Renovation Journey: Hand in Hand

October 26, 2016
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At A Glance

  • Daryl, 30s, and Ellen, 20s
  • Size: 125 sqm / 1,345 sqft
  • Location: Shunfu Road
  • Cost of Renovation: $66,000
  • Cost of Furnishing: $50,000
  • Interior Design Firm: Starry Homestead
  • Interior Designer: Billy Chan
Renovation Journey: Hand in Hand
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With a clear vision for their home, the meticulous couple, Daryl and Ellen needed to find someone who could make it work and they found the right interior designer in Billy from Starry Homestead who came up with modern designs that were both aesthetically pleasing and functional. We get the couple to shed some light on the practical way in which they approached the renovation.

Qanvast: Why did you decide to hire an interior designer and not a contractor?

Renovation Journey: Hand in Hand
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Daryl (D): I believe that interior designers can provide value-added services such as 3D visualisation. It is very important to me to see the 3D visualisation of the house before the renovation begins. If the design of your home is just communicated through words, there’s room for interpretation which could result in a gap between the proposed design and the final design. That was something which I felt we couldn’t risk.

The cost of hiring an interior designer is also not that much higher than the cost of engaging a contractor. At the start of the renovation, I checked with my interior designer about the number of hours that he’ll be putting into the project and I divided the interior design fee by those hours. Overall, I found that it was quite value-for-money to engage an interior designer and I’m willing to pay that extra amount.

Qanvast: How did you shortlist which interior designers to meet up with?

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D: My wife would look through the designs of different interior designers on online platforms like Qanvast and pick out those interior designers whose designs she liked. We would then meet up with these designers and present them with a brief that we had prepared so that all the designers would be on the same page. After these designers got back to us with their quotes and proposed designs, we would then shortlist which designer we wanted based on how well they met our expectations in the brief.

Qanvast: Could you tell us more about what you specified in the brief?

D: In this brief, we wrote down our vision for the different rooms in our home and the overall look that we wanted our home to have. Basically, we wanted a home that looked simple, classy and elegant. We want our home to be one that is easy to maintain and that is functional for our everyday needs.

We also specified what design styles we liked and which we didn’t, and we told the designers to feel free to propose ideas based on this brief.

Renovation Journey: Hand in Hand
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It ultimately came down to two firms – Starry Homestead and Ascenders Design Studio.

We had a good impression of both Starry Homestead and Ascenders Design Studio as they fulfilled our criteria on our brief and we had good chemistry with the interior designers that we met from both firms. In the end, we decided to go with Billy from Starry Homestead as he offered more value-for-money services.

Qanvast: How did you determine that Starry Homestead’s services were more value-for-money?

D: I created an Excel sheet where I broke down the entire renovation cost into the different components and compared the prices which the different firms offered. We also compared the range of materials that the various firms had and from there, I determined that Starry Homestead could provide the most with the budget that they had to work with.

Qanvast: We love the design of your open-concept kitchen. Could you share more about it?

Renovation Journey: Hand in Hand
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Ellen (E): I spend quite a lot of time in the kitchen as I’m a serious baker so I wanted an open-concept kitchen. We were very impressed by the functionality and clean design of the drawer at Blum so we purchased our kitchen drawers from them.

D: I came up with the idea of installing air curtains in the kitchen to eliminate odours. We bought three air curtains since we needed the length as each air curtain comes in a fixed length of either 0.9m or 1.2m. I would say it’s quite affordable as we paid about $1600 for the three units. After trying it out a few times, we realised that it is not 100% effective at blocking out odours. Nonetheless, it does work together with the air-conditioning to keep the house cool.

Qanvast: Can you share more about how you both went about selecting your furnishings?

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D: Our priority was functionality. We purchased two extendable tables – one from BoConcept and one from Courts. Our dining chairs are from Zeena Furnishing. We decided to get those instead of the matching ones from BoConcept as we wanted light chairs that could be easily carried about.

Qanvast: What do you think are Billy’s best qualities as an interior designer?

D: Billy is very patient. I asked him a lot of questions about the renovation and he was able to give me good advice. Even before the contract was signed, we spent at least ten to eleven hours with me asking him things about the design of the home.

He was also able to strike a balance between incorporating the ideas that we want and being flexible enough to propose certain ideas.

Renovation Journey: Hand in Hand
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Qanvast: What were some good design solutions which Billy conceptualised for your home?

D: I told Billy that I didn’t like the entrance to our home as I find that it looks very claustrophobic. By building a high cabinet with a mirror door at the entrance, he transformed the space so that it gives the illusion of space when you enter the home.

Billy was also able to work well with the regulations on renovations in HDB homes. For instance, we wanted to have a recessed lighting feature in the master bedroom but it wasn’t allowed by the HDB. Billy circumvented that issue by overlaying a strip of feature wall on top of the bedroom wall so that the recessed lighting could be installed behind this feature wall. Thanks to him, we now have a beautiful wall light feature in our bedroom.

Renovation Journey: Hand in Hand
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Qanvast: Were you satisfied with the service that Billy provided?

D: I feel that Billy is in the top 1% of those who have provided me a service of any type. As an interior designer, I believe that he is among the top echelon of interior designers. He was very responsive and efficient in carrying out his tasks. He was always there for us and if any problems cropped up, he would get his workers to rectify it. His ideas were also very good and his carpentry was of a high quality. Our entire renovation went quite smoothly thanks to him.

Qanvast: Would you highly recommend Billy to anyone looking to renovate their home?

Renovation Journey: Hand in Hand
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D: Absolutely. In fact, I’ve already recommend him to a few of my friends. There was also this incident where one of our post-renovation cleaners asked for the contact number of our interior designer as she felt that the workmanship in our home is very good. To hear that from someone who we don’t know personally and who’s just taken a look around our home testifies to the quality of his work.

Qanvast: How did Qanvast ease your renovation journey?

E: I used Qanvast to search for interior design inspiration. It was very convenient to view photos on the app and to bookmark those which I liked.

D: I liked that Qanvast shows the prices of the home since from there I could roughly figure out how much it would cost for my own renovation. The articles were also very useful especially those which covered topics relating to the renovation process. We learned a lot from these articles about what to look out for during the renovation. I also like Qanvast’s focus on HDB homes as it’s very relevant for Singaporean homeowners.

Renovation Journey: Hand in Hand
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