Married for seven years, this couple knew exactly what they wanted for their second home.
For an introverted couple like Fariza (@frouhaha) and Khairil, home needs to be a place to retreat to and wind down after being out and about all day. Since older flats tend to be larger (and thus offer more of that coveted personal space), the couple targeted resale homes from the get-go, touring seven houses in total. The first condominium unit they saw was ultimately their dream home, thanks in part to the spacious balcony overlooking the pool and palm trees.
“There are so many interesting local birds that fly past here because we’re next to a big park,” the couple shares. “The balcony is definitely the place everyone is drawn to the minute they step into the home.” But despite how much they loved the condo’s features and layout, the design felt dated, the flat being 10 years old and still in its original condition. “We knew we wanted to stay here long-term, so the flat had to feel like it was ours, down to the fixtures and flooring.” A renovation was very much in order and Jonathan from The Local INN.terior was just the man for the job.
Having previously renovated their BTO flat, this round of renovations was fairly smooth. They knew they would engage an interior designer since the new flat was quite far from their previous home, making project management quite tricky without an ID. Figuring out the design style and features they wanted was quickly settled, too. “Because this is our second home, we had a list of stuff we never got to do for our first place, which became a priority for this apartment,” the couple shares.
Some of these upgrades included revamping the bathrooms with better tiles and incorporating more strategic lighting. They opted for minimal built-ins, wanting the space to be flexible and evolve alongside their family. “We also really love terrazzo flooring so we are really happy with what we chose.”
We caught up with Fariza to find out more about her and her husband’s renovation journey, their home styling tips and their favourite finds.
You seem to have found your perfect home. What are your house-hunting tips?
Be honest about what you need and think long-term. Are you okay with a smaller kitchen, even though you cook and host often? Do you really need a big balcony if you’re just gonna use it to hang clothes? Be open to other areas outside of your preferred estates. I never thought we’d move to the southwest because I’ve lived in the east my whole life! But commuting to town and work is so much faster from here, we’re close to eateries and cafes and so many hiking trails and parks, even if we’re a little further from family.
How did you come up with the look for your home? Was this a difficult process?
We’ve always leaned towards warm, classic designs that withstand the test of time as opposed to trending looks. Khairil used to frequently travel to Helsinki for work, and he’d often tell me he fell in love with this piece of lighting or furniture. As he is more design-inclined, it was easy to trust his judgement. It was a fairly easy process because we have similar tastes. Our designer said he’s never met a couple as decisive as us!
If you’re trying to find your own style, read, look at interior design websites and get to know yourself well! Your home is an extension of your personality. Scandinavian, for example, is a broad style. It’s what you add to personalise it that makes any house a home.
What’s your favourite area of the home now that you’ve renovated?
I really love the balcony because that’s where I read, have my coffee and chat with Khairil in the morning before we start work. It never gets direct sunlight because of the orientation, so it’s lovely to be out there any time of the day. We wave to the uncle who cleans the pool every morning, which has become a routine I love.
Any favourite features?
The turntable in one of the cabinets means we can fully utilise awkward corners and keep pots and pans organised. We also love how bright the house is and the greenery just outside. We love all of our furniture pieces because we bought them over time and they’re all functional and also beautifully designed.
How did you go about choosing the furniture?
90% of the furniture was bought when we moved into our previous home. We’re lucky that everything eventually found a place, albeit in different areas. For example, there was an IKEA table that I used as a side table in my old bedroom; now it serves as a coffee table for the balcony. I think it looks even better there. We bought our big-ticket items in local stores like Castlery, Grafunkt, Commune, IKEA and MUJI because we needed to feel and see the items in real life before committing. The lighting pieces are mainly from Finnish Design Shop.
Did you have anything custom-built?
The kitchen cabinets and wardrobe in the main bedroom. The original wardrobe was a standard built-in from the condo developer. We also have a huge custom-built mirror in the main bathroom that occupies a whole wall, because we wanted to emulate the feel of staying at a hotel with those large mirrors. It really makes the bathroom feel more spacious.
How did you determine the right amount of storage space?
A little more than what you need is always better. Have built-ins for fixed things like kitchen appliances and clothes, as those can last long when built right. Be open to loose furniture as flexible storage space, which you can change up depending on your needs and style over the years, like an interesting vintage dresser.
Strange things can happen during renovations—any memorable moments you’d like to share?
We moved in before the house was ready. I remember the first few nights we slept here, our blinds weren’t up yet so we would try all sorts of ways to fasten ugly old bedsheets to the windows—clothes pegs or even tape! By morning it would all be a lopsided mess. Our neighbour took photos of our windows one time and teased us about it—we had a good laugh.
And finally, what advice would you give to someone renovating for the first time?
Stick to your budget. Have a wishlist but remember that it’s okay if you can’t have everything on that wishlist. Think about what’s practical and necessary for your family, don’t worry too much about trends or what you see on social media. Aesthetics are important, but so are durability and cost. Don’t choose a material that looks nice but will crack or stain after a few months—it might cost you more in the long run.
This post was adapted from an article originally published in idealhomes 2022.