After 3 and a half months, we are done fully renovating our 4-room HDB flat! I’m staying with my parents, and they have been living in here ever since they got married. It has been about 40 years and they have never renovated the home, so our ceiling paint was flaking (it was so bad we were scared to cook because sometimes the flakes will just fall and into our food). We made the decision to renovate when HDB sent a letter saying it was our turn for the HIP, aka the HDB toilet renovation.
Our budget wasn’t very high, and the renovation still costed us a lot more than we expected. I’ve included some cost saving tips to this post if you guys are planning to renovate your homes.
This was the final 3D that our ID rendered for us.
Right after HDB finished with our toilet renovations, we started with our entire renovation.
In the midst of designing our own space, there are things that we only knew and wish we could change after everything was done. I don’t wish for anyone to make the same mistake so here are some tips to look out for!
Whole Home – Flooring
We chose Evorich’s Evo HERF vinyl in Amsterdam Eggshell for our 3 bedrooms and the Evo HERF PHD in Dessert Sand for the living room. I highly recommend you to head down to the showroom because the colours online are not accurate compared to the actual ones. Plus, when you go down to their showroom, they do super cool demos of their flooring. They literally put fire on it to show you that it is high fire-resistant, and also did a scratch-proof demo. Note, remember to take a sample of the flooring back so that you can take it along with you when you are trying to match other items along the way.
- Things to look out for: Check the levelness of your flooring if you are planning to get vinyl done.
We did not know how unlevelled our floor was in the entire house, the worst parts being in the living room. When they came to check the floor before the installation, they discovered that our flooring was too uneven to lay the normal Evo HERF vinyl. If we carried on with laying the vinyl on uneven flooring, it might not last long as the vinyl might pop out at places that were uneven. Hence, we were given 2 options, either to pay an extra ~$2,000 to get our floor levelled or to upgrade to their Evo HERF PHD, which is basically a thicker version of vinyl. We chose the latter and it only cost us ~$500 extra. Initially, we wanted to choose the same colour for the entire home but they did not have the same colour options as the Evo HERF, so we chose Dessert Sand. But I actually really like how there are different moods in the living room and bedrooms now because of the different colours. Also, I can really feel the difference between the living room and the bedroom – the living room feels even throughout but I can feel the uneven places in my bedroom. All in all, the higher quality version (PHD) really does make a difference.
- Living room
The TV console area costed us the most of all the carpentry, but we build it so that we could have extra storage space. On the left side, we hide our vacuum cleaner in the longer cabinet. In the black cabinets below are my dad’s CDs and also electrical points, so the wires are nicely hidden. There’s also a mini display area for us to put family pics and other decors.
My mum really wanted a sofa that had a high neck rest for good neck support. Our old sofa used to be only 2 seater so we also wanted an upgrade in terms of size. We chose the Neuron 3-Seater Sofa in Dark Grey from Comfort Design and the matching ottoman as well. I recommend getting the ottoman with it as it serves as a moveable leg rest and an extra storage compartment for blankets, etc. You can head down to their showroom to check out their other furnitures as well.
As for the coffee table, we got it from DOT Furniture. All their furnitures have super unique designs and fun colours. We got the Zeno Coffee Table in the colour vanilla and you can slide it open to reveal a storage space underneath to keep your remote controls neatly. My mum also wanted a chair for us to sit down to wear shoes and hence the little Nova Pouf at our shoe corner. We chose the light colour, and it complements the house so well. One thing cool about it is that it has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal upholstery properties.
My parents went all out for the lights for the living room. It costed quite a bit and I feel like we could have cut some costs in this area. Firstly, we got track lights at the front. At the TV console area, there’s an LED light strip. We have lights from the ceiling fan. At the back of the living room, there’s an LED strip lights for the false ceiling. There are also 5 ceiling lights on the same false ceiling, 2 of them being a double light. Just a reminder, every light point will be charged for electrical works for the points itself plus the installation. Hence, after summing that all up, it might add up to be quite a lot. If you were to ask me, I felt that we could have significantly cut down on the number of lights. We got our lights from Glowlights as their prices are affordable.
- Things to look out for: Test out the bedroom doors for yourself when you are choosing one. It is something that you will use everyday so make sure you choose one that is of a good quality.
Our main door and gate was done by HDB and we have no issues with that, but the bedroom doors were chosen by our ID. We just had to choose the colour and even though it looks very aesthetic, we are very disappointed with the quality of it. Now, when we close the doors, they slam very loudly. I have to be extra gentle and careful when closing it now, if not it will just slam and the sound will echo throughout the entire house. We did not get to try out the doors before we chose it as we trusted the ID when he said the quality was good. Hence, I highly recommend for you to try the doors out for yourselves when choosing one for your home. It might seem like a small detail but its something that you will go in and out of everyday and you don’t want one that slams as loud as ours.
Our main door and gate was done by HDB and we have no issues with that, but the bedroom doors were chosen by our ID. We just had to choose the colour and it looks very aesthetic. But, when we close the doors, they slam very loudly. I think it could be a problem with the door handle/ latch, so I have to be extra gentle and careful when closing it now, if not it will just slam and the sound will echo throughout the entire house. We did not get to try out the doors before we chose it as we trusted the ID when he said the quality was good. Hence, I highly recommend for you to try the doors out for yourselves when choosing one for your home. It might seem like a small detail but its something that you will go in and out of everyday and you don’t want one that slams as loud as ours.
To optimise space, we did not want to get a standing fan so we got the Bestar Ceiling Fans from Forty Two for the living room and both the bedrooms. We got the 48 inch one ($188) for the living room and the 38 inch ($188) for the bedrooms (yes they are the same price). For the bedrooms, the wind is very strong. It has 6 speeds and I usually on 2 or 3. As for the living room, at the sofa area, it feels strong. However, if we are sitting at the dining table, we can’t feel it much because it is quite a distance away. However, a potential downside is that since it has lights and is a fan at the same time, if you switch them both on at the same time, there might be flickering shadows. I thought I would be very disturbed by it, but I realised it’s actually not as bad as I thought. Thus, I still 10/10 recommend getting a ceiling fan cum light to save on both cost and space.
Cost & Space Saving Tip: Get a ceiling fan cum light!
We build in a book shelf below the aircon, but I found that for the price, and also since it was such a simple design, we could have just got one from Ikea and save on the cost. I find that it is too high in height, but I guess it was so that we could store more books. Plus, if you get a store bought one, if you ever move house, you can take it along with you compared to a build-in one.
Cost Saving Tip: Cut down as much build-in carpentry as possible, you might find what you want at cheaper furniture stores that serve the same purpose. They cost a lot even for a very simple design.
We are a small family of 3 but when we have relatives coming over, we wanted to be able to accommodate everyone at the dining table, so we got an extendable table from Forty Two. The Kimberly Butterfly Extension Dining Set in Oak comes with the table & 6 chairs at only $769.90 which I found really affordable compared to others I saw. It came with free installation and we are impressed with the quality of it, especially for the price. The seats are cushioned, and the table is super easy to extend.
My mum chose a white & grey theme, and I like how white makes the kitchen a whole lot brighter (and maybe bigger). We retained the tiles from our old kitchen to save on costs. For the laminates, aka the colours on our cabinets, we got them from Lam Chuan. We decided to spice up the kitchen by adding these back splashes along the walls on both sides. The colour and the design are both customisable, they have many different combinations to choose from, so we went down to their showroom to visualise it. Just a note, they are pretty pricey, the left side being $700 and right side (longer) being $1,000. So I would recommend giving this a miss if you’re on a budget. A nice paint would do the trick as well.
When we went down to touch & feel the laminates, the prints did not look so obvious since it was just a small sample piece. However, once we did up the full thing, the prints became more obvious. There are black prints transferred on the kitchen cabinets now and it requires a lot of cleaning and maintenance. I think it’s inevitable since we chose a matte surface, but I think if it was gloss it wouldn’t be so bad.
For the ceiling light, we got a very simple round Nordic LED Ceiling Light from Goldberg Home on Shopee (picture below). We got the smaller size 40cm ($35) for the back of the kitchen and the bigger one 23cm ($70) for my dad’s work room. The bigger rectangular one, Simple Kitchen LED Ceiling Light is from Glowlights and it was $69.
- Things to look out for: Build the dish rack above the sink and make sure you can reach it.
Our ID build our dish rack dryer with a blum system (which costed extra), but we hardly use it now. As you can see in the above picture, it was build on the right side of our sink, in an angle that we cannot reach to put the plates after washing. We ended up getting one portable one and placing it on the left side of our sink. It is such a waste as I feel it could have been built above the sink since we do have an empty space there, and the current dish rack area could have been build as more storage space.
Previously, we had a Steigen model which my mum used for years and so we upgraded to the Solar Alpha model for our new home! I did a mini review/ how-to video here on my Instagram so you can see how cool the features are. It is really helpful for my mum, as she does not have to struggle hanging the poles manually on top.
For our toilet, even though it was done by HDB, we had to buy and install the toilet accessories on our own, aka the mirror, cabinets, shelving, toilet paper holder, etc. We got them from Viva Nueva, and we went down to their showroom to pick them out too.
- Things to look out for: Toilet roll holders should always be placed beside you, not behind you.
Whenever I reach for my toilet paper now, I feel like an acrobat having to turn 180 degree backwards to grab a piece. So recently, we bought another toilet paper holder to place at the side.
- Things to look out for: Make sure you get a mirror cabinet that does not protrude out too much from your sink.
If you are planning on getting one of these to put on top of your basin, make sure you check the width of it. The one we got was too deep, so whenever we bend over to wash our face, etc, it gets in the way. Thank goodness it’s the kitchen toilet, so we rarely use it.
Click here for a part 2 of our newly renovated room! I’ll be sharing about my bedroom there.
Here are the links to the places we got our home items from.
Forty Two (Ceiling Fan, Dining Table Set)
Comfort Design (Sofa)
Living with DOT (Coffee Table, Pouf)
Lam Chuan (Kitchen Laminates, Backsplash)
Lamitak (Living Room Laminates)
Steigen (Automated Laundry System)
Viva Nueva (Toilet Accessories)