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Renovation Journey: Years In The Making

At A Glance

  • Si Jay and Charmaine, late 20s, aviation underwriter and public servant
  • Home to 2 adults
  • Area Size: 90sqm / 968 sqft
  • Location: Telok Blangah Heights
  • Cost of Renovation: $51,000
  • Cost of Furnishing: $24,000
  • Interior Design Firm: M3 Studio
  • Interior Designer: Su Min

A self-proclaimed ‘kancheong’ couple, Charmaine and Si Jay knew exactly what they wanted for their home and were ready to furnish the house even before they had collected the keys.

Renovation Journey: Years In The Making
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Qanvast: What kind of theme did you want for your house?

Charmaine (C): I like vintage things so it was a common thread throughout our home. The retro vibe of our home is probably because of the furnishings which we have placed around the house. We have lots of Peranakan tiles which we purchased from Sungei Road hanging on the living room wall. We told Su Min the few key furniture pieces we want to highlight.

Since we have a lot of furnishings, the overarching design theme has to be simple - a black and white theme. The green tiles you see around our house are inspired by what we saw at TANGS department store.

Renovation Journey: Years In The Making
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Qanvast: What were some interesting designs which Su Min created for your home?

C: We had a lot of ideas for our home and Su Min helped to put everything together in a coherent manner. For instance, I wanted ventilation blocks but wasn’t too sure where to place them and Su Min made the brilliant suggestion of using them for the feature wall.

Then there's the storage bay ledge beside the window in the dining area which Su Min transformed into a cosy corner for us to unwind in.

Renovation Journey: Years In The Making
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Qanvast: How did you come to enlist the services of Su Min from M3 Studio?

C: M3 Studio was one of the firms that we had come across while doing our research using the Qanvast app. We really liked their work so we decided to set up a meeting with them. When we met Su Min, we felt that we had an instant connection with her. She was able to understand what we want for the house and we felt comfortable entrusting our home renovation to her.

Renovation Journey: Years In The Making
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Qanvast: Was it easy to work with her?

C: Yes. She’s very accommodating and understanding. We encountered a delay in our key collection and we were really anxious to move in. Coincidentally, she was on two weeks wedding leave, but she would still take the effort to reply our messages promptly. This shows her commitment to our project.

Si Jay (SJ): We could tell that she was very excited about the project. When she was on-site, she would always send us photos and videos of what has been completed on that day. It put us at ease because we know that she is very invested in the project.

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Qanvast: Were there any moments where she wowed you with her service?

SJ: There was once when I popped by the house to oversee the renovation works. There were about fifteen contractors there at that time and they were all doing their work, without getting in each other's way. I was really impressed by her coordination skills and her team of contractors. She really managed to achieve maximum efficiency!

Qanvast: Where did you buy your furniture from?

C: Actually, we bought all our furniture before we moved in [laughs]. We started collecting things a long time ago and we would store all these at my uncle’s warehouse or at my mum’s place.

Some of our furniture were from the International Furniture Fair Singapore (IFFS). It comes around once a year and if you sign up a buyer, you can visit on the first day and buy the sample pieces at really good rates. We got our sideboard for just $450 from there which we felt was really affordable. I also remember that our coffee table which we purchased at Commune at a 20% discount, and it was selling at 50% off at the IFFS. If only we hadn’t purchased the coffee table earlier [laughs].

For the decor items, they are pretty much around the world like Barcelona, Penang and India. Yes, we lugged them back!

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Qanvast: So would you say that it’s better to purchase furniture prior to the home renovation?

C: It depends on the homeowners’ modus operandi. If they have a very strong idea of the style that they want, they will most probably be able to incorporate the pieces which they have picked out beforehand into the overall design of the home.

SJ: For us, we picked complementary pieces so that they would be able to fit the same theme. The first piece that we bought was the sofa followed by the dining set which had a similar design of slim legs so that both could fit the theme.

Renovation Journey: Years In The Making
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Qanvast: Any parting advice for young homeowners?

SJ: Start your renovation research early. Homeowners should begin sourcing for inspiration before meeting up with interior designers so that they can start to formalise the design that they want. This makes the whole renovation process more efficient as the interior designers can get to work more quickly on tying together all the design elements.

C: Homeowners can also consider creating an Excel sheet where they can list down every purchase that they made for the house so that they can keep track of their budget. Lastly, it helps if you and your partner are on the same page. Compromising is important.

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