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A Letter From an Impressed Client: A Creative and Brilliantly Executed Home Interior Design Journey

A Letter From an Impressed Client: A Creative and Brilliantly Executed Home Interior Design Journey

We completed this home interior design and renovation project for a HDB resale flat in Bishan Street 22. This is the letter and testimonial from the client describing the journey from start to finish.

Throughout my lifetime, home has always been an extremely precious place to me. I love spending time at home, it’s a deep sort of affinity that I identify with dearly. For almost all my life, I lived in a 5-room HDB in Bishan, and I especially loved the corner that I slept in – even after I had moved out and my family renovated the place, I would sometimes think about the corner when I spent much of my life awake at night, pondering the meaning of life as I drifted off to dreamland.

After getting married in January 2017, my wife Linh and I looked for a resale HDB, in, to nobody’s surprise, Bishan. As a true lover of the heartland where the yellow and red MRT lines intersected, I often mentally mocked the sorrow of our dear brothers AMK and TPY for whom fate decided not to grant the Circle Line to. So close, yet so far. After securing the place, the search for an interior designer begun. My wife and I were very aligned on the vision for our home. We both loved pandas, and wanted our home to be cosy with slight touch of minimalistic. We also really liked wood, and valued deeply an open and spacious concept. Cosy, open, wood would be the three key words.

Working with Home Guide

I learnt about Home Guide from a good friend of mine – her Dad was the owner of the company. While this was a pull factor, we wanted to choose the best firm for the job, so we searched intensively over a period of 4 months. We contacted over 20 firms and met about 10 from a variety of sources. This took a toll and there were times where we got tired of meeting new IDs and judging them based on their proposals and interactions. Yet we pressed on, because our intent was to live in this home for the rest of our lives (that’s probably another 60 years).

We don’t intend to move or upgrade in future, so we really only had one shot to get this right, thus we were extremely particular about the person we would work with – I think it is safe to say that our eventual designer Wanting must have felt pretty exasperated with us at times because of how demanding our requirements were. We got involved in every single detail possible (some of which mattered little, others more so), things like grouting colour all the way to innovative ways to box up toilet and air conditioning pipes. In most creative work, there is a constant battle between what is functional and what is creative.

Most creative ideas may not be functional or lack usability, whereas most functional ideas tend to be dull and boring. We ignored this rule of thumb and demanded both in our vision. As dreamers, we started off with creative, incredulous ideas, and then demanded that we find out a way to make it functional simultaneously.

A couple of examples would make this apparent. For the design phase, we didn’t work with just Wanting from Home Guide. While I really liked her thoroughness and attention to detail, I valued the creativity from another designer named Gerard from another firm, therefore we engaged both and our design meetings were with two designers providing two differing perspectives. Whereas most other projects typically take a couple of months for the design, we took an arduous 9 months, recycling over 10 layout design ideas and countless others such as reading nooks, secret, hidden doors, arched doorways and replacing walls with full-panel glass.

We would take our floor plan, erase all the walls we could hack down, and re-imagine how we could reconfigure the space altogether. You can imagine this took a lot of patience on Wanting’s part, and at times we would pivot an idea after she had prepared a drawing or 3D rendering, meaning she had to go back and redo the entire piece. I think we overshot the number of reiterations we had for 3D rendering as well.

Through it all, Wanting was patient with us and Jack, the owner, was supportive in journeying with us at critical points of the renovation process. For instance, normally people choose their wardrobe laminate colour and design based on a sample catalogue small enough to carry around in one hand.

However, knowing how painstakingly meticulous we were, Jack and Wanting went the extra mile and invited us down to the actual factory itself to decide based on the massive chunks of laminate so that we could get a more realistic feel of the designs.

The workers were surprised to see us and commented that rarely do customers go to such extents. As such, I am immensely grateful to both Jack and Wanting for adjusting and adapting to our rigorous needs.

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3D Rendering of the proposed final work,

An Impressive Final Product

In our modern culture of Instagram and Facebook, we know that pictures are always edited and re-edited to portray the best image possible, to showcase the person or place in the best light. As such, when the 3D rendering for our home design came out, we were impressed with the artist’s work, but we knew that reality wouldn’t match up to it and lowered our expectations accordingly.

Fast forward several months and our renovation was coming to a close. As you might imagine, we were there every week at the beginning and as the various fittings were put into place and the final touches dusted off the shelves, almost every night after work. If you would ask me the one thing which I am most impressed with the final product, it has got to be the quality of execution.

Imagine my surprise when the built-in wardrobe and wood-frame-laminated glass panels looked almost exactly like the 3D rendering! It was a like-for-like match and I was thoroughly impressed at the quality workmanship and appearance. If you don’t believe, take a look at it yourself. The pictures don’t lie, and this really stood out for Linh and I. A brilliant concept is only as good as the quality of its execution, and oftentimes creative ideas fall short not because of the intent, but the implementation.

Looking Back

In terms of improvement, I can only think of one, which is perhaps specific to our project as well. One of the things I really value is a consistent barrage of innovative ideas to bounce off and discuss, debate, and explore. Creativity without boundaries is easy, but creativity within boundaries such as a 2.6m ceiling is challenging. While many ideas were customised and highly specific, I still felt more could have been done in terms of pushing the limits and peering out for rare insights. This may involve ideas such as creative linkage and integration of futuristic trends such as technology and the Internet of Things into traditional designs.

The journey of renovation was a deeply personal one for my wife Linh and I, involving not just calculations and concepts, but our entire being, heart and passion poured into the project. We left no stone unturned, and expected Home Guide to do the same. After visiting our home, many people ask Linh if she would consider being a designer because she came up with many of the most innovative ideas in our home. She said no, because she didn’t think she could do this again due to the mental and emotional energy required.

We are deeply grateful to Wanting, Jack, Home Guide and our other designer Gerard for journeying with us through this process. There were many moments where we weighed pros and cons, debated or reset ideas completely. It was frustrating and stressful, and I’m sure Wanting probably wanted to pull out her hair at times even though she always put on a calm, professional front. Probably she complains about our project to her colleagues over lunch. Yet not once did we falter or downsize our vision, but kept our eyes fixed on the end goal through it all. And it is a testament to Wanting and Jack for not only their stellar ability to execute, but the fluid adaptability to meet our consistent demands as a couple heavily invested in a project which will last us a lifetime.

Thank You

Thanks be to Wanting, Jack, and all from Home Guide who worked on our home. May it be that years later, when I walk into the master bathroom and turn on the tap to see water droplets streaming into the Villeroy & Boch water basin, that I recall the time we shared together. We richly enjoyed this journey, and we hope you did too.

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