Designing your own home? 6 Singapore homeowners share their top tips
If you're planning to design your own space, there's no one better to ask for advice from than those who've been there and done that. We glean tips from these Singapore homeowners who took a hands-on approach when it came to creating their dream home.
"Less is more! Often it seems people make the mistake of trying to include too many elements into one home. In fact, it is more challenging to design a simple home, than it is to design one with all sorts of features.
Create mood boards to help you get an idea of the textures, colours and materials you prefer. In addition, think carefully about your lifestyle."
Helan Marjan and Rafi Marjan's three-storey terraced house was inspired by modern house designs in Tokyo, with polished concrete, natural wood accents, open staircases and clean white walls.
"Freelance graphic designer Chia Ching Kai’s advice is to start clean. “Rely on the art of furnishing and decoration whereby you can move or change things around to give character to the space, instead of using permanent fixtures that may become dated as design trends evolve.”
"Think about what the core space of your home will be. Be it the bedrooms, living room or kitchen, there is a space that will set parameters for the rest of the home, so getting that right is crucial.
There will always be issues that come up. regardless of how well thought out the design is. Being flexible and understanding is crucial to making it work for all parties."
Nicholas Teoh and Chew Ru Shan's matrimonial home, this condominium unit in a two decades old was transformed with a New York City industrial loft concept. Though armed with experiences in architecture, interior and graphic design, it was no mean feat as the works carried out were extensive.
"An element may not look outstanding on its own, so you have to mix and match well. Foro instance, my wife initially did not like the teal laminate for the master bedroom console.
However, after I paired it with brass handles and designed the wardrobe, she's impressed with the outcome.
And with upcycled or antique furniture, it is all about finding the right spots and proportion. I usually try with affordable items; if something doesn't work out, at least it can be changed without denting your wallet."
Desmond Leong, who runs Thelonius Interior Concept & Design, designed his three-bedroom condominium himself in an Oriental-European style – including upcycling furniture, which he modified and enhanced on his own. (march 2019)
"It is definitely possible (for homeowners who have no design background to take on their home renovation), but working with a good contractor is ket because he can guide the homeowner along the way. While price is an important consideration, it is crucial to work with a contractor who appreciates design.
You need to know what you must have and what you are willing to forego. Do not get too hung up about an idea because there is always an alternative to achieve similar results. Try to appreciate what exists and think about how you can build on it, instead of demolishing everything."
"Firstly, know what you want, down to the very last detail; secondly, have a hands-on approach (he visited the site every day!); and thirdly, to find a contractor that not only does good work, but can communicate clearly with you."
Choo Chin Nian, who's the creative head of National Gallery Singapore, took on the renovation of his pastel utilitarian three-room HDB resale appartment. He strongly believes in the Japanese design philosophy of starting each design process on a blank slate and finding a strong core that informs the rest of the design, looking in particular to Muji and its creative director Kenya Hara for inspiration.