The New Home – T Minus 84 days to Moving In

For a while, I have been mulling over whether to continue blogging about new home. As I have good friends who are currently going through financial challenges in their lives, and blogging about my breakthroughs might make them feel worse about their current state, so I did consider that I should be more sensitive about their situation.

Then I was reminded why I planned to blog about this in the first place.

The new home is a blessing from God and I am full of praise and thankfulness for all He has done in my life.

If you have followed my journey since 2011, you might have chanced upon posts about our first home, and how we move on from this home.

What I didn’t add then was the circumstances surrounding why we had to sell our home.

My hb chalked himself a huge debt through his business and we were in a very bad shape financially, so selling the home was the only way we could think of to pay off most of the debt.

We could not afford to buy a home anymore after that so we rented, but less than a year later, we had to move again from the rental home, as renting a house prove to be something we could not even afford monthly. So we moved into a room in hb’s Auntie’s house.

Again what I didn’t add was that debt was still there, and due to some very unwise choices, the debt hole become bigger. The hole was big enough not to ever own a home for a rest of our lives, if God didn’t bring us through this. I never dared to even think or even ask God to give us a new home, I just lived my life a day at a time.

Subsequently hb and I had to live separately (that was the most poignant time in our marriage), and since 2013, hb has been working out of Singapore.

In 2015, things improved financially and we could afford to rent a home, which we are still residing in today.

Being able to rent a home has been no short of a miracle breakthrough, but God went further and gave us a bigger miracle to have finally owe a home which we can call our own.

Looking back, hb and I can both identify to the story of Abraham in the bible. Except that being stubborn asses as we were, we would probably not be willing to give up our ‘Isaac’ (our home). But we had didn’t have a choice as we had to deal with the consequence of the bad choices we made.

After letting go of our first home, there were more tests and difficulties that came along (which are too complicated to list them down here, but I will share if you are ever keen to hear my testimony personally) which brought us to the lowest point in our life.

Eventually it became worse than just losing the home. But it was at this point that we decided that in our own strength, we can never save ourselves and we needed a miracle from God to bring us a breakthrough.

This new home is more than an answer to our prayers, hb’s specifically was, to have our finances restored. Upon retrospect, it has been more of a resurrection rather than just restoration. As for me, my prayer was “God please take care of my family. I will do what you tell me to.” So I have been very determined since then, to be able to understand the will of God and learn to hear Him speak to me for every situation in my life.

So in a way, our situation then it was a ’no choice’ surrender to God, vs the story of Abraham who was willing to give up Isaac as a show of obedience and surrender to God. But I learnt surrender, obedience (my trips to Jakarta to share a testimony over a two year period, God made it very clear to me that I will lose my inheritance if I did not take the obedient step to go 😱), repentance, and the fear of God through this journey.

Even then, God made everything work out for good. That’s how wonderful the God I serve. And true to His word in the Bible, as He has blessed my family abundantly, having all that we need. (2 Corinthians 9:8)

So when you see this ‘silly’ woman share bible verses and faith messages on my Facebook status, know that I am walking out and truly experiencing this life with God. These verses and words are like fire, fire in my heart and in my bones (Jeremiah 20:9), I cannot hold it back, simply because He is so good and He is a true and living God.

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I would have never expected that one day I will be able to create a nesting place that hb and I both envisioned.

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It has been exciting seeing the transformation of our new home step-by-step. Even with this stripping down to bare walls and floors, with only ugliness and mess, I am still reminded of God’s goodness for my family.

This is a milestone for my family, as it is only because of Him, that I am able to share this process and the joy of building up this dream home for my family.

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The New Home – Design Concepts

My interest in aesthetics span from design to illustration, I have never been trained formally in art and wished that I had shown interest when I was a child, instead of music. My parents got me to take up piano lessons in primary school, when they found that I showed some interest in learning the instrument. My interest in music waned when I stopped taking formal lessons to focus on studying for my ‘O’ levels exams.

Art would have been a better choice, and would have more longevity for me to pursue in my adult years.

I discovered my interest in Home Interior when I got my first home in 2004, when there wasn’t Pinterest, and the Internet was at its early stages. So I referred to local Home Interior Magazines for ideas.

With this new home, I was thrilled to have an almost blank palette to plan for, and I spent time pouring through the photos of house interiors in Pinterest. I wasn’t keen in following trends or adopting specific styles, but creating a home that will have concepts that I love.

It wasn’t the easiest at the start to integrate what Hb preferred to so I was sure to get his brief for what he wanted.

 

His requirements were ;

1. Feature Wall in the living area with irregular rock-shaped tiles (this had been hard to find, as the popular choice for many home owners locally are white or red rectangular bricks)

2. Spa-like wall materials and colour scheme in the Toilets. (Personally a prefer a lighter shade for the toilets, but I didn’t want to have to scrub grout between the tiles over time).

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3. Do avoid busy prints, Peranakan prints like that are a no-no as we don’t want retro concepts for the home. (I would specify this as no-retro-for-shared-areas, I would still add some retro decor in my craft room 😘)

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4. I want a ‘man-cave’, with more dark wood features.

5. You can plan for a dog room if you want, right next to the kitchen (Hooray!)

 

While my requirements were;

1. Some Geometric shapes (I want monotones not coloured ones) in my flooring, segregating some areas from the main living area with clear black frame doors.

Floorndoors 2

 

2. My dream kitchen with Marble and Wood and an Island, and pendant lights above the Island.

Woodisland

 

3. No spot lights in the home, I want cooler lighting options and ambient lights (through lamps) for warmer lighting

4. I want a craft and prayer area

 

Interestingly, hb and I did not put much thought into the design of our bedrooms or the boy’s bedroom, so we left it to Jack of Three-D-Conceptwerke to propose the ideas.

Since we only spend our sleeping hours in the bedroom, we wanted it simple but cosy. While flexibility is needed in the design of the boy’s room, to accommodate him growing into his Teenage years.

The new home currently looks like this, since the previous owner renovated a couple of years ago. She was renting it out for the last couple years and never stayed in it. We are planning to strip the current feature wall, polish the existing marble in the living area, change the windows (as the current ones are more than 30 years old!) And there will be plenty of re-furbishment needed to be done around the house!

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Next Post : T-84 Days to moving in!

Other posts in this series; Selecting an Interior Designer

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The New Home – Selecting an Interior Designer

The last time we renovated a place was when we got our first resale flat in 2004. We hired a contractor and designed the toilets (we ended up with very nice toilets in our flat), then added some build-ins in the Master bedroom. As my in laws stayed with us, and due to a tight budget, I could only renovate the Master bedroom and toilet.

We recently purchased an old apartment in an area that both my hb and I liked (this property has been built 32 years ago in 1985!). Newer properties in this same area are about $600 – $800 more in price per-square-feet. Having stayed in private apartments previously and staying in a rental right now, we realise that a beautiful landscape and nice amenities is not enough to convince us to fork out a premium on a newer property. Another concern we had over newer properties was the space, or the lack thereof. One has to be prepared that the kitchen layouts will be tiny, living and bedrooms are smaller.

The downside to getting an older property is that more work is needed to re-furbish the interior of the home. However this was an exciting endeavour to undertake, since this opportunity would allow me to decide how I wanted this new home to look like.

Thus getting a good interior designer to work with is pivotal, to put ideas on paper and to implement ideas as painless as possible.

 

My Experience Selecting an Interior Designer

1. Do the research

I shortlisted the interior design companies by looking through local home interior magazines like Home and Decor, Square Rooms, and online sites like Qanvast, Renopedia, Renotalk etc.

Homeintmags

Homeintsite

From there, I was able to see what I think I could consider for the new home, browse the current design trends adopted by other home owners.

Some trends I spotted were retro style (Peranakan tiles, 60-70 memorabilia and furnishings, SMEG appliances etc), Industrial style (more hardware, metal, stainless steel, red brick walls), Minimalism (Japanese, Scandinavian style of furnishings).

The less common styles were eclectic (a mishmash of concepts under one roof, one of the more challenging styles to adopt as the owner or interior designer needs a keen eye on how to bring everything together seamlessly) and lux (expensive and luxurious furnishings mostly adopted by home owners with larger homes like landed property or Good Class Bungalows)

 

2. Get in touch with the interior design firm

I got in touch with the Interior Design companies when hb and I met the lawyers and started the purchase process for the home. It took about 6-8 weeks for the buying process to be completed and for the collection of the keys to the home.

We got a copy of the floor plan from the housing agent of the buyer, as it is useful to refer to a floor plan during layout discussions with the interior designer, even if the home has gone through many owners and many rounds of renovation.

Flrplan

 

3. First impressions do count

I only shortlisted two interior design firms; Three-D-Conceptwerke and Eighty-Two. Looking through their portfolio through features in the home interior magazines and their website, I thought these two companies had the best fit to my design preferences.

I liked how Three-D-Conceptwerke was able to adopt unique concepts that was not run-of-the-mill, as their homes reflected the personalities of the owners. While Eighty-Two was on the other side of the spectrum, as minimalism was their forte. I could not decide if I wanted a house with personality, or one that was clean and minimalistic, yet stylish.

Intdesign

I sent both companies the floor plan, existing photos of the home and a budget of how much hb and I planned to set aside for renovation.

Jack, the senior designer of Three-D-Conceptwerke was prompt and got back to me quickly through my email enquiry, and fixed up an appointment at a coffee place in the vicinity of my new home. Jack made a positive impression the first time we met, with his friendly and unassuming personality. He made an effort to print out the floor plans and pictures for discussion and showed positive energy and enthusiasm while the shared on the possible concepts that I hope to create with the home.

He shared many inputs and his creative ideas at our meeting and made a remark that made sense to me, “We want the home to age well with the owner, one that will not go out of trend over time. A timeless style is something we hope to achieve.”

While the people at Eight-two did not make a positive impression from the start. They took a while to get back to me, and despite the request to meet someplace closer to where I was, Terence, the designer, reply was, “We usually meet clients at our office for the first meeting”. I made my way to his office at East Coast, waited for him for 30mins before he turned up.

For that 30 mins, I sat 1 metre away from his colleagues at their work tables, listened to their gossip and discussion where they wanted to go for lunch. This gave me glimpse to what to expect if I planned to work with this company.

Where is the punctuality? And should it be common sense that they should avoid inviting the client to their office if they don’t even have a proper area to host them…😳

I decided to reserve my judgement on the company or the designer till the discussion ended. The discussion was disappointing, I expected more creative inputs from him, but all I got was ideas of wanted to shift rooms around, when I communicated my preference of where I wanted the Master bedroom and K’s room to be. His cynicism and ‘jaded-ness’ shone through while I interacted with him. After a while, I started to get rather irritated with the comments that he made.

When I shared, “I like to consider minimalism, but I am not sure at this point,” His response was “We specialised in Minimalistic style and we should be able to work with your budget.” That got me thinking, so if I decide to change my mind and not go with minimalism, you might not be able to do it?

The conclusion that I ended up with was that Eighty-Two could only do minimalistic styles well, and I wasn’t confident at all in their company to add on personality to a home, which they didn’t seem to be interested to find out more from their client. And I question why I should be paying for something minimalistic when I can just hire a contractor to help me execute minimalistic ideas.

I didn’t even wait for Eighty-Two to present the top-line ideas 2 weeks after, I called them 2 days after our meeting to let them know I have decided to go with another Interior Design company.

 

4. Be decisive and know what you want to achieve

It was easy to decide which company I went with in the end, as I didn’t want to waste time comparing quotes or confuse it further with any indecisiveness. For me, it’s as simple as, what ideas can you share and are you able to deliver these things as we discussed within the budget?

 

5. Be realistic on timelines

Once I decided on the Interior Design Company to go with, there was another 1-2 subsequent meetings for the Jack from Three-D-Conceptwerke to come back with a more concrete design plan, which included a revised floorplan and a detailed price quote.

When hb and I approved the revised layout of the floorplan, Jack presented 3D layouts of how specific areas of the home will look like. Once we approved this, he started to source for tile and flooring samples, a as well as material samples for build-in carpentry and we further discuss on the timelines.

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Right after that meeting, Jack submitted the renovation work plans to the Management Agent (if this is a private property) or to HDB (for HDB flats). There was another 5-7 days before we got the approval from the building management to start renovation works.

Depending on the scale of the renovation works, I think 2-3 months should be a comfortable timeline to work with as it is always good to give the Interior Designer ample time to work with.

 

Next post on The New Home – Design Concepts

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