2013-03-29

Home decor part 1: Living room and kitchen

Wow, so many things are happening for me at once!!

Firstly, I'm going to have Dashiel finally come into my life on Sunday the 31th of March 2013. 31/3/13, nice birthday huh? That's in 2 days' time. But today I'm not gonna be talking about babies (I bet some of you are so sick of that topic), today I've got something everyone has been bugging me for MONTHS about...

FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY, my house tour!!

I'm so overwhelmed with feelings about this I've got to write a huge chunk about renovations first. If you are impatient, just scroll down the words and go right to the photos. I'm kidding. YOU STAY AND READ WHAT I HAVE TO SAY YO IT IS VERY HEARTFELT AND ALL.

So. Before I got pregnant and the burgeoning belly took over all priorities, my house and the ensuing renovations took over my life. I WAS OBSESSED.

I would spend hours browsing home decor magazines and websites. So many talks with my interior designer Wayne about ideas and what can or cannot be done. I dreamt up the dream home and would just go into the empty pre-renovated house and just sit there daydreaming and visualizing the end result.

About a few years ago Cheesie told me she was buying a house. By herself with all the money she saved. At that age (say, 24?) I hated hearing others talk about "adult" decision things especially those that involved a lot of bureaucracy and paperwork, like CPF and housing and what not.

I just wanted to breeze through life, spend whatever I earn and earn more if I finish spending. I thought Cheesie was mad... Just find a rich boyfriend and move in with him wtf.

And yet she always said that having a house under her own name is something that she is the most proud of and one of the best decisions made in her life.

Fast forward to 28, I wonder why I never listened to Cheesie's wise words. Her house has already doubled in value or something wtf, don't think that woman is a bimbo just coz of how many self shots she takes.

For 5 years Mike and I rented apartments and we were hemorrhaging money every month.

Now that I have a place to call my own, I finally appreciate the pride, happiness and security that comes from owning a property... Moreover a property that is renovated exactly to the style and design you want, a place you are so excited to come back to everyday, that you can truly call home.

And I'm so glad to share it with the love of my life and the little new addition to my family soon.

I'm sure you guys already know... My renovation took AGES. Almost a year. Most HDB renovations don't take so long, but a lot of my items had to be indented (renovation jargon for shipped in) from various countries etc, and my place, being an old executive (that's the size of maisonettes but in 1 storey) flat, is quite big and super derelict. EVERYTHING needed to be torn down and rebuilt.

Not kidding, I basically left NOTHING of the original flat behind. Every single tile torn up, every wall replastered and repainted or wallpapered up. Toilet bowls, sinks, wardrobes all abolished and renewed.

Even the electricity had to be completely rewired and cost us $6,000 - this doesn't include all the prices of the chandeliers and lights. Luckily, semi sponsored by J.E.N lighting.

Getting your dream home requires a lot of determination and perseverance. The first step for us was to find a good resale flat, and that itself took use MONTHS and going to like 50 different HDBs before we found the one we liked. After that it was settling a lot of fussy paperwork with HDB for the loan. Man, I'm so glad that bit is over.

When it came to renovations, I knew ZILCH.

Thank god Wayne is the best freaking ID and contractor in the world. He is extremely knowledgeable, super hardworking and very hands-on with good taste - and the best thing I like about him is that he is a crazy perfectionist but at the same time he respects the vision I want and doesn't push me to do designs I don't like just because it is trendy or easy.

Because I chose a VINTAGE BEACH THEME - and ask any ID - vintage is hard to do and expensive, especially in Singapore. Most Singaporeans opt for a modern/cosmopolitian/minimalist look. The corresponding furniture is easy to find and thus also easier on the pocket. But I hated the mod look, especially those that are red-black-white. It is just super not ME!!

After browsing through every home decor theme there is, Mike and I finally agreed on the beach theme.

Loads of blues (in particular blue green, like the Tiffany blue), white and sand colours... The house is to be very airy and look like a vacation beach home. Reason? We both love beach holidays and blue-green is Mike's favourite colour and my second favourite colour. Think seashells, starfish and Mediterranean oceans... I was so excited!!

(Btw beach theme not to be mistaken with nautical theme, which is red/navy/white/gold and darker in general)

Oh and we decided we could each decorate our own toilets and 1 room for ourselves. The Princess Room and Guest toilet are mine to make decor decisions on - and I decided on a floral Liz Lisa inspired theme. In home decor jargon, this is also known as a shabby chic theme!

Once we decided on what needed to be done, the next step was to find the appropriate people to do it. My god this was hard.

Imagine you needed tiles, painters, windows, carpenters, electricians, bathroom fixtures, furniture ETC ETC... Not only do you have to source the best and most economical of them, they all have to work together in tandem to create your dream home.

Lucky for Mike and me, so many awesome possum sponsors approached us and I have to say, I am so darn impressed with everybody's work.

Throughout the year, I never had to yell at anybody or complain about shoddy work. That's why I'm very very confident about the sponsors I will be listing in this blog entry. I genuinely hope, that when you get your first house and is completely flummoxed like me about who to serve your renovation needs, you find this list useful. I know for sure all of them will not disappoint you. Well, I don't need to say too much, just look at the pictures and you will know.

Despite all the sponsorship I was given, valued at probably about a hundred thousand dollars in total (how come I'm so blessed T_T), Mike and I still spent about $80-90k on renovation that were not sponsored or just semi sponsored. We both basically emptied our bank accounts. :(

If you ask me now, I was completely blindsided by how much was needed. I thought we'd have to spend $40k at best.

It is a hell lot of money. But I was determined to get my dream house and money has to be spent somewhere - what better than the house I spend most of my time in? As I am sitting in my Princess Room writing this, I don't regret it one bit. I wanted everything perfect because I knew I wasn't going to renovate my house after this for a long time and I'm going to be staying in it for YEARS to come.

I knew if I did a half assed renovation job I will just live with the ugliness forever and not bother later on. You know people who "temporarily" use a shower curtain for a window curtain or balance their tv on a stool and after months they just accept it as the way it is and not bother anymore? I didn't want that!!

So for this one year I really worked very hard on the house... I made hundreds of big and little decisions on every colour/fabric/design you see, and was constantly on the lookout to buy anything that will make my house prettier. Of course, I must share a lot of the credit with Wayne too. At long last, I think we produced a very tastefully designed house that everyone says is gorgeous. *wipes tear* I'm quite proud of myself really.

Ok finally I'm done with the yakking. In this entry I will just be showing you photos from my Living Room and Kitchen!! I will be showing the rest of the house in later blog entries, including the Princess Room which I know a lot of you are waiting for.


To aid your understanding, here is the floor plan:




And here is the MODIFIED floor plan of the Living room and Kitchen area:


This is the view of the living room when you first come in:

(Most of the pictures are enlargeable)




The wall behind the couch is a giant wall sticker of a beach!! It's such a pretty scene, makes me feel so happy everytime I see those clear waters and pristine sand.

It is challenging to get an authentic beach feel in a HDB flat - after all, what makes beach houses look like beach houses is that you can actually see a beach out of the window! Since I couldn't have that, the next best thing is a fake beach on my wall I guess.

Everybody also loves the oak beams on the ceiling (actually just an oak laminate)... The wires to all the LED lights are hidden in the false ceilings and they are made by my carpenter Eastern Furniture and Renovation. Not to mention also, the planked-looking false wall behind the TV. I found the best EVER vintage-looking white wood laminate from TAK and my carpenter cut it into strips to look like planks. Love it!!!

Most of the house is carpeted because Mike and I both LOVE carpet.

I know it isn't a popular choice with Singaporeans who like to say it is dusty, but I don't really feel it is? And no need to mop, only vacuum! Plus, the carpet is supposed to look like sand on the beach. :D

My carpet sponsor D'zander did such a fabulous job laying the carpet too... No corners flipping up whatsoever!


This is my mantlepiece... The cabinet is from Ikea and all the things displayed there are accumulated over the months by me as I collected beach-y items like a magpie. A lot are bought from Taobao at very cheap prices and Qiuqiu helped me with the shipping!! :D


I am in love with my TV console area!! Console built from scratch by my carpenter once again in TAK's oak laminate. The giant TV is a gift from Gillian and Bryan for my helping them with an advert long ago... I told them to buy me something smaller like an oven but they got me a hugeass telly wtf. :')

Anyway we made the TV swivel-able so we can watch TV while we are eating at the dining table!! Super love!!

I love the little foam buoy we hung above the TV that says "Welcome aboard". :D

Oh and you must be wondering about that metal-looking strip behind the TV.


 Ladies and gentlemen, this is an Eubiq power track.

You know what one of my biggest pet peeves is? Electrical extension cords.


THEY ARE SO MAD FUGLY.

NO, JUST NO. I HATE THEM. They are always lying on the floor with shitloads of tangled up wires and dust and dirt and so many of them get yellow and gross with age.

NO MORE OF THAT NONSENSE.

Eubiq power tracks are the way to go!!

Mike told me about how he wanted these tracks in his workshop. Dreamy-eyed, he spoke of tracks embedded in walls that you can plug in your electronics anywhere you wanted. I was initially like WTF you talking about such things don't exist. BUT THEY DO!

So as you can see, we had one neat track embedded behind the TV to supply electricity to all our TV related electronics... The track came with adapters that can you simply turn and put anywhere else on the track. Plus it looked so darn chic with the blue light... OMG I love it!!

This is why my TV console's wires are so neat and tidy... We added two more adapters on each side in case guests want to charge their phones etc. The adapters came in USB version too, how convenient!


On either sides of our console are our speakers, which obviously look too modern for our vintage theme... So I came up with the brilliant idea of wrapping them with rope! :D

Ok backtrack a little actually the first thing you see when you come into the house is not the living room... It is my front door!!


And this is how my front door looks like... My door sponsor, Yontat, is one of the biggest door manufacturers in Singapore... Besides choosing my doors, I also got to choose my front door lock!

Don't blow off this decision as something unimportant. Afterall, most of us have to lock and unlock the front door at least twice a day, right?

Having a difficult lock is very frustrating especially when you are carrying heavy groceries or having an extremely tired day. Personally I HATE those locks that have the potential to lock you outside the house if you leave the house without a key.

That's why I SUPER LOVE MY YALE LOCK. Ok fine I'm freaking gushing over a lock like are you serious but I REALLY LOVE IT LAH!! It is so high techy and awesome!!

Firstly, NO KEYS REQUIRED. I hate having to remember to bring keys out and they are so heavy and scratch your phone's screen in your bag. How much time is spent finding lost keys or digging in your bag for keys??

All I need is my finger - scans my fingerprint!! I was very skeptical about this and thought it would not work 50% of the time, but to my huge surprise it works, EVERYTIME. Plus it can remember up to 10 people's fingerprints so I stored my mom's and also Shuyin's so they can come in whenever!

Alternate way to come in is the pin code system. If say someone from Nuffnang wants to deliver something to me and I am not home, I can just give the nuffie the pin and change it to something else later. Isn't it awesome?

Plus the lock has an alarm system that lets me know if anyone is trying to open the door... They fail more than a few times, the lock wails. The battery is supposed to last about a year. So far I haven't changed batteries yet! If you are outside while the battery dies, just go buy a 9 volt battery and stick it under the lock so it will temporarily work and let you in. :D


If you are also needing new doors for your house, veneer doors are the way to go! Apparently that's what all the condos use.


On the right of the front door is my shoe cabinet, built from scratch by my carpenter!

I LOVE the seafoam green worn out wood laminate also from TAK. My shoe cabinet is so big I can't even fill it with all the shoes I've got!!

In the middle of it is an alcove Wayne designed, he said to put a mirror (for last min checks before leaving the house) and cushions there behind a portrait frame so people can sit there and wear shoes.



Horror... This is how it used to look like pre renovation.


 So much space for shoes... It is deep enough to put double layers.



It's the little details that count... Starfish light I bought from taobao in the alcove...


Here's my balcony and bookshelf!!

I chose this super pleasing shade of blue-green from Nippon paint for the balcony... The white ratten furniture are semi sponsored by Comfort design... They specialize in chairs and I customized this set with white ratten and turquoise cushions!

Another view


I've always wanted a swing at home! My mom got this from the Salvation army at $20 only omg. Initially it was white and she washed it with a hose and it turned this yellow colour lol... Turns out it was only white coz of dust. Well I try not to think about how dirty it could be because sitting on it is really therapeutic.

For the balcony we chose these tiles that look like oak wooden planks from Soon Bee Huat... I super love it!!! They actually look very vintage and look convincingly like old wood - except it's actually new tiles. When you step on it it feels pleasantly rough on the foot and cooling - great for SG weather.

And yes that's my Electrolux Ergorapido in the corner!! Most convenient vacuum cleaner ever. It is cordless, so anytime anywhere just turn it on to use... There is even light so you can see what you are cleaning. A dream for people with pets that shed!! And if you look carefully you can see an even smaller vacuum cleaner that you can pluck out... I used it everyday to clean Igloo's poop that he might scatter around. Super love it!!

Want it??? Electrolux is giving away this awesome vacuum cleaner to lucky readers! I will provide more details later.


Noticed something?

Once the curtains are opened the house loses the entire beach feel... The view usually sucks in most HDB flats I guess, and that's why curtains are so super important!!!

If I could give a home decor advice, I would say don't scrimp on curtains. A lot of people feel that if they don't have enough budget, they can save on curtains by either getting cheaper non-customized ikea sorts, or god forbid, use shower curtains or bedsheets instead.

Until I witnessed how curtains transformed the looks of my house completely, I never would have believed the difference customized curtains can make!! Having curtains that are tailored to exactly end right before it touches your floor gives the illusion of full length windows, even if they are not. Totally adds so much class immediately.

I super love all the curtains from my house that I chose from D'zander. They are just a small family business doing curtains and soft furnishing for decades now and they gave me excellent service, not to mention fabulous curtains that provided exactly that airy beach home look that I wanted.


This is the corridor leading to the rooms.... On the left, my island and bar!! In case you are wondering, the corridor is painted with Nippon paint in the colour Charming. I LOVE THIS COLOUR SO MUCH IT REALLY IS CHARMING lol.



This is how my dining room/dry kitchen looks like!!

If you noticed from the original floor plan, the dining room was not supposed to be here at all. This entire space was supposed to be my giant ass kitchen, which I felt was too big so I split it in half and put the dining table here. It is great too because we can watch the living room TV while we eat :)

The island/dining table is built by my carpenter as well, including the cute vintage-looking table leg!


Got my blue-green chandelier also from Taobao... I spent an entire day at those chandelier shops along balestier road and was so freaking irritated... All the chandeliers sold in SG cost at least like $1,000 for the smallest ones and they were all so old fashioned and gaudy looking. A lot of them looked like they have been in the shops for years. Granted, a lot of the chandeliers were made of real crystals but I really wasn't willing to part $2k for a chandelier that was the size I wanted.

So I went to taobao to see and got this blue green one for freaking $90. I even bought a white one in the same design too because it's so cheap I didn't mind just choosing whichever I preferred once the shipment is here. The white I've since given to my brother for his room.

The crystals are plastic, not crystal, but I didn't need crystals anyway - I'd rather have one that matches my teal theme and I found NONE in the sg shops. Taobao is freaking fantastic for chandeliers. I saw some of the shops selling for $500 what taobao is selling for $100. I know they need to turn a profit but a 500% profit?! HEI DIAN!! I don't know how they are surviving!


My gorgeous mint green SMEG fridge, semi sponsored by Unilite! Totally matches the theme right?

I must say, SMEG fridges are quite expensive, but what to do? Most modern fridges will look so out of place in my house... Smeg fridges look very retro and comes in a multitude of super pretty colours!! Unilite is running a great promotion for Smeg fridges and the Electrolux products featured in this blog entry... I will be posting more about that later.

And yes if you noticed from the floor plan... Those cupboard doors beside the fridge (also built by my carpenter) actually hide the entrance to the guest toilet!!

I won't be posting about the toilet today, I wanted it in the same entry as my Princess room, but you will get a sneak preview of it in the GTL video I will be embedding later!


The working mechanics of my drawers are all sponsored by blum!! Can you say INNOVATION?

Gotta love their special U-shaped drawers that fit under sinks... Usually you cannot have drawers under sinks due to the plumbing, but this is perfect for our glasses!!

Blum's servo drives means none of my drawers have handles... Simply push and they pop out... Push again and it shuts automatically. Very high tech and convenient!

Entering the wet kitchen...



Put a sticker on the glass door so nobody bangs into it.

If you noticed my kitchen sink is also BLUE GREEN!!! It is finding all these treasures along the way that made me so happy... I got my sink from an old shop and actually, acrylic coloured sinks/toilet bowls/bathtubs are all no longer in production. They are simply unpopular - most people just choose chrome sinks nowadays. So I got mine, the last in the shop and no longer in production for less than $100. So freaking happy coz it super matches my theme and it is so unique!


The kitchen is kept in the same colour theme as outside. For my kitchen cabinets I chose the same white worn wood laminate as my living room false wall. Floor tiles the same as my balcony's. The kitchen tops in white solid surface. On the walls is glass for an easy wipe down in teal. And of course all built by my carpenter! The layout is designed by Wayne.

I now have so much cupboard space that a lot of them are quite empty. o_O


Hello Igloo!
And here's the BEFORE:



How did the old owners live like that :X


The laundry area is also where I place my washer and dryer and Igloo's litter box. In the day he has a pretty big fenced up area to lounge in, and at night when Mike is home we let him out into the living room to spend time with us. Most of the time he automatically goes back to his home after a few hours.

At the back - my Electrolux washing machine and dryer!!

They are so generous and gave me the BEST products!! 7kg washing machine means bigger batches of laundry each time and saving water... Front loading too so that a dryer can be stacked on it to save space!

The dryer IS MY FAVOURITE. Electrolux Iron Aid is a condenser system which means NO MORE bigass tube I have to stick out of a window!!! The iron-aid system built in even helps "iron" clothes while drying it for you... I don't know how it does all these but it's just AMAZING. As it is I already love dryers because I hate hanging clothes out to dry... Now it's helping me iron too? GEEZ!!



Grohe is sponsoring all my mixers.... These include taps and showerheads and other bathroom furnishings... I SUPER LOVE THEIR STUFF!!!

As you all know, Grohe stuff are from Germany and they are pretty high end products.

I love that their products are all extremely chic - you can tell just by looking at that it is not a cheapo tap or showerhead - but yet Grohe doesn't scream the brand in your face. The brand is usually stamped pretty small, only upon scrutiny will you realise, hey, I've seen this brand in luxury hotels when I took a shower. I love it, having their mixers in your home is like carrying a Prada bag with the smallest of labels... If you notice it you notice it, all the more classy!

My kitchen tap is called Grohe Blue - best tap ever! Turning the knob turns on a filter so you can directly drink water from the tap. How convenient!! The fact that there is a pretty blue LED light on it also doesn't hurt. :D

Now a kitchen is not just about looking pretty... It is afterall a place for COOKING!! And I realised my cooking has improved by leaps and bounds thanks to all the Electrolux cooking appliances!!


The gas hob I chose lights up a fire everytime without a lighter's help and I don't know why but the fire produced goes from SUPER huge to small. I've never seen another hob give such powerful flames, it is great for stir-frying stuff that need high heat.


My microwave is also a mini oven and other than heating food up you can even toast bread in it.


My oven-oven is FREAKING AWESOME. I had an oven in one of my rental houses before and everytime I tried to bake something it shorts the electricity in the whole house wtf. When it DOES work, the temperature won't be even. I've used a few people's ovens with the same problem, causing cakes to be ruined (top burnt, bottom raw).

But my oven works perfectly all the time!! Even my mother-in-law when she visited from Texas said the oven is great (Americans use ovens a lot more than Singaporeans so they know a good oven when they see one) coz the turkey she cooked was supposed to be done in 4 hours and the oven did it in 1.5hrs. And it was perfectly done, succulent and juicy!


The inside of my drawers organized with Blum's Orga Line... So neat and tidy, I love it!


Another Blum innovation - corner drawers!!

Ok here's the last photo... I want to show you guys one of the favourite things about my new house...


It is insect screens for ALL my windows. Bear with me, I need to rave about this.

I blogged before about how much I HATE having roaches and lizards at home. Nothing turns me off more in a house than having these bloody vermin suddenly appear before me. Roaches are easy enough to kill with a rolled up newspaper or poison spray, but lizards are super hard to get rid of. Worst thing? I tried to google how long house lizards live, and it seems that the internet didn't have a concise answer. I gathered from various answers, however, that it is UP TO 10 YEARS.

So if you see a lizard in your house, it is unlikely he will move out anytime soon and you have to live with the fucker for YEARS ON END. I've had lizards drop on me when I'm showering, sneak into food I leave on the table, make their stupid tut-tut-tut noise throughout the night, and leave their stupid black and white shit all over my stuff. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

When I had my own house, I was determined to solve this problem once and for all - by having screened windows.

Screened windows are extremely common and popular in the states, and I don't understand for the life of me why it doesn't seem popular in Singapore where roaches, lizards and mosquitos are so common.

It is such a great solution - magnetic strips around your window, and you paste the screen on. When you want to open or close your window, just pull on the tab at the corner. You can choose white, grey or black screens. When my sponsor Matthew came to install the screens, I was surprised to learn that the insect screens were actually very affordable, at $33 for small windows! Plus you can save money by installing it yourself.

Now even though I stay in a low floor, my house has ABSOLUTELY no insects. I cannot begin to say how pleased I am about this!!!!!!! EVERYBODY SHOULD HAVE THIS IN THEIR HOUSE I SWEAR.


Want to see the house in motion? Watch the latest Guide to Life on my House Tour Part 1!





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Are you renovating your place too?? Here are some promotions/contests that my sponsors are running:

Electrolux:

WIN the Electrolux Ergorapido cordless vacuum cleaner featured in my blog entry!!

Not just 1, but 3 winners will be picked and it is SO simple to win.

How? From now till 17th April 2013, simply go to Electrolux's Little White Book facebook page and hit Like. Then in 20 words or less say why you hate corded vacuum cleaners! Easy right?

Good luck!!



Unilite (for Smeg and Electrolux):

Want a Smeg fridge? Smeg fridges come in 4 sizes (mine is the biggest) and they are now heavily discounted! Call Unilite to find out the prices!

Also, an awesome kitchen package that you can get from Unilite for Electrolux's hob and hood plus oven:


Saving you $750 wtf... Very good deal!

Unilite's contact HERE.



Eastern Furniture and Renovation:

Need carpentry work done??



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Complete list of sponsors:

Interior design: Icon Interior
Email: waynechan@iconinterior.com.sg

White goods: Electrolux

Bathroom furnishings: Grohe

Smeg fridge: Unilite (general electronics store)

Wardrobes (not featured in this entry): Besglas Singapore Pte. Ltd

Laminates: TAK

Lighting and Electrician: J.E.N LED Lighting


Cleaning: Spick and Span
They provided a thorough cleaning of my house when I first moved in!

Power track: Eubiq

Doors and door lock: Yontat

Paint: Nippon

Drawer mechanics: Blum



Barstools and balcony furniture: Comfort Design

Curtains, Wallpapers and Carpet: D'Zander Interiors


Last but not least, not really related to renovations but a huge thank you to Joshua from Elements by the Box for the fantastic photographs featured in this blog entry... Haha, you didn't really think I took those fab (and very professional) photos did you?

Anyway for photography day Josh (and Wayne who came to help too wtf) slaved away for 2 days before finishing shooting the house... They made sure everything was perfect by arranging and moving stuff around. So patient and professional!! And Joshua only took 1 day to edit and send me the photos - got more workaholic not???

In case you are wondering, Joshua is also Qiu's husband and I approached him for the photography because he did such a good job shooting their wedding photos and making them look so dreamy and pastel. Great job with my house pictures too!! (Actually he doesn't do wedding photography but more on photoshoots for ads).

I know this blog entry is MAD LONG!!!!

But I hope you enjoyed it and find it useful when you need (or want) to renovate your dream home too!!

OFF I GO TO GIVE BIRTH KTHXBYE

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