Our Japanese-themed home: An interview with our interior designer.

Would you like a little peek into our Japanese-themed home?

Would you like to virtually meet our interior designer (ID)?

This video below marries both of the above. 🙂

You can say it’s a little ‘collaboration’ between our ID Raemond and us. On his side, he’d styled our home and taken some photos of the interiors (once that’s up on his company’s Facebook page, we’ll let you know). And on our side, we did a little video interview with him – since many of you have been asking about who our ID was.

We hope you enjoy this video:

And here’s a photo we took of him. 😛

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Home renovation details you may have overlooked.

The home renovation process can be a daunting one but it can be fun too! As long as you’re patient and focused. 

In order to make it less stressful for you our friends and readers, we want to share some additional tips that we’ve gathered from our own journey and from the online community. 

You can see more tips from our previous post here


Oh wow, our home looked like this just months ago! – This is what you could be saying just months from now too! 

Home renovation details you may have overlooked (& could rectify):

  • For BTO HDB flats, do ensure that your defects are all rectified, before getting your ID or contractor in. 

This will save you a lot of possible issues in the renovation process, especially if an ID refuses to solve certain “HDB” issues such as water ponding at the toilets – which technically isn’t wrong. Also, a stingy HDB contractor may not want to rectify further problems, which he or she can say is caused by your ID’s workers. If you have the time to finish your defect checking process, before getting your ID to start the renovation, we’d strongly recommend you to do so.

  • Electrical sockets, cable and telephone points – picture how you would go about day to day and where you might need your sockets and the likes of it. 

Thankfully for us, we had added enough additional sockets and at the right places too. Phew. Just note that usually HDB sockets are nicely depressed into the walls (no it’s not emo) and when you add additional new sockets, these may stick out a bit more. 

Here’s our hygrometer sitting on an additional (less depressed) electrical socket. Our dehumidifier is working hard to get it down to this humidity by the way. 🙂 

  • Get your appliances and furniture delivered closer to the end of your renovations. 

Especially for a BTO flat, where it’s common to see many contractors and workers walking in and out of units that have their doors wide open, it is so easy for people to simply walk in, claim to be someone and just disappear with your expensive items. We had a police notice at our lifts, telling us to beware. Do try to work out a schedule (a good ID will help you with this) for when delivery should happen.

  • To hack or not to hack?

If you’re newly married, think carefully if you’d really need to hack down one room to enlarge the living area. Or, if you’d need to combine two rooms into one to build a full size walk in wardrobe. Or, if it’s practical to have an open concept kitchen, should you do a lot of stir fry or deep frying for your meals. 

I’ve had friends telling me that they’ve regretted hacking that wall, because now that their family has grown, they do not have enough rooms to accommodate everyone (and hence they have to find a new home). 

For some friends who aren’t expecting to have kids so soon, had them accidentally too (which can be a surprise blessing), and suddenly – boom! There needs to be a baby room. 

  • If your ID is a creative (meaning that he or she really designs) and is someone you can mostly trust, do not micromanage him or her.

As “creatives” ourselves, we fully understand how it is like when other creatives put their foot down on their ideas, because of good reason. Of course, there needs to be a fine balance of give and take between the client and the ID. This is where you are the best judge of this; if you can be comfortable enough to leave it to your ID, and bring things up when it makes it uncomfortable. 

Trust, integrity, a sense of peace, apologizing when needed, being honest, being open…these are important qualities when hiring your ID. 🙂

So now, there’s no reason for you to overlook these details when renovating your home! ✌🏻

    A guide to a 4 room BTO’s renovation and furnishing costs. 

    Many of you have asked for information on this or a blogpost on this topic – you have been kept waiting!

    We hope this is useful, especially for those of you who are going to start your home renovation journey soon. 

    These costs are based on our personal tastes, decisions and where we live in Singapore. You don’t have to follow it all. In fact, we have not done many “usual” things like buying a TV, doing up false ceilings, getting a sofa at this point, etc. 

    Our home is a 4-room BTO and all prices are quoted in Singapore dollars. 



    List from our Interior Designer: (please note that if you do ask him for a quote, the prices of these items will vary according to the quality, size of your home and your design preferences.)

    Total damage: ~$25,000

    Find Raemond here

    Included: 

    • Design and consultancy – Raemond is more of a designer than a contractor, which is exactly what we are looking for.
    • Demolition, haulage and debris clearing works.
    • Tiling works.
    • Plumbing works.
    • Painting works.
    • Glass works – 2 bath shower screens. 
    • Floor works – vinyl flooring. 
    • Door works – bedroom doors. 
    • Carpentry works – shoe cabinet, kitchen cabinets, bedroom raised platform, and bathroom sink-tops.
    • Electrical works.
    • Miscellaneous works, cleaning and acid wash. 

    As most of you know by now, our home is pretty minimal, so we have kept certain items low on costs, but we did pay a little more for our custom-made frosted bedroom doors – which we love so much till today. It allows light through and it makes the space feel larger and airier. 


    Raemond is design-focused and patient – we would definitely recommend him. 🙂

    We also had to top up around $800 for a HBD contractor to even out our cement screed on our floors, as we had opted out from HBD’s default flooring. Thereafter, Raemond’s guys laid out the vinyl over the dried screed. This is entirely optional. 


    List from Besglas: 

    Total damage: $4505.60

    Find them here

    Included:

    • Kitchen sliding doors (custom 3 panels, top hanging) – $1954.13
    • Toilet acrylic bifold doors (x2) – $328 x2
    • Closet sliding doors (custom 2 panels, soft closing) – $1730.94 
    • The above included installation as well.

    Overall, Besglas was very professional. Everything was installed in less than 2 hours! The workers were also happy working, singing and laughing while completing their tasks. 👍🏻

    List from Aik Leong:

    Find them here

    Total damage: $4315

    • Electrolux washing machine – $899
    • Electrolux induction hob – $829
    • Electrolux glass chimney hood – $859
    • Electrolux built-in oven – $729
    • Ryker fridge (white!) – $999

    Aik Leong is a reputable and long-standing company dealing with appliances. So far, I’ve had no major issues with my appliances and the lady boss is pretty responsive in replying us. 



    List from Dream Lights:

    Find them here.

    Total damage: $1555.

    Included:

    • All the LED ceiling lights in our home!
    • Living room area’s fan with light.
    • Water storage heater tank. 
    • The above includes delivery and installation costs.

    Other lists:

    • 4 Mitsubishi air-conditioners: $3880
    • Sink, taps and toilet bowl: $1605 (We would not recommend this contact as we found out that they are pretty expensive and service wasn’t very good.)
    • Vinyl blinds: $850 – We would highly recommend Carol from Plus Furnishings (Tel: 62702925)
    • 4-tier flexible clothes rack: $229 – We bought ours from Hipvan but we think it’s no longer available. You guys could check out HomeFix or online sources.
    • Service yard windows and invisible grille – $1330 (Service from LeGate wasn’t fantastic but whatever mistakes they’d made, they promptly rectified it at some point)
    • LeGate invisible grille for the living room and bedrooms – $1200 (After discount because of the point above)
    • New queen-sized mattress and beddings: $1958.90 (Courts was having a sale!)
    • Hyflux water filter: $249
    • MUJI dining table and bench: $799 + $309
    • FortyTwo.sg chairs: $98
    • MUJI roller drawers: ~$250 (it’s all over our rooms and part of our closet)
    • IKEA full length mirror with hooks: $69
    • 3 floor fans: ~$200
    • MUJI study table: $418
    • Store room shelf on wheels: ~$150
    • Study room shelf on wheels: $352
    • 2 new large dehumidifiers: ~$1000
    • Miscellaneous items like pails, ladder, cleaning accessories, doorbell, padlock, laundry basket, laundry bags, etc: ~$300
    • Pre-move-in cleaning service: ~$450

    Grand total: ~$51,872.50

    Guys, don’t freak out. We did not pay this amount all at one go. It was paid off gradually over the months, and of course with savings and blessings from our family. By God’s grace, we are debt-free and it is awesome (for our pockets and marriage). Our advice is to buy things gradually and as you need them – this really helps in saving money and buying only what you love.

    We are still looking to buy/customize our dream (practical for humid Singapore/need to spark joy in us):

    • Sofa
    • Portable projector (we prefer not to have a TV)
    • Study room chair


    So this is where we are at now and feel free to ask us any questions in the comments section! 

    You may also visit a blogpost we did here on tips to save money during the renovation process. 

    Does minimalism mean depriving yourself of things?

    What do you think our answer is to that? 

    Heck no of course!

    For us, keeping and maintaining ONLY what sparks joy is what that matters. It is far from depriving yourself of things you truely love and treasure.

    The wife is definitely reinspired again, after reading Marie Kondo’s book

    It has been almost 6 months since we have moved into our new Japanese-themed and what we would call a minimalist home – and we feel that we definitely do not make use of every single item that we have (need to KonMari the home again). 

    Also, we do not yet have everything we want that would spark joy. But! In that is a journey called life. 🙂 In life, we discover, we grow, we evolve in terms of the stuff we need, we find value in, and of course, the people we choose to have close to us (so important). 

    Therefore, minimalism means that we aspire to love/need every single item in our home! A home is a sanctuary to come home to, and we want every single sight that we catch in our home, to spark that little happiness and excitement.

    For the wife, it is fake plants. Yes fake, because it provides the green she likes but yet there is no need to water it nor throw it away after it wilts.

     

    And the wife indulges in her decadent Aēsop products that she cannot get enough of. It’s quality, smell and price(!), is unmatchable (to her). 

    Do you have items in your home that spark joy? It could be anything and don’t be ashamed of it (old band tee shirt, notebook of sketches, wedding album, an old mug, anything). 

    Join us on this journey to have only things that spark joy our homes! 

    Airing out your mattress and wet kitchen items.

    There’re quite a few good home habits that we are trying our best to adhere to, for the sake of our health and the longevity of our belongings.

    One of them is airing out your mattress!

    There is a detailed write-up here if you’d like to know more. 

    We usually air it out on the weekends, when we change our bedsheets (we can’t do that weekly at the moment…it’s too tiring heh). 

    Benefits of airing out your mattress:

    • A cleaner mattress (but of course).
    • Reduced chances of falling ill/aggravating allergies.
    • Less chances of bedbugs or other critters making your mattress their home.
    • A longer lasting mattress. It’s a pretty expensive piece of furniture so good care put towards it is worth it.

    Our step-by-step process summarized:

    (Try to do this in the morning when the sun is out)

    1. Prepare large laundry bags (we got ours from IKEA).
    2. Remove beddings and put it inside the laundry bags.
    3. Lift up the mattress and air pillows/bolsters on a rack. 
    4. Vacuum the mattress or use a sticky-roll to roll away dust/hair.
    5. Spray a dust mite prevention/killer-spray all over the mattress.
    6. Air out the mattress and air pillows/bolsters on a rack, near the window/sun. (Great opportunity to clean the bed frame, or for us, the platform area of the floor where our bed rests.)
    7. Turn on the dehumidifier and face it towards the abovementioned items.
    8. Head to the laundrymat! This includes heat-drying the beddings as well. 
    9. Head home. Air the washed/dry bedding for a while and keep it. 
    10. Take out clean set #2 of beddings and replace.
    11. Sleep on a clean bed. ✌🏻

    The air in Singapore gets even more humid once the sun goes down, so try to get everything done before evening falls – especially if you’re keeping the windows open while airing the mattress. 

    We have kept our pillows and the likes of it as compact as possible. We have also changed our mattress from a King-sized to a Queen-sized (the wife is petite anyway). This makes changing our beddings and airing stuff out SO MUCH easier. Our old King-sized mattress was so heavy and so hard to lift up, but don’t be pressured by us and do what works for you – we have just chosen to be as practical as we can.

    Also, do remember to air out your kitchen items such as dishes, drying racks and bottles. This helps to reduce the growth of mold. See more of our post on fighting mold here

    We hope this inspires you! 

    Minimalism should not promote impracticalities.

    For those of you who are really attracted to minimalism – we are so excited for you because that is a start to a wonderful journey ahead!

    So is minimalism just a form of design? Yes. But it isn’t entirely about design either. We’ve touched on this in our last post

    In this post, we want to share with you why is minimalism also practical, especially for those of you who are going to, or are in the midst of designing your dream home. 

    Minimalism is a thought-process, or it can be seen as a goal. Let us explain.

    This means that you keep your table tops as clear as possible on a daily basis. You keep your floor as bare as possible. You keep your dry dishes daily back into your storage. 

    Basically, you design your home with all theses in mind. How will your daily “come back from work / tired / wanna rest” flow be like?

    For us, we got ourselves an iRobot Roomba 900 series so that cleans our floors daily (not sponsored).

    So our daily evening routine looks somewhat like this:

    • Open door, put shoes on plastic trays.
    • Hang keys up, put belongings down.
    • Wash our feet. Wash our shoes. Hang it up to air.
    • Sanitize our belongings (especially our mobile phones).
    • Turn on our iRobot to begin its cleaning of all rooms except our bedroom/storeroom.
    • Pack our belongings and bring relevant items back into the bedroom. 
    • Every other day, we’ll magic-clean our bedroom.
    • Shower (squeegee after), watch some content online, chat, relax and sleep.

    Yup that’s our daily evenings! You may think we are kind of crazy to be doing that “much” every night – but it is entirely possible…why? 

    By making small steps every day to keep the house clean and tidy, you save yourself the hassle of doing “heavy-cleaning or scrubbing” on the weekends. It becomes a daily habit instead.

    For most people, being in a home that’s neat and clean literally relieves stress. You come home to a sanctuary and you actually reduce the risk of falling ill. So yes, minimalism is practical!

    For us, we are the kind that literally pick up hair on the floor whenever we are able to. We just love sliding around a clean floor! 😁 

    Every good and small habit formed goes a long way. 🙂 And if you think about it, we are being deliberately minimal in the way we lay things out, so it’s easy to clean. So gone are the days (mostly) where we procrastinate in cleaning. 

    Think twice about every table/shelf/chair that you’d want to purchase, and how easy it would be to clean. 

    Therefore, although our Japanese-themed home would be complete with tatami mats and wooden sliding doors, it is simply NOT practical for Singapore homes (aka humid-to-the-max homes). 

    We hope this (OCD)post has inspired you some way or another. 

    (If you’re a parent, get your children to help at a young age! If the Japanese can do it, so can we. :))

    Minimalist Design versus Minimalist Lifestyle.

    Through the course of designing our new home, we have been introduced to, or have stumbled across several topics or products related to minimalism.

    Mock-up examples of articles that kept appearing as Facebook/Instagram ads:

    • Modern minimalist loft design condominium at Ang Mo Kio
    • 10 stylish minimalist home designs you’ll love
    • 5 minimalist homes you’ll fall in love with

    sofa

    Image source: Dezeen

    We have also noticed that companies are now naming their products using the keyword “minimalist”, i.e. minimalist bedside lamp or minimalist Zen sofa.

    Is there something attractive or current about minimalism that has intrigued the people of this day and age? One thing for sure, is that people are constantly seeking to be happier with less – because over time, they discover that having more does not lead you to happiness (and perhaps the contrary).

    However, we feel that the notion of minimalist design and a minimalist lifestyle is something we’d like to expound on and provide a viewpoint.

    Minimalist Design.


    Minimalism seems like such a sexy word in the eyes of Marketers. Conceivably, analytics and insights may reveal how sales would spike with just a mention of “minimalism” in its branding or product naming. Is there anything wrong with that? To us, no. Marketers are constantly seeking out ways to enhance customer touch-points (the marketer in the wife is doing a minor rabbit trail) and perhaps trying to help the customer feel cool and into “design-thinking.”

    We’re sorry, but we have to burst the bubble of such a consumer, and we’d like to help them (or you) take on another perspective.

    A beautiful “minimalist” lamp may look fitting for a new home that’s themed “industrial-chic,” but does it have grooves that are hard to clean? Is the bulb easily replaceable/affordable? We’ve heard of friends who have bought beautiful lights online (at amazing prices). After a couple of years, they switched those filament bulbs to normal florescent bulbs as it’s more practical. However, it may not look the way it is supposed to after that change.

    Minimalist design is also popular because, hey, it’s beautiful. Black, white, gray, void empty spaces, it’s beautiful. Just look at Kinfolk, modern calligraphy, and café interiors nowadays.

    As minimalism is defined: “a style or technique (as in music, literature, or design) that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity.” Or is minimalism to you, “a tool that can assist you in finding freedom?”

    Minimalist Lifestyle.


    This is something we are constantly endeavoring towards. We may face ups and downs (mostly the wife on the down bit) but we are getting to a happier place. What is this lifestyle?

    We have reduced our total amount of shoes to under 15 (we need to do a wardrobe number check soon) and all of our socks can fit into a relatively tiny plastic container.

    You can read more about why we became minimalists here in detail, but the gist of this minimalist lifestyle is this: You’ll be asking yourself these questions pretty often.

    Do you constantly:

    • Seek to find easier ways to do things?
    • Look to reduce your clothing?
    • Digitize your papers & documents?
    • Pay your bills on time?
    • Inspire yourself to own less?
    • Have a pretty clean/neat home?
    • Stay on top of things?

    To us, minimalism as a tool, has benefitted us a lot. It has steered us to use stuff for people, and not the other way around. It is still a learning journey for us.

    Can we marry Minimalist Design and Minimalist Lifestyle?

    Yes you can! We hope we did that with our home at least.

    A Japanese home is already known to follow a minimal theme, so for us, it’s a wonderful union of design and lifestyle.

    A typical Japanese apartment in Tokyo is small, modular and each room can adapt to the year’s 4 seasons easily. It’s usually brightly-lit, filled with white & brown hues, and clean. Each family member would have a set of their own chopsticks, spoon, fork, knife and bowl. No more, no less. A bedroom transforms into a living area in a matter of minutes (futons-in-closet style) – we love it!

    At the end of it all, the point is to think through at maximum (ironically), how to make your home design as practical as possible, for a more minimal and happier you.

    Choose practical beauty. Choose time with family. Choose having a clean home for your health’s sake. Choose to declutter your stuff and see how it helps you declutter your mind. Choose love, over stuff. Choose people, because your relationships with people are the only things you’re able to bring to Heaven with you. 🙂

    See the beginning of our journey here