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Renovation Journey: The Artist’s Expression

At a glance

  • Home to: Cheng Long, 27, Associate Director, Digital in BBH Asia Pacific
  • Size: 75 sqm / 807 sqft
  • Location: The Interlace (condo)
  • Cost of renovation: $33,000
  • Cost of furnishings: $30,000
  • Interior design firm: Hall Interiors
  • Interior designer: Ing Hou
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Once the lead of regional marketing design at Facebook, and now working in BBH Asia Pacific, a reputable creative agency, Cheng Long was looking for a talented and capable designer to design his first home.

It wasn’t a tedious search as soon after, he found the right man for the job. Read about how the interior designer, Ing Hou, delivered an excellent report card in designing a comfortable abode for him.

Qanvast: Let’s start with your search for interior designers. How did you begin your search for interior designers?

Cheng Long (CL): I started off with getting recommendations from friends, but the quotes given were insanely expensive. Then I chanced upon a Qanvast article on beautiful homes under S$50,000 and I was really impressed. From there I started browsing Qanvast. In fact, Hall Interiors was one of the recommendations from Qanvast.

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Qanvast: What made you decide to go with Ing Hou?

CL: I met up with two designers and initially, I didn’t have a strong impression on Ing Hou as the other designer came well-prepared at our first meeting - with moodboards and some selected pieces on what goes with the theme. However I feel that she didn’t quite understand what I wanted to achieve as I have very specific needs in terms of design. Then at the third meeting, she turned unprofessional as she refused to share the details of the work until I confirmed and placed the deposit with her.

I was really unhappy as I wasn’t comfortable to commit on a design that I couldn’t visualise. On the other hand, when I spoke to Ing Hou, he internalised my requirements and then find ways to do it. That’s great attitude, and this is what I am looking for – the willingness to go beyond and achieve it. And then, I learnt about his amazing talent (drawing large-scale paintings). With good chemistry, an artistic flair and a great attitude, I knew that Ing Hou was the man for the job.

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Qanvast: Given that both of you are strong in the design aspect, how did you both work together harmoniously?

CL: As I am a designer myself, I have a strong opinion in design. I briefly told Ing Hou what I wanted, showed him some ideas, and then gave him the space to work on it instead of stifling his creativity. I didn’t want a designer to ‘copy and paste’ works that he/she has done before, but instead, he/she has to put a different spin and interpretation based on what I want. Ing Hou delivers just that.

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Qanvast: How was it like to work with Ing Hou?

CL: Both Ing Hou and I are perfectionists and we pay a great attention to minute details. I know that it is not an easy project to work on, but we both had fun working together.

We talked so much about the details, floor plan, furniture dimensions, spatial planning, etc, to the extent where we met up every week to bounce ideas and go back to the drawing board to make sure the design goes well. Things like the wall colour at the dining area - we took some time to choose the right shade of grey in order to mimic the colour of the cement screed. Ing Hou suggested using grey paint and creative brush strokes to mimic the feel as cement screed is expensive, and it is susceptible to cracks given the climate here in Singapore.

Ing Hou was really patient and he was very open to design requests thrown to him.

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Qanvast: What were the challenges in designing the space?

CL: As the unit is small, I need lots of storage space. Also, I had to modify the layout by shifting the kitchen entrance to expand the living room.

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(The arrangement by the previous homeowner made the living room feel cramped and was unable to have a clear view of the scenery. By changing the layout, the peripheral vision is now stretched, which gives the illusion of a wider unit.)

The design concept went through many rounds of iterations. After coming here for a site visit, we took the measurements and then changed the design to better accommodate my requirements. Like this study room, we modified the design and added a floor-to-ceiling storage and surprisingly, it creates the illusion of space when combined with the study desk.

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Qanvast: Why were you impressed with Ing Hou?

CL: His attitude was really great, and his passion in designing really left a deep impression on me. Take this bedroom feature wall - instead of hanging pictures, Ing Hou suggested to give it a more distinct look by handpainting it. Knowing that he has experience in doing large-scale paintings, I told him to go ahead and create his magic. He drew and repainted 5 times and each time, he took 2-3 days to paint it! He wants to ensure that the intended effect of each stroke was what he envisioned. You can really see the dedication and passion he put into designing my accent wall!

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Qanvast: Was the renovation a smooth one?

CL: There were hiccups but Ing Hou’s attitude made up for it. We worked with a tight timeline as I was previously staying in a rented place. I can tell that Ing Hou cares about my project. He turned my idea into a collective vision for us to work towards to, and he made a commendable effort to deliver it.

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Designer Thoughts:

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Ing Hou: The design brief given to me was to make visitors go “Wow!” the moment they stepped in. I had to think out of the box and include an element of surprise, taking Cheng Long’s requirements into consideration. The design should also be sustainable.

It was definitely easier to work with Cheng Long given his background and familiarity with design. Cheng Long likes to play with textures and I gave him a variety in his house.

I’m a very hands-on person and I believe that in my every job, I need to create an impression and leave a gift of my work to the homeowner. Often, I convey it through my art, and in this case – the accent wall in the bedroom.

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