24 Interior Designers Share Their Best Reno Advice

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Embarking on a renovation? Play it smart by tapping into the experience and expertise of these industry experts before you dive into the actual revamp.

Before engaging an interior designer:

Design: The Orange Cube

Design: The Orange Cube

“It’s important to find the right interior designer whom you can work well with and can understand your needs. But before consulting an interior designer, you should first research on what kind of style and theme you want for your home.” – Andy Tan, director, The 80’s Studio

“Homeowners should know the difference between a contractor and an interior design firm. Many tend to be confused, as they do not have ample understanding of the trades. They can differentiate it from the services provided. Interior design firms offer intangible services and specialise in creativity and details, while contractors provide mass-market services and focus on sourcing for the lowest budget possible. The last thing you want is to approach an ‘interior designer,‘ only to realise that it’s actually a contractor.” – Raymond Seow, director, FS Intent Pte Ltd

“First and foremost, they should think about how to beautify their home and how to make it functional. They should also get their budget ready.” – Winarto Atmadja, designer, Ultimate Interior Creation

“It’s important to understand what you want and then plan ahead. For example, five years down the road, is there anything in terms of design or furniture that you won’t tire of and still need for your home? In conclusion, you should always think about the functionality of their home.” – Wilson Teh, co-director, Rezt & Relax

“Prior to the renovation, we’d try our best to understand the lifestyles, needs, and requirements of our clients. Every house is unique and individual. For us designers, we don’t just focus on aesthetics, but also planning and arranging of elements to accomplish a purpose.” – Cadine Lim, designer, Prozfile

“A key point to take note of is to find the right interior designer at the right location at the right timing. There are many designers in a company, so it’s crucial to find one that has a good sense of responsibility. Ultimately, it’s not about the company, but about the designer.” – Alex Lim, AX Image Design Concepts

“Owners need to trust the IDs they select while at the same thing, should not be shy to ask for ‘alternatives.’ I personally like challenges to jolt me out of my comfort zone. Need more lighting but don’t want more lighting points? I source for battery operated LED lights. Need a completely zero VOC paint for a baby’s nursery? We can use paints made out of milk.” – Zinc, designer and owner, Mint & Pistachio Home

“Always conduct research before engaging the services of an interior designer. One way is to go through magazines, catalogues, and forums for inspiration and advice.” – Randoll Lee, director, Hall Interiors

“Homeowners do all sorts of background checks when hiring a designer but often neglect to find out their qualifications. No harm in asking if he or she is from a prominent art school or not. Bottom line is; look for someone who is competent academically and well versed in the industry.” – Gabriel Yee, Thaddeus Interior

“Price should not be the main factor. The most important thing is to find an honest and responsible designer. No matter what, the designer should deliver what was promised.” – Johnny Fong, Inspire by D’Trenzo

On budgets:

“Don’t compare prices. The most expensive renovation services might not necessarily be the best. Reasonably-priced renovation services can also be up to par, but homeowners should first understand the materials that they are offered before making their decision.” – Jesper Low, director, Arc Define Interior

“I understand that different people have different budgets for renovation, but I’d advise them to concentrate on particular areas. Try not to split up the cost because this will result in the lack of a focal point in the house.” – Grace Wong, director, Brim Design

On furniture selection:

Design: Darwin Interior

Design: Darwin Interior

“I would advise homeowners not to shop for furniture or any ornaments before engaging an interior designer. That should come after the design conceptualisation phase. This is a common mistake made by many homeowners and they often end up purchasing a lot of unnecessary items.” – Violet Kang, designer, Darwin Interior

“Choose furniture pieces that have a story to tell, whether it be a unique reclaimed wood piece (that used to live a different life as an old building), or an original vintage piece with design cues from a different era.” – Terence Teh, marketing manager, Journey East Pte Ltd

“For the styling aspect, the interior designer should advise them on what kind of furniture pieces they should look out for depending on the concept theme. This factor is essential for a successful design scheme.” – Alvin Ling, director, The Scientist

“Focus on getting quality key pieces (sofa, dining tables and bed frames) before moving on to the smaller items (lighting, curtains or coffee tables).” – Amanda Lin, Grafunkt

“Take the time to find and invest in a piece of furniture that possesses a unique personality. Something that speaks to you. These are objects that you pick—or, as some say, pick you—objects that you care for, but might also be happy to let age, stain, gain character.” – Foundry Collection

On the conceptualisation:

“Try to be more flexible in terms of design. The design scheme might not look great at the first glance, but after adapting to the interior, you will find that everything actually blends well together. Design is about changes, so the most important thing is to know how to adapt to changes.” – Freddy Tan, designer, The Interior Lab

“Don’t always go for design that looks great just in artist impression; focus more on the practical aspect.” – Emun Yen, I-Bridge Design

“The design theme should be timeless and does not go out of date easily. Materials are very important, so make sure that the materials are good in quality.” – Sanm Sam, The 80’s Studio

“Make sure that you know the direction you want for your home. As designers, we have to be aware of homeowners’ specific requirements before we can craft out a lifestyle setting for them.” – Trifven Ho, designer, Living Icon

“Do not blindly heed other people’s suggestions on how to remodel your own interior. Stand by your decisions.” – Wincy Tang, principal designer, Rhiss Interior

On space planning:

Design: The Orange Cube

Design: The Orange Cube

“Getting the layout right is paramount in the renovation works. Spaces can be combined, divided, reconfigured, and manipulated to best suit your needs. So even before thinking about the colour of your walls or which style to adopt, space planning should always top your list.” – Lee Chi Ho, designer, The Orange Cube

“Consider the activities you do there, the space you have, and the amount of items you have to keep. If you have less space but plenty of items, then you may need to consider furniture that has a double function.” – April Kwan, IKEA

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