The Ultimate Guide to Home Renovation

Paul Henshall

Writer, Editor & Journalist

The best renovation tips for house, kitchen, bathroom, and more are scattered all over the place on the Web, so we’ve come up with a one-stop resource for residential remodelling advice, compiling our own list of 200 handy ideas for redesign and refit – so as to help you create the home of your dreams.

We’ve covered every major aspect involved in a home remodel, including guidelines on hiring a contractor, renovating a whole house and individual rooms, attic and basement conversions, decking, and lighting and interior design.

Let’s read on.

1|19   Engaging the contractor

1.  Work out a realistic budget

How much is your home renovation likely to cost? Probably more than you think. Singaporean personal finance advisor DollarsAndSense reckons it costs around $56,000 (July 2015) for a full renovation of a typical Housing & Development Board (HDB) apartment.

2.  Let your contractor get on with it

Leave the coordination of sub-contractors in the hands of the main contractor. Trying to organise this aspect of the project budget/timeline yourself in a bid to cut costs will lead to, at best, unnecessary confusion, and, at worst, a seriously-flawed plan of action.

3.  Choose a remodelling contractor with experience and expertise

It might be tempting to select a redesign company based solely on a low estimate, but you get what you pay for. Finding a contractor who communicates well with you and has a solid reputation is more important than cost.

4.  Begin work only when you have a plan and a contract

It’s only natural to want to get on with your home renovation, but time and care spent in the initial stages of working out a schedule will be worth it in the long run. Draw up a written contract with your builder – a specimen home redesign contract is available at the Consumers’ Association of Singapore.

5.  Work with a proper design

Instead of relying on rough sketches, have professional design drawings and floor plans prepared, preferably by a designer specialising in residential remodels. This will enable your renovation to get off to the best possible start.

6.  Stay focused

Have a clear idea of exactly what you want your home redesign to accomplish. Do you want your renovation to reflect your lifestyle and personality or is a more functional remodel your aim?  Once you’ve made up your mind, stick to the plan.

7.  Take into account current building codes

In Singapore, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) regulates the construction industry with a view to achieving “a future-ready built environment”. Sounds simple enough, but building codes can be complicated for a layman. The good news is that a professional renovation contractor will have a thorough knowledge of building regulations.

8.  Make sure you get appropriate permits

Like building codes, the question of permits can also be a tricky business for an amateur. Not all building works require permits. If you hire a reliable contractor, they’ll know which permits you need and will take care of the application process on your behalf.

9.  Make sure your contractor has the relevant professional licences

If you’re among the 80% of Singaporeans who live in HDB apartments, you need a registered renovation contractor to carry out your home remodel. You can find out more about the HDB Registered Renovation Contractors’ Scheme here.

10.  Slow down!

Take your time when choosing your renovation contractor. A professional builder will never try to rush you into a decision. If you do feel you’re being pushed into signing on the dotted line, you could be dealing with a poorly-qualified designer or contractor whose work will be sub-standard.

2|19   Whole house

11.  Assess your needs

Whether you live in an HDB flat or in landed property, a complete home revamp is a big job. Think carefully about your specific requirements and make sure you and your contractor are on the same wavelength. A professional builder will be able to give you expert advice on each aspect of your renovation project.

12.  Look at the bigger picture

Think about how the different parts of your whole house redesign will fit together. An experienced company can help you attain a consistent theme throughout your renovation project, fusing various elements of design to create balance and harmony.

13.  Consider scale and proportion

Ask your designer or contractor about scale and proportion across all aspects of the project. It’s mainly a question of balance: too many bulky items in a room make it look small; too many small items, and it looks cluttered.

14.  Ensure preparation work is done

Preparation is a crucial element of a home redesign but often overlooked by the amateur; in fact, poor preparation is probably the worst mistake in a house remodel. A detailed plan will help to keep you within budget and ensure the project runs smoothly and in a timely manner.

15.  Take accurate measurements

Before buying new appliances or furniture, make sure you take precise measurements, to ensure there’s adequate space for your fixtures and fittings. Beware of falling into the trap of snapping up a bargain on a whim, only to find your lovely new cooker won’t fit in your kitchen.

16.  Plan for sufficient storage space to avoid clutter

Household items such as books, magazines, clothing, linen, and toys all need a home if your house redesign is to work as a clutter-free, relaxing space, so ensure your design provides room for cabinets and other storage areas to keep your home looking neat and tidy.

17.  Add custom furniture and cabinetry

Custom-made furniture and cabinets give you the perfect opportunity to make your home unique. You can use the powerful design potential of customised furniture to reflect your tastes and lifestyle.

18.  Remember safety

Hiring a professional company will guarantee your whole house renovation meets all health and safety standards. This is especially important with electrics, where a botched DIY job could pose a potentially-fatal threat.

19.  Choose appropriate flooring and floor design

Flooring comes in such a wide range of materials that you can select a floor covering that both looks good and matches your particular needs. Choosing quality materials and products and engaging a flooring installation specialist will ensure your flooring is a stylish, functional feature of your home.

20.  Use the right paint

Experienced painting contractors know that the sort of paint used (water- or oil-based, for example) is as important as the colour. For an attractive, durable finish, it’s vital to apply the correct base coat to provide a sound foundation.

21.  Paint the ceiling cream

Flat matt paint is regarded as the norm for ceilings, thanks to its intense depth, but, instead of following the crowd and painting your ceiling white, choosing a shade of cream will, according to professional interior designers, give your room a warmer feel.

22.  Ensure adequate ventilation

Ventilation is an under-appreciated element of home renovation but has an important role; poor ventilation can result in condensation building up, leading to the formation of potentially-toxic mould. Your ventilation system needs to efficiently get rid of stale air and replace it with fresh air from outside.

23.  Consider the importance of lighting early in the design stage

Talk to a specialist about the concept of using layered illumination – a combination of ambient (general), task, and accent lighting ­– to showcase and complement your home refit. A lighting professional will know which combinations of lighting work best for each room.

24.  Buy quality materials

Whether it’s paint, wallpaper, flooring, or fixtures and fittings, going for cheap materials and products in your house revamp will result in a second-rate finish, while better-quality merchandise will make for a more aesthetic, longer-lasting result.

25.  Order extra wallcovering and flooring

To allow for wastage, experts recommend ordering 15-20% more wallpaper than you’ve estimated you need, depending on the intricacy of the pattern. If you’re laying a wooden floor, allow for 8-10% wastage; if fitting carpets, the figure is 10-20%.

26.  Pay attention to things that won’t be visible

It’s easy to overlook fundamental aspects of a house facelift while concentrating on the more exciting elements, so make sure you get the basics right – work such as installing waterproofing and damp-proof membranes, electrical wiring, and water supply and waste outlet pipework.

27.  Allow space for appliances

Ensure your home redesign includes room for items such as a washing machine, cooker, refrigerator/freezer, computers, hi-fi systems, and television. Planning ahead will guarantee a home renovation that produces a convenient and comfortable environment.

28.  Ensure enough electrical outlets

Incorporate electrical works into your design to make sure you’ll have sufficient outlets for your needs, without overloading the circuitry. In the interests of safety, always bring in a professional electrician.

29.  Think green

Using eco-friendly products is not only good for the environment, it can also help you to cut energy costs, in the case of LED (light emitting diode) lighting, for instance. Other ways to go green may include using composite decking (made from wood waste and recycled plastic) and natural linoleum flooring.

30.  Consider elderly residents

If your household includes an elderly resident, it’s important to plan ahead to make sure your home remodel provides them with well-being and convenience, especially in areas such as the bathroom and kitchen.

31.  Expect the unexpected

A whole house revamp can bring to light previously concealed defects and problems. Demolishing a wall or taking up flooring can reveal plumbing and electrical issues, for example. Have a contingency fund within your budget to cover these eventualities.

32.  Add value to your property

Certain types of residential redesigns can boost the selling price of your home, particularly bathroom and kitchen upgrades. If you’re aiming to add value to your property, it’s especially important to hire an experienced home renovation contractor.

3|19   Living room

33.  Be clear about why you’re remodelling

The purpose of your living room renovation should inform design decisions about the space. If you’re going to put your home on the market, for instance, choose neutral, light-coloured paint for the walls, to make the room appear larger.

34.  Remain practical

You can achieve both functionality and style with a living room makeover, but avoid getting carried away by the fads of the day. Your living room remodel needs to reflect the needs and lifestyle of you and your family.

35.  Strike a balance

Find the middle ground that avoids combining too many different styles or over-matching of design elements.

36.  Get colourful

If you’re not planning to put your home on the market, you may want to add a splash of colour to your living room. Test different shades and colours of paint on your walls before making a final decision on your colour scheme.

37.  Make sure there’s enough room to move about

Traffic flow in a living room is important, particularly if there are children running around. Avoid overcrowding the space with unnecessary furniture, to make sure “traffic lanes” are not too narrow.

38.  Use rugs

Strategically-placed rugs can provide balance and create zones to add a sophisticated touch to your living room, if they match the size and style of the space.

39.  Avoid clichéd artwork

Corny artwork will detract from the ambience of your living room. If you want to hang pictures on your walls, consider how they’ll fit in with the rest of your interior design.

40.  Put storage for shoes near the main entrance

Encouraging everyone to keep their outdoor footwear out of the living room will go a long way in maximising the lifespan of your flooring, particularly if you have carpets – and kids!

41.  Avoid the quick fix

So-called quick fixes rarely do the job properly, and often result in more time and money being spent on engaging a professional to sort things out.

42.  Realise your DIY limitations

Numerous pitfalls lurk at every turn for amateurs trying to carry out renovation projects. If you want your living room facelift to run smoothly, on time, and within budget, you need a reliable home remodelling contractor.

4|19   Kitchen

43.  Go for a timeless design

Kitchen design trends come and go, but a classic look will never have a sell-by date. If you want a kitchen that will stand the test of time, think about a design with subdued colours, Shaker cabinets, and a farmhouse-style sink.

44.  Consider functionality and workflow

Creating an environment that provides optimum working conditions is crucial in kitchen design. If possible, stick to the tried and tested workflow configuration of positioning the sink, fridge, and cooker to form a triangle.

45.  Plan for counter space

Work space is at a premium in the kitchen, and fitted cupboards provide an ideal base on which to install counter tops. If you can create a worktop with nothing underneath it, this can double as a breakfast bar.

46.  Consider your kitchen refit as a whole

If you splash out on a high-end product such as an expensive marble worktop, you may then have to cut back your spending on other elements of your kitchen makeover, which will result in an unbalanced appearance.

47.  Make sure you have enough storage space

Plan for enough cabinets and drawers to meet the needs of you and your family in the kitchen. Consider installing pull-out shelves in base cabinets and worktops with adjustable heights. To make your kitchen more accessible, think about putting in a wall oven instead of a range.

48.  Leave room for a garbage bin

A kitchen produces a lot of waste, and it has to go somewhere, so ensure you have space for a domestic-garbage bin. Modern pull-out recycling bins keep contents out of sight and ordered by type. These bins can even be designed to be sited below worktop holes so you can sweep food scraps straight into them.

49.  Keep the basic layout

Planning your kitchen redesign around its existing “footprint” will save a lot of money, so maintain the original scheme of plumbing and electrical sockets, or just make minor alterations.

50.  Choose appliances early

Select new appliances before the kitchen remodel gets under way, to ensure they’ll not be too big for your space.

51.  Stick to the plan

According to New York-based Consumer Reports, one of the worst mistakes you can make in a kitchen renovation is changing your mind once the project is in progress. This can increase the budget by an average of 10%.

5|19   Bathroom & toilet

52.  Create a focal point

A bathroom tends to be a place of chaos; your design shouldn’t reflect this, so create a focal point such as a free-standing tub, if you have the space, and plan the room around that.

53.  Position the toilet carefully

As we’ve seen, a focal point can work well in a bathroom, but avoid a design that makes the toilet the first thing you see on opening the bathroom door. If you’re hoping for a spa-like ambiance, a toilet renovation that puts the lavatory front and centre in your bathroom can kill the mood.

54.  Consider standard bathroom dimensions

Understand standard bathroom dimensions (such as the size of a typical bath tub and how much space a toilet requires) or keep the configuration of the original bathroom layout. This will save time and extra costs on plumbing work.

55.  Ensure the height of basins is suitable

Your wash basin has to be accessible to all family members, particularly children and any elderly people living with you.

56.  Choose the right vanity

Pick a vanity that allows for adequate storage space without being so big as to obstruct the bathroom’s traffic flow.

57.  Have comfortable spacing

A common mistake in bathroom redesign is trying to squeeze too much into a relatively small room. Ensure optimum comfort and convenience by maximising space and having sufficient storage to avoid cluttering. Sometimes, simply switching the side the bathroom door swings from can improve the use of space.

58.  Keep it simple

A tidy, clean-looking design will make your bathroom appear airy and inviting, so go for a neutral colour scheme, which can always be embellished with vibrant accessories and colourful bath towels.

59.  Make it safe

A combination of water, electricity, and slippery surfaces in a compact space makes a bathroom a potentially dangerous place. Play it safe by hiring a professional bathroom renovator for jobs such as lighting and other electrical work, water drainage, and waterproofing.

60.  Reduce risks of mould

Condensation can be a big problem in a bathroom and can never be totally eliminated. Installing an efficient extractor fan and using special anti-mould bathroom paint on the walls and ceiling will reduce the risk of mildew and toxic fungi taking hold.

61.  Think about water conservation

The average bath takes up to 220 litres of water, while a 10-minute shower with a low-flow showerhead uses half that amount. So, regard baths as an occasional treat between showers, and save on energy costs.

62.  Get the lighting right

Well-designed lighting is essential in a bathroom refit. The best bathroom design will create a well-lit space incorporating task, accent, ambient, and decorative lighting. Consider installing a large mirror above the basin or vanity with lighting that directs back onto the face.

6|19   Bedroom

63.  Make sure your master bedroom is stylish

Installing lights with a dimmer will provide illumination when you need it and softer lighting to create a calmer mood. If you have the space, try incorporating a bathroom suite in your master bedroom, with large closets, a separate shower and bath, a couple of sinks, and chic lighting.

64.  Think carefully before installing a home office in your bedroom

The place where you sleep is not a natural location for a home office. Having office paraphernalia, particularly electronic equipment, as a constant presence in your bedroom is likely to make it difficult for you to wind down and relax.

65.  Incorporate bed linen and curtains into your design

If you’ve gone for neutral colours on the walls and ceiling, consider soft-blue curtains or blinds. Choose bed linen, such as duvets and pillowcases, that match your window dressings.

66.  Think big!

If you live in a larger, landed private home in Singapore, you can add space to your master bedroom by taking out interior walls or even create a new bedroom by building another storey above your home.

67.  Create a calming space

All the elements of a bedroom remodel, including design, furniture, colour scheme, and architectural features, should be aimed at creating a relaxing haven that you look forward to every night and that enables you to wake up in the morning feeling refreshed. An experienced interior designer can provide invaluable advice on fashioning this ambient atmosphere.

68.  Make a bold statement

While your bedroom should be a calm, restful space, you can create a point of interest by accentuating an existing, strong feature such as a window; think about bold curtain prints.

69.  Keep it clutter-free

Keeping clutter out of your bedroom will help to make you feel peaceful and comfortable. Fit built-in storage units or a new closet. For smaller bedrooms, there’re plenty of beds with built-in storage to choose from.

7|19   Basement

70.  Consider what your basement will be used for

One common use of a basement is as a welcoming place to hang out, such as a games room, entertainment centre, and bar area, but there’re many other options, and it’s worth bearing in mind that a flexible design will make it easier to repurpose your basement in the future.

71.  Create different areas

You can divide your basement into various activity areas by using different colours when painting the walls, to help distinguish each zone. A dark basement can be brightened up with light, stimulating colours.

72.  Direct light upwards

Because basement ceilings are usually lower than those in other rooms in the house, lighting is often directed upwards and reflected off the ceiling from ambient illumination sources such as wall sconces.

73.  Beware of damp

A basement will invariably encounter issues with moisture, particularly in the high-humidity climate of Singapore. Any potential drainage problems and ventilation issues must be identified and addressed, preferably by a reputable basement renovator.

74.  Dig down

If your basement ceiling is too low for your purposes, one option to increase head height is to lower the flooring by digging out the existing base and pouring new footings, while taking care not to affect any walls or foundations of your home or those of your neighbours.

75.  Look ahead

In most homes, the basement houses the mechanical systems of the house, so remember that you’ll likely need to get access to these in the future to do any major work on your main floor.

76.  Reduce noise

If your new basement is to be used as a playroom, games area, or entertainment media centre, fit sound insulation within the ceiling to protect the rest of the house from excessive noise.

77.  Make a style choice

Do you want your basement to match the furniture and finishes in the rest of your home, or do you want it to have a different feel?

78.  Put in a drop ceiling

Consider installing a suspended ceiling, ideal for housing recessed lighting and for hiding unsightly fittings such as pipes, ducts, and wiring.

79.  Add a vapour barrier

Call in a professional to avoid the danger of putting a vapour barrier in the wrong place, which can trap damp and increase the risk of mould.

8|19   Decking

80.  Design for the future

Plan your new decking to suit your future needs, as well as current requirements. Incorporate features, such as lighting and rail design, that you can live with long-term.

81.  Add new features

Talk to a decking renovation expert about deck resurfacing and various new features you may want to incorporate into the redesign to make the deck more adaptable to your lifestyle.

82.  Aim for landscape balance

The shape and size of your deck should blend in with the landscape. For example, curved pathways in your garden or yard should be reflected in the decking design. You also need to consider traffic-flow between your deck and garden.

83.  Understand that decking materials have a lifespan

Building materials for decks don’t last forever, their lifespan depends on exposure to the elements of the prevailing climate and level of wear and tear.

84.  Use the proper fixings

Steel fixings such as bolts, nails, and screws need to be galvanised to protect against corrosion when used in decking construction.

85.  Apply a primer

Your deck, including railings and posts, needs a shield against the weather. So, apply a good primer, which will ensure better adhesion when painting and make the paint last longer.

86.  Fit an awning

To protect you and your guests from rain, gusty winds, and strong sun, install a retractable awning for all-weather al fresco entertaining.

87.  Think about maintenance

Different types of decking materials need varying levels of maintenance. Treated wood and composites are pretty much maintenance-free, but regular cleaning is recommended to keep them looking good.

88.  Avoid a deck disaster

Structural issues such as footing size, joist sizing and spacing, railing guidelines, staircase construction, and beam sizing are best left to a reliable decking contractor, who will also know how to avoid damaging underground electricity, gas, and water services.

9|19   Attic/Loft

89.  Evaluate the roof space

Establish whether your roof space is suitable for an attic/loft conversion. Examine issues such as overall structure and physical dimensions, available head height, and whether there’re any obstacles, like water tanks.

90.  Engage an experienced architect and contractor

If you’re unsure whether you really know what ridge timbers and pitch angles are, call in a reliable architect and specialist attic builder.

91.  Consider your use of the space

An attic conversion typically provides a space of cosy dimensions, most suitable as a bedroom, play or entertainment area, office, or (with sufficient head height) a mini-gym.

92.  Install a ceiling fan

Attics get hot, so, if headroom allows, a ceiling fan will make your loft conversion more comfortable, providing a refreshing, cool breeze.

93.  Maximise storage space

Your loft extension should make use of every nook and cranny for storage. Attic eaves lend themselves to built-in storage, while space-saving cabinets and drawers can be recessed into walls.

94.  Where to put a bathroom

If you want a bathroom in your loft conversion, position it, if possible, above your existing bathroom. This will cut costs by lessening the gap between new and present plumbing.

95.  Cut down noise

Activities in an attic can cause noise that will affect the rooms below it. A low-tech solution is to put down carpets and/or rugs. Alternatively, engage an attic renovation specialist to install a professional sound-insulation set-up.

96.  Consider the weight load

Ask your attic remodel contractor whether the foundations and framing of your house can withstand the extra load of your fully-finished loft renovation.

97.  Raise the roof!

If you’re planning a major attic building project, you’ll need a loft specialist to take apart and rebuild the roof structure, a much more complex job than a basic attic makeover or dormer loft construction.

10|19   Home office

98.  Make it a room with a view

When thinking about installing an office in your home, the big question is where to put it. Any nook in your living room or den can probably accommodate a desk and a chair, but for a more pleasant home office environment, position your work station in front of a window.

99.  Go for a corner location

If you’re not bothered about having a view of the outside world, corners of rooms often present an opportunity to locate an office.

100.  Use a room divider

If you want to put a home office in a bedroom, you’ll need to do so in a way that doesn’t spoil the tranquillity of the space. Set the office as far away from the bed as possible, and use a room divider to separate the space.

101.  Use a larger room, if you can

Examine your bigger rooms to see whether you have a wall with space for a desk, chair, filing cabinets, and bookshelves. An under-stairs space could also fit the bill for a home office site.

102.  Think about colours

The way a home office is decorated can affect the work done there. The colour of walls, in particular, plays a major role in enhancing mood and productivity. A red backdrop to your office will be stimulating, while a blue palette will have a calming influence.

103.  Paint the office furniture

Painting or staining office furniture can coordinate an otherwise jumbled array of unrelated pieces.

104.  Match the fittings

Doorknobs, hinges, and window latches can easily be updated to match the style and design of your office.

105.  Add some finishing touches

Curtains or blinds, ornamental vases, and tasteful wall art can give your office a sophisticated appearance.

11|19   Painting

106.  Choose the right materials and tools

If you don’t know your water-based paint from oil-based, it’s probably advisable to engage a professional painter and decorator. If you decide you have the necessary DIY skills to carry out painting work, bear in mind that quality tools are essential for good results and they last longer. So, don’t be tempted to skimp on brushes, rollers, and pads.

107.  Ensure thorough preparation

Preparation is key for a quality painting job. Repair any cracks, sand down bumps, and wash surfaces meticulously (sugar soap is best). The wall or ceiling has to be dry and clean of any loose debris.

108.  Use a primer on new surfaces

A primer preps a new surface, so paint adheres to it more effectively. It also ensures the true colour of the paint shines through. Make things easier with a two-in-one paint and primer.

109.  Use washable paint in high-traffic areas

Flat matt is considered the standard for walls and ceilings, but washable satins or semi-gloss are ideal for areas such as foyers, hallways, and stairways.

110.  Load your brush carefully

Be careful not to plunge your brush too far into the paint container. Just dip it one-third of the way into the can to avoid waste. If you force paint deep into the bristles of your brush, it’ll be a tough job to clean it.

111.  Work from top to bottom

When painting walls, start from the ceiling and work downwards for the smoothest finish. If you use a step-ladder, make sure it’s positioned in a safe way, to avoid accidents.

112.  Use the right tape

For clean lines, use proper painters’ tape, not masking tape. This will help to ensure you get crisp edges. To avoid bleeding, seal the tape tightly around windows, baseboards, and moulding. Remove tape as soon as the paint is applied.

113.  Protect the work area

Paint splashes on carpeting and soft furnishings can be difficult to remove, so, if possible, remove furniture and then cover the whole floor with a drop cloth.

114.  Clean up promptly

Brushes, rollers, and pads need to be thoroughly washed with water and detergent and stored away properly. If you’ve been using gloss paint, you’ll need turps or white spirit.

12|19   False ceiling

115.  Get advice on materials

Wooden dropped ceilings used to be the norm but today you can choose from a range of materials, including gypsum board, plaster of paris, bamboo sheets, jute, plastic, aluminium panelling, plywood, fibreboard, and PVC. Ask a specialist in drop ceilings what’s best for your requirements.

116.  Consider the important factors

When planning a suspended ceiling project, take into account aesthetics, fire resistance, sound absorption, exposure to moisture, ease of alteration, life expectancy, and statutory requirements regarding health and safety.

117.  Plan the ceiling layout carefully

Time spent planning your false ceiling grid layout as an installation blueprint will pay off later, enabling you to avoid common mistakes such as ending up with a sloping ceiling.

118.  Do the electrics first

All electrical works for your ceiling lights need to be completed before the actual ceiling installation begins. For peace of mind on safety issues, call in a professional electrician.

119.  Take care with tiles

Ceiling tiles can be extremely fragile, so handle with care to avoid damage leading to the inconvenience and cost of having to go out and buy more of them.

120.  Look after your finished ceiling

Dusting your drop ceiling tiles will prevent an accumulation of dirt and the possibility of dust falling to the floor. Use a static duster to collect the dirt and then follow up with a quick vacuum.

13|19   Flooring

121.  Think about your lifestyle

Choose the type of flooring that will match your needs in the long-term, particularly if you have children and/or pets. The most popular floor coverings include carpet, vinyl, laminate, wood, ceramic/porcelain, and stone.

  • Carpeting adds a feel of warmth and softness to a room, and carpet fibres act like an air-filter, trapping pollutants and allergens.
  • Vinyl floors now boast the latest advances in flooring technology, making them extremely robust and versatile.
  • Laminate flooring is durable, hygienic, and relatively easy to install and maintain. It can be a low-cost alternative to hardwood, tile, and stone.
  • Wooden floors can last for decades and, with proper care, will look better as time passes. They’re also easier to clean than carpets.
  • Ceramic/porcelain floors are chosen mainly for their aesthetic appeal, although they’re also durable and involve minimal maintenance.
  • Stone flooring is now much more affordable than it used to be. Like wooden floors, the appearance of stone flooring improves with age.

122.  Choose quality products and materials

Selecting high-calibre supplies and hiring specialists to install your new floor will ensure a quality finish to your renovation project.

123.  Understand what carpet you’re buying

Choosing a new carpet can be a daunting job, with hundreds of various products available. The more you know about different types of carpeting, the better chance you have of getting the best product for your budget.  Avoid making a decision based on small samples.

124.  Lay a sub-floor, if necessary

A solid hardwood floor has to be laid over a wooden sub-floor. Engineered wood floors can be laid anywhere in the home, including basements.

125.  Avoid problems with damp

If you’re installing a concrete floor, lay down a water-resistant membrane across the whole floor area, linked to the damp-proof course in the surrounding walls.

126.  Consider lighter colours

Dark-coloured wooden floors show more dirt and dust than medium- or light-coloured wood; extremely shiny and smooth floors also show more grime.

127.  Keep your tiles clean

Because glazed ceramic tiles resist dirt, odours, and stains, it’s easy to forget they still need cleaning. Use a damp mop or common household cleaning products.

14|19   Wallcovering

128.  Prepare the wall surface properly

After sanding the bare wall and filling any cracks, you need to size or seal the surface to prevent the plaster from drawing moisture out of the wallpaper paste.

129.  Apply the correct amount of adhesive

Use an adequate amount of adhesive on your wallpaper, but don’t lay it on too thickly; make sure you paste the edges.

130.  Use a new blade for cutting each strip

A dull blade can tear wallpaper, so use a fresh blade with every strip to avoid time-consuming and costly wastage.

131.  Avoid starting the papering process near the focal point

There’ll be an awkward end point in papering when you have to try to match the last sheet to the first. Determine the least noticeable place for this, such as above a doorframe, but definitely not the focal point of a room!

132.  Smooth out wallpaper from the centre

If you try to smooth out paper from the top down or towards the centre, there’s more risk of trapping bubbles of air underneath the paper.

133.  Avoid gaps at the seams

Wet wallpaper shrinks slightly as it dries. Avoid gaps at seams by overlapping the wallpaper a little; it can then be pressed into place as it dries.

134.  Rinse off wallpaper after hanging

Failing to rinse your wall after paper-hanging can result in a residue of excess paste. Rinse with just water or a cleaning solution recommended by the manufacturer.

135.  Save scraps

Retain scraps larger than 30cm for future repairs in the event of accidents causing visible rips or stains.

15|19   Partition wall

136.  Check your rental agreement

If you rent your home, installation of a dividing wall could be regarded as a structural alteration, which is specifically prohibited in a typical rental contract. However, if you approach your landlord with professionally drawn-up plans for your partition wall, they may well be happy to give the go-ahead, as the renovation could add value to their property.

137.  Decide on the layout

Do you want your partition wall to be a permanent fixture or one that can be altered at a future date to adapt to changing needs?

138.  Consider visibility between rooms

Determine how you want your partitioned space to work. If it’s for a children’s playroom, you may want a construction that allows you to see what’s going on in there; or in the case of a home office, privacy may be more important.

139.  Do you need sound insulation?

If your partitioned area is going to have noisy activities taking place, the question of sound insulation is important. Insulating materials can be added to the cavities between plasterboards to reduce the transmission of sound.

140.  Let in natural light

Think about glass partition walls if you want to make the most of natural light and create a feeling of open space. Glass walls are also effective in keeping out noise and pests and are moisture-resistant.

141.  Remember fire safety

Ask your renovation contractor how they’ll ensure your partition wall meets fire safety requirements.

142.  Hanging heavy items on the wall

If you want to hang something like a heavy mirror on a partition wall, you may need to use anchor bolts or frame fixings, depending on the wall construction. Consult your contractor about this.

143.  Do you need a permit?

Guidelines by the Singaporean Government’s Building and Construction Authority suggest that lightweight, non-load-bearing, easily-removable partition walls are OK, but the detailed regulations are complex. A professional home renovation company will be able to steer you through the red tape. For more information about building regulations go here.

144.  Create an extra room

Using a partition wall to create an extra room, such as a bedroom, bathroom, or home office, is much easier and cheaper than moving house. If you later decide to relocate, your partition walls may be just what a potential buyer is looking for; if not, they can be easily and quickly dismantled.

16|19   Custom furniture

145.  Generate a vision

When deciding on a custom furniture plan, you have a blank canvas, with the only limitation being available space. Come up with a vision of how you want your room to look, rather than a blueprint.

146.  Choose the right designer for you

It’s imperative you have faith in your custom furniture designer. Examine their portfolio and establish whether they have the right sort of personality for the two of you to get along.

147.  Communication is key

Once you’ve selected your designer, liaise closely with them to come up with a plan to turn your custom furniture vision into reality.

148.  Examine the function of the room

Bear in mind the function and size of individual rooms when you plan your customised furniture refit, so your new furnishings match the overall design of your home.

149.  Think about aesthetics

Consult with your interior designer on how to combine materials of your custom furniture scheme to produce a tasteful, stylish result.

150.  Manage your expectations

Be aware that if your designer gives you a ballpark figure for a customised furniture plan, this will increase if you later expand the scope of the project.

151.  Show off your personality

With custom made furniture, you can get precisely what you want in terms of design, materials, and colour, tailor-made to satisfy your specific needs and wishes, so incorporate your individual style into the fabric of your home.

17|19   Door

152.  Pick the right door for the job

When choosing exterior doors, ensure you select a door and frame that can withstand exposure to the environment and climate. If you use an interior door as an outside entrance, it won’t be able to cope with the elements, and you’ll find you have to replace it sooner rather than later.

153.  Find out about fire safety regulations

If you live in an HDB flat, main entrance doors and frames along a fire-escape route, such as passageways and staircases, need to be fire-rated. Read the guidelines of HDB on building works here.

154.  Make sure your front door is visually appealing

Create a great first impression by ensuring your front door is in harmony with the colour palette and overall style of your home. Victorian-style door-knockers, for instance, will look out of place unless your home is Victorian.

155.  Be careful with measurements

Getting precise measurements of the space for your new door is essential; if your measurements are slightly out, your door won’t fit the frame.

156.  Use a proper door level

Having the right sort of spirit or bubble level is essential for a door installation. A specialised door level will make the job much easier and enable you to achieve a stylish result.

157.  Ensure the door is plumb

Make sure the door, frame, and wall are plumb (vertically levelled). Before fitting your new door, fix any problems with walls that aren’t true.

158.  Make sure the floor is level

Many people fall into the trap of levelling the door by aligning it with the floor while overlooking the fact that the floor itself may be uneven. So, first make sure your floor is level.

159.  Use suitable fixings

If your hinges and screws are too small, they won’t be able to bear the weight of the door, which will then sag and shift, eventually causing the frame and surrounding wall to crack. Don’t over-tighten the screws.

160.  Position shims correctly

Mark the position of the hinges on the wall so you’ll know where to place the shims. Put shims at the top and bottom hinge locations, using a long level; then add the centre shims.

161.  Make sure the reveal is even

If the frame isn’t plumb, it may need to be adjusted to provide an even reveal on each side of the door.

18|19   Lighting

162.  Understand the importance of lighting design

A high-standard lighting system can add a stylish finishing touch to a home renovation, if it’s incorporated as a component of the overall interior design. Lighting experts regard illumination as an actual dimension.

163.  Consider the colour of lighting

During the lighting design and planning stage, try to visualise the quality of colour and light distribution from each fixture.

164.  Go easy with recessed downlights

Instead of fitting recessed downlights everywhere, achieve a more aesthetic, layered effect of illumination with a balanced combination of ambient, task, and accent lighting.

165.  Think about pendants and chandeliers

Pendants and chandeliers work well with higher ceilings. Refrain from trying to use recessed downlights as ambient lighting in a tall ceiling.

166.  Avoid decorating with lighting fittings

Picking light fixtures based on how they look, instead of performance, can lead to poor output and a waste of energy.

167.  Use energy-efficient technology

LED lighting can drastically cut energy bills while maintaining eco-friendly standards. The lengthy lifespan of LED bulbs means that maintenance costs are markedly reduced too.

168.  Make use of dimmers

Using dimmers with halogen or incandescent lights will cut energy and heat output, and lengthen the life of the lamps.

169.  Keep in control

For flexibility and efficiency, each type of lighting should be controlled separately. Think about installing programmable wall-box systems or wireless controls.

170.  Set the mood with ambient lighting

Used properly, natural and flat ambient lighting in the home provides a soft glow that generates a relaxing atmosphere in which to wind down from a stressful day.

171.  Take care with task lighting

Task lighting is only effective when used as contrasting illumination. A room with low-level lighting in which one spot is illuminated by a desk lamp will provide more efficient lighting, with less glare, than if the entire room is brightly lit.

172.  Create a stylish finish with accent lighting

Accent lighting can add a touch of class to a room in dramatic fashion. Consider using it to highlight ornamentation such as artwork, collections, and bookcase displays.

173.  Use wall sconces

Wall sconces and wall lights are extremely versatile and can be used almost anywhere. Position them sparingly in hallways and porches to create a great effect.

174.  Go for an integrated solution

Although some kinds of lighting fixture are often associated with a particular layer of lighting, most are so adaptable they can be put to use in several different ways. Talk to a professional about an integrated lighting design installation.

175.  Brighten up your garden

If you live in landed property and have a garden, use solar lights to brighten up the area and highlight any features such as ponds or pathways. Solar lighting is inexpensive to buy and costs nothing to run.

176.  Clean lights regularly

Routine maintenance and cleaning of lighting fixtures will avoid a build-up of dust that will affect the quality of light output.

19|19   Interior design

177.  Identify your personal style

Your home should be all about you, with the interior design reflecting your personality and lifestyle. To get help in choosing a design style blueprint, visit or

178.  Go with the flow

Organise shapes, colours, and patterns to form a cohesive design thread throughout the project, which will create a sense of calm and flow.

179.  Think about scale and proportion

Be mindful of balance, harmony, scale, and proportion. An experienced interior designer can provide professional advice on these elements of home renovation.

180.  Consider the 5 senses

To create a space that makes people feel good, the design should appeal to all 5 senses – sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste.

181.  Pre-plan spaces

Planning ahead will avoid any later problems when it comes to installing furniture, fixtures, and appliances.

182.  Avoid over-coordination

Instead of placing too much emphasis on matching up design elements, regard your interior design as a work in progress, gradually adding items over time to add character and mirror your personality.

183.  Create a focal point

Every space needs a point of interest that draws the eye towards it. Determine a focus for the room, and then work the space around it.

184.  Decide on furniture and fabrics before painting

Buy furnishings for a room before you choose a colour palette. It’s far easier to match paint to fabric than the other way round.

185.  Use neutral colours for walls

Mid-tone or neutral colours on your walls will unify a room while creating a warmer atmosphere than plain white.

186.  Add an heirloom

You can give a room extra warmth and character by adding a treasured heirloom or an original piece of art.

187.  Incorporate nature

Bring a feel of outside spaces into your home by incorporating nature, such as plants, into a room. The simple addition of plants can touch on the senses of sight and smell.

188.  Create different heights

Use furnishings, artwork, and curtains or blinds to add structure to a room by creating different heights.

189.  Avoid backing furniture against the wall

Positioning sofas, chairs, and other furniture even a short distance from walls will create some breathing space and make a room appear bigger.

190.  Hang artwork properly

When artwork is placed too high on walls, it appears to be floating on its own, impacting on the balance and composition of the room. Avoid hanging several pieces of artwork at the same height.

191.  Display accessories in groupings

Show off your accessories in a tasteful way by arranging them in groupings. The rule-of-three declares that items arranged in odd numbers are more pleasing to the eye, and three seems to be the magic number.

192.  Be sparing with furniture

If you try to cram too many pieces of furniture into a space, your room will look overcrowded and cluttered, presenting a confused, muddled appearance.

193.  Remove things you don’t like

You don’t have to live with anything you don’t like just because you inherited it or someone gave it to you. So, keep unwanted gifts out of your rooms.

194.  Allow enough time for the design process

Avoid the temptation to rush things. Interior design is an art that affects how people perceive spaces, so talk to a professional designer about how to achieve a functional but visually-appealing space.

195.  Be selfish!

Your home should reflect your individualism – your life and loves. Incorporate items such as photographs and mementoes into your interior design.

196.  Go for the feel-good factor

If your interior design creates a space that makes you feel good, it’ll have the same affect on potential buyers if you decide to sell your home.

197.  Budget for lighting

Set aside a realistic amount in your budget for a quality lighting system, and take your time when choosing lighting fixtures.

198.  Are you a maverick or a modern minimalist?

Several types of style are commonly employed in interior design, including contemporary, modern minimalist, maverick, high-tech, and retro. Discover more about design styles at DesignLike.

199.  Get a second opinion

Even if you’re confident about your own design sense, getting another viewpoint will give you peace of mind and possibly avoid expensive errors.

200.  Remember: it’s not as easy as it looks

Creating a quality interior design requires a wide set of skills and a broad base of technical expertise. Take advantage of this sort of know-how by consulting a professional interior designer.

The first step is crucial

Your home is the place where you feel most comfortable and safest, a haven from the stresses of everyday life, so you owe it to yourself and your family to ensure your house renovation results in a stylish, functional redesign.

Whether you’re renovating a single room or carrying out a complete house redesign, the crucial first step in a residential refit is to find a professional, dependable remodelling contractor to avoid the myriad pitfalls that await the inexperienced. And if you’re thinking about adding value to your property, it’s particularly important to engage an experienced renovation company.

We hope our 200 best renovation tips for house, kitchen, bathroom, and more have given you some food for thought to help you get the home of your dreams.

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