Sharing home renovation experiences and inspiration

A Gorgeous Home Renovation In Adelaide: Part 2

Hi everyone, TGIF! For those who have enjoyed Part 1 of AN’s renovation Down Under, here comes Part 2!

Ok, picking up from where we left off in the last post, AN replaced the curtains with shutters, as the curtains made the place looked old and tired.

dining room design

Old curtains at the dining area

After that, AN decided to replace the curtains in the living room with roller blinds:

Grey rollerblinds to fit into the Scandinavian theme

Roller blinds in living room

With the rollerblinds up. Compared to the curtains, the roller blinds creates a better view of the outside area and also keeps the clean lines of the windows and door trims.

With the main renovation done, it is time to focus on the furniture.

Scandinavian chair

AN bought a Scandinavian chair that was built in the 1960s. He reupholstered it with new foam and grey cover. I love this restoration – such a well-built chair that has really stood the test of times, and it just makes the place so much more interesting.

Another interesting chair that AN bought:

The chair is made of teak wood, and AN chose an aztech pattern to add just the right amount of character into the place.

AN also decided to change the dining chair covers. He decided to custom make the covers in Malaysia instead of Adelaide, as it is much much cheaper!

Old dining chair covers

New dining chair covers: oatmeal and grey colour

Very smart of AN to mix two colours instead of having one flat colour scheme. Also, by changing the chair covers in Malaysia, it only cost him RM700 for 6 chairs, compared to the cost of AUD1,200 in Adelaide!

Of course, a place would not be a home without a bookshelf 🙂 Initially it was just an empty Ikea bookshelf:

AN bought some boxes to compliment the Scandinavian theme and started to move in his things. And now it looks like a proper bookshelf!

When AN first set out to renovate his place, they were also very conscious that there were certain parts of the house they they really wanted to preserve, and these are “non-negotiable” in terms of maintaining it, as they wanted something to remind them of the original state of the house. For example:

stained glass door

AN kept the original stained glass door, as AN felt it was quite nice to mix the new and the old

Another thing that he kept was the wooden trimmings:

AN was tempted to paint the wooden trims white to make it “modern”, but on the advice of his friend, he decided to keep it. Now, it matches perfectly with his Tasmanian Blackwood armchair made by Fler!

That’s all the renovation and furnishing from AN’s story. Oh, but before I end this post, I have to share with you the amazing orange trees at AN’s garden!

Owmahgad! Look at those oranges! What a sight to behold!

AN has a large garden and BBQ area, which he plans to work on in the future. Till then, hope you have enjoyed my blog and have a fantastic weeked!

A Gorgeous Home Renovation In Adelaide: Part 1

Hi everyone! I’m super excited this week, as I get to finally share one of my friend’s home renovation story! What makes it even more special is that this is the first time I’m featuring a renovation story outside Malaysia! Let’s see how the rest of the world renovates 😉

So, my friend, AN, has settled in Adelaide, and bought a house recently.

The house was built in 1994, and AN bought it in August 2016. It was a well-built house, and it was supposed to go on an auction, but AN put in an offer the vendor couldn’t refuse!

To put it in perspective, AN bought this house after living in an apartment for more than 10 years. Essentially this house was for his little son to grow up in, and the location is perfect – beautiful, and zoned to one of the best schools in Adelaide.

When AN first got the keys, the house was functional and livable. However, AN decided to make some changes in order to “spice things up” as it was looking a bit dated and tired.

Some pre-renovation photos:

kitchen renovation

Kitchen looking a tad tired

Nice tiles but a tad dark

Bedroom curtains that have seen better days

The first thing AN did was to change the flooring at the entry, study room and dining/kitchen area. From the pics you can see the tiles are actually flawless and in working condition, but it does make the area very dark and old. So, AN decided to change it to vinyl.

Preparation for vinyl flooring. The existing tiles were grinded and made flat with a layer of concrete.

Vinyl flooring

Installing the vinyl flooring

Looking much better with a the vinyl flooring, brightening up the place

Next, AN tackled the lights (the house was a rental property by the previous owner and one can tell that minimal care was taken with regards to the aesthetics of the house!)

“They look disgusting” AN, on the lights in the house, and I can see why.

AN changed the lights to a more contemporary look to match the Scandinavian/mid century look that he was going for.

New pendant light in the kitchen lifts up the place

New pendant lights in the bedroom. AN also got a set of bedsheets to compliment the theme. “Small cost, big gain” AN noted.

Next up, AN painted the old backsplash in the kitchen himself, which cost him $150. Painter’s quote to do same job? $1,000!

backsplash kitchen

Before and after pics of the backsplash – a simple coat of paint did the job

Another major thing that AN did was to change the curtains to plantation shutters:

I feel the shutters really give it a tropical island feel, don’t you think? 🙂

So, we have come to the end of Part 1, hope you have enjoyed the story and photos. What I liked about AN’s renovation is that he was aware that he had a limited budget, hence he made the decision to renovate on the things that would make the most impact. As AN said “People should know there are lots of renovations you can do that doesn’t cost a bomb”.

Now, stay tune for Part 2!

Super Smart Ideas For Small Spaces

Hi everyone! Due to popular response on my previous blog “The Story Of How To Maximise A 750 Sqft Apartment”, I’ve decided to share more ideas on how to plan and decorate small spaces. These are ideas that have been tried and tested in my own apartment, and some ideas came from the pros themselves:

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Shopping Saturday: Home Living Exhibition, Ikea, Kinsen, Home Fix Sale and a Bazaar In Aid of Refugees

Happy Saturday everyone! Many of you have asked what happened to Shopping Saturday? Fret not, it’s still here, and this week, there is quite a lot happening, with home fairs, sale and bazaars too 🙂

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The Story Of How To Maximise a 750 Sqft Apartment

Hi everyone! Gong Xi Fa Cai! Wishing everyone a prosperous and joyful year ahead 🙂 Some trivia tips for the Year of the Rooster – purple is THE colour for the year, especially if you’re looking for love 😉 More details here at my Facebook page.

This week, I have the pleasure of sharing a story of how Kevin* renovated his first home in Penang. It is a 750 Sqft apartment, 3 bed 2 bath. In 4 straight weeks, he managed to turn an empty unit into a lovely home! Love it 🙂

Small apartment layout

This was the original floorplan

The condition of the unit before renovation

Entrance to the apartment

In the first week, the contractor did wiring and aircon piping works.

Second week: Smashing through the walls and putting up plaster ceiling

This is to separate the kitchen and the yard

Putting up the plaster ceiling

Third week – Painting and installing what he calls his “tiny” kitchen

Week 4 was spent completing the tiny kitchen, and installing the fixtures e.g., aircon, fan, lights and painting of doors.

Kevin’s contractor wasPerfekta Kitchen (boss name Siang). According to Kevin, their workmanship was good and reasonably priced. They were never late for work and delivered on time. Some hiccups along the way, but overall Kevin rated them 8.5/10!

Blinds in Windows

Notice how the blinds is inside the window, so that it won’t get dirty!

Granite sink for a change

More photos of the finished apartment below – so homey and inviting!

Wood dining table

Dining table pushed against the wall to create more space

Aquarium in living room

The final touch was putting in the aquarium, just perfect!

Now, I’m sure you’re wondering, how much did the renovation cost? According to Kevin, the quotation from his contractor was RM34k, which includes wiring, plaster ceiling, curtains, aircon pipess, front grill and birdcage, painting and complete kitchen with hood and granite sink, plus installation of lights, aircon fan, break through the entrance wall and kitchen wall. After some discount, final price he paid was RM31k. What was NOT included was the wardrobe and TV cabinet.

As for the electrical items, guess how much for: 3 inverter aircon, 2 water heaters, fridge, hob and hood, 55 inch 4k tv, washing machine and fan? RM13k 🙂

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading, any questions do give me a shout and I’ll refer back to Kevin. Happy Chinese New Year, may the year of the Rooster be a great year with exciting stuff that we can all crow about!

* Anonymised

Shopping Saturday: Renovation Fair, CNY Sales and a Sunny Side Up Market

Welcome to our first Shopping Saturday post for 2017! With CNY just around the corner, many shops are doing some kind of promotion, as expected. I’ve filtered through the promos, and found 5 events that are worth highlighting for this weekend:

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[UPDATED] Compiling The Ultimate List: Contractors, Carpenters, Plumbers and More

Happy New Year everyone! May 2017 be our best year yet! After a hiatus during the Christmas/school holiday period, this blog is back and stronger!

I thought I will kick off the new year by updating this Ultimate List (see below), in response to all your contributions. Thank you to those who shared your recommendations with me, because of you, this list is growing!

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Shopping Saturday: Bosch, Warehouse Sale, Home & Living Exhibition and Bazaars Galore!

Hi everyone! Shopping Saturday is back! I’ve decided to publish this on a Friday, as there are many events going on this weekend. I’ve picked only the best deals I’ve found, so read on:

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Part 2: The modernisation journey of a 45 year old double storey terrace house – Kitchen Focus

Now that you have seen the meticulous planning that Jillian did, I bet you have been looking forward to what happens next! Fret not, I now bring you Part 2 of her story, as recounted by Jillian herself 🙂


Part 2: The Kitchen

The kitchen is indeed the heart of the home. So a lot of time and planning was spent on conceptualising my perfect kitchen. As mentioned in Part 1, we did not engage any interior designers or external design help, so everything was done ourselves. Basically from the ideas in my head, on to the software or paper and transformed into reality!


When I originally lived in the house as a child, the kitchen was a rather small space with a ‘bar’ table overlooking the dining area:

Makeover of 1980s house in Petaling Jaya

Our modest little kitchen back in the late 1980s/early 1990s: Kitchen sink was facing the window and there was a moveable stove next to the sink. L-shaped Bar table where my parents and I used to eat most of our meals

Before Kitchen remodelling

From the other angle: a better view of the L-Shaped bar table, and dining area

As you can see, it was only a very small dining area, where we squeezed a 6 seater dining table. There was not much light in this area, only a door on the left to exit to the garden, and it could get rather dim in the evenings.

Post 1995 Renovations, my parents knocked off the bar table to turn the kitchen into an open-concept kitchen.

Pre kitchen renovation





Before renovation kitchen







kitchen before renovation

As talked about previously, the backyard area used to be an open air area for clothes-washing, my parents had enclosed and grilled this area (but still open air) to become a washing cum wet kitchen area (as shown later). As pictured below is the backyard area post 1995 Renovations.

My mum had a portable cooking stove to cook out here, if doing major cooking/frying.

Kitchen construction before pics

My mum cutting my brother’s hair in the backyard, sometime in near year 2000

Kitchen remodel in 2014

While the 1995 Renovations did a good job to the kitchen area in opening up the space, there were a few things we wanted out of our kitchen remodel when we bought over the house:-

(1) More light; easier access to the garden.

I found our dining area too dark, especially in the evenings. I also wanted the dining area to be able to spill out into a patio in the garden for parties

(2) Segregation yet seamless

My mum largely cooked inside the dry kitchen though we had a portable stove at the back yard. One would also have to walk around on the left to access the back yard- and access to the wet kitchen was not seamless

I wanted a proper wet kitchen, segregated from the rest of the house as I wanted to ensure that I could keep cooking fumes out (imagine your house smelling of garlic or curry after a big cook-out!). Also as we have young kids, the wet kitchen had to have a ‘barrier’ to keep my kids from entering the kitchen especially when the stove was on.

I also was not keen to have too large a wet kitchen as it would mean more cleaning up to do.

(3) An island

My husband definitely wanted a large island in our dry kitchen, for us and our guests to lounge around while having casual conversation. 2 years on, I can vouch that the island has been the ‘main attraction’ in our home, and most guests just love to stand around it (as opposed to sitting at the dining table chairs).

(4) More space for kitchen appliances

There was no big working space for baking projects. There was also not much cabinet space to keep our kitchen items, nor space for a big oven.

Initially I did not manage to work out a seamless access to the wet kitchen and was almost resigned to the fact that the wet kitchen would be quite cut off from the dry kitchen. As such in my initial plan, the structure was kept largely similar except with the inclusion of an island in the dry kitchen.


One night I had an epiphany and thought- why don’t I break through the wall here as marked in red:


This would give me seamless access to the wet kitchen and I could get to the fridge more easily. My husband was less than enthusiastic and did not want to ‘give the contractor more trouble’- but I felt that this was a fantastic idea. Which led to the following drawing being sent to my contractor with urgency (it was probably past midnight).

Sketch of kitchen plan

Last minute change to the kitchen flow

 As you can see – I had asked for the existing backyard door to be closed off, and for a hole to be knocked through where the windows used to be. The wet kitchen would be separated by a glass sliding door with wooden frame.

This also led to the following mock ups on SweetHome 3D in the following days as I had new found inspiration on how to add additional cabinetry. This really helped me to visualise how the final kitchen would look like.

3D sketch of home kitchen sweethome app

Conceptualising the open-concept kitchen done by using SweetHome 3D app. Glass door to separate the wet from dry kitchen

New renovation kitchen sketch 3D drawing

Conceptualising the wet kitchen

This was finally penned down on sketch done by my carpenter. The comments in red were mine!

Sketch of dry kitchen and island

Sketch of dry kitchen and island

kitchen sketch for carpenter

Sketch of wet kitchen, you will see that I had quite specific instructions on measurements for my old oven which I wanted to place below the stove area

Dining area – Blessing in disguise

I had also not planned to extend the dining area, only to break down the wall as shown in the blue box below, to put in folding French windows that would open up to a patio in the garden.


However my contractor had misunderstood me and thought that we had wanted to extend the whole dining area out by a couple of feet! Anyhow, since it was already done, we decided to keep it and it turned out to be a blessing in disguise as we really did need the extra space with a growing family!

Work in Progress

renovation in dry kitchen in progress

Works in the dry kitchen

Kitchen island renovation in progress

Access through to the wet kitchen as seen. Island in progress

Wet kitchen renovation in progress

Through into the wet kitchen

Wet kitchen renovation in progress

Wet kitchen in progress

Dining room renovation in progress

The mistake to the dining area- Contractor misunderstood and thought we wanted to extend when we in fact did not! Turned out to be a blessing in disguise

Kitchen makeover with island

Any resemblance? Sketch to reality with some modifications of course.

Transformation of kitchen with island

From 3D sketch to reality in kitchen renovation

kitchen design and storage ideas

The countertop on the left was a new addition in 2016. This photo is to give a glimpse of the top-hung cabinets for more storage. (Yes I have lots of kitchen stuff!)

small kitchen ideas

Panoramic view of the wet kitchen once entering from the sliding door. Compact but functional


Dining area interior design

The mistaken extension- made way for an all new dining area


Open plan dining area interior decor ideas

For parties, we turn the table around this way for more space Extendable Ikea dining table is also really useful for parties! From a table of 6 to a table of 12!


outdoor patio design ideas

The folding french windows at the dining area also opens up to this…


Unfortunately we did not take many ‘before’ shots, so you’ll need to use some imagination. Nevertheless I hope you enjoyed this kitchen ‘transformation’ of mine.

Tips when planning a kitchen

Just for some parting words, a few tips to share on kitchen planning:-

  • Visualise where you are going to put all your kitchen appliances. This helps a lot in planning where your plug points would be, how many you would need and at what height. For instance, we wanted plug points on our island so that we can use appliances such as mixers or the induction cooker (for steamboats). We made it clear to our contractor/carpenter and electrician exactly where the island would be and where we wanted the plug points to be located.
Kitchen before renovation sketch plan

Here you can see my specific instructions on the plug point for the island (in red)

  • Measure up your appliances. I knew that I wanted my ovenette and toaster to be within reach and easily accessible in our dry kitchen. I measured them and provided them to the contractor so that I could be sure that they would fit in an open shelf (with some extra leeway in case we have to replace those appliances)

    Kitchen sketch for appliances

    See my notes about sizing of my microwave, and the hanging open shelf (on the right) which I had indicated “at least 10” in height

  • Do a stock take of all your crockery. Make sure you have budgeted enough space to keep all your plates/cups/pots/pans away from sight and insects. You will see that I had put in lots of top-hung cabinets in the wet kitchen to stow away my occasional use items. Our island also has in-built storage for utensils and plates we use on a daily basis.
  • Power up appropriately. Ensure that large consumption appliances such as a built in ovens have a higher amp plug point (I believe it is 15 amp that most built-in ovens require).

This ensures easy access when cooking, to your ingredients, washing them and into the frying pan! I have observed this concept loosely in my wet kitchen- only that my fridge is a little far out of the ‘triangle’ (mainly due to space constraints in my wet kitchen).

I suppose some of these tips also apply to house renovation planning in general.


There you have it, an epic kitchen transformation, full with tips and inspiration! Hope you have enjoyed Jillian’s story, if you have any questions, or have a story to share too, do give me a shout! Have a good weekend everyone!



The modernisation journey of a 45 year old double storey terrace house

Hi everyone! This is a very special week for me. I’ve just launched a preview of my online shop here (where I have curated home products), and to top it, my dear friend Jillian finally had the time to write about her epic renovation story! 😀

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