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Renovation Journey: Santorini Cave

At A Glance

  • Xin Yi, and Chih Shen, both 31
  • Size: 107 sqm / 1151 sqft
  • Location: Skypark Residences
  • Cost of Renovation: $84,000
  • Cost of Furnishing: $30,000
  • Interior Design Firm: Edge Interior
  • Interior Designer: Sharon and Alvin
Renovation Journey: Santorini Cave
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Initially uninspired on their home design, a trip to Santorini gave Xin Yi and Chih Shen the perfect idea for their home. Once back, they start looking for an interior designer who could bring the beauty of the Greek islands into their home.

Qanvast: Tell us more about how you decided to go with a Santorini cave theme.

Chih Shen (CS): While in Santorini, we stayed in a cave house and fell in love with the calm, relaxing vibe of the place, but I didn't think that it was possible to incorporate this idea into our home. In fact, when my wife asked me whether we could do a Santorini cave concept, I was worried it would look like a tacky, fake replica.

To convince me, my wife did a lot of research on Santorini style homes on Pinterest and convinced me that we could find an interior designer who could pull this theme off.

Renovation Journey: Santorini Cave
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Qanvast: How did your search for an interior designer go?

Xin Yi (XY): We visited about ten interior design firms and shared with them about the Santorini cave concept which we wanted for our home. Through our discussions, we could tell that some of the them didn't understand what we wanted.

CS: We also looked at how comfortable we were with the ideas proposed and whether they could incorporate what we wanted into their design.

Renovation Journey: Santorini Cave
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Qanvast: Why did you feel confident about handing your project to Edge Interior compared to the others?

XY: They have experience in designing a Santorini themed home. When we looked at that project, we saw that the carpentry was really well done. We could also tell that they were excited and genuinely wanted to work on our project, giving us confidence they could deliver.

CS: The designers, Sharon and Alvin, impressed us with the 3D designs they showed us even during the proposal stage. Other interior designers would usually ask for a deposit but Edge Interior did it on a non-obligatory basis which we really appreciated.

Qanvast: What were some ideas they suggested for your theme home?

CS: They suggested using cement to build the TV console, the shelves and the wardrobe, and suggested purchasing cement furnishings to match the Santorini theme.

Renovation Journey: Santorini Cave
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Qanvast: On your part, how did you incorporate the Santorini design in your home?

CS: We spent a lot of time looking at decorations and even searched all over the world for decorations and fixtures to match the theme. Our plaster lights were purchased from Online Lighting which is an international website. We specifically wanted plaster lights that would blend with the wall. Rattan baskets on the shelves also give a more rustic feel.

Qanvast: What were some practical ways in which Sharon and Alvin helped you?

CS: As we wanted the walls in our home to be curved, we did not know where to place the air conditioning unit and they helped us think of where to position it so that we could still have the curve design.

Renovation Journey: Santorini Cave
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Qanvast: What were some issues that cropped up during the renovation?

XY: We were away on our honeymoon for two weeks during the renovation, and when we came back, we saw that the cement works were not what we expected – the shelving looked too modern and the finishing was too clean... the curves weren't as rounded as we wanted.

CS: I think it may be the first time the contractor was doing a project like this, so we told them that they could be daring in terms of plotting the curves of the home, that the finishing didn't have to be so polished, and that it could be a bit more uneven to achieve a more rustic Santorini cave feel.

Qanvast: Did Edge Interior have a positive attitude towards the rectifications you wanted?

XY: They did. They didn't show any frustration at all and would brainstorm with their contractors on how the rectification could take place without any hacking involved.

CS: They were open to making changes to achieve the standard that we wanted. I think they performed three rounds of rectifications on the shelves before we were satisfied with it [laughs].

Renovation Journey: Santorini Cave
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Qanvast: Do you have any advice for homeowners who also want a themed home?

CS: Homeowners who want to have a themed home should be prepared to spend more. You cannot save on certain aspects of the renovation and it is always good to have a bit of a buffer.

XY: Also, you have to really research all the smaller things as well, up to the type of decor you need, so that you can achieve the look and pull it off well. During the renovation, it's best to check on the works more often, just to make sure it's exactly how you want it.

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