Tour A [email protected] Home Transformation: How A Couple With A $65k Reno Budget Created A Cosy Home – Property Blog Singapore

by decwells
Tour A Pinnacle@Duxton Home Transformation: How A Couple With A $65k Reno Budget Created A Cosy Home – Property Blog Singapore

As a young couple, it’s always an incredibly exciting time when you’ve managed to secure your first home.

But once you get through all the stress of finding the right home, you’ll soon realize that the next part of the journey can be just as, if not more, taxing.

There is a certain pressure to get everything right during the renovation process because once it is built, it will be difficult to change. Or even if you could, it might just be very expensive to do so.

For Bryan and Tiffany (@jingwensathome), they were lucky to find their 4-room resale HDB at [email protected] which was already somewhat in line with what they wanted.

“The apartment is excellently maintained,” Bryan said. “It had minimal built-ins and already had a pretty open concept.”

They also like how breezy the house is since it is located on a higher floor.

That’s not to say they’ve had an easy recovery journey like almost everyone else during the pandemic — they’ve had some challenges to overcome. And now, together with their four cat bosses – August, Austin, Audi and Auri, they are enjoying the fruits of their labour.

Let’s join them as they share how they turned their vision into reality.

How the Renovation Journey turned out

The couple was ready to shell out up to $65K for their renovation. “We were prepared for about $60K to $65K as the total number for the cost,” Bryan said. “And so we wanted to limit the initial quote to $55K, before all the adjustments and additional costs for lighting and electrical work along the way.”

He said their final renovation cost was around $63K. This excludes the A/C and cat grills which totaled about $8K.

Their approach helped them stick to the budget. This prevented adding more to the cost while at the same time having a buffer for any additional reno expenses.

Like many others, Bryan and Tiffany were particularly inspired by “a lot of overseas Instagram posts.”

One example is their kitchen cabinets.

He shared that the green cabinets in their kitchen were inspired by a photo they saw online and loved. They tried to find a laminate with the closest appearance possible and ended up with what they have today.

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“We love the random green joinery and tiles around the house,” he added. “We feel it gives more life to our house, which is mostly brown and wooden.”

The couple only had to make a few changes to the home’s layout compared to the original floor plan, as it already matched their preference.

For example, they always felt that the standard 93 square meter living room is relatively small, especially because they like to host their friends and family. Fortunately, the previous owners had the same idea.

“One common bedroom has already been knocked down by the previous owners,” he said. “So we just had to cut away the kitchen walls to make an enlarged living area and accommodate an open kitchen concept.”

Let’s take a closer look at the outcome of their home renovation.


As soon as you enter their place, the living room naturally shows the open concept that the couple was aiming for. The choice of vinyl flooring, clean, muted furniture colors and DIY limewash wall paint all contribute to the area’s bright and airy atmosphere.

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The view of the cityscape creates an illusion that the room, including the dining area, is larger than it really is. In fact, it adds a great urban charm to their place.

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With carpentry, they were able to hide the domestic shelter and make it blend flawlessly with the rest of the theme.

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Dining room

And so because one of the rooms was already chopped, it allowed the luxury of a dedicated dining area. Now it can comfortably accommodate up to 10 people, including a sofa they built. The sconces on the kitchen wall create a more cozy atmosphere, especially when they eat at night.

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To make the kitchen blend seamlessly with the home’s open concept feature, they also chopped down the walls in the kitchen. The kitchen island they added served as a subtle yet effective partitioning element. The use of open shelving also worked well with their place’s overall theme, as opposed to using overhead cabinets.

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What really makes the space, however, is the captivating petal pendant lamp hung above the kitchen island. It really provides a cozy atmosphere with the warm light, and the nature of the shades really gives a more delicate touch to the space.

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Bryan said they didn’t do much to this space except for the built-in wardrobe. However, one thing they made sure of was that the master bedroom had the same clean look as their living room.

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They had one of their bedrooms set up specifically for their cats. Here they installed one of their own cat wall climbers.

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Their bathrooms have undergone a major renovation. The tile colors provided a striking yet bold contrast to the home’s overall decor. They also added shower screens and open shelving while keeping their communal bathroom niche.

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Bring the vision to reality

Bryan admitted that the final outcome of the reno was not what they really had in mind before the project began.

“I think it was because we weren’t very set on what we wanted from the beginning,” he added.

The couple originally aimed for a more rustic look. They knew they wanted a design that included elements such as a kitchen island, dining room bench, herringbone tiles and subway tiles. They also wanted some greens around their house. As such, the final outcome was one that leaned more towards Scandi, as it has a cleaner look.

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“No complaints though,” he said. “We are very happy with how everything turned out.”

Bryan and Tiffany reached out to about 15 IDs and contractors before landing on Cherrie from Lemonfridge Studio.

As for how they made their final decision, Bryan and Tiffany had a list that was very helpful to them:

  • Vibe: Bryan said the refresher needs to be on the same or similar page as them. This can help them build on ideas more easily.
  • Thoroughness: The couple had strong preferences for an ID that could give a good first impression – one with great attention to detail. The mood boards presented to them can easily help identify those renovators who adhere to the couple’s open concept. For them, it clearly shows that the ID understands the style they wanted. This also resulted in a more accurate quote.
  • Timeline: Their renovation took place during COVID, and they’ve heard of various reno delays happening all over the area. As such, it was important for them to look at the reviews of the companies. They also made sure that the ID they would be engaging with was not managing too many projects at once.
  • Cost: Transparency is very important to them. More so, since they had a budget to work with. Comparing each line item from multiple quotes they received, instead of just the total cost, helped them choose which company offered better transparency.

As for the rest of the house, their furniture sourcing process drew on many of the same sources of inspiration as Instagram. “We looked to Instagram for a lot of inspiration for home furnishings. Once we saw a piece of furniture we liked, Tiff was relentless in its acquisition.”

He said that they did not limit themselves to stores in Singapore. Apart from Taobao, they got their wall lights from Australia with the help of a friend who lives there. Their design inspiration also came from France.

Everyone has their favorite area of ​​their home, and for Bryan and Tiffany it would be their kitchen.

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“Before the renovation, the kitchen was half open and was very basic,” he recalled. “Now, this is the heart of their home, where Tiff tries to cook every meal.” He added that they both love to spend their time in the kitchen.

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They are also very happy with their DIY limwash painted wall in the living area. He said it added so much more depth and texture to their home. “At the end of this year we may whitewash more parts of the house.”

Lessons learned from a successful Reno trip

Choosing tiles was one of the biggest challenges Bryan and Tiffany faced during their journey.

“It was challenging because there were repeated delays in shipments during COVID.” He elaborated that many of the tiles they chose for both their bathroom walls and kitchen backsplash were either EAST or not coming soon. It happened on their first pick, second pick, and even on their third.

This created a domino effect. The new master toilet ended up having a look they didn’t envision, and the kitchen backsplash had an expensive mistake.

“Luckily, we were able to fix the kitchen, and we’re happy with how the bathrooms turned out,” Bryan said.

As for the lessons they learned, Bryan shared that there is definitely more than meets the eye. For example, one of their first hiccups was the large water pipe in the kitchen.

“It wasn’t something we noticed before until everything was torn down. We had to either box it or build carpentry around it.” He said it was a bummer for them as they wanted everything completely open. While the box offered a solution, it seemed bulky.

As first-time homeowners, things like air conditioning ducts, plumbing and beams didn’t come naturally to either of them. Bryan admitted that they were fixated on the more obvious things like tiles and big walls. He said they will keep these things in mind when viewing future homes as well as designing them.

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Last but not least, Bryan shares these three valuable tips with homeowners who are planning to go through their own reno journey soon.

“Familiarize yourself with various themes, furniture, ideas and brands,” he said. It can help you discover your taste and what you really want.

There are tons of resources online, like home accounts, feature videos, and magazines (just like our Living In series). Apart from gaining knowledge about different themes and designs, they can also show the best and worst reno decisions of others.

His second piece of advice is to find a good conditioner that meets your design needs and matches your character. “We were very fortunate to have Cherrie,” he said, “as she is responsive and has excellent service recovery.” The couple is still in touch with them today.

Finally, he recommends planning as much as possible. “There are so many aspects to a home renovation, from cost and sales to comparing brands, to aesthetics and design.” Keep in mind that the more structured you are, the smoother the process will be. You’ll be less likely to fall into a reno decision fatigue state.

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