“A home that has effortlessly reinterpreted the Parisian style. The result is a chic and quaint space that makes you feel right at home.”
###At a glance
- Lai Ching, in her late 30s, Senior Retail Professional
- Size: 820 sqf / 76 sqm, 2 bedrooms
- Location: West Coast (condo)
- Cost of renovation: $56,000
- Interior Design Firm: Habit
- Interior Designers: Yanling, Ivan and Denise
Owning your first property can be both exciting and daunting. Without previous experience, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the design process. We spoke with one of our Qanvast users, Senior Retail Professional, Lai Ching, to share with us her vision and experience when designing her first property.
In creating her first home, Lai Ching emphasised on the importance of creating a personal space that strongly reflects who she is as a person. We particularly love how she managed to inject her personality in the details - we could see a little bit of her in each décor piece, from the lights and patterned tiles to the cat decorations she has chosen to display.
Here, we have asked her to shed some light on her entire renovation experience using the Qanvast mobile app, from picking an interior designer to seeing the finished home that she’s proud to call her own. To add to that, she reveals highlights and also challenges she faced during the journey, offering advice to other first-time homeowners.
Qanvast: We love how your home looks, and how it reflects your personality. Where did you get inspiration for your interior design?
Lai Ching (LC): Thank you! I found inspiration from browsing through magazines, Instagram and the Qanvast mobile app. But the funny thing is, I usually cannot remember what I see in magazines. I personally like to visit retail stores and showrooms, where I can touch and feel the products, in order to get a better idea of what I really want.
My friend also recommended me this mobile app, Houzz, which I used to look for visual inspiration. It’s great for getting ideas but because it’s based overseas, it was difficult to find the featured products in Singapore.
Qanvast: We’re glad you used Qanvast during your research! What are the things you found most useful?
LC: I like that I was able to get inspiration from the many homes listed in the app, where new houses and styles are being uploaded daily.
Another great feature is the ability to request for quotes from interior designers who are recommended by the app based on my needs and preferences. It’s really about the ability to narrow down my choices. From my experience, you need to find an interior designer whom you have good chemistry with, and who embodies your style. The app helps save time by nailing down suitable interior designers for you.
I also like that Qanvast regularly features new and interesting products. Once, I was looking for clothesline, and the app coincidentally featured automatic clothesline systems.
Qanvast: What are your tips in selecting an interior designer, and why did you ultimately go with Habit?
LC: The first thing you need to do is to look at the interior designers’ portfolio of projects. After sharing with them your vision, listen to their interpretation and see if you like it.
The second thing is follow up. Make sure that the interior designer does not hard sell, and gives you sufficient space to consider and make decisions. If they are still active in following up with you, it shows that they are genuinely interested in designing your home. It’s as much about the overall proposal as the effort they put in that will make the project work.
I spoke to Habit and other interior designers. One of them was too expensive, and they didn’t seem serious. Maybe to them my home is just a small project. In the end, Habit was the most consistent in their follow up, which was why I chose them.
Qanvast: Tell us more about your renovation journey with Habit.
LC: I had a very smooth renovation journey, thanks to the team at Habit. We had good synergy and they were able to interpret my tastes and preferences really well. They were also very efficient, and there were minimal hiccups.
It’s important to provide a clear objective for the interior designer to work with. I like that Habit was very open and honest in their communication, offering great choices and advice for me to consider.
It is also crucial to raise your requirements and concerns early. I told Habit that I wanted a 3-door shoe cabinet, but I was worried about whether there would be enough walkway space. By telling them what my requirements and concerns were, they were able to work around them.
In short, I told them what is essential and what is nice to have, so it’s easy for them to prioritise the renovation work.
All in all, two things – know what you want and always communicate!
Qanvast: Any renovation secrets to offer when it comes to designing your dream home?
LC: Plan - Start early! My renovation took 7 weeks to complete. I didn’t realize that there were so many details to work out, and it didn’t help that I was very busy at work. For example, as a first-time homeowner, I was shocked that furniture takes 8-12 weeks to deliver!
Be yourself - It’s also important to be yourself. Everyone says light-coloured houses are impractical but I find them so beautiful. I like modern classic, so I made sure I kept to this consistent theme, if not I would have ended up with a mess of styles.
Be realistic - One other thing to note is that you have to be realistic with what you ask for and what your budget is. Interior designers can easily give you a very cheap budget to win your project but you will be unpleasantly surprised by the quality. If the quote based on your brief is too high, you will need to reprioritise. For instance, I told Habit not to spend too much on the storeroom, which means we were able to reallocate the budget to areas we thought were more important.
Habit's portfolio are available in our Qanvast app. Download the app to view more of their other projects and other homeowners' reviews, or see below for more renovations done by Habit.