RenoTransformation: Week 6 – Lessons Learnt Part 1

We are now in the second month of the RenoTransformation. Despite the labour shortages, approval delays, shipping issues, we seem to be making good progress.

One of the bathrooms is coming along well

At the beginning of the year, almost two months before the work started, I drafted a list of guiding principles for the project. This is a habit from my former life as a business consultant. When we have a clear set of principles to guide the design, decision making becomes easy. When there is a conflict (and there will be conflict), referring back to the principles removes the emotion from the equation and you can make a sound decision. Furthermore, the decisions are consistent because they are all based on the same set of principles.

Here are some of the principles I wrote down in January:

1. Timeless design – will I like it 2,5,10 years time?

2. Longevity – use good quality materials that will not need to be fixed or replaced often.

3. Modern traditional design – my husband and I took online quizzes to help us identify our design style. We then spent a good amount of time on Pinterest looking at photos of different rooms organised by design type to confirm that what the quiz told us and what our eyes found pleasant were one and the same.

4. A place for everything and everything in its place – I first learnt this principle in a business school class on Japanese Management philosophies and techniques. The principle may have originated on the floor of a Japanese automobile factory but it is very crucial for a well-organised, clutter-free home.

5. Function is important, but the design doesn’t have to be ugly. Also, let’s not have pretty things that don’t perform any function or worse, impede function. E.g. I don’t need LED light strips that look pretty but don’t illuminate. I can use textiles, art, plants, and other decor objects to bring the pretty.

Is there an easy, safe way to bring down the top bicycle? Every day?

6. Design and choice materials must be suitable for Singapore’s hot, humid, and rainy climate. We know there are some things we just can’t have. E.g. I can’t have statement chandeliers over the dining table or in the centre of the living room because a ceiling fan is more important.

I’m so glad we’ve had these principles to guide our transformation journey. I totally underestimated the emotional aspect of the journey. I totally underestimated how difficult it would be to stick to the overall vision and the guiding principles for the house.

Yesterday I spent the morning at Hock Siong, my favourite second-hand furniture store in Singapore. I saw this totally gorgeous 3-seater wooden sofa with mother of pearl inlay work. It was so beautiful and I was so tempted. I stood there for a few minutes, mentally rearranging the furniture to check if we had space. Equally tempting were the vintage cabinets and carved wooden frames. But as beautiful as the objects were, they didn’t meet our needs or aesthetic. So I returned home empty-handed.

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