- Michelle, 40, a freelance travel planner
- Home to: Michelle and her spouse
- Location: Punggol Topaz (BTO)
- Size: 1140 sqft / 106 sqm
- Cost of renovation: $46,000
- Cost of furnishings and appliances: $20,000
- Interior design firm: Edge Interior
- Interior designer: Sharon
Despite being a second-time homeowner, it wasn't exactly easy for Michelle to renovate her new apartment, in another country. With the help of a trusted designer, she now lives in a cosy, tranquil home that is largely inspired by the Scandinavian design.
Qanvast: We heard that you are a second-time homeowner. How was your first home renovation experience like?
Michelle (M): My first renovation was my home in Johor and the experience wasn’t good. To engage an interior designer in Malaysia isn’t cheap, and it is difficult to find for a good one. The contractor that I engaged was alright at the beginning, and then the renovation dragged for 6 months as the guy who was also a carpenter, had carpentry jobs to juggle as well. His working style is also a little different – they hardly use computers, everything was hand-drawn and that took time.
The renovation back then was really inconvenient and I was so relieved when it was over.
Qanvast: Was it any easier to renovate the second time round?
M: Whether you’re doing it for the first or second time, planning for a home renovation can be confusing. My spouse didn’t exactly contribute much to the research and I have to often travel around, thus, I tried to simplify the search process.
This time round, I didn’t want to go though the trouble of coordinating and managing everything as per what I did for my first home. Thus, I decided to go with an interior designer. I also told myself to keep the selection process of an interior designer easy. I shortlisted the firms and zoomed into the list pretty quickly.
Qanvast: How did you do that?
M: First you have to decide the design you want. I wanted a soothing, and pleasing to the eye type of design. There were so many images and ideas and it wasn’t easy to nail down the type of design. I emailed a couple of firms, and then waited for them to get back to me.
Everything was quite smooth, and pretty much on time. Of course there were delays but it was mainly due to my absence as I was constantly travelling, thus I was not able to confirm the plans.
Qanvast: Where did you look for ideas and interior designers?
M: I looked mainly at online portals and forums etc, and I saw positive comments on Qanvast; so that’s how I got to know about the app. I was really amazed by the number of portfolios shown in there - so many beautiful houses and I was distracted by the various ideas! The renovation prices indicated in the app is also useful; it gives a very good idea on budgeting.
Qanvast: What do you like about Edge Interior?
M: I was really comfortable talking to them as compared to the other firms. As I didn’t want to meet up with so many designers and end up being more confused, I went with Edge Interior as they could also meet my budget.
As I have to fly abroad often, Sharon accommodated to my schedule - she will meet at my place late at night to discuss on the proposal. She also provided regular updates on what is going on, and even recommended that I approached her suppliers directly so that I can skip her commission.
Sharon was also quite enthusiastic in designing my house. She did it the way I wanted – a design that is soothing and pleasing to the eyes.
Qanvast: Share with us 3 lessons you learnt from your renovation experiences.
M: Always have a buffer for your renovation budget instead of sticking firmly to that amount. Along the way, we had a slight change in the design proposal and the cost was adjusted from the original quote.
When it comes to big-ticket furnishings, take brand and quality into consideration. Once I bought a relatively cheap sofa and I had to look for a new piece to replace the broken set a year later. From then on, I only look at reliable brands for sofa sets.
Lastly, pick a designer who is able to advise on the pros and cons of doing certain ideas, instead of simply executing what you want.
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