Idealistic Design: Ideal House

So much excitement the past few days! Hah, what with the new Iphone 6 release. I’m so going to try and get my hands on it. I’m done with Samsung. One year ago, I was lured by the larger screen of the Note and switched from Apple. But now… hehe.

Anyway, the next ID we checked out was Ideal House. I heard about them on the famous Renotalk forum and they had several good reviews. The guy I met with was really cool and even provided me with a quotation before we met. It was such a change from the other IDs who withheld their quotations until we met in person.

For similar items to the previous IDs, the quote came up to under $22K (and it included plumbing works). With that, he was now the frontrunner. During our meeting, we discussed possible ways to use the area near the kitchen as a dining/counter and he provided us with some new ideas (we eventually did not use them as we wanted to cut costs). After our meeting, I continued to enquire about different prices and details to which he replied promptly. Suffice to say, I was impressed. I have about 6-7 versions of quotations with modifications made here and there according to my requirements. And he did not seem fazed or annoyed. Our only concern was their 1 year warranty on carpentry works–a crucial factor to note.

Ideal House

Ideal House

Ideal House

Ideal House

Ideal House

Ideal House

Honestly though, I would recommend him to friends looking for a reasonably priced ID with years of experience.

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Evolution of Design: Darwin Interior

Most people have heard of Darwin Interior, be it from their advertisements in the newspapers, radio or relatives. My SIL recommended Darwin, saying they were quite affordable after bargaining. Now, I’m really bad (like really bad) at bargaining so I try to stay away from such IDs but I realise that when it comes to renovations, it’s almost compulsory. It’s a thing. And you cannot accept the first quote that is given to you.

Darwin Interior

Darwin Interior

Darwin Interior

Darwin Interior

Darwin Interior

Darwin Interior

Anyway, after emailing them, one of the designers reverted promptly, asking for a meeting. We met with Velarie, a nice young designer eager to listen to our ideas. I was quite comfortable with her and we discussed the items we wanted included.

When we first received the quote on our second visit, it was considerably higher than our budget (slightly under $30,000). On our second visit, a senior designer had joined us to go through the items in greater detail. The budget overwhelmed us slightly so we told them we would consider it. Personally, I was comfortable with Velarie but I found the senior designer a little pushy and forceful in wanting us to sign with them–that was the factor holding me back. I needed to be able to express my ideas without worrying I would be pressured into something I did not want.

They offer a 3-year warranty on their carpentry, i.e. an important factor since we didn’t want our cabinets falling off their hinges etc. However, in terms of design, I would say De Style has better options. If you know what you want and don’t really need a designer to help you plan your house, Darwin is a (slightly) more affordable option.

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Impossible fusion: Fuse Concept

I was psyched to meet with Fuse Concept next, having seen the eclectic homes they designed on Lookbox Living and Square Rooms. Their designs were less modern compared to the rest and I noticed they incorporated the use of loose furniture instead of the traditional built-ins (i.e. less expensive hopefully).

By Fuse Concept

By Fuse Concept

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By Fuse Concept

By Fuse Concept

By Fuse Concept

By Fuse Concept

By Fuse Concept

By Fuse Concept

And so we met with one of their IDs on a weekend. It was a different experience from De Style (and other IDs) as he did not immediately asked what we needed to have in the house (i.e. kitchen cabinets, TV console etc). Instead, they asked for our hobbies and what we liked doing on weekends. From there, they would get a sense of what we wanted in the house and proceeded from there. After an hour of discussion, we left with an agreement to meet in 2 weeks for him to produce a quotation.

A week before our second meeting, another designer from Fuse called to let us know the designer we had spoken to had left the company. And so she wanted to go through his notes from our meeting. That led to a 30-minute discussion of me repeating what we had already discussed. I’ll admit, I was annoyed. It was not comforting to know the designer had an intention of leaving but made no indication of such during our meeting. And that the handover of files were not comprehensive. She requested to postpone the meeting to a later date, seeing as she had just received the file (another annoying point). I grudgingly agreed, still wanting to give them a chance before I wrote them off.

A day before the postponed meeting, she messaged saying she had to go to the hospital and was forced to postpone our meeting. I took that as the last sign. Now, to be fair, she could have been really ill but there were too simply many bad signs for me to ignore. I did ask if she could just email me the quote but she insisted we had to meet with her in person so it was time to move on. Wishing her a safe recovery, we bade Fuse farewell.

The experience left a bad taste. I’m not not recommending Fuse but it really depends on the designer you take with. With our small budget, we are handed with the more junior designers so naturally these things do happen. On to the next!

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Styling it up: De Style

Meeting with an ID for the first time can be quite daunting. I guess I was nervous because I did not want to hear how much everything was going to cost. Hah, but you can’t run from it.

We met with De’Style Interior some time in April/May. The factor that drew me to them was the ambience in the homes they designed. My brother’s home particularly felt cosy and organised despite its small size (a factor affecting so many of us).

(Image by De Style)

(Image by De Style)

(Image by De Style)

(Image by De Style)

(Image by De Style)

(Image by De Style)

(Image by De Style)

(Image by De Style)

Having emailed them with a list of items that we wanted done for the house, one of the designers replied to fix an appointment. Enthusiased by their quick response, we eagerly made an appointment with them. (Can I just repeat how much I detest IDs who do not bother replying to emails?) Now, I knew pretty much what I wanted for the house (having been obsessed with Pinterest when preparing the wedding) so I saved photos to show them the look and ambience I wanted for the house.

We met up with a junior and senior designer who prepared a quotation based on our requirements:

1) False ceiling for the house

2) TV console for living room

3) Kitchen cabinet

4) Bedframe for master bed (this was eventually taken out since it was way too expensive). Maybe for the next house. Hah.

5) Wardrobes for 2 rooms

6) Painting whole unit

The quote came up to ~30K but they included other items such as TV feature walls, extra wardrobes, shoe cabinets etc. This was our first time receiving a quote and we were… shocked (over time, we’ve come to realise this was normal). I should mention our budget was 20K. Hah, now that I remember this is our original budget, I feel like laughing at my naive April self. (Let’s just say that the budget is beyond us now.)

After removing this and that, the figure settled at about 24K. With that, we emailed other IDs using the quote (and the dimensions provided) to compare with the different ID companies.

In the end, we did not use them for our house but I’m still impressed with their designs. The only negating factor preventing me from signing them was that I wasn’t completely comfortable with the designer (on hindsight, I should have asked for the same designer my brother used). This is not to say that the designer was mean or anything like that, just that he was not someone I could see myself working closely with. It takes time for me to warm up to a person and I can sometimes be hesitant about saying what I think. As a designer, he was professional and listened to my input but to be honest, he made me feel a little dumb. Hah. I think it’s because he was the first designer we met with and I was not completely certain how to convey my ideas and thoughts.

Still, if ever we move, I’d re-consider taking them. I love the earthy tones and rustic looks of their designs.

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Renovation Ramblings: an ID or a contractor

The first thing we (dearest husband and I) had to decide on was if should hire a contractor or an interior designer (ID). For us, the main advantage of hiring a contractor being that it is decidedly cheaper. Ultimately though, since this is our first place, we decided to go ahead with an ID. And I’ll tell you that this is the best decision we ever made in this entire process. We were new to the renovating process and we needed guidance. From the process to the various house decisions, we were grateful to have our IDs’ input.

Mind you, it doesn’t necessarily mean that having an ID makes everything perfect. It was difficult to adhere to the budget set out and as such, throughout the entire renovation process, every monetary decision was discussed at great length. If you were to ask me if I would hire a contractor or an ID for the next home (if we ever move that is), I would admit I don’t know for certain. An ID comes with so many benefits but I’m itching to see if I can manage with a contractor. It frees up a chunk of money for the house and I am certainly more educated in the ways of the renovation world. But that’s all in the future.

About 4 months before receiving our keys, I had started researching on IDs. Basically, this entailed pouring over magazines and the popular “Renotalk” forum. My shortlist of IDs were based on photos of houses I’ve seen them completed (on their websites/home magazines) and advice from my family members.

1. De’Style: Recommended by my brother

DeStyle

(Image by De’Style)

2. Darwin Interior: Recommended by my brother

(Image by Darwin Interior)

(Image by Darwin Interior)

3. Fuse Concept: From a magazine

(Image by Fuse Concept)

(Image by Fuse Concept)

 4. Ideal House: From a magazine

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(Image by Ideal House)

5. Rezt & Relax: From a magazine

(Image by Rezt & Relax)

(Image by Rezt & Relax)

Other places that I did send an email to enquire include: Image Creative, Elementz Design, Earth Living, The Interior Place, I-Bridge and Thom Signature. However, none of them replied to the emails sent. I’m not sure if my budget was too low for them to accept (or maybe it was just not possible?) but all’s well…

Maybe in my next post, I’ll sum up my thoughts on each company.

 

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Hello again!

I can’t believe its already Sept 2014! With such a busy year, blogging was the last thing on my mind. 

But now that I’m taking some time off from work, I guess I can’t procrastinate any longer. I’ve decided to stick to my original blog platform. A little tempted to change the web address to that of a “housewife” but I’m a little too lazy for that and it just seems troublesome.

To be perfectly honest, another reason I decided to restart this blog was to chronicle my home renovation plans. Although technically, the posts will have to be backdated since renovations have already started. No harm though, right? And who knows if it helps someone with the entire renovation process.

So let’s start!

 

Shopping Secrets

Does anyone have withdrawal from not shopping? I do… And it gets pretty bad… Saving up for a wedding is not an easy feat and it’s difficult when you work since you’re constantly tired and there is nothing to show for it. The great thing about shopping is the short-term adrenaline rush it provides–and it’s just what you need sometimes after a long day at work.

Well, Shopbop had a few summer items on sale on Monday night. And everyone knows Monday is the worst day (or is it Sunday?) since you come back from work knowing there is still 4 more days to the week. Anyway I received an email from them and on impulse just checked out the items they had on sale. And what do you know, the True Religion pair of jeans that I’ve been eyeing since Jan was on sale! So I had to get a pair!

True Religion Julie Stretch Stovepipe Jeans

Shopbop is simply amazing because their shipping only takes 3 working days! So yesterday, I got it! I’ve ordered from them a countless number of times. Isn’t online shopping great? I love receiving parcels. Last year I was obsessed and would receive parcels every week (not all from Shopbop of course). But they have great items for a great price! Well technically their price is the price you would get in the US but that would mean that it’s cheaper than buying the items from the stores in Singapore. What I do is that I go to the shops and try the items on to find out my size for the brands I like. For some brands (like denim), I just estimate since it’s more often than not accurate. And the shipping is free so you save quite a bit of money. But note that your items have to be less than S$400 or you’ll be charged a 7% GST when the item arrives in Singapore. The website immediately charges you for it so you’re covered and the parcel will arrive at your doorstep. I hate it when the post office holds your parcel hostage until you pay the GST! Most brands I’ve bought over the past 2 years were: 7 for all mankind, Tory Burch, Juicy Couture, Rebecca Minkoff, and Marc by Marc Jacobs. The prices are a lot cheaper so I went crazy when I first discovered it! Anyway, I can’t wait to wear the jeans! I tried the pair on yesterday and they fit just fine, so I’m a happy camper!

Another item I purchased was the Fifty Shades of Grey series off Book Depository.

Fifty Shades Trilogy

Book Depository is another amazing online store! I get most of my books (at least in the past year) from them. The website offers free shipping (even if you only purchase 1 item) so it’s a fantastic deal. I used to love shopping for books; I could spend hours in Borders but after it closed down, I lost the zeal to visit bookstores. I’m not a fan of Kinokuniya as it feels so…unfriendly. No doubt, it has a great selection but it feels so business-y — something I don’t like my bookstore to be. Borders had a decent selection but it also had a lovely ambience. I’m probably biased though since I’ve been visiting Borders since I was a child, and it’s familiarity provides a sense of comfort and ease. Anyway, the books finally arrived yesterday (yup, 2 packages in 1 day!). The only sucky thing about BD (that’s short for Book Depository) is the length of shipping period–2 weeks. So you’ll have to wait for your books. That is why I purchase books directly from MPH if I’m in a hurry to read it (i.e. a Sophie Kinsella or Jodi Picoult book). Otherwise, I’ll order it online and just wait for the book to arrive. I had bought the Hunger Games trilogy the week before I bought 50 Shades so it had arrived last week (and I’ve already finished it, so no point talking about that). I did want to write an entry because I felt so furious with the ending of Hunger Games but I was too tired (I was fasting last week so what little energy I had, I did my work). I’m super excited to read 50 Shades but since I started on “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, I’ll have to finish that before starting on something new.

The last haul I made was at Tangs Vivo City yesterday. They were having a 12% rebate so I left work early and headed there to see:

Heavenly Creatures

I had called the Mac counter earlier during the week to check that I was able to use the 12% rebate on the Mac products, and was super excited when they said it was fine. If you can’t tell from my earlier post, I love makeup! I’ve been good about it though and have not purchased anything since last year (except for 3 items from an earlier Mac collection). So I went a little nuts when I visited the Mac counter yesterday. Collections tend to sell out so quickly and I was so worried something I wanted would be gone. I half ran to the counter and was slightly panting when I reached. I’m so sure people thought I was a little off. But I bought most of what I wanted so that’s all and good.

Heavenly Creatures Haul

Had a fun time picking out my Mac items from the counter! Thinking of heading back to get one more and I’ll be done with this collection (and for a few more months, hopefully!). I’ve had a busy week shopping so I’m putting myself on a ban for a month.

5 Jul 2012

P.S. I love shopping!

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Cordial Contracts

While searching for Bridesmaid card ideas, I stumbled upon this article on the Daily Mail. Needless to say, I found the idea hilarious and knew I had to have them for my bridesmaids–a Bridesmaid Agreement.

Of course, it’s all very tongue-in-cheek and not to be taken seriously. Simply put, it’s simply a contract between you and your bridesmaids–a sort-of pre-nup agreement (anyone obsessed with the TomKat divorce will have seen this repeatedly on the Internet). The original contract I found was cute but I didn’t find it applicable since Muslim weddings are generally held differently so the clauses didn’t make sense. Which meant, I had to customize one from scratch.

Mind you, it took me no fewer than 3 hours to draft the agreement. The idea was to have it sound mockingly official and reminiscent of an actual contract. And the contents were filled with requirements and duties of the bridesmaids. I did not have the time to make individual contracts for each of my 4 bridesmaids so I made one version and gave them each a copy. I had placed the contracts in those large brown manila envelopes that is often used for mailing important documents to add to authentic feel of the agreement. In the envelope was also the Bridesmaids cards I had made (see the post I wrote here). I told my friends to read the cards first (which basically read “Will you be my Bridesmaid?) and before they agreed they would have to read the accompanying document.

The expressions on my friends faces were priceless. We were talking about something completely unrelated and I pulled out 4 large manila envelopes from my bag and passed them to my friends. They became so excited thinking it was some present (one later told me she thought I was giving them airplane tickets; who do they think I am? Haha). But their surprised turned into shrieks of laughter as they each read the agreements! They knew me well enough (11 years of friendship can make people closer) to take everything in the exact tone I wanted. After they read it, I had them sign (Yes, I actually brought out a pen from my bag and made them sign) at the bottom of the document to officiate matters.

This was just something I wanted to do for my bridesmaids for fun–make the entire experience memorable. And it only cost me the $2 it took to buy the paper from Popular. I went for a simple shiny white/silver cardstock and printed them directly on the sheets. The manila envelopes I just took from my dad’s office, but you can get those at any Singapore Post center.

Bridesmaid Agreement

The contract was something very me–sarcastic, a little weird and lame. It really doesn’t matter what you write. The original contract from the website just didn’t feel like me at all! Your bridesmaids are the girls you’ll be spending a lot of your time with (in my case, they’ll be planning my bridal shower/bachelorette party), and it was something to start off the madness with.

Being an obsessed and self-absorbed bride comes very naturally to me… I’m very lucky to have found a guy who can stand my antics–and trust me, I count my blessings everyday.

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Hot Henna: Syra Skins

Two weeks ago, I made a deposit for my bridal henna–Saheli Bridal House! I only had two vendors in mind: Syra Skins and Saheli, and to be honest, I can’t tell the difference between the two if you were to put an example of each design next to one another.

Perhaps the former has a more youthful vibe? Haha, clearly I’m no professional. But that’s what I felt anyway. Truthfully, I don’t like getting henna–something about the smell makes me nauseous (don’t I sound like a child?). And so, initially I was not going to have it incorporated in my wedding. Only when I mentioned it to my mum, did she then shout in horror. Okay, that’s an exaggeration. Hah, she merely voiced out her opinion that it would be nice to have henna done. And to make a night out of it by inviting my female cousins, friends and aunts. Since I was not completely adverse to the idea (and neither was TF), I sourced out for vendors. I’ve heard of Saheli before (especially when my siblings got married etc.) and SyraSkins I chanced upon them when doing some Googling. Hmmm, doesn’t that look like “ogling”? But back to the point, I wasn’t too hard up about the henna so I decided to simply decide between these two.

The prices are similar so that was not a deciding factor. I believe Syra Skins has a clear cut pricing system as follows:

Syra Skins: Silver Package

Syra Skins: Gold Package

Syra Skins: Diamond Package

Silver (Wrist)

My favourite design is the simple flower in the center of the palm. It’s from the silver package so it should only cost $120.

Gold (Wrist)

A more intricate henna design such as this will cost $160. You can see the difference as the details are finer and it definitely takes more time to do.

Diamond (Wrist)

Look at this! Amazing isn’t it? Reminds me of Indian weddings with all its intricacies and colors.

For any of these designs, you can choose to add crystals for an additional cost of $40. I notice this is becoming a popular trend among young brides; and by young I mean younger than 30. Haha, that way I can fall into the category. I may want to have crystals done but if I think its too troublesome I may do away with it. I tend to gesture and am quite rough as a person so I know the crystals won’t last the day. Saheli does offer the same service too (but I’ll cover that in a separate post):

Crystals

But Syra Skins is amazing and popular so you’ll need to book early to ensure they have an opening. And now, a song to reminisce the old days (and to end the post)

Everytime I think of henna, I remember this movie years ago when I was still in primary school… I’ll definitely have to play it on my Mehndi Night… That’s all folks!

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9 months

Last Saturday marked the 9 month countdown to our wedding day. Although technically our wedding day falls on the 31st, but since June did not have a 31st I’m going to assume it as such–I’m the bride here after all! My to-do list has not changed very much from last month. Does that mean I’m moving slowly?! *Panicked mode*

A few more things I hope to complete (or finalize) in July:

  • Settle on a kompang group
  • Settle on a wedding card vendor (though not necessarily settling on the design yet)
  • Settle on wedding favors (or at least to have something concrete in mind rather than fleeting thoughts)
  • Discuss solemnization outfit: Well, some progress has been made since I’ve made an appointment to meet with my MUA on July 16. How exciting right?
  • Meet with wedding decor company Sentimentals

I figure if I don’t have so many items on my list, I’d have a better chance of completing them. Can’t wait! It’s like waiting to give birth to a baby! But hey, I’m getting ahead of myself. The wedding first, yes…