Sunday, 9 October 2016

Interior Designer Selection

Finally returned from the United States and started my ID search. I've met 16 designers in total. Most of them I met more than twice to discuss my needs and my design, and second time to go through the quotation. Of course I wouldn't list all of them down. Its odd how big the spectrum actually is.

I had

  • Some designers who were LATE
  • Some quoted 50K ABOVE other designers for the same stuff that I wanted
  • Some had NO CLUE about what I wanted after 2 hours of chatting
  • Some CHANGED MY DESIGN to what they think was good for us but we didn't agree to their proposal
  • Some COULDN'T PROVIDE THE WORKS needed for my design

Good Tips on proceeding on Renovation:

Some good tips I could share about the reno would be:
  • Have a good copy of the original floor plan from HDB. The measurements are to scale so you can do your homework easily
Floor plan of my unit in Queen's Close

  • Browse Qanvast, pinterest, homerenoguru, houzz, zillowdigsrenonation, renotalk ...
  • Know what you want in terms of design and style after you browse the above
  • Work out a budget. If you have a BTO, I would say your renovation shouldn't go above 50k. A resale would depend alot on what you want of the house. Mine was on a very high side because I have excessive demands.
  • Start drawing on the floor plan what you would like and mark down your must haves
A picture of my earlier design plan using Visio.
  • Start a google sheet on the designers you selected to make comparisons on prices and design
  • Start a google drive to share everything with the designers. Your google sheet should be in there. You could put pictures of the house, the floor plan, your design preferences, etc in there
  • Don't be afraid to tell the designer you don't like what was proposed because this is your home. You will be in there more than the designer. 
  • Listen to the designers about design flaws and ask for solutions. I'm usually pretty good with solutions (in fact i come up with more solutions than most of my designers). So you could ping me on my blog or fb or pinterest or instagram if you need some advice.
  • Request to see the works of the ID you have shortlisted. You want to make sure they are legal and not scammers, or cheap but crappy work.
  • If you are very particular, make sure you know what you are getting in terms of material.
  • Very important... If price is your main concern, make sure you compare apples to apples.
So, after all the 2 months (almost a full time job just looking for the right designer) of hardwork, here are a few worthy mentions and recommendations for IDs I would advice you approach for a quotation. I wouldn't say choose the one I selected because every ID would give you a different chemistry, feeling, rapport and most importantly price.

Top 6 IDs I shortlisted

1. Earthwerkz

They do not have a website, but try looking for Eric Er or William Tan on facebook. Don't worry. The company is legit. They just completed a simple reno for my mum's HDB in jurong. It was about 24k. One thing to note is that whenever you need to hack walls, floor tiles wall tiles, the price will be rather nasty. We actually hacked the wall of my mum's kitchen to open up the space. We've also hacked the toilet floors and walls cuz the HDB has been around for almost 25 years. Things have gotten nasty and unsightly from irresponsible tenants. 
3D impression by William Tan for my mum's kitchen

3D impression by William Tan for my mum's kitchen

Ceiling plan for my mum's house

Eric is the owner of this company. He is actually a friend of mine, if you are worried about being overcharged by other designers, go to Earthwerkz. They charge extremely reasonable. The designers are hardworking and on the ball. They would always be there when you answer their call. I can't comment about design since I was the one who had the ideas. But they were always available for you to go select barang for your house and give advice, update the renovation. 



Designer attitude: 4.5
Designer responsibility: 5
Designer responsiveness: 5
Price: 5
Quality of materials: 4
Speed of completion: 5
My laundry room inspiration from pinterest

2. Local Inn.terior

I worked with Catherine Kew from this company. One thing I liked about this company is that the designers are from Singapore, so its good for my French husband to communicate in English. They were also pretty specific when in comes to listening to what I want. Catherine was rather quiet relative to the more talkative and boisterous IDs. So if you don't like an ID that talks too much, I think she would be a good fit. 

The other reason why we shortlisted them was because their prices were very reasonable. When we compared the quotations, we found that their price was very reasonable for what they provided.

Designer attitude: 4
Designer responsibility: 4
Designer responsiveness: 3.5
Price: 4
Quality of materials: can't judge
Speed of completion: can't judge

Mini bar inspiration from Pinterest

3. Sky Creation

I worked with Kaze Tan from sky creation. If money was not an issue, we would have went with Kaze. We loved this ID so much. He was so bubbly and cheerful and extremely responsive and responsible. For the whole period he spend time with me on this project, I think he was number 1 on my incoming call list. This company isn't exactly expensive, but they aren't the cheapest in the market either. I must say their Musee at Ubi is a must see for people who are new to the whole renovation world. The company is also extremely established so you can be 200% confident that you wouldn't be scammed. 

The ID was extremely kind. Even though we did not select him in the end, he was still very kind and helpful to offer insights on the other quotations provided by the other companies and pointed out to me certain materials may not be what I want. 

Kaze was very professional and having been a carpenter before going into this line, he was very professional about how your carpentry work should be and ways to make your carpentry demands less costly. This company made it to my final shortlist where I went down to see one of their completed works in Hougang.

Designer attitude: 5
Designer responsibility: 5
Designer responsiveness: 5
Price: 3
Quality of materials: 4.5
Speed of completion: Can't judge

4. AD.I. wrks
I'll just say adi for simplicity

I worked with Danny from adi. The designer was really hardworking. He would do almost anything to make the sale. He was the only designer among all the IDs I met who did a 3D drawing for my house before I even shortlisted him. Not sure if any of you know about 3D drawings. It is a lot of work and very time consuming. Rendering takes forever on the computer. Danny did a 3D for my nursery room to let us have an idea of what we would be getting.

3D drawing of nursery room did for us. The cross on the top was the part we didn't want for the room

Honestly speaking we really liked him because we see the commitment he has for the project. 

Designer attitude: 5
Designer responsibility: 5
Designer responsiveness: 5
Price: 3.5
Quality of materials: 4
Speed of completion: Can't judge

5. Inspire ID

I worked with Terry from inspire id. This company has got me attracted with their design and prices. They were in my shortlist mainly because they gave really good prices (so good other companies had no idea how they achieved the prices). Its also a Case Trust accredited company like sky creation. So you don't have to worry about getting scammed. Terry offered me alot of the things I wanted and fought really hard to give us the best prices for the high end selection I had.

If it was up to me without considering my husband, this would have been the ID I would select. we requested to see one of the house that they have done. Unfortunately the only available showcase he had for the week for us didn't have its carpentry touch ups done yet, so Yohan (my husband) wasn't impressed at all with the finishing of the works. The carpentry for our house alone is over 50k. So this was very crucial for us.

But you can trust Terry to fight hard for you for the best prices. Also, he picked and dropped me off at Novena since I am car-less at the moment. 

Designer attitude: 5
Designer responsibility: 4.5
Designer responsiveness: 4
Price: 5
Quality of materials: 5
Speed of completion: Can't judge
Our final design. Done by me using Visio


The designer we selected was...

6. Swiss Interior Design

This underdog came in and wow-ed Yohan so much. I worked with James from Swiss interior. Funny story was I found this company after I invited my shortlisted IDs to my seller's home for measurements. I just walked there after the appointment and walked into the office at bukit merah. I asked if there was anyone available to entertain me for an appointment. So poor James was pushed to me for my project (think he was reluctant to serve me initially... I must have looked really intimidating)

I told him it was gonna be easy since I have a list of everything I want and every work needed on an excel sheet. All he needed to do was to fill in every blank needed for the work on my excel using measurements on the floor plan. 

James realized there were way more details involved and requested for a meeting that very weekend cuz he had some questions before he could work out the price.


Poor guy arrived at noon at left our hotel around 6pm after making he sure he got the details of what we wanted. Think James would be really scared everytime I make an appointment with him or called him cuz I am soooo demanding and our appointments would always last forever. 

Yohan really liked this designer so much ( I kept teasing him about an ongoing bro-mance). He found him really professional on the ball and responsive. He seemed really experienced and pointed out issues about some of the things we wanted and provided alternatives. We aren't quite sure about design since we figured we would be the one doing the design. But James fashion sense did give me an impression that he would probably be good with the design aspect. 

Best part for us was that the office was near our future home so we could go disturb them if anything went wrong at home... Hahaha... The company is small, and I kind of preferred that over a bigger company because all companies were small at point and need customers like us to help them grow.

Designer attitude: 5
Designer responsibility: 5
Designer responsiveness: 5
Price: 4.5
Quality of materials: 5
Speed of completion: To be updated

Kitchen island inspiration from pinterest

So now that I have been through so much reno research I would say these are my top few selection whom I feel would be even worth the time for you to get a quotation from. I wouldn't insist you use the designer I use because everyone have their different preferences. I suggest that you meet at least three designers and make a decision on your own. Of course don't go through 16 like me. It would have been tiring. But I've done some homework for you and these are some really good firms worth looking into.  

1 comment:

Jeff Lim said...

Hi Claire,

Congratulations, you will be moving to your new home soon.

I read with interest your tedious process of going through 16 IDs... wow! Good work, you are definitely making sure your new home is perfect or near perfect.

I love the way you reconfigure all available space to meet your needs with this very modern layout.

If this is my place, I will consider the following options and get my ID to think about it too:

1. Sliding doors in place of swing doors for entrance to Master Bedroom and the Vanity and Wardrobe area. As both sides of the doors are built up areas, a swing door need to be open at least by 60 degrees before one can pass through. Also the opening and closing of the swing doors will affect the usage of the half height cupboard, though it may rarely happen.

2. A sliding door to separate the WC and shower area. As there is a designated area for WC and shower, a door here will create for privacy for the WC user and allow others to use the vanity and wardrobe area without intruding into WC user privacy. The door will also prevent the smell from the WC and hot shower vapour from permeating into the wardrobe area. Dampness could be an issue in the future.

3. I would replace the door at the common toilet and wet area with a folding / sliding door at the entrance to the toilet. This way there is no worry about someone opening the door and knocking into person behind the door using the washer / dryer. This also allows the usage of both areas at the same time.

May this be your home and not a house.

May God Bless you Home.

Uncle Jeff