Category Archives: House

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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