Friday, June 14, 2013

Our New Home Part 2

Next up in our house tour is the kitchen. As you can see, the flooring was very simple and the cabinets quite dingy. We tore everything down and replaced it with a more modern kitchen following a classic palette of black, white and light wood.

The old kitchen with dingy cabinets

Entrance to the kitchen. We thought of putting in a door but the entrance was quite wide and it was more convenient to keep it open. It also meant the nannies could easily see our children in the living room even if they were doing something in the kitchen.
LG Refrigerator to the left. Dark gray tiles. Light wood laminate. Quartz countertop and and high gloss white  cabinets.

Built-in Turbo Incanto oven and right on top is our microwave oven.

The old kitchen had a simple two-burner hob with no hood. 

Black tempered glass 3-burner Turbo Incanto hob and matching hood (hood in picture below).

Deep sink to the right with a very high tap.

Closer view of the sink and tap and cutlery and dish drainer behind the cabinet with the translucent glass door.

It's a very compact kitchen which is also the laundry area. That's our washer and dryer combo over there which gets used quite a lot since it's too inconvenient to hang our clothes outside the building and no space to dry inside the house.

This is a shot of the old kitchen and that raised platform was meant for a washer.

Another view of the washer and dryer.

The old hallway with marble flooring and dilapidated doors.

The new hallway with light wood laminate and white bedroom doors from the center to the right, and white folding doors for the shower and toilet, to the left.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Our New Home Part 1

Well it's been a week and we're settling nicely in our home. I waited until all the unpacked boxes and various items had been put away and curtains are up before I started taking pictures. I've put the pictures of our new home side-by-side with how it used to look like so you can see the improvements.
The living room is my favorite area and the coziest part of the house, it's a rectangular layout with the play space near the window, the actual living room in the middle and the dining area near the entrance of the apartment.
The flooring for the living room was the old type of marble and towards where the play area is now, it was a different flooring, more linoleum. The play area used to be partitioned off by an arch and columns and was painted black. The mood of the room was a bit dark. What we've done was to take away the arch and the columns and have the same flooring all throughout the living room - a light wood laminate together with white walls so we could keep the area as light and airy as possible.
I took inspiration from boards I found on Pinterest which is where I got the idea for the book ledges drilled onto one wall so the kids could have a reading corner. I had another ledge drilled onto the opposite wall so we could display the kids' photos against the wall and just update them as often as we wanted without sticking the frames onto the wall (which we used to do with blu tack - quite messy though and doesn't hold strongly). Then my husband and I chose the BESTA storage system with movable partitions so we could keep the kids' toys accessible. We bought a new rug as well then brought over the pink table with chairs and the drawing board / chalk board easel from our old apartment (all from IKEA).

For the actual living room, the old owners painted the wall and dark pink (almost purple) which wasn't really doing anything for the room. Meanwhile, I've always wanted a brick wall in my home and I've seen one in all the home decor magazines I've flipped through. It makes me think New York loft. But putting one up was an added expense we almost decided to do without. I kept thinking I could give it up but decided I couldn't and I'm so happy we kept it in the final design. I think it gives a warmth to the room. The only change we made was to keep the original color of the brick instead of painting it white, which we've seen done as well and thought was also interesting. But this one was better.

I've also stuck very closely to the design pegs which I posted previously. I have the brick wall (red not white though), the structured couch, and parquet-looking floors. I even have the ceiling fan pictured here and I've followed through on the pictures on a ledge idea.

Meanwhile, if my dream was to have a brick wall, my husband's wish was more functional, i.e. to have a built-in TV console. We chose a simple dark brown laminate and black glass compartments which slide out and which houses our Starhub box, DVD player and Kinect console. It's so easy to use, my kids already know how to open and close the compartments so they can watch their cartoons in the morning. The console did end up being a bit thick so the designer told us he built some DVD compartments on the side as well and we mainly keep our kids' DVDs in there. Right beside the console is my husband's Father's Day gift which is a 6-layer steel compartment box for tools, gadgets and electronics. I knew I picked the right gift when the taxi driver asked me how much it was and whether there was still stock left. It was a steal since I found it in the AS-IS section at IKEA and no there were no other stocks left since I hadn't seen it anywhere and I would know since I've been to IKEA 4 times in the past 2 weeks already. Beside the tool compartment box meanwhile are two of our beloved paintings - one was a painting I bought in Guangzhou and another was a painting I made with my daughter Lexi. We have a lot of white walls and there should be room for more art but for now we're starting with these two.

Then there's the dining room. It's still very bare except for a dining set and again I found the exact chairs I wanted and we changed over our table to a light wood surface this time around. We also changed the overhead light to a pendant lamp which looking now at the picture feels a bit small against the space, but we'll see. We're also still using shoe racks but come the weekend, we might start looking at larger shoe cabinets which can serve as a long console table. I initially wanted to do a chalkboard wall but trying to figure out where to put it. It may or may not happen. We'll see. For now, the apartment already feels like home and we'll change and adapt as time passes.

More pictures in the next few posts of the other areas of the house.


Friday, June 7, 2013

What Can Go Wrong Will Go Wrong

Well it was time to move and though we dreaded the packing and subsequent unpacking of boxes, the discovering you have too many stuff and too little storage, and the adjusting to new spaces and new routes -we were thrilled we were finally moving to a space we could really fix up and call home. Unfortunately, since we were moving to a new house there were a lot of kinks.

- The contractor couldn't get their people to drill our IKEA-bought curtain rods and so we moved to the new house, without curtain rods and curtains. I initially checked for quotes on getting everything done with a place that specializes in curtains but almost fell off my chair when they quoted me SGD1,000 for 3 sets of curtains. So I trooped off to IKEA for aforementioned curtain rods and starter curtains which were SGD20 a set, had them fixed to proper length for SGD16 a set which is also expensive but still way cheaper than customized curtains. Problem fixed, curtains up next Monday.    

- The contractor somehow designed the kitchen cabinets so that they partially concealed the gas point, which we only realized when City Gas came to turn on the gas. It took 3 online appointment requests, 3 visits from City Gas, 1 visit from the carpenter, countless hours spent calling the City Gas hotline (which I am sure is a hoax since I've never been able to talk to a City Gas Officer directly through their contact numbers) and 7 days exactly before we could get the gas turned on. I was so desperate to get the gas turned on that when I finally got the carpenter to saw off a part of the kitchen cabinets I started madly calling City Gas and realized the only way to contact City Gas was if you requested an online appointment (they would then call you to confirm the appointment). The moment I got hold of a City Gas Officer, which was the next day, I mentally tried to figure out whether to berate them or just beg for an appointment - I ended up doing the latter and I thankfully got my appointment and my gas turned on. Goodbye hawker food. Though the porridge was the best and some of the other items tasty, nothing could compare to home cooked food.

- The kitchen backsplash isn't finished and so is the bathroom mirror, which makes me think there's something wrong with the mirror place our contractor coordinated with.

- The room and kitchen lights seem faulty and flicker a little before turning on. In fact, technically, our bedroom light is broken. Will have to get that fixed.

As with all problems though they eventually get fixed and now 1 week after moving we are slowly settling into the new place and loving it to bits.



How To Sell Stuff on Craigslist

Well it was time to move again and unlike our other moves, we were offloading a lot of items to make way for new ones. And this time we were trading up and buying furniture that would fit our new home, picking pieces for their beauty/quality not just for their affordable price.

In any case, we were hoping we could still make some money off of our secondhand stuff so we turned to our beloved craigslist.

Here's the stuff we posted:

We did worry that we wouldn't sell everything and would need to pay people to dispose of our bulky items. But eventually, we lowered prices on some and gave away others and everything turned out fine.

Next time though, this is what I would do:

1. Get the pricing right - I started off with low pricing on most items since I thought it would take a week to close deals. But for hot ticket items like the sofa and the dining set we got several inquiries within 24 hours. The low pricing helped but I think an extra SGD50 on some items would still have attracted some buyers.

2. Get a deposit to lock in the item - I mistakenly set aside the sofa for a buyer and didn't ask for downpayment. As it turned out, the person couldn't secure a mover to get the sofa and backed out of the deal. I had to lower the price further and repost on craigslist at the last minute just to get the item sold.

3.Wait - I was a bit impatient and when I didn't get any offers the first day for some of the baby items,I decided to give some to my newborn niece instead. Eventually offers trickled in but by then the items were already given away.

Well that's done and now we're focusing on getting the new home in order. More stories about the move in my next posts.