Wednesday, March 23

pardon the mess

I'm a sucker for home improvement programmes and the big reveal at the end. By the same token, I cannot resist clicking on the "before" and "after" renovation pix of my Facebook friends. The more drastic the changes, the more I like.

I don't have any "after" photos yet, but here are some "before" shots of my 40-year-old flat, much of it still in its "original" condition, as real estate agents are wont to say.

The glass of the main door acts like a lightbox.

My beloved arch, leading to the kitchen.

Kitchen floor tiles which I'm keeping.

The entire toilet will be gutted, so there won't be a partition between the shower and the toilet.

I asked Mr Contractor if there are rubbish chutes which are foot operated. He looked at me like I was the laziest ass in the world.

I would have loved to retain the old skool sink but it was very badly cracked. I'm getting something similar, but with two basins. I still cannot believe that my sink costs double of my toilet bowl, which arguably has a more complex mechanism.

To the left, when you enter through the main door, is what I call the front balcony. Check out the terrazzo which I fondly describe as the colour of dried blood. I'm keeping it.

From the front balcony, you can enter the front room (there are two rooms). This wall will become a wall of bookshelves with a set of French doors set in the middle.

In the kitchen, on the left of the sink, is the back balcony, which it is going to be widened to be a dining room (the windows and walls on the left are coming down). There is a delicate mosaic hacking operation going on now to "borrow" as many tiles as possible from the kitchen and bathroom to extend the floor.

The back room, which is accessed from the back balcony. The wooden shutters will be saved to make a screen or something, not sure yet. Both front and back rooms are going to be hacked into one giant room.

Sadly, these sockets are extinct and I will be changing to modern white ones.

This looks like the most awesome retro tiles but actually is gross vinyl flooring which is completely cracked and caked with dirt.

Same as above, this is vinyl and will have to go. Below it is raw concrete which will be painted white and then covered with high gloss epoxy. Apparently, it is not super lasting, but we'll see.

Auntie Laura, who sold me the flat, left me her dressing table. It was her dowry from 40 years ago. Love!

Her husband, Uncle George (not his real name, but he looks like a George to me), left me his cupboard. He also gave me a bunch of film cameras and an old suitcase. Double love!

Renovation started about two weeks ago.

Any ideas what I can do with these grills? Throwing them away is not an option.

Exposed bricks! Not painted white yet.

The view from the living room into the giant bedroom (two bedrooms combined by hacking down the dividing wall).

Mr Contractor brought me to a retro tile shop after I turned my nose up at all the modern ones he showed me. Guess which tile I chose for the toilet floor?

I'll spare you the photo of the sink and toilet bowl I chose, but watch out for more renovation shots over the next month or so.

Tuesday, March 22

white washed

I was asked again today what is the "theme" for my flat. I think "chapalang" pretty much sums it up.

Here are some pix that I showed my contractor -- who deserves a blog post of his own, if only because he immediately knew what I meant by "white epoxy cement floor" and "white exposed brick" -- before the renovation started.

This smooth white seamless floor is what I mean by "white epoxy cement floor". It's going in my bedroom, which currently is just raw concrete.

A prime example of what I mean by "white exposed brick". That little niche/shelf is perfection, I must get Mr Contractor to do it for me.

The textured wall is amazing, but there is something marvellously quirky about the mix of sofas and armchairs. Kinda makes me wish we didn't sell the set we had at Swirl.

I'm still a bit worried that the crevices between the bricks will collect lots of dust, especially since they will be in the bedroom. I guess there's only one way to find out.

I must say, blue exposed brick looks pretty good too, but I'm going for white.

I'm sorely tempted to have a small polka dotted wall. I can't resist dots.

Because there is no store room in a flat as old as mine, I will be spending a small fortune on built-in wardrobes.

I briefly toyed with this design but realised quickly that the irregularity of the lines would drive me round the bend. The frames are a nice touch though.

Imagine this wall in the living room, but without the desk, chairs, lamp and rug. And substitute the monochromatic art with more colourful ones. Can imagine anot?

My bathroom will not be this slick or Zen. In fact, the only similarity will be the glass panel and the niche for bath products, which this home owner apparently does not use. I chose some super retro tiles and mosaic, which I'm keeping my fingers crossed will work in the small space.

The bottom left picture is my fave. There is only one spot in my place which I can build this sort of shelves -- above the rubbish chute. I doubt it will look as nice as this.

Okay, use your imagination here. In your mind, remove the dining set, the wine rack, the recessed lighting and the cooker hood. Change the floor to retro green mosaic. Switch the marble backsplash to a greenish glass. The upper cabinets have one door, not two. The lampshade morphs into a giant round globe. And there you have my kitchen.

I keep telling my carpenter I want French doors, but I'm not 100% sure he gets it. These aren't exactly what I want either, but I can't find the right pix to show him.

He did seem to understand "wide bookshelves" and "wooden ladder" though. Baby blue for the ladder? Turquoise? Hot pink? Or should i stick with red?

There is an archway leading from the living room to the kitchen which I love. And which my contractor likes to pretend he has forgotten I want to retain and make me panic by saying things like, "Next week, we can start tearing this down. You want rectangle, right?"

I've been trawling used furniture listings for a credenza/sideboard/console, but it's not that urgent. If I were rich, I would just to pick one up from Lorgan's, but I'd rather spend my money on a self-cleaning oven. (The Orla Kiely wallpaper is gorgeous, but I doubt I can commit to a print for more than three years.)

On my wish list, too, is a bench with hairpin legs. I briefly contemplated buying the legs online from the US and adding my own plank, but the shipping charges would kill me.

I'd settle for just any bench with unusual legs. I have five mismatched chairs waiting to be painted -- white, of course -- to complete the dining set.

Also to be painted white are three wardrobes and a dressing table. Still thinking what colour to paint the insides, but I know I want them in a different colour. There's only so much white I can take.

See the green wire on the pendant lamp? Nice, hor? I'm wondering if it is possible to just ownself paint. Shouldn't cause electrocution or short circuit, right?

In my dream kitchen, there is always an island. I was devastated when I realised there isn't enough space for one in my flat.

I would also love to have shelves upon shelves of bottles and jars, but alas, I am moving to an HDB flat, not a mansion.

No space for a Japanese soaking tub a.k.a. ofuro either. Sad face.

Isn't this giant framed collection of Polaroids a thing of awesomeness? Alas, I'm a pragmatist who knows (a) framing something this big will cost a bomb, (b) I'm not made of money, and (c) I don't even own a Polaroid camera. Oh, and also, I have no space.

Anyone knows where I can find these adorable-until-can-die scalloped blinds? I need them and I need them bad.

So there you go. My dream house. In the next episode, reality bites as I show you the "before" and "during" renovation pix. Stay tuned.

Monday, March 21


Trawling Craigslist and other used furniture sites is one of the ways I stave off boredom at work, even though sometimes I feel like my soul is being destroyed by the hideous furniture on sale. And don't even get me started on people who list old, decrepit, worthless junk as "vintage" just to get me to click on it.

On the bright side, there are gems, like this shell rocker I swooped in on. I've always wanted one in baby blue.

And then there are other unintentional gems in the listings:

1. I saw the photo of an armchair and saw that the seller had put in the description: "Single seat sofa".

2. In Facebook's Marketplace, there is a section sellers need to fill in on why they were selling the items. For a listing on a hand-carved mahogany altar, the seller had put: "Seldom use".

3. An ad for a moving service went something like this: "This is Shawn, the cheapest mover who can move your things the cheapest, all you moving house people who need to move cheap".

I think I need to start compiling a list.