After six years of waiting for their BTO flat, this couple could finally make their mid-century modern dreams come true.
Yumei and Jing Hao (@ameijinghome) had a long road ahead of them when they first requested their BTO flat in 2015. It took them six whole years to get their keys and finally dive into the renovation—plenty of time to refine their preferences and settle on the look of their dreams.
Now freshly wedded, the couple recounts scoring this flat on their second attempt and opting out of all the pre-existing BTO components, such as flooring, plumbing and even doors. This gave the homeowners lots of playing room to exercise their own creativity on what was essentially a clean slate.
They knew from the get-go that they wanted an open-concept kitchen and a king-sized bed, so the layout of the flat had to be adjusted accordingly. Despite their clear vision, however, the couple felt that a professional interior designer would come in handy, providing visualisation plans and technical expertise, and, of course, managing the entire project.
With the help of designer Valerie and her team at Fifth Avenue Interior, Yumei and Jing Hao were able to transform their bare-bones shell of a flat into a minimalist, mid-century modern haven with a hint of art deco.
Refreshing their design ideas periodically while they waited for their keys, they witnessed the evolution and growth of their tastes, finally narrowing it all down to a very clear-cut concept. They never strayed from the moodboard—a testament to the care and attention to detail that went into their home.
We caught up with the freshly married couple to find out more about their design journey and unearth their coveted renovation secrets.
Considering your positive experience with your interior designer, do you have any tips for finding a good ID?
Start by looking for designers directly, not companies. Assessing designers’ personal portfolios is a good way to gauge their suitability from the get-go, instead of leaving it to chance if you go with the latter, as companies tend to match you randomly with any available ID.
It is also important to work with a designer that you really feel comfortable with and can trust—basically passing the vibes check when you first meet them in person.
How did you choose the right layout for your home?
It took us a while to figure out the right layout, but it was important to plan it to suit our lifestyles. We have two work desks, a walk-in wardrobe, and our bedroom in the same space, yet the areas are clearly demarcated for each purpose.
The original primary bedroom was converted into the wardrobe and study area, whilst the connecting adjacent room acts as the sleeping zone. And we still have the third bedroom to spare for multi-purpose use!
Any tips for finding one’s interior style?
Enter the design process with an open mind. We relied a lot on Pinterest and home interior videos for inspiration. Once you have enough examples, bring them together and see if you are able to recognise a common theme or style in the images to get started on a more definitive mood board.
What’s your favourite space in the house?
We love hanging out at our open dining area and kitchen, as it really is a welcoming space for cooking, simple meal prep, coffee starts and even ‘hot desking’ when working from home at times. With a standalone island and a long dining table, this is also an area where we can host our friends and families very comfortably.
Any favourite features in the flat?
We feel that our textured elements inject more character into our home. Cement screed was applied in the living room, our arched niche and our main bedroom.
We were also introduced to textured laminates, which we used around our household shelter, kitchen island and study shelves. Repeating the materials across was perfectly fine with us, as it gave our home uniformity and consistency.
How did you go about your furniture shopping?
Prior to furniture shopping, we started by taking measurements as it helped to streamline our selections in a practical way. We also found it very helpful to create a simple photo collage to visualise the space, especially when it came to deciding on the final piece.
We took ample time to find our furniture and put everything together. Don’t settle for a piece that you’re only 85% sure of. Be 101% sure.
Do you have any budgeting tips for new homeowners starting their renovation?
Stick with a budget you are comfortable with (be realistic!) and spend within your means. If there is an unexpected additional cost, consider what you can forgo that is of low priority. Also, remember that renovation costs are not everything—there are furniture and appliances to cover too—so allocate your budget accordingly from the beginning.
Would you do anything differently looking back now?
It is taking us some time to get used to our vinyl flooring. Since vinyl planks are installed via the click-and-lock method and not stuck on permanently, we can sometimes feel them shift slightly when we exercise. Vinyl flooring is also susceptible to sinking issues if the ground underneath is not completely flat, or not screeded evenly, which we have also experienced post-renovation.
To finish off, what advice would you give to homeowners renovating for the first time?
Research as much as possible by talking to others about their renovation process, reading about people’s experiences and looking at other home renovation projects. You never know what you really like or want until you see it. And that is completely normal, especially if you are a new homeowner.
When your designer recommends something, it’s still possible to explore other ways or alternative solutions. Be active in seeking new information and options.
This post was adapted from an article originally published in IdealHomes 2022.