5 Must-Have Upgrades To Increase The Value Of Your Flat

Are you spending your renovation in the right areas? (via dollarsandsense.sg)

Moving in to a new home can be both exciting and troubling at the same time, especially when there are multiple factors to decide on before you spend your hard earned money into the home renovation.

Before you hit the panic button, watch this video to find out more about the 5 key areas of your house that you can renovate to make your place comfortable to live in, and at the same time to retain its value or even increase the value of your home by more than what you spent on it.

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12 Things You Can Do With Your HDB Kitchen

Who says you have to put up with a boring, utilitarian cookspace when you live in a flat? These creative kitchen designs show otherwise | houzz.com

Who says you have to put up with a boring, utilitarian cookspace when you live in a flat? These creative kitchen designs show otherwise | houzz.com

By Chiquit Torrente, via houzz.com.sg

As more and more homeowners discover the joy of cooking while entertaining, or appreciate the versatility of an open-plan space with a nice kitchen, it’s becoming common to hack down the cookie-cutter internal walls during HDB flat renovations. But what if you can’t hack walls, or don’t have the budget to splash out on a major renovation?

You may not get an open-concept show kitchen in an open-plan home that looks more New York loft than Sengkang flat, but you can still have a kitchen you won’t mind spending hours cooking (and chatting-while-eating) in. From the basic kitchen layouts to the bold makeovers, here are 12 ideas you can carry out in your cookspace.

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BTO vs Resale Flat: How Much Should You Be Budgeting For Renovation?

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2015 wasn’t exactly a stellar year for property in Singapore. With both home sales and prices dropping steadily, buyers are now standing ready to pounce on any good deals that come their way. However, if there’s one thing you can be sure is not going to drop, it’s the cost of renovation. And when it comes to budgeting for it, not taking into account the right factors can be costly. Our friends at Qanvast share some insights here on the differences between renovating a resale and BTO flat:

There is a common misconception that renovating a resale and a BTO costs almost the same. However, we beg to differ. Here’s why and what goes behind renovating a resale and a BTO apartment.

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8 Things Real Estate Pros Would NEVER Do to Their Homes

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By Brie Dyas, from housebeautiful.com

When they decorate or remodel, they think like a potential buyer.

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1. INSTALL BUILT-INS
If you’ve ever watched “House Hunters,” you might be confused by this one. Doesn’t everyone want built-in shelving?

“Think very carefully about them,” says Jennifer Kjellgren, broker and owner of Intown Expert, a real estate firm in Atlanta. “Are they so specific that a future owner wouldn’t like them? Will they quickly become dated?”

Built-ins can impact the architecture and layout of a room, so Kjellgren suggests trying a less-permanent piece of furniture instead — especially if you know you’re going to sell your home someday.

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2. PICK LOUD CABINETRY
We’ve seen cabinets of all color that pop with personality. But the bolder the choice, the fewer people that will like it. “I’d stay away from any decor that seems quirky or too specific — such as purple countertops or green cabinets,” says Redfin real estate agent Julie Jacobson. Show your personality with funky kitchen accessories, instead. A neutral cabinet backdrop also means new accents change your room’s vibe on a whim.

You might not be keen to take care of hardwoods, but many pros frown upon carpeting. “Stay away from it,” says Redfin real estate agent Alec Traub. He notes that hard floors like wood or even polished concrete are trends that are sticking. Plus, they’re way more versatile: “It’s easy to warm up a living space with an area rug instead,” he says.

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3. CHOOSE WALL-TO-WALL CARPETING
You might not be keen to take care of hardwoods, but many pros frown upon carpeting. “Stay away from it,” says Redfin real estate agent Alec Traub. He notes that hard floors like wood or even polished concrete are trends that are sticking. Plus, they’re way more versatile: “It’s easy to warm up a living space with an area rug instead,” he says.

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4. HANG CUSTOM WINDOW TREATMENTS
Again, you might be the only one who loves your pricey custom choices. Plus, they’ll only work with the windows in your current home, so you can’t take them with you — know matter how much they cost.

“Don’t spend a ton of money on specialized window treatments,” says Ken Wile, a real estate agent with Redfin. “It’s better to have simple, neutral-toned blinds.”

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5. PAINT OVER PANELING
Sure, dark wood panels are no longer on-trend, and they make a room feel heavy. But if you’re planning to sell your home in the near future, Chiquita Pittman, a sales associate with RE/MAX Platinum New Jersey, advises that it’s best to leave the paneling alone. Painting is a change that’s just not easily reversed — so let your home’s next owner make that decision.

And if you just can’t live with them, get rid of them. “You are better off refacing and replacing them,” Pittman says.

Do this, and you’ll make selling way more difficult. “Every bedroom is a coveted space that can bump your listing up into the next bracket,” says Monica Ma, director of consumer public relations at Trulia. “Buyers might be looking for two, three, four bedrooms — or more. You might dream of knocking down a wall to create a giant walk-in closet, but unfortunately, most buyers won’t share your fantasy.”

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6. PERMANENTLY CONVERT A BEDROOM
Do this, and you’ll make selling way more difficult. “Every bedroom is a coveted space that can bump your listing up into the next bracket,” says Monica Ma, director of consumer public relations at Trulia. “Buyers might be looking for two, three, four bedrooms — or more. You might dream of knocking down a wall to create a giant walk-in closet, but unfortunately, most buyers won’t share your fantasy.”

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7. ADD A POOL
A personal pool sounds luxurious, but buyers will often only see it in a negative light. “People with small children may be concerned about safety risks, those looking for a low-maintenance yard will not want to deal with the hassle, and pools certainly don’t appeal to buyers on a budget,” says Ma.

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8. HANG WALLPAPER
Whether patterned, textured, foiled, or solid, wallpaper is often stunning. But alas, it’s also a really personal choice that’s hard to change. And this is true even at the highest end of the real estate market. F. Ron Smith, the founder of luxury real estate firm Partners Trust, wouldn’t even put wallpaper in very specific, small places — like a wine room. “It will not last on the wall, or in style,” he says.

Source : http://www.housebeautiful.com/home-remodeling/renovation/g2605/things-real-estate-pros-would-never-do/

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11 IKEA Makeovers That Look Shockingly Luxe

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Here’s proof that you can have champagne on a beer budget.

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BEFORE: BORGSJO CABINET
This line of shelves allows you to mix and match cabinets to create different looks.

AFTER: REFINED OFFICE STORAGE
Lining a wall, a row of these cabinets seriously impresses. This blogger used glass doors on top and solid doors on the bottom, so there’s space above for pretty things and plenty of hiding spots below.

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BEFORE: BEKVAM KITCHEN CART (TROLLEY)
The no-nonsense kitchen island is convenient, if a bit spare.

AFTER: VINTAGE-INSPIRED ISLAND
A fresh coat of gray paint, a chic marble top, and a shiny towel bar makes this kitchen helper as stylish as it is functional.

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BEFORE: RAST DRESSER
It might be a little rough around the edges, but you can’t beat the price

AFTER: CAMPAIGN-STYLE NIGHTSTAND
A little bit of leather and brass brought character to the piece. (Of course, adding paint and removing the round knobs helped, too.)

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BEFORE: RAST DRESSER
Sure, this warm dresser is durable — but it’s also really plain.

AFTER: CRAFT ROOM DESK
A plexiglass-covered core door now sits atop the dresser and a pair of table legs, creating the perfect stylish workspace. The bare dresser got a coordinating upgrade with a fresh coat of paint and new pulls.

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BEFORE: SEKTION CABINETS
This is but one component from this series, which allows you to mix and match pieces to create floating cabinets and standing units. (Previously, it was known as AKURUM.)

AFTER: A FLOATING CONSOLE
New knobs pop against the sleek white doors, but the real star is the black shelf that give the units an unexpected sleekness.

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BEFORE: OTTAVA LAMP
We like this industrial-style light just fine, but it doesn’t provide a luxurious look.

AFTER: BARN-STYLE KITCHEN PENDANTS
A quick coat of spray paint makes the shades look like vintage copper.

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BEFORE: VASTER LAMP
The LED light has a globe silhouette that lends itself well to customization.

AFTER: A MODERN PENDANT
This makeover was inspired by Thomas O’Brien’s Hicks pendant light. The black upper, gold trim, and “rivet” detail channel the original quite nicely.

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BEFORE: BILLY BOOKCASES
These classic shelving units are the starting point for many makeovers.

AFTER: ELEGANT “BUILT-IN”
A little architectural molding brings a refined sensibility to the shelves. The addition of the rolling ladder furthers the library look.

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BEFORE: EKBY BJARNUM BRACKETS
The simple brackets cover the ends of shelves for a clean look.

AFTER: GLAM KITCHEN SHELVES
Just a little gold spray paint adds a ton of style to the functional accessories.

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BEFORE: VITTSJO
A slim metal frame, glass shelves and graceful proportions make this series easy to love (and easy to transform).

AFTER: A CHIC ETAGERE
A coat of primer, gold paint and shellac finish makes the shelves glamorously gleam.

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BEFORE: KLAPPSTA CHAIR
Sadly, the KLAPPSTA series was discontinued. You can find a similar modern spirit in the TULLSTA or MELLBY chairs.

AFTER: PREPPY CLUB CHAIRS
Each was trimmed in a faux welt made from black rope, which beautifully contrasts the cream-colored covers. It’s a small change, but completely changes the chairs.


Source : http://www.housebeautiful.com/home-remodeling/diy-projects/g2422/impressive-ikea-makeovers/

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5 Easy Kitchen Decorating Ideas: Wall Decor

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If you love looking through the latest design magazines for kitchen decorating ideas but don’t have the time or budget for a major remodel, we’ve got some quick and easy decorating tips on how to give your kitchen an update worthy of a home magazine. The best part is that these kitchen decorating ideas can mix and match beautifully — use one or a few together.

Since we tend to see things at eye level first, some of the most noticeable changes you can make in a kitchen involve the walls. But most kitchen decorating efforts are placed on the appliances, countertops and cooking gadgets while the walls are sadly left ignored.

What’s looking back at you, a dingy, boring wall? Or worse, an outdated faux paint job complete with ivy or fruit-themed stencil work? It’s time to make a change.
Updating your kitchen wall decor with easy but design-savvy changes will make a big visual impact. Here are 5 kitchen decorating ideas that take your kitchen’s walls from tired to inspired:

1. The Designer’s Secret to Color
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Color is one of the fastest and most inexpensive ways to update a room. But great, colorful kitchens don’t happen by accident. The secret is in the three color palette:

  • Color 1: An existing kitchen color that can’t be changed. This may be the color of the countertop or cabinets.
  • Color 2: A neutral of your choice. Use it for the new wall color that complements color 1. It’ll serve as the kitchen backdrop.
  • Color 3: The color that makes your kitchen unique. It’s often a bold and unexpected color that works with your palette. Color 3 adds pop to your kitchen. Use it as a statement piece for your accessories like bar stools, vases or cookware.

The best way to find the perfect three color palette is to grab paint swatches in the shades you like and shuffle them around until you’re happy with the combination. Once you find your signature three color palette, keep a set handy for accessory shopping.

2. The Best Kitchen Decorating Ideas Start With a Focal Point

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Try to see your kitchen the way a visitor would for the first time. Walk into your kitchen and think about what you notice. Is the first thing you see something you like? If not, what would you rather notice first? Make that spot and the closest wall your focal point.

Focal points visually jump out at you. Compared to the rest of the kitchen, the focal point is bold and unique. To create a focal wall, try one of these techniques:

  • Paint your focal wall in the bold shade you chose for your three color palette
  • Hang a large piece of art on the focal wall
  • Use textural or patterned wallpaper

Be fearless when dressing up your focal point — it’s just one wall.

3. Add the Latest Trend in Kitchen Wall Decor — Open Shelving

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If you’ve updated your kitchen with fresh, fashion-forward colors and a focal wall, it’s time to add layers. The latest trend in kitchen design is open shelf, upper-cabinet-free kitchens. The look lightens a kitchen up by creating visual space, but requires you to hide all the tupperware and mismatched glasses in fewer cabinets.

Instead of tearing out your upper cabinets, try updating your kitchen wall decor by placing one or two floating shelves on an open wall. Floating shelves come in many styles and are easy to install. Keep the floating shelf display items minimal and color coordinated for a magazine-ready look.

For a bigger change, remove a selected upper wall cabinet’s doors and paint or wallpaper the back of the cabinet. You now have a new open display shelf. To give your new display life, add LED under-cabinet lighting to highlight the items. Battery-powered lights are available if cabinet wiring is an issue.

4. The Carefully Curated Kitchen Wall

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Set your kitchen apart using your personality. Gallery wall collections are popular with designers and magazines because they’re unique and make a boring wall interesting. Gather favorite objects together and use them as kitchen wall decor.
Some kitchen decorating ideas for a gallery wall collection include:

  • Framed album covers
  • Baskets
  • Framed wallpaper or fabric swatches
  • Vintage dishes
  • Antique, empty frames of different shapes and sizes
  • A variety of mirrors

There are no absolute rules to creating a gallery wall. Symmetrical, patterned or freestyle placement are all good approaches. To save time (and extra nail holes on the wall), arrange your collection on the floor before hanging for the best spacing and placement.

5. Personalize Your Kitchen With Chalkboard Paint

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A can of black chalkboard paint is inexpensive and a great way to dress up a wall. Black is a bold, eye-catching color and the perfect backdrop for your ever-changing chalk art.

If you’re out of wall space, a door or cabinet surface is another great chalkboard (and dinner menu) in the making. Remember to layer. A floating shelf or gallery wall collection on your chalkboard wall adds to the unique look of your new, inspired kitchen walls.

Source : http://freshome.com/kitchen-decorating-ideas/

8 Things to Know Before You Hire a Contractor

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Contractor Stephen Fanuka shares what he wishes his clients knew before hiring him — and after he’s taken on the job.

1. Don’t expect perfection — expect quality.
The most unrealistic expectation a client can have is that the job will be perfect. There’s no such thing. Painting and tiling and brickwork aren’t done by machine. They’re done by craftsmen — who, yes, are human.

2. Your contractor is making judgments from the moment he steps in your home.
This is like a first date — the first time a contractor meets a client, we size up who they are, how they conduct themselves. What’s their personality like? Are they hot-tempered? Dismissive of your suggestions? If they deal with you this way right off the bat, there probably won’t be a second date.

3. … but they know you’re making judgments, too.
Clients want to be sure you are responsible and fully involved. They want us to be attentive, direct, honest, courteous. In other words: We should be someone they won’t mind seeing every day for six months or longer.

4. Good negotiators can get a better price.
Get more than one bid. Start with the highest-end contractor, the best-stuff-money-can-buy guy. Ask him for a detailed proposal. Take that proposal and copy it, leaving out the costs. Pass it out to subsequent contractors you interview and ask them to fill in the costs. This will give you a good idea of what the job is worth. But be cautious: The lowest bid isn’t usually the best.

5. Safety is your responsibility, too.
Do a simple gut check: Do you want this guy in your home for the next year? Find out if your contractor is licensed. Ask them to show you the license. Make sure they carry liability insurance, so if one of their guys falls off a ladder and breaks his neck, you’re not sued. Likewise, if they cause any damage to your property, you won’t have to pay for it.

6. Feel free to hire subcontractors — but don’t go over your contractor’s head.
Contractors are like agents, always looking for fresh talent. Let’s say you happen to know a terrific painter who’ll do you a favor on price. Most contractors won’t mind that kind of limited subcontracting, especially if you throw a small managerial fee their way.

7. Be nice to the crew.
One simple thing clients can do to make my life easier: Allow the crew to use your bathroom. You’d be surprised how many clients ask us to go to the nearest gas station or diner. Make the work environment comfortable. If it’s 97 degrees, we’re remodeling an attic, and the client won’t let us turn on the AC — that’s cruel. Also, maintain an air of diplomacy and good cheer. Wait 15 minutes before you discuss anything that’s really upsetting you.

8. Pay attention to the warning signs.
Is the contractor usually late? Do you make several calls before he gets back to you? Does he delegate the job to one of his crew? Is he careless about keeping the job clean? Know when to draw the line. This is your home after all, not a construction site.

Source : http://www.housebeautiful.com/home-remodeling/renovation/advice/a3690/confessions-of-a-contractor/