"A modern home made cosier with the use of classic grey. Keeping the colour palette to a minimal, this newlywed couple creates an intimate space that is soothing yet inviting."
At a glance
- Ash and William, in their early 30s; banking industry
- Home to: A newlywed couple
- Fun fact: Die-hard Arsenal fan
- Size: 1200 sqf / 111 sqm
- Location: Butterworth (resale condo)
- Cost of renovation: $60,000
- Interior Design Firm: Space Factor
- Interior Designers: Eric and Dolly
It was fun interviewing newlywed Ash and William, who are also first-time homeowners. It’s not hard to feel at ease with Ash’s upbeat and bubbly disposition, and William’s stable and easy-going nature – a perfect combination for an afternoon of laughter.
In this candid interview, Ash and William shared with us their home renovation journey. They didn’t take the search for their interior designer lightly with their intensive research and meetings. What they ended up with is an interior designer who is not only a work partner but also a friend who understands them to a T. They also revealed to us a silly decision they made that you wouldn’t want to repeat! You will have to read to find out more.
Qanvast: Both of you are at an exciting stage when all your peers are also doing up their first home. Did that help with your search for the ideal interior designer?
Ash (A): With so many interior designers to choose from, we naturally didn’t know whom to approach first. We had a few friends who started their renovations, but we didn’t like the idea of going for the same interior designer.
William (W): We didn’t even ask our friends who their interior designers were because we always believe that if we want to design something, it has to be unique. We didn’t want to have a design that was similar to our friends’, which was why we decided to go find an interior designer on our own.
Qanvast: So how did you come across your interior designer, Space Factor?
W: We started by searching through Facebook and looking at a myriad of interior designers’ pages. I just looked at the pictures, and if I liked them, I went on to like the page. And with each page I liked, there were similar pages introduced to me to look at. Following that, I called our shortlisted interior designers up to fix an appointment to go down and meet them. We spoke to about 10 of them - all of which we asked for a quotation.
Qanvast: How did Qanvast come into play during your research?
A: I was having lunch with my brother one fine day, and he recommended me to try Qanvast; where his home, a mansionette from Yishun, was featured in. It’s a personal preference to do all checks first before I ask for quotations, so we checked it out as well.
W: I remember the first thing that appealed to us about Qanvast was the testimonials that were given by real homeowners.
A: Yes! We visited online forums where we had doubts over the reviews. It’s important to be discerning and savvy when it comes to reading reviews. Also, some of the other websites were too messy and counter-intuitive.
Qanvast: How did you know you could trust the reviews on Qanvast?
A: I guess when you look at reviews, and you see the platform only shows good ones; you have to be more skeptical. There were both positive and negative reviews on Qanvast. Plus, it was a recommendation by my brother, which made it trustworthier for me. We shortlisted two more interior designers based on good reviews on Qanvast.
Qanvast: That’s a total of 10 over interior designers! How did Space Factor win you over?
W: Actually, we almost signed with another interior designer firm because their design and ideas were good. However, we didn’t “click” with him as well as we did with Dolly and Eric from Space Factor.
A: I really liked the other firm’s design and was convincing William to take them. But he said that it is better for us to work with someone whom we are more comfortable with because renovation is a journey, not a one-off thing.
Qanvast: Tell us about your experience working with them.
W: We like that they will first get a sense of what sort of customer you are before coming out with a proposal to see whether you like it.
A: We showed Dolly some of the designs that we liked, and she was quite spot on in her interpretations. Dolly had a lot of ideas, but she was also okay when we didn’t want to go ahead with some of them.
Also, a lot of our friends said that the floor laminates in our living room and bedrooms are very unique. It was Dolly who chose the combinations for us first to approve.
W: We didn’t have to go through the hassle of “these are the available selections” where we have to pick from a pile of swatches. I don’t think we would be able to visualise the end result by looking at tiny swatches.
Qanvast: How about your experience with the other interior designers?
A: We did something that was very silly!
W: One of the firms had a system that was different from other interior designers. You have to pay them a deposit of $1,000 before they will give you a proposal and quotation. If you don’t engage them, your deposit is forfeited.
A: Believe it or not, we actually made the stupid decision to pay the deposit. They told us about their accreditations, so we went ahead with it. Luckily, they were nice enough to pay us half of the deposit back when we didn’t engage them.
Qanvast: We heard you gave Space Factor a really tight timeline. Tell us more.
W: We started the renovation two months before Chinese New Year. We told Space Factor that we wanted to move in before that, and they assured us that they were able to do it.
A: We were still choosing the 3D design in early December, and even went for a holiday [laughs].
W: Dolly was very organized, and she knew what she was doing. She doesn’t rush you to make all the decisions at once. She will structure the decision process, and break it down for you to make specific decisions along the way. For example, she asked us to decide on the kitchen aspects first, and only worry about the laminates and carpentry when we are back from our holiday.
A: Oh, what really impressed us about them is that they have their own carpentry place. We visited every other night to check on the progress during the last few weeks of the renovation. I remember we were a little worried when we visited one day and saw that there was no carpentry at all. The next day, all the carpentry was up. It’s amazing how fast and systematic they were.
Qanvast: Any advice to other homeowners on selecting the 'right' interior designer?
A: Know what you want, at least at the most basic level. I know this colleague who has met 10 interior designers and still doesn’t know what they wants. After meeting these designers, they still couldn’t conclude on the theme that they were after.
W: The renovation journey is a very engaging process. Hence, you have to find someone you can really “click” with. If they know you well, they will know what you like and what you don’t like – saving you a lot of hassle. Dolly and Eric were like friends, and with good chemistry, everything will run very smoothly.
Another thing is, find an interior designer who is upfront. For example, if they want to add a component to the renovation, they should tell you how it would affect the price.
Eric and Dolly: The first challenge we faced was in making the original toilet, which was oddly angled and shaped, functional. To add to that, the owners wanted to place two wash basins in the toilet. After considering various options, we made a daring proposal to change the entire orientation of the toilet and make it open concept.
The second challenge was the walk-in wardrobe. It has always a woman's dream to own a walk-in wardrobe. By converting the room next to the Master bedroom into both a walk-in wardrobe and a study area, we managed to make the space self-sufficient.
The originally small kitchen with poor lighting was our last challenge. To solve that, we hacked down half of a wall to make the place look significantly bigger and brighter.
Space Factor's portfolio are available in our Qanvast app. Download the app to view more of their other projects and other homeowners' reviews, or read below for more renovation journeys by Space Factor.