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Renovation Journey: Loft-Style Shophouse

At a Glance

• Lucas, 40s, accountant
• Area size: 138 sqm / 1,487 sqft
• Location: Joo Chiat (resale; walk-up apartment)
• Cost of renovation: $130,000
• Cost of furnishing and appliances: $40,000 to $50,000
• Interior design firm: Prozfile Design
• Interior designer: Cadine

When Lucas first stepped into his shophouse apartment in Joo Chiat, he was greeted by the sight of a raw-looking home with many bunkbeds lined up in rows. Three months and one renovation later, his home has undergone a 180-degree transformation from a home for migrant workers into a modern apartment with its very own loft.

We get Lucas to take some time out of his busy schedule for a chat with us about his fuss-free renovation journey with Cadine from Prozfile Design.

Shophouse Renovation Facelift Joo Chiat
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Qanvast: What kind of design did you envision for your home?

L: When I first came to view this house, it was bare. The roof was leaking, there were cracks on the walls and many bunk beds for migrant workers to sleep in.

Initially, I wanted to transform this place into a ‘man cave’ kind of home which would have a predominantly dark colour palette. However, after seeing the house, I felt that the lighting would be too dark if I adopted such a colour scheme so instead, I decided to go for a luxe, modern theme.

My home also had a high ceiling so I felt that I could make use of that to create a loft apartment style home.

Shophouse Renovation Facelift Joo Chiat
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Qanvast: Why was Cadine from Prozfile Design the right interior designer for you?

Lucas (L): I wanted an interior designer who had experience in designing a shophouse apartment and who has good design ideas. I was not satisfied with the first three options Qanvast provided me with, so I wrote to them and requested for interior designers with a better fit. Out of all the options, Cadine gave me the best impression.

Even though she had not worked on shophouses before, she knew what she was doing and I could tell that she was more experienced than the other designers as she was able to make off the cuff suggestions when I directed my questions towards her.

Shophouse Renovation Facelift Joo Chiat
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Qanvast: Was there any particular situation where Cadine really stood out from her competitors?

L: I told all the interior designers that I met that I wanted a mezzanine for the bedroom and Cadine was the only one who gave me the confidence that she was capable of building the loft without incurring a lot of additional costs.

As compared to the other interior designers who told me that they had to seek for approval which would cost an additional $10,000 to $15,000, Cadine’s idea involved building a sort of ‘large table’ upon which my room would be built. I felt that she knew the renovation rules and regulations well and this allowed her to play around with the rules when coming up with the loft for my home.

Shophouse Renovation Facelift Joo Chiat
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Qanvast: How else did Cadine help you to keep to your budget for the renovation?

L: As I do not cook much, I did not want to spend too much money on revamping the kitchen so I asked Cadine for advice on how I could save costs. She proposed re-staining the kitchen cabinets in a darker shade to match the overall design of my home. That really helped me to save quite a bit.

I was able to use the savings from the kitchen cabinets for the roof instead. I had to redo the waterproofing because of a leakage.

Shophouse Renovation Facelift Joo Chiat
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Qanvast: Was there anything that Cadine designed specifically to fit your lifestyle or hobbies?

L: I have quite a couple of bottles of wine and whisky so I had a cabinet built for it. I also told her that I needed at least ten sockets for the TV console and she suggested putting two extra sockets just in case. It is through these details that you can see that she is experienced.

Shophouse Renovation Facelift Joo Chiat
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Shophouse Renovation Facelift Joo Chiat
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Qanvast: Were there any hiccups during the renovation?

L: There was a delay of about one or two weeks because Cadine’s drawing of the mezzanine was not exactly to scale. Initially, her drawing gave me the impression that there would be sufficient space on the mezzanine. However, after the actual mezzanine was erected, I realised that there was not a lot of space on it and I had to get her to expand the space. This caused the renovation duration to be extended.

There is also no lift in this building, so everything had to be carried up the stairs - the fridge, the glass, and including the scaffolding for building the loft.

Shophouse Renovation Facelift Joo Chiat
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Qanvast: How did Cadine ease your renovation journey?

L: As I was busy with work, I could not manage the entire project on my own and in that sense, Cadine really helped me a lot by taking on responsibility for the entire renovation and making frequent trips down to my house to check up on the progress of the renovation.

Whenever there were any issues, I could text her and she would assist me in rectifying the problem. As compared to my previous renovation experiences, working with Cadine was a more relaxed experience.

Qanvast: What was most impressive about Cadine?

L: I liked that Cadine was accommodating. I know that I’m not always the easiest person to deal with but Cadine just rolled with it. She was very accommodating and was willing to make adjustments to her designs based on my feedback.

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