought our furniture from Castlery and Nook & Cranny. They are local furniture companies with very reasonable price point. Thankfully, their designs were a good fit for our Scandinavian look too!

Q: Finally, any tips/advice for new homeowners?

LH & A: 1. Choose an interior designer you can communicate and be comfortable with! This makes the whole renovation journey a ton easier. 2. Have a realistic budget and work in some buffer. 3. Visit a laminate company if you are not sure which laminates to choose. It helps to see and feel the real thing!

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