Home Tour!

By Esther Rachel Lai. - 3/03/2018

It's been almost two months since Shane and I moved into our own home and we've more or less settled in though we've still some loose ends to tie up (e.g. curtains for the hall, storage for the kids' room and a bit of decor here and there) but other than that, I'm really proud to say that our home's completely done now and we're loving every bit of it! Before I start elaborating more, I would just like to thank my uncle who's also my ID because he saw through the whole process for us from beginning till what it is now and helped make my home a dream come true! If you're thinking of someone to engage, you can look for B.K from Design Eternity (Office no.: 6457 2341 email: debktan@yahoo.com.sg)! He owns the company and has been doing this for more than a decade already so rest assure that your home will be in good hands!

Now, being a designer myself (albeit my field is in graphics/multimedia and not interior), I have always knew that I was gonna sort of design my home myself because only I knew exactly what I envisioned in my head and I'm really glad that my uncle could help me execute what I had envisioned so perfectly! And because I'm no interior designer, all I did was tell him what I wanted, what style and layout I was looking for and he did the rest! All the measurements of what should go where, how the cabinets should look like, layout, some really good design advices etc.! So without further ado, may I invite you on a little tour in my humble abode!

The Living Space
Prior to doing in-depth research, I always thought I'd go for the Scandinavian look because a year or two ago, that was quite the design trend. But then when I actually visited a Scandinavian-style home, I realised that although the all-white and pine wood looked good in pictures, the home lacked "character", it just looked like...a home but that's about it. It somehow felt a little empty and bare to me. So I began searching for even more references and found another trending design, the Industrial look. I have to admit, I was wowed by cement screed floorings and the use of dark black and bold metal! I was very inclined to design my house that way until I thought deeper and came to realise that although the Industrial style interior design might look nice now because it's trending, it might become dated after maybe 5 or 10 years, and knowing that we have no plans to move, I probably shouldn't design my house based on a current trend. Moreover, I might get sick of coming home everyday to a dull, industrial looking home after work.

That's when I stumbled across another interior style that's lesser known and very much similar to the Airbnb we stayed in during the second half of our honeymoon in London - The Uptown Manhattan look!

Fusing both modern and rustic, we kept to white walls and chose to play around with carpentry and furniture instead (the curtains that you see there are only temporary until the curtains of our choice are done). Every piece that I chose was specifically thought out to bring the entire look together - right down to the ceiling fan - if you take a close look, you'll notice that I picked out a unique brass fan with wooden blades to suit the style we were going for!
As for carpentry, we opted for a wooden finishes for our TV console that had very visible raw wood grains to give it that rustic edge. 
I also threw in a geometric patterned rug that I bought from ezbuy to give the hall a little more character!
And to add a bit of dynamism to the very straight-edged hall, I chose a nest of two oval tables from Ikea for our coffee table!

The gramophone we bought while on our honeymoon made a perfect statement piece to our hall and its vintage wooden exterior complimented the rest of the living space so well!

I have always believed that your couch is the centerpiece of your living room so while searching for the perfect couch, Shane and I had to come to a compromise cause I'm a design-over-comfort person while he is the opposite, comfort over design (which of course makes more sense). Thankfully, we came across this relatively nice-looking (and comfy) leather recliner from Courts that's a close fit to the shade of brown I was looking for and it was going at a really good price for a full leather couch! So needless to say, we snagged it up! I threw on two pillows that I got from ezbuy and with that, our centerpiece was perfect! I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to get a nice couch and to pay attention to details!

The Dining Space
Despite space constraints - no thanks to Singapore's cookie-cutter apartments, we managed to find a spot for our dining table! If you're wondering, our home is a 4-room BTO premium flat & the layout you see here is very much doable for most of us regular Singaporeans!

Our dining table was literally at first sight, we also bought it from Courts and the moment both Shane and I laid eyes on it, we knew we had to bring it home! I never knew that I can actually fall in love with furniture like that?!

It matched the Manhattan interior we were going for with it's unique combination of different dark ashy woods and wrought iron legs. The table came with matching chairs that were much too costly for us so we paired it with the grey wooden-fabric chairs you see above. I should have removed the blue Ikea cushions (we bought them cause we didn't want the girls dirtying the fabric on the chair knowing how messy they can get during meal times) when I took that photo but the modern-rustic fusion you see here was just what I was going for! I also opted for a bench on one side to help us save a bit of space.

I think this dining set is one of my favourite buys because I've tried looking for one with similar dark wood that has grains like that, even on Taobao, but to no avail (most of the stuff on Taobao are in that light pine wood shade or are just really polished-looking wood)! I know a lot of people who buy large furniture from Taobao / ezbuy that's really nice and worth it too but for me cause I'm super picky, I'd rather pay a bit more to know that what I see is what I'm gonna get and on top of that, because I bought from Courts (disclaimer: none of the stuff are sponsored by them at all), I also know that my furniture is covered under warranty should anything happen.

I think beyond renovation, each furniture you choose to bring into your home plays an important role because if you don't think it through well enough and just buy things on impulse without properly visualising what it'll look like with the rest of the furniture, it can become a mismatched disaster. 

Aside from the three cube lights (from ezbuy) that you see above for our dining area, we bought this clock from London which we fell in love with and bought on impulse way before we started planning for our home's interior.
Thankfully, we found a place we could mount it on and even better, it matched the rest of our home! This clock has become another one of our statement pieces in our home and it's really not all that expensive (about 35 pounds from Portobello Market)!

Just across the hall where the entrance to our flat is, my uncle suggested putting a huge mirror up to conceal the bomb shelter along with shoe racks on each side. I really love how it become a feature wall on it's own and how the mirror makes the whole space look so much bigger whilst hiding a hideous bomb shelter behind it! 
And when I say conceal, I don't mean that I cannot enter the bomb shelter at all, the mirror can actually be opened to reveal the entrance of the bomb shelter!

The Kitchen
If you noticed in the photo above, I partitioned my kitchen with glass and that's because like most homeowners these days, I wanted an open kitchen concept so it'll look nicer but I know for a fact that even with a good hood, it's still not practical for cooking cause the whole house will be smokey and it'll stink up. So the solution? Glass! That way, visually it still looks somewhat like an open concept kitchen but I also get to contain the smell and smoke!
I had two counters done, one on each side of my kitchen so I've ample space for other things with the sink on one side and stove on the other.
After mulling over it for a very long time, I decided to spend that extra money to overlay our kitchen tiles (the rest of our home are the default HDB tiles that we opted in for during our flat selection) because I wanted something that would bring out more character and I'm so glad I did?! Chose these Bohemian/Peranakan tiles for our kitchen which I love so SO much! If you're intending to get tiles like these for your walls or floor, try to keep it to either the floor OR the walls, NOT BOTH so you don't visually overwhelm. Here, I coupled it with wooden cabinets that had a raw wood grain finish (but made sure that the grains on the wood was not too much) together with black quartz counter tops and black Kompacplus back panels to give the eye some "breathing space"!
I also did the cabinets in an "L" shape so I could have more counter space and where my built-in oven could sit!

The Study/Music Room
 Shane has been an avid drummer since he was a kid but when I got pregnant with Kylie, he sold his drum set for some extra cash and when we were applied for our new home, he'd always dreamed of having a set in his own home. So 7 years later, he finally did! I planned out a "music room" so he could have a dedicated space for his drums and also doubled it up as a study!

Told my uncle to hack the walls of the room adjacent to the hall, erect glass partitions and paint the whole room a bold grey. The result? A dream come true!
But what made it look even more aesthetically pleasing was our gorgeous work space/ study table done and sponsored by Retailers Market!!! Before you roll your eyes over the sponsorship, you NEED to take a look for yourself how much of a difference it makes compared to if we just decided to get a regular looking desk!
I've written about them once before (here) and I cannot begin to tell you exactly how much I love my shared work space with Kylie?!
It's FULLY CUSTOMISED to my liking from colour right down to material! Even the length and height was designed specifically to suit both Kylie and I!
The best part is that the whole desk system is ADJUSTABLE which means I can shift the shelves / desk higher or lower any time I want and if one day, I feel like we need more shelving, I can always purchase the standalone shelves from Retailers Market again and add them in! Did I also mention that the pegboard is magnetic so it acts as a really cool notice board too?!

If you're looking to have your work space done to look as cool as this or to look however you want it to (they also have marble backing, all white systems, glass shelves etc.!) you can check out https://www.retailersmarket.com.sg/
or contact them for more enquiries/quotation at: 
+65 6841 2232

& here's the husband's drum corner for him to escape from me if/when he needs to (haha). It's a little messy cause the kids placed their toy instruments there and electronic drums aren't exactly the best choice when it comes to aesthetics but it only made practical sense to have an electronic set compared to an acoustic set (I was actually trying to convince Shane to get an acoustic set just so it'll look nicer hahaha).

The Common Bathroom
Because we opted in for tiles and sanitary fittings for our home, I didn't overlay any flooring or wall tiles except for our kitchen but we did up carpentry for our washrooms and changed the ugly HDB-provided sinks so it'll look a tad nicer.
If given the choice though, I would overlay those hideous grey default bathroom floor tiles and do a lot more to the bathroom but because of budget constraints, I had to suck it up and just work with what we had - which didn't turn out too bad. Had a glass shower screen set up for both washrooms and chose a white + brown colour scheme for the guest restroom (because the default tiles were brown and I had no choice but to try to match the carpentry as well). But yeah, so that's my very  underwhelming common washroom for ya.

The Kids Room
I think the best advice I gave to myself when designing our home was to not stick to one theme for the sake of it. If you've noticed, our home doesn't really have a set theme and each space you walk into is a little different from the rest yet it all complements each other really well. 

For the children's room, I kept to the raw woody feel you see all over our house but instead of a dark colour scheme, I opted for a bright white and pink Scandinavian theme instead!
Sticking to a colour palette of just white, pine wood and pink, I selected each piece of furniture carefully to bring this space together! In my opinion, Scandinavian themed homes are most easy to achieve cause you can find majority of the furniture at a very affordable cost in Ikea or on Taobao! As you can see above, 3/4 of their furniture and decor are all stuff you can find in Ikea!
For their bunk bed, I bought it at about $750 including 3 single sized mattresses from a neighbourhood shop in Ang Mo Kio! I think a lot of people have this misconception that for your house to look nice, you have to spend a lot but that's really not true at all! It really boils down to how you plan and bring in each piece into your home that matters, right down to bed sheets! If you see above, even their bed linen are all in pink and white, nothing else! I even opted for pine-wood blinds (Thanks to my mom who does curtains/blinds for "sponsoring" all the curtains and blinds in my home!) for their room! Oh, and the you basket you see above? That's from ezbuy and I bought it under $10!
I do have to disclaim though, that although cheap, the bunk bed isn't made out of super good quality and the wood isn't very strong but I think if it's for kids, it's perfectly okay since they're not very heavy and will probably grow out of it. I wouldn't recommend getting this bed for adults though. I guess you get what you pay for (most children bunk beds are around $1600-$3000 excluding mattresses).
Even the ceiling light, I specifically picked out one with a wooden finish to match their room (also fron ezbuy! P.S. NOT SPONSORED).

I also had one side of their rooms painted a really nice pale pink to give it a touch of girliness.
Their room is not completely done yet though. I bought more shelving and storage which up until today, I've not installed them cause we don't have a drill but yeah, they've such an insane amount of stuff that can drive a "visual-and-aesthetics-driven" mom like me crazy. Throughout the whole design process I had to keep reminding myself that as much as I hate it, practicality and functionality still triumphs over aesthetics so...oh well.

The Master Bedroom
& finally, the space I spend the most amount of time in, my master bedroom! Like any other girl, I've always dreamed of having a walk-in wardrobe of sorts but because we have kids, I didn't have the luxury of space so what I did was to layout the wardrobe in a different way so it acts as a partition between the sleeping area and the wardrobe to give it that "walk-in" effect!

I was initially worried about it looking claustrophobic but thankfully, it's actually pretty spacious! And to add to the whole "walk-in" wardrobe effect, I threw in a furry white rug that I got from ezbuy at only 10 bucks! *woohoo!* 

My uncle (I.D) also had this brilliant idea to have a concealed vanity area for me to do my hair and makeup so I don't have to worry about keeping it neat if I'm ever in a rush cause all I need to do is just close the wardrobe and voila! If you noticed, my vanity area has no chair but that's because I decided to have more drawers instead of wasting the space to put a pull-out stool. I didn't take a photo of the inside of my wardrobe for privacy reasons but it's really very spacious and I still have a lot of hanging space left!
& to visually separate the space even further, I chose a bright white colour scheme for our sleeping area in contrast to the dark wardrobe space. My uncle added ambient lights for us to the top of the headboard and in that little side niche that you see above. All that ambient light really brings the room's ambience to a whole new level, it's almost as if we're living in a nice relaxing resort or airbnb apartment everyday!
We decided to have a customised platform bed with drawers instead of a regular bed frame to give the bedroom a more character but of course, that choice also meant that it came with a bigger price tag since carpentry really isn't cheap. But no regrets though!
The walkway from the bed to the washroom/wardrobe space, notice the stark contrast in colours and lighting? For the bed space, apart from warm ambient light, the main ceiling lights are white lights while we stuck to warm lights for the wardrobe area.
For the master bedroom toilet, again because the tiles we had were brown and grey, I picked black and wood for the vanity cupboard and a full wall-to-wall mirror cabinet!

 & instead of the overmount sink that you saw in the common bathroom, we chose an undermount sink for this washroom cause I wanted more space for my vanity needs!

So yeah, that's about the entire tour of my humble 4-room BTO flat! Hope it's given you guys some form of inspiration to what you can do with your own cookie-cutter home as well! Also, I'm afraid I cannot reveal the cost of my renovation but if you'd like, you can contact my uncle, B.K from Design Eternity at: 
or email him at: debktan@yahoo.com.sg
  and if you're looking for someone to do your blinds/curtains, do drop me an email or DM and I'll be glad to refer you to my mom! :)

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