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Home renovation: What to splurge and save on

To keep within your renovation budget, it helps to think about what’s worth splurging on and where you can save.

  • Featured here is Mauro chair by Established & Sons, available at Pomelo

  • Design by Couple Abode

  • Featured here is ALTO-S slim drawer system, available at Häfele,

  • Design by PI Architects. See full home feature here.

  • Featured here is PH Artichoke pendant in copper rose, available at Louis Poulsen,

Text by Louisa Claire Lim

Home renovation is fun and exciting, but can also be stressful, especially if you’re on a budget. Like any house-proud design lover, you probably have a home renovation wish list of design elements, materials or furniture to incorporate into your dream home, but at the same time, reality is checking in. So where should you spend your money, and when can you cut corners without compromising on style?

In general, when in a budgeting dilemma, think about whether a particular item will last longer or make a significant design impact. Differentiate also between your needs and wants. Case in point: a gorgeous marble backsplash – will your kitchen function the same with just an ordinary tiled one, and how much difference will this aesthetic feature make to your space? Here’s a guide to help you control your home renovation expenses.

Splurge on: Kitchen systems

splurge on kitchen system for home renovation - ALTO-S slim drawer system from Hafele

Featured here is ALTO-S slim drawer system, available at Häfele

There is a significant difference between specialist brand systems and generic ones. Those by brands like Blum and Häfele have been specially developed for specific design needs and are made to last. Not that you should avoid no-brand options, but do your quality checks. Kitchen cabinet doors and drawers are opened and closed a lot and you want something dependable and durable, rather than something that might have more cost implications later on.

Splurge on: Lighting

splurge on lighting for home renovation - Louis Poulsen PH Artichoke pendant in copper rose

Featured here is PH Artichoke pendant in copper rose, available at Louis Poulsen

Lighting is akin to jewellery for your home, but it’s also important because it greatly controls the mood and feel of your space. It’s worth having well-designed fixtures that minimise glare, such as those from Louis Poulsen. If you plan your lighting carefully, you won’t even need many light sources to create the perfect lighting for your home. To balance out costs, invest in a few key pieces to create focal points with, and go for basic designs that are more economical for the rest.

Splurge on: Bathroom fittings and fixtures

splurge on bathroom fittings for home renovation - hansgrohe RaindanceE shower

Featured here is RaindanceE shower, available at hansgrohe

Unlike budget ones that may fail you, quality bathroom fittings and fixtures from specialist brands like hansgrohe and Kohler have been designed to be resistant and water-efficient, without compromising on aesthetics or – most importantly – your bathing experience. Sinks, bathtubs and shower fittings can also be difficult to replace, as you would have to find similar styles or sizes that fit into your existing design. It would also be a hassle to have to carry out hacking works later on to accommodate new ones.

Splurge on: Furniture

splurge on furniture for home renovation - Mauro chair by Established & Sons from Pomelo

Featured here is Mauro chair by Established & Sons, available at Pomelo

You come into contact with your furniture all the time, making it a worthy investment. You don’t have to go all out with designer brands, but look for furniture that is well crafted with solid wood and other quality materials, as well as ones made with detailed joinery rather than cheap techniques. If you buy a good piece of furniture, it can last a lifetime.

Save on: Carpentry

It is sometimes essential, such as when it comes to the need for storage. But the key is to control the amount of details and choice of materials. Choose a plain or simple woodgrain-look laminate and functional design, rather than multiple finishes or textures and designs with inset details or special shapes. As it is, basic built-in wardrobes and kitchen counters cost from about $300 per foot run – so you could end up spending at least several thousands on a specific design. Limit custom-made furniture, too. A built-in queen size bed complete with hidden storage and side tables, for example, can cost a minimum of S$2,500, so it might be cheaper opting for loose furniture.

Save on: Flooring

To begin with, if you can keep the existing flooring, you will save a lot, as you can do away with the material and labour costs for hacking works, screeding and new floor finishes. But if you must have new flooring, go for options such as concrete screed (from about $3 per square foot), laminate flooring (from about $4 per square foot), tiles (from about $11 per square foot) or even vinyl (from about $7 per square foot), over natural material such as timber and stone, which can be doubly (or even way more) expensive. Better yet, if you choose to do an overlay, you can do away with the hacking works.

Save on: Demolition works

If you really have a tight budget, minimise tearing down walls. It costs from about $50 to demolish each foot run of wall, so removing the walls of one bedroom could cost about $1,500 or more. This money could take care of some of the necessary works you need done, such as plumbing or electrical wiring, or even go towards a good piece of furniture instead. Besides, you might later realise that you do need that spare room after all.

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