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5 Small Budget, Big Impact Upgrades for Your Home

25 Jul 2016

Tips & Advice

Since the days of MTV Cribs, you’ve dreamt of owning a place that’ll drop jaws upon walking through the front door – but until you find a way to cash cheques with Justin Bieber’s name on them, the dream of a lavish abode has to remain exactly that: a dream.

Or does it? With a bit of elbow grease and some simple decorating, you can transform a humble flat into a Beverly Hills apartment without breaking a sweat. Here are a few tips on how you can get your home looking like royalty without going over-the-top or blowing your budget.

HDB Project by Summit Design Studio

1. Soft Lighting Makes For A Smooth Reception

In the same way that flash photography can turn you from flawless to frightful, lighting can make or break the aesthetic of a room, no matter how much money you put into fancying it up.

Soft, warm lighting tends to be more inviting than harsh white fluorescents, and, even if you don’t have the benefit of natural sunlight entering the room, floor and ceiling lamps can easily brighten things up with yellow globes for that golden allure.

Don’t feel the need to clutter up your field of view with chandeliers – though they may look expensive, they’re well beyond their stylistic expiration date and are a nightmare to clean.

Instead, opt for simpler pendant lamps that disperse light throughout the room with a dash of colour, complimented by ceiling lamps and cove lights to emit a soft but charming glow.

HDB – Montreal Link by Image Creative Design

2. Objectify Your Personality With Accessories

Ever notice how celebrities are often more proud of showing off their seemingly unassuming knick-knacks and toys than that boring old fridge that cost them five figures? That’s because, just like you, these artefacts say the most about your passions and interests, and will give visitors a glimpse of your eccentric persona.

Therefore, accessories are one of the simplest and most affordable ways of adding a dose of character to your space. Items as simple as old wooden crates, collectible figurines, spirit bottles, road signs and even decorative fruit (the rich were often stereotyped as being hand fed grapes, after all) will instantly make your space appear more interesting without forking out thousands.

However, exercising restraint is key – while items here and there make for good talking points, too many will give off the impression that you’re in dire need of a hoarders’ intervention.

Lores-Lor105 by One Design Werkz Pte Ltd


3. Priceless Art Doesn’t Need A Big Price Tag

Nothing says “sophistication” quite like a piece of art in the home – but that doesn’t mean you need to own an original Picasso to bring up the stock of your space. Pop art prints, canvases and tapestries are cheap and easy ways to add creativity to your walls, where even a Captain America print can add an element of luxury with the right kind of framing, while offering a vintage yet youthful appeal.

E-commerce art curators like Society6 also offer wide ranges of products by young and budding artists, giving you the option to have prints scaled to desired sizes and even framed to save you the trouble. Avoiding patterned wallpaper and sticking to a clean, minimalist aesthetic will allow you to hang your art wherever you see fit without it clashing with your walls or becoming overbearing on the eyes.

Randy Tan from Image Creative Design also adds: “Taylor B Fine Design on Keppel Road has some really good design and furniture pieces at great prices. It’s definitely one of the best spots in town!”

Condominium – Goldhill Ave by ID Pte Ltd

4. Get Curious WithColourful Furniture

The furnishings that distinguish your flat from a rental apartment are the ones that bring out your character, so don’t be afraid to let your freak flag fly with a statement piece.

Colourful furniture can make a whole room pop without the need to splurge on an Arne Jacobsen ‘Egg Chair’.

For those who are willing to dig around for a one-of-a-kind piece, antique shops are great places to find distinctive furniture items for bargain prices. These signature pieces of furniture add character and become features of your home that always have a story to tell.

Daniel Lim from Square Room Interior Design also adds: “The key to pulling off an elegant look is to ensure that the design communicates throughout the room. Stand alone furniture pieces in neutral colors can help in this regard. Ikea is a good place to go to, but watch out for materials that may not have a very long lifespan like soft wood.”

Strathmore Ave by Fuse Concept Pte Ltd

5. Laminates Will Save Your Lamenting

You may not be able to afford that Caesarstone marble countertop or red oak flooring yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy those distinctive looks with some more affordable alternatives.

While the smell and feel of certain materials are impossible to imitate, laminated surfaces can do a surprisingly convincing job as your next best bet. Laminate manufacturers like Lamitak offer an enormous variety of wood and stone surfaces that are engineered to last and look like the real thing, making them a cheaper alternative for when you don’t want to compromise your creative vision but don’t have the budget to make it happen. You know what they say – fake it till you make it.

Go forth and build your palace

Now that you’re well equipped to build your very own palace fuelled by the envy of all your friends, don’t forget the cardinal rule of luxury design as expressed by Ricky Lee of EC Vision Design: “The biggest mistake people make when designing for luxury is not staying practical! If cost is an issue, there is a certain limit you can attain, look for compromises or alternative solutions. Always keep your costs in mind!”

In the similar vein, check out how to make how to make your HDB’s kitchen restaurant-worthy or how to turn your living room into the ultimate home theatre!

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