Published by admin on 19 Aug 2021 Last Updated on 05 Mar 2022
The first step to creating your perfect home is the foundational design and renovation work:

  • Theme & Design
  • Major Renovation (Masonry, Carpentry, Electrical & Plumbing)
  • Tiles & Floors
  • Walls & Ceilings
  • Doors
  • DIY Renovation

Decide on your house theme and vision, along with budget considerations. Some popular themes (some can be combined) are: 

  • Scandinavian — Utilises a blend of textures and soft hues, especially white, black and wood. Popular and often minimalistic. 
  • Minimalist — Utilises the bare essentials to create a simple and uncluttered space. 
  • Maximalist  — Utilises every available space with loud and bright colours as much as possible.
  • Modern / Contemporary (including Modern Hotel Lux) — 21st century look incorporating regular, clean designs and colours (especially white). 
  • Mediterranean —  Combination of rustic, soft and earthly textures (especially white, blue and green) using mostly wood, stone and ceramic materials.
  • Villa Resort (including Modern Balinese) —  Combination of rustic, soft textures and hues (especially wood) with modern elements (e.g. marble fixtures, wall to ceiling windows). 
  • Victorian — 1800s design with emphasis on large, opulent furnishings and wainscoting paneling. The Modern Victorian is a hybrid combination of Victorian & Modern or Minimalist designs.
  • Industrial — Look and feel of factories and warehouses, with emphasis on cement, brick and metal.
  • Vintage (including Art Deco) — Old, warm, earthly tones with flowing lines and elegant colours.
  • Retro — New designs that utilise trends and characteristics of the past.
  • Pop Art —  Recognizable imagery, bright colours, incorporates humour.
  • Game or Movie Theme — Incorporating elements of you or your spouse's favourite show or game (e.g. themed feature walls).

For heavy renovation work, including carpentry, masonry, electrical and plumbing jobs, you need a contractor. There is a huge range of contractors out there, each with their pros and cons.

IKEA also does renovation work at an affordable and transparent price, plus the quality is guaranteed. However, wait times may be long. Sign in to the IKEA Singapore Planners and get started.

One unavoidable step for most BTO homes is installing the built-in wardrobes and cabinets. For resales, it is best to avoid carpentry now due to high costs and long wait times because of shortage of manpower and backlog of orders caused by Covid. Wherever possible, we recommend purchasing off-the-rack cabinetry (such as IKEA cabinets) to save time and money. 

Keep in mind that anything which involves hacking/wet-works/altering concrete is costly. Unless there is a serious defect with the structure, internal wiring or piping (e.g. insect infestation as mentioned below), it is best not to hack and replace them, but to plaster over or overlay with vinyl/tiles (See below: Tiles & Floors).

Our current house is an old resale condo called Hazel Park (near Bukit Panjang) which thankfully was in good condition and did not require any major reno, although our painter Venue Painting also provides contractor services and they have a good reputation.

Kitchen makeovers are the most expensive and time-consuming of the entire house since it involves the full repertoire of renovation — Carpentry, tiling, electrical, plumbing, hardware, and appliances (See: Kitchens).

Some walls and pillars comprise of reinforced concrete (steel mesh with concrete) which you are not allowed to hack or remove. However, you are generally allowed to remove most other walls and columns (brick walls with concrete).

Do not take personal loans to finance your renovation as they charge very high interest (6-9% p.a.). Opt for a bank loan instead (6% p.a. or lower).

For BTOs, you can buy your flooring from HDB under the Optional Component Scheme (OCS), if available. However, if you want something personalised and unique — There are many options for your floors and walls, each with its unique look, price and properties. Here are some popular choices:

  • Ceramic Tiles — Usually for Kitchens and sometimes Living Rooms & Dining Rooms. Affordable and long-lasting. Ceramic Subway Tiles are sometimes used in Kitchens.
  • Porcelain Tiles — Usually for Bathrooms and sometimes Living Rooms, Dining Rooms, Kitchens. Also got Marble-Imitation options available.
  • Marble Tiles (Stone) — Usually for Living Rooms & Dining Rooms. Expensive but long-lasting.
  • Quartz (Stone) — Usually for Dining Tables, Kitchen Fixtures & Bathroom Fixtures. Expensive but long-lasting.
  • Travertine (Stone) — Usually for Floors. Cheap stone option and long-lasting but not as beautiful as marble.
  • Terrazzo Tiles (Stone Chips in Cement Base) — Usually for Floors & Walls. Expensive but very long-lasting.
  • Parquet Wood — Usually for Bedrooms' Flooring. Most people opt for half-matt as matt is too shiny.
  • Composite Wood (Man-Made) — Expensive but very long-lasting. No upkeep required.
  • Vinyl — Affordable. Got many options available like Parquet Wood-lookalike Flooring.

There are many vendors for tiles of different materials. Hafary, a leading floor and tile retailer in Singapore, occasionally has warehouse sales for their stones, tiles, wood, and bathroom fittings. Check their Facebook page regularly to spot their promotions.

You can also choose patterns for your tiles. Mosaic tiles are popular in colonial-themed homes, as feature walls or used as a bathroom/kitchen backsplash (stops liquids from staining the wall).

For resales, now is the best time to polish your parquet and marble floors if you do not want to retile it, as it will be very difficult to do so after bringing in your furniture.

This section discusses wall and ceiling fixtures/lighting. For portable table and floor lamps, see: Furniture.

Lights of all types and sizes can be purchased cheaply in Malaysia (currently unavailable due to Covid), online (such as Shopee or Lazada) and at the famous Balestier Road. Popular options now are fairy lights for function and aesthetic, and the integrated ceiling fan light which combines a light and fan to save space and money.

Feature wall-lighting can add texture to a blank wall or brighten up a dark area. A range of choices include European Vintage sconces, modern light fixtures and even LED strips which can be creatively placed anywhere, such as behind mirrors or TV consoles.

If you require more storage space — shelves, wall hooks, modular storage and platform storage compartments are economical solutions while adding texture to your home.

Glass panes or walls
(e.g. between your dining room and kitchen) can give the illusion of more space and more light in the house. Mirrors can also be employed to the same effect, especially for those who regularly need a mirror to check their appearance.

Your contractor can help drill holes in your wall or ceiling FOC to install any fixtures such as mirrors, artwork or clocks. However, you will need to accurately measure the exact spot(s) where to drill (e.g. the nail for hanging a painting). An alternative is to buy an impact drill and DIY (See below: DIY Renovation).

Aquarists and pet fish enthusiasts can choose wall-mounted fish tanks/aquariums to save space.

Vintage and Victorian style houses can add wainscoting and/or crown moulding on the ceiling to give it further grandeur and opulence.

Some resale homes’ living, dining and bedrooms contain a false ceiling. To test, use a pole to tap the ceiling — A false ceiling will emit a hollow sound.

To install heavy fixtures on false ceilings such as a chandelier or a big fan, ensure it is reinforced (with a beam) or the weight of the fixture will cause the false ceiling to sag (or even collapse).

For BTOs, it is advisable to buy your internal doors from HDB under the Optional Component Scheme (OCS), if available. For resale homes, you can replace your doors/door grilles at a price from a local company:

Front doors are the first thing your visitors usually see so they are usually a different design and grander in style than the others (See: Entrances).

Replacement door handles and knobs can be bought from hardware stores and easily self-installed (Disassemble your old door knob from the INSIDE or it will get damaged).

Hands-on homeowners can use common hardware products to touch up their house quickly and cheaply:



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