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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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! 

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

Kitchen update: Did we stick to being minimalists? (photos included).

It has been 3 months since we have moved in! And this means we have gotten a chance to purchase more items (that we need) and populate our kitchen cabinets. 

You may now be thinking…”these two can’t possibly keep up with minimalism. Stuff WILL accumulate in a matter of time…it happens to everyone…”

We are purposeful not to hoard and to constantly evaluate if we need certain items or not. But you will notice in the upcoming photos that we have multiple items we consider as daily-needs, such as Dettol, haha!

Here’s a somewhat macro view of our kitchen with all our cabinets closed. We love to keep only items we use daily on the counter tops and the rest in the cabinets. As we’ve said before, this makes cleaning so much easier.

Our service yard is kept as clutter free as possible. It’s the place with the most direct sunlight and it holds our buckets to ensure that mold doesn’t built up. This white stool has many uses – 1) holds our laundry basket when we load our washer, 2) allows us to sit and enjoy the view outside, 3) allows the wife to sit at our movable island for meals. It’s also easy to clean – such a great buy. (A post on where we got all our stuff will be drafted soon!)

Our handy step stool is tucked away in a corner so the wife could pull it out quickly to access the upper shelves. And of course, gotta keep those bug-killers accessible and handy too.

Here’s our little pantry / appliance / pots and pans cabinet. There’s always instant noodles and coffee in this home. And the husband recently surprised the wife with an electronic mixer that isn’t too small, but still fits in the cabinet, yay!

Our under-sink area consist of detergents and all kinds of sprays! Whenever we see an offer, we kinda buy in bulk. 😋 But we do use them up pretty fast.

These are all the dishware, containers, cups, disposables and seasoning that we have. It is more than sufficient. 

What does your kitchen look like on the inside and out? 😊

Living in a 8m2 Tokyo Apartment!

[With reference to 2 videos appended below at the end of this post]

This girl here lives in a SUPER TINY 8m2 apartment in Tokyo, Japan. Her name is Emma and she’s a YouTuber from Australia, living in Tokyo.

The average 4-room flat in Singapore is around 90m2 in size. So technically, our home is more than ten times the size of hers! #insane

However, after watching the videos (which we’ve embedded below for your viewing), there’s a part of us that envied her. Well, this 8m2 apartment would definitely work out if the wife lives alone in Tokyo; and a bit of a squeeze for two, but there’s just something magical about living in a small space and making it work.

If you’d want to discuss minimalism, Emma is definitely a minimalist – without even quoting a word of ‘minimalism’ in the first video below.

The simplicity of her life is astounding.

  • She has so little to clean.
  • She gets to live in Japan (hello, our dream).
  • If she ever needs to move, she can pack up in a day.
  • HOW COOL IS HER TOILET.

Of course, there are cons to living in a small space, i.e. you can’t entertain much, you are limited to whatever activities that the space allows for, and you likely can’t own a pet. But this has definitely intrigued us.

Would you ever live in a space like that, even if it’s for a few months? 🙂

 

5 Renovation tips we wish someone had told us.

Some of these advice are those we have applied in our own home renovation, others are discovered along the way, after moving in for more than a few weeks (where the cleaning routine begins).

Even if you are someone who is pretty relaxed about ‘dirt’ at home, or if you have a helper, we hope that these tips would still benefit you in the long run. 🙂

Here are our 5 renovation tips!

  1. Choose larger tiles with less grout-lines/joints or rectified tiles that do not require much grout to keep them joined together. This saves you lots of time scrubbing the dirt that builds up in your grout (sadly, no one on earth is immune to this). We have mosaic tiles at our Genkan area and wish we had chosen larger tiles, so that cleaning is easier. It isn’t a huge regret but it is definitely something worth your consideration.

  1. Get as large a sink as you possibly can! I cannot stress how important this is. Larger sinks allow for more space to soap larger pots/pans, or soap/wash in big batches. Our sink is of a pretty average size for BTOs in Singapore, but we wish we had gotten a sink that’s at least 10cm wider (ours is 70cm-ish). We were initially worried about maximizing counter-top space, but we have more than enough counter space after we had inherited an IKEA movable island on wheels from a dear friend for our kitchen. However, this ‘small’ sink issue is solvable by washing as you go along or having a dishwasher (which isn’t common in Singapore). 
  2. Building on the point of sinks, this tip was given to us by another dear friend who is now living in the States. She told us not to get right-angled (90-degree) corner sinks as scrubbing the food/soap scum from these corners is a painful process. We took her advice and got ourselves a rounded-corner sink and we have no regrets!

  1. Select stainless steel over chrome finishing on your furniture or kitchenware. Chrome corrodes and rusts so quickly in our humid Singapore climate. You may be lured in because chrome usually costs a lot lesser (sometimes even 50% of the cost), but it will not last you for more than a few years without rusting. But may we caution you that stainless steel CAN BE STAINED (don’t be fooled by the name), so do still keep it away from chemicals as much as possible. Well, just keep everything as dry as possible if you live in Singapore, heh.

  1. Vinyl flooring is such a breeze to clean and maintain! Also, we’ve had two friends tell us that when their child falls down on vinyl, they do not cry (but they do cry on tiled flooring) – this is because vinyl is softer in nature. Our tip is to get your contractor or ID to use the thickest vinyl boards (8mm or 10mm I believe) that’s of the best quality. If not, the corners of the vinyl may fray as the years go buy. Anyhow, vinyl is generally a lot cheaper than marble or tiled flooring, so it’s a great ‘starter-flooring’ for young married couples, who are dealing with the real financial pressures of living/working in Singapore.

Hope this helps!

We may add more tips as we discover them along the way. Tell us what you think. 🙂