This Insta-Worthy 4-Room BTO Will Give You Major Home Envy
Based in Hong Kong with her husband, homeowner Jennifer flew back to Singapore to oversee the renovation of her 4-bedroom BTO flat in Bukit Batok.
To bring her ideas to life, Jennifer engaged the help of interior designer James from Charlotte's Carpentry, who transformed her bare unit into a warm and cosy abode.
On finding an interior designer
Jennifer (J): I met up with about six interior designers from Qanvast. Most of these designers were able to give great ideas but they weren’t exactly what I wanted.
J: It was then that I came across Charlotte’s Carpentry and met James, my interior designer. Compared to the other designers that I met, he was able to improvise and give me ideas based on my lifestyle and my preferences - he didn't just follow a standard template for the design.
On their requirements
J: We’re quite free-spirited so we wanted a space where we could just kick back and relax. As we love entertaining and having friends over, we also wanted a design that is cosy and welcoming. To that end, our island was a must-have because we wanted a space that is perfect for entertaining.
J: When it came to the specifics, I knew I wanted accent floors and marble finishing. Colour-wise? A home with warm colours.
On their inspiration
J: I turned to home décor websites and Pinterest for inspiration. I also went down to quite a few ceramic tile shops to browse through their selection of tiles. It was time-consuming but I was quite lucky that I had the time to do all these.
On working with James from Charlotte's Carpentry
J: James is very creative; whenever I told him of a certain feature or design I liked, he would look it up if he has never done it before. For example, I didn’t want a feature wall at first because I feel that they always look bulky, heavy and just not stylish. He did some research and presented some ideas to me. In the end, there was a particular design that I really liked and we went with that!
J: During the renovation, James was very responsive and would provide me with timely updates on the renovation. I spotted one or two flaws and he managed to rectify them very quickly. Overall, I had quite a smooth renovation and I’m very satisfied with their service.
On managing their budget
J: James was always very clear when it came to providing me with the prices of different materials so that I could have a few different options and allocate my budget. For instance, he brought me down to take a look at the different grades of quartz, and was very clear about how much I would have to pay if I wanted a particular grade of quartz.
On an interesting home feature
J: I told James that I wanted the wardrobe in my bedroom to have a herringbone design so that it wouldn’t look so boring. Most designers would probably just play with the laminate to achieve such a design but James had a creative idea of doing a V-line groove so that the herringbone pattern takes on a 3D quality. He also suggested using clear varnish to help it to stand out even more. He definitely has some creative ideas up his sleeve.
On space planning
J: James was good at spatial planning. I wanted to have an island in my home even though there isn’t a lot of space and James was able to plan the layout in such a way to accommodate the island.
About the furniture
J: I bought a lot of things online from Taobao and shipped them in. There’s always a risk involved with buying items online but the price is so much more affordable than if I were to buy these items from Singapore. I got my cupboard, stool, glass table and dining table from Taobao.
On their biggest splurge
J: That will have to be my sofa from King Living which costs $2,200. It’s modular so the arm rest and the head rest can be swapped. It also comes with attachments for the lights and the side table.
On shopping from Taobao
J: I lived in China for six years before moving to Hong Kong so I kind of know what to look out for when buying items from Taobao; you should avoid items that are too cheap because the quality tends to be slightly off for items that are extremely cheap.
On renovation hiccups
J: Prior to the commencement of my renovation, I realised that the HDB floor screeding wasn’t done well and I had to arrange with HDB for the workers to come back to fix it. It took me about a month of chasing to get them to come down and this delayed my renovation.
J: On the part of my interior designer, there were no delays and in fact, I was pleasantly surprised because there were no major rectifications.
Some advice for other homeowners
J: Doing your homework is very important. You need to know what you want so that your interior designer can tailor their designs to your lifestyle. You also need to be able to give your interior designer some direction because it guides them and helps them with their creative juices. This also ensures that the end result will be what you want.
J: You should also be mindful to give yourself a buffer because the pricing for certain things may fall out of your control.