Countertops, cabinets, shelves, drawers, stoves and sinks… kitchen renovations involve some serious adulting
In the days before getting my house keys, I went mad with planning. As if I wasn’t already mad about all things home interior and decor, my Pinterest boards started giving birth to sub-Pinterest boards, I shamelessly checked out friends’ houses and made repeat visits to Tan Boon Liat. So when it was time to flex for my own kitchen renovation, I was ready. Or was I?
My rookie reno
With Built-To-Order (BTO) HDB houses in Singapore, you literally get a blank slate. When we bought the house, we opted for no flooring to be done throughout the house and no wall divider for the kitchen – to create an open kitchen concept. Hacking tiles and walls incur extra costs in the renovation fee, so we decided to start with a blank canvas. But when we got our keys, we were surprised to find that the kitchen area came with tiled flooring… and shiny tiled walls. Yup, have to get rid of it all.
One can dream, right?
You know the stereotype of little girls dreaming about their future dream weddings? Well, I’ve always been planning my dream house, so really, this was a long time coming. While the dream version of my current kitchen included an island the actual size of an island, herb walls, a view of the Himalayas (or similar), wooden beams, a sink slightly shallower than the Mariana Trench, a woodfire oven and a pantry area to rival Cold Storage, planning your dream kitchen layout in advance may help you in streamlining the process later on when things start becoming more solid. Things like the colour scheme, style of stove and cooker hood combination, materials for cabinets can get ironed out in this stage.
The REAL planning starts
Depending on your budget, aesthetics, style, and the extent of work that needs to be done, the next hard bit is selecting an interior designer (ID) to suit your needs. Thankfully for websites like Qanvast and Renopedia, they’ll match your budget and style to the IDs. The only homework you have to do is to go through the portfolios of the matched IDs and figure out which one would meet your needs best. It’s also good to meet up with a few IDs in your new crib to show them around to get a better picture of what you are visualising. Of course, getting a few quotes to compare before finally making the decision.
Because we get so much lovely natural light coming in our apartment unit during the day, we opted for a clean look that built on a sort-of artsy loft style. For the kitchen, we decided to go for an all-concrete look that our ID, Butler Interiors, was established in.
Then reality hits you hard
After the quotes come in, it’s time to make the decision. First things first, be realistic. It’s time to start streamlining your dream kitchen and asking yourself what you really need. Secondly, it’s time to talk money. Do you have bottomless savings in the bank and a five-figure salary? No? We’re in the same boat, honey. I had to take on a renovation loan to cover the costs. While it’s relatively a common thing here in Singapore, it’s good to work out a system to get your finances settled – make sure you can afford the monthly payment! There’ll also be days where you’re need to oversee some work in the house. Not every workplace may be flexible about this so it’s good to play tag team with other family members if you don’t have the luxury of having a helper at home (again, like me!).
Back to streamlining your dream kitchen plans: think about efficiency and how you actually use the space. Things like the distance between the stove, countertop, fridge and sink, where the spice rack is located, and most importantly, if you are going to using the kitchen a lot. You might also want to consider more hardy materials like quartz and marble for countertops if you’re going to be a heavy cooker. Don’t worry, your ID will work all of this out with you, but it’s also good to have an idea of what you envision your kitchen to look like (this is where dream kitchen planning comes in handy!).
Let’s face it. Singapore flats are small. They’re tiny. Keep things light, meaning don’t go buying mega dinner sets for huge dinner parties you probably don’t even have space for. This is why smart storage is important when laying out your kitchen. Talk to your ID about installing secret racks or drawers and other space-saving hacks to keep your spices, cutlery, and general kitchen stuff.
Get yourself some personality
Make the kitchen yours! Most people don’t bother decorating up their kitchens because it’s a place where utility and practicality lives. But we’re into decorating practically everything. Isn’t the best part of renovating the kitchen choosing your favourite colours for your cabinets, getting cooking utensils and containers in fun colours for display, and tacking up some photos on the fridge to make the place yours?
If I could do it again? Perhaps make enough money to spend more on a dream countertop. (It’s terrazzo speckled with colours)
Hardest lesson learned: When you’re lacking on the moolah, everything is hard.
What I still geek out over in the new kitchen: I still love waking up early and strolling to the kitchen to see the morning light spilling in. We practically never have to turn on the kitchen lights except at night. Also, getting some wireless smart lights by Philips Hue installed is pretty cool – we’ve been using Google Home to turn the lights on and off .
Best advice I received: Spend a little more on a dining table, which we did. But that’s another story…
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