While we love a professional home reno, you don’t always need an interior designer to pull it off—as long as you do your research and don’t mind the extra project management! To help you get started, we asked a few homeowners how they renovated their homes without hiring an ID. Here’s what they had to say.
Michelle Lim (@mii_chellexx) used a lot of wood fixtures and neutral, earthy tones in her home renovation, evoking a sense of warmth in every room. One perk of renovating without an ID was that she got to take matters into her own hands and make some unconventional yet very practical design choices. For instance, she decided to switch up the typical HDB bedroom layout and come up with her own arrangement, giving her more room to move around without the need to hack any walls.
Her main piece of advice? “Research thoroughly on design ideas and get to know what you want. Be hands-on with every detail and work with a good contractor that can translate your ideas into reality.”
She also learned a valuable lesson while sourcing for contractors: “What works for others might not work for you. Even if the contractor comes highly recommended, go have a discussion with them and make sure you feel comfortable with the chemistry and working relationship before proceeding.”
Noah Naima Wahid
Noah Naima Wahid (@noahnaima) crafted a home for himself that’s bold and vibrant and immediately strikes one as creative. The overall design is fairly eclectic, with furnishings in different styles and a mix of green and white backdrops.
Patterns play an important role in this almost maximalist space, too; many areas of the home are separated by flooring tiles and rugs with geometric designs. Even the dining table boasts a unique pattern, overlaid with a glossy finish that’s both eye-catching and easy to maintain.
If you’re thinking of renovating your home without an interior designer, Noah recommends starting with a scrapbook or a Pinterest board. “You have to be able to relay your vision to the contractor,” he shares. “Having reference pictures for the look you’re going for will make this a lot easier.”
After that, it’s a case of trusting the process. “Trust your instincts and choices for your home. Seek honest feedback from friends and family if you need to. And listen to your contractor if they say your ideas may not be realistic!” It’s important to be willing to compromise, as “things won’t always turn out how you want them to or how you envisioned them, maybe because of structural issues, maybe because of space constraints. Build a relationship with your contractor and seek their advice on how to achieve a similar look and feel.”
Ultimately, the main thing you’ll need to pull off a renovation without a professional designer is time. “You will need a lot of it to supervise the whole project and ensure that everything is done correctly and up to your standard.” Investing enough time in your reno can also easily help you cut down on costs. “A luxurious home doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg as long as you’re willing to invest time in hunting for deals and affordable alternatives to designer items.”
Monica Anne Lie
Monica Anne Lie (@luxmondi) didn’t start off her renovation ID-free. She actually hired a professional designer to turn her vision into reality but ended up regretting it when the designer turned out to be unprofessional. She then chose to take on the project management and sourcing herself, crafting a highly Instagrammable, minimalist home in the process. We previously spoke to her to find out why she chose to go ahead with the reno independently and what she wishes she’d known before hiring her ID.
According to Monica, the toughest part of her renovation was learning to trust the right contractors after her negative experience with the interior designer. Putting in the time to get things done properly proved to be a bit of a struggle, too. “It takes a lot of time to narrow down the contractors, get multiple quotes and make site visits to talk to the team and take measurements. You should also drop by every now and then to see how things are going.”
Her top tip for making it work is to choose a contractor you can trust while you’re away from the site. “Being there all the time can be difficult for someone who has a 9-5 job. That’s the biggest advantage of having reliable contractors who can do a good job without needing to be chased.”