August 17, 2022
August 17, 2022

We Paid $35k For Our 4-Room BTO Renovation 6 Years Ago: Here’s How We Remade It Into A Modern Boho Home Instead

Renovation Journeys

We Paid $35k For Our 4-Room BTO Renovation 6 Years Ago: Here’s How We Remade It Into A Modern Boho Home Instead


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7 min read

Moving into a newly renovated home is always going to be one of the nicest feelings in the world. But what happens after you’ve stayed for a couple of years? Things get a little stale, that TV console that you used to admire now looks boring, and you no longer get that same happy feeling when you get home.

As such, today’s home tour is one that is quite different. Mel (*not her real name for privacy reasons), a mother of two kids aged 5 and 7, has always accepted that change is constant – and she actually embraced this in the slow and gentle transformation of their home at Punggol. Even today, she and her husband are already planning to spruce up their unit again.

They received the keys for their brand new 93 square feet, 4-room BTO flat around six years ago. Back then, they had their place renovated before moving in and had a different home decor theme in mind.

Today, they’ve transformed their place from a monochrome theme into a modern boho. And the design is far from what it used to be. (You can see more @livingearthy).

Let’s take a closer look at how they went through their reno journey, almost six years in the making.

A Reno Journey From Monochrome to Modern Boho

Mel said that their initial budget was only $35K – and they were able to get it done without adding more to the cost. The budget may seem too low and too good to be true today, but this happened back in 2016, which many people now reminisce about as the good old days (a $20 to $50K budget would be enough to renovate a new place back then). 

While they had no specific style in mind back then, they were aiming for something timeless. This style goes well with Mel’s preference. As she said, she “loves to change themes over the years.” In general, what she wanted was to have the design be open and not fixated or limited to a particular theme.

Fortunately, their initial monochromatic design served as sort of a blank canvas, or black-and-white canvas, so to speak. They were able to convert their home’s design without changing the architecture as the years went on. “We managed to change our previous theme to the current modern boho, earthy tones kind of style,” said Mel.

“I love the warmness, and the earthy vibes whenever we enter the home,” she added. As you will later see, their house is mainly decorated with wood and rattan furniture.

The major changes that happened during their reno in 2016 involved the hacking down of their kitchen wall. “We hacked our kitchen wall to make it into an open-concept kitchen,” she said. While the main reason was to make it look spacious, it also has other functional purposes. “We can always look at the kids in the living room easily while doing kitchen chores as our kitchen overlooks the whole house,” she disclosed.

Here’s a room-by-room tour of their home with a modern boho theme.

Living Room

For the living room, they installed a false plaster ceiling and levelled up the walls behind their sofa. Over the course of 5 years, they were able to transform their living room into a bright and cheery space.

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While they retained their sofa since their first reno, they changed their coffee table in the living room. This table acts as the centrepiece with the rest of the design following suit.

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Dining Room

Mel said they had to construct a new half-partition wall at the dining area. It not only separates the kitchen from the dining area but also serves as an elegant kitchen counter.

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Behind the counter is the sink, which was supposed to be sitting next to the stove. Mel said she requested to have it shifted so she could look after the kids in the living room while doing the dishes.

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It’s here that you can also see how her decorative pieces around the home really help to elevate the earthy feels of the space.

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Hacking down the walls of the kitchen back then was a great decision as it really opened up the area.

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From this angle, you can easily imagine how limited the kitchen space would be if they hadn’t decided to open it up. Now, the area doesn’t only just look cosy but allows great convenience as cooking tools and appliances are within reach.

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Mel said there were no major changes in the bedrooms except for the levelled-up wall and the added built-in wardrobe in their master bedroom. “We kept it mainly simple and just needed the rooms to be comfortable and cosy.”

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Bringing The Vision To Reality

When we asked Mel about the final outcome after renovation, she answered that it was similar to what they envisioned back then. “But the current look or theme of the house is not what the initial theme was,” she added.

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“Towards the end of 2021, we changed the theme of the house and redid our furnishing to the current modern boho theme.”

The ID that worked on their flat back then was Jesswan Interior. “We connected easily with them right from the first time we met them for a quotation,” Mel revealed. She said they felt comfortable with them and were also attracted by their reasonable offer.

“Our ID was very understanding and able to accommodate our needs,” she said. Jesswan Interior was able to work things out within their budget, and Mel admitted that this was the main criteria they had for choosing them.

When it came to their furniture sourcing process, they prioritised local companies. Fortytwo, Hipvan, and even Carousell were among them. “We also sourced for furniture in IKEA too,” she said. The couple even completed some furniture DIY projects, such as the coffee table, antique mirror, and desk lamp, since doing so brought them so much satisfaction.

Just check out how they created this wonderfully creative DIY mushroom lamp:

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The living and dining area is their favourite place in the house. Mel said that it’s because of the spaciousness which allows them more flexibility in furnishing.

Lessons Learned From A Successful Home Renovation

The couple was fortunate enough to have their major renovation done years before the onset of the pandemic. Back then, the cost was cheaper, and the delays and other issues were not as rampant. “We didn’t encounter many issues during the renovation and we had good communication with our ID,” she said.

However, they shared some mistakes they had to endure in their reno journey. “We made the mistake of not checking thoroughly after the renovation and only found out minor problems after living in the house for a few years.”

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One instance is that they regret not changing their living room tiles. Their house still has the HDB tiles – and unfortunately, the quality is not up to standard as it can easily stain. “We also didn’t factor in the storage space in the service yard,” she added.

Since they’ve been living in their home for almost six years already, the couple is planning to renovate their kitchen again. This time, they wanted to expand their fridge area to cater to a bigger fridge and accommodate their growing needs.

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Mel shares three very good bits of advice for those who are looking to undergo their own reno journey:

  1. Plan well beforehand. She said to do your research first. While it’s good to have a theme, you need to keep your options open. She also recommends creating a moodboard and following several home styling IG accounts, both local and overseas, for inspiration.
  2. For choosing an ID/contractor, Mel recommends only hiring those you feel comfortable working with. Don’t rush into making a decision just because you want to move in early – you could face a torrid time during the reno process. 
  3. Finally, she recommends taking your time. Don’t rush into buying all furniture and decorations to fill up the space.

She further expands on #3 by saying not to get too fixated on renovating to meet a theme in mind. “Even after staying here for more than 5 years, the house is still a work in progress.”

And we agree with her when she said to be flexible since your preferences and liking might change as time goes on. Maybe in a few years, we’ll get to see how Mel’s home has evolved, yet again, into another home design.

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