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The process of our renovation

So the last post I talked about my inspiration ideas for our home.

This post is gonna be about the process of our renovation! It’s a very long blog post cos I realized I’d never properly blogged about this besides snippets on Dayre.

Okay so the story is this.

We’d been staying in a very old apartment ever since before we got married and when I moved in with Fatty we didn’t change a thing.  The decorating was done previously by Fatty’s older brother who’s since moved to Singapore and I think the style is maybe skewed Balinese? I don’t know la but it features a lot of dark wood and beige-y tones and wooden shutters and er is not really my taste la hahaha.  But because everything was in working condition and we were young 20 somethings wtf we didn’t bother changing anything.

When we had kids we er had kids and were too caught up in life to consider anything beyond what was happening day to day.  But we actually live with Fatty’s brother and sister, and his brother got married last year and they were expecting a baby too! (Delivered already wtf) So family was expanding, Fighter and Penny also getting bigger and space was slowly getting to be an issue.  We actually have another unit next door that used to be tenanted but since the tenant moved out and we couldn’t find another, we decided to just move into it ourselves.

So last November (omg a whole year ago!) we started our renovation process.  And since we’ve gone through the entire process, I thought I’d write about what we’ve experienced and what I learned.

Interior decorator – yes or no?

I think that’s the big question for most people – whether there’s a need for an ID even.  I think most people just hire a master contractor and sort of go along and decide on the design themselves.

I decided to get an ID though because I’m a total noob in renovation and design! I didn’t have confidence in myself at all – not just in the design but even stuff like estimating how the sizes of furniture pieces might fit in the same space.  Even more so for the renovation bit – I had no clue about buildings and construction and even what to look out for, and I wanted someone I could trust to manage and coordinate the project.  Also I didn’t want to be yelling at the contractor and different sub cons every day wtf die early meh.

So based on friends’ recommendations, I interviewed a couple of interior designers to compare prices and settled on one I liked.

I think it’s very important to have rapport with your ID!  Our ID is also an architect by training so I felt comfortable that she would be able to do the structural work well too, not just the design aspect of it.  Also different IDs just have different styles and not everyone can switch up styles just like that.  So it’s important that you look through their portfolio and figure out if their work reflects your taste as well.

Katrine (our ID) seemed to have pretty versatile styles – she could do contemporary, but also classical.  And more importantly, she could do a mix of contemporary and traditional, which is what I wanted.

You sure fight one

Hahahaha my sub title.  Apparently this is super common.  Katrine told me she’s had clients who couldn’t agree on decisions and started bickering in front of her FHL.  Couples sure fight because it’s a home they share but they may not necessarily have the same tastes and opinions and the entire process can be a balancing and compromising act between the both of you.

Fatty didn’t really care either way cos he was also working on Colony by then.  So I had more or less free reign over the direction and ideas.  But even then we still fought wtf.  When I went over budget lolol.

Design

Katrine confided that a lot of her clients don’t really know what they want.  Like maybe they ask for a minimalist house but then want to buy baroque chairs for the dining table wtf.  I knew what I wanted for sure, but the more I worked on Colony, the more my tastes evolved hahaha.  So towards the last 1 month, we changed up the design, which caused some delays too.  So to avoid too much waffling, I’d say really do your research and Pinterest first to get a clear sense of what you want to achieve for your house.

Budget

Um this is probably the first thing you should agree on and fix before you start talking to IDs and contractors. Budget is important obviously cos that’s how much you’ll be spending, but it will also give your ID/contractor an idea of how much can be done within your budget.  Our ID was pretty creative in making our budget work by recommending cheaper options or alternatives to what we wanted.

Even then our budget bao zha la wtf.  There can be unforeseen costs.  Actually I feel like renovation is just one big unforeseen cost at times.  For example, we realized that our balcony floor wasn’t level so rainwater would flow in to our sliding doors are, causing a flood.  D: So we had to level off the floor to make sure the water drains out.  We also had to do a lot of waterproofing cos it’s an old apartment and there were some leaks.

Let’s not forget adding items on halfway that we’d forgotten, eg. alarm system and CCTV for one.  Another unexpected expense was when we realized how much nicer (and warmer!) timber flooring looked, compared to tiles or laminate and timber flooring wasn’t in the budget wtf.

I think with the budget you gotta be reasonable too.  Don’t give an RM50K budget and then expect the world cos that’s not happening.  If you want certain things that you’re not willing to give up and you have an unreasonable budget, you just gotta expect it to go over then.

Hiccups

Renovation is just a huge spell of hiccups lolol.  You have to accept that! *bangs table wtf. Like I’d mentioned, the balcony flood and the leaking were just two of a lot of problems.  And these hiccups often cause…

Delays

From everything from getting approval from building management to issues arising on site to even screwed up delivery of things.  Our delay was extra special cos we actually used the same ID firm to build Colony.  And Colony was more urgent so we diverted all the resources to Colony and put our house on hold.  End up our house renovation took like seven months to complete (not including design phase ok) lolol and our place is not even big.

Problems after moving in

When everything is set up and ready, moving in is the final test to make sure everything is working fine.  When I moved in only I realized… cos my closet is small, we installed a baby ceiling fan. Then when I opened my cupboard door, the door hit the fan WTF. Hahahaha so we had to move the fan.  And random things like the front door was hitting our kitchen counter when opened, so we added a stopper.  Or I found that Fighter’s shower head was missing WTF.

These are all teething problems, to be expected and settled accordingly.  The bright side is you get to do it while in the comfort of your new home. 😀

But all in all, I had a great ID and project manager.  And while we had minor problems here and there, I was quite satisfied with our sub contractors too.  And we had some really nice sponsors!

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Here’s the team from Suzuka, a company that specializes in wall finishes and stone/brick veneers working on the kids play room.

I installed a white brick veneer as a feature wall for the play room, and for our balcony too.

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This is what it looks like (and that’s our new wooden floor).  Why I’d recommend doing a veneer instead of regular bricks is that it’s cleaner and less dusty.  Also it takes up less space than normal bricks.  And Suzuka’s quality is fantastic – the brick wall looks so real. 🙂  It’s certified with SIRIM and Singapore Green Label and is suitable for both indoor and outdoor – I used it for the kids’ room and the balcony after all!

(There is a 20% off promotion for their brick collection from now till February 2018, and free 1 kg grouting material with every box.  Go here for details. )

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For the look I wanted we also decided to install paneling/wainscotting.  Yea la now everyone says my house like mini Colony wtf. #onetrickpony

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Paneling halfway through!

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A lot of people asked about my lighting too!  I gotta say that Katrine is fantastic at lighting.  She really knew how to balance regular down lights with ambiant lighting and spotlights as well.  My pendant and ambiant lights (the three lights above my kitchen peninsula and the bubble lights above our dining table) are all sponsored by a shop in Kota Damansara called Ambiant Lighting.  They don’t have a website but here’s their contact details and address.

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Pendant lights in the living room are also from Ambiant Lighting!
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Our kitchen was sponsored partially by Venture Ideal Renovation. OMG my  kitchen I went back and forth between blue-grey cabinets and my original love, white.  I think I made a decision at least three times F Katrine’s and Venture Ideal’s life.  In the end I settled on white la cos that’s what I’d always wanted – a clean, white kitchen.

See where the three lights are? There was a wall there but I broke it down to create an open concept kitchen.  MIL warned me that oil is gonna get everywhere and my sofas are gonna be oily wtf. O_O So that’s something you gotta think about ok don’t say I didn’t warn you.  My MIL did warn me but I stubborn hahaha. But on the upside, the space looks much bigger and I like that if I’m in the kitchen I still get to keep an eye on the kids.

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And last but not least, thank you Mitsubishi for furnishing our kids’ play room with the air conditioner!