Your reno & decor questions answered

We answer your renovation and decorating questions with help from industry experts. E-mail questions to

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
Design Free Space Intent photography Darren Chang
Design Free Space Intent photography Darren Chang
I’d love to have plants at home, but I want them to look stylish, and not haphazard or messy. Any tips?

We identified plants at home as one of the top design trends of 2016, but they have to be healthy, thriving plants.

All plants need sunlight to grow so, first, identify where you can place them. Possible locations include the balcony, and near sources of sunlight, such as next to windows.

A look that’s quite popular now is to have one big tropical plant with big leaves to anchor the space for dramatic effect. Choose a pot with a nice clean shape which suits most contemporary spaces.

To admire plants at eye level, place small plant pots on wall-mounted shelves. Consider succulents, which are easy to maintain. They are also easy to pot, so you have more variety in your choice of container. Think dainty teacups and even egg cups for smaller succulents!

To save space, look to wall-mounted planters, and hanging pots. Handmade products are in, and macrame pot holders are right on trend; you can even make your own!

For hanging pots, choose plants with trailing leaves for a lovely effect. Otherwise, hanging glass holders are another great-looking option – fill them with air plants that are light and easy to maintain.

Don’t forget terrariums, which add an instant shot of greenery for any tabletop. For something more affordable, even the humble money plant can look good if it’s a healthy and happy plant. They are easy to grow, so you can invest more in the pot, or try out different containers (they don’t have to be made for plants). This way, you won’t be so out of pocket if your “experiment” fails!

Different plants have varying light and water requirements, so do ask the plant nursery what they are, when you buy them.

I read that the more the blades a fan has, the better the cooling effect. So should I just go for the most number of blades? Why do some fans have only two blades?

As a general rule of thumb, the more blades a fan has, the better the wind delivery. However, other factors such as the design and angle of the fan blade are also important to performance, says Eric Tay, founder of ceiling fan specialist Acorn Fan.

The wider the blades, the better the fan will be in moving air when it’s rotating, shares Eric. ”Use your hand to demonstrate this – close up your fingers and move them up and down rapidly, you will feel more ‘breeze’ as compared to doing that with one finger.”

Fan blades positioned at steeper angles (16 to 26 degrees) will also move a larger amount of air, but they also require more powerful motors to reach a high speed.

So even a two-blade fan, such as Acron’s Futuriste AC-309 model, can perform well in terms of wind delivery, as a result of its wider than usual blades and angle of pitch (36 degrees). In fact, Eric says this model is one of the best in terms of performance among their models!

I’m wondering if I should upgrade the frame of a painting I own. What sort of frame should I choose?

The frame of an artwork should enhance the work, much like make-up on a woman, says Jazz Chong, director of Ode to Art. So the main considerations are photo KIRILL RYZHOV / 123RF.COM whether changing the frame will make the art piece look better, and also if it will suit the interior space you are displaying it in.

Perhaps another reason to change the frame is to protect the work, choosing glass which filters out UV rays, and acid-free materials that will not affect the quality of the framed items over time. This is called conservation framing.

Bring your artwork to a reliable framer who can advise you on what frames are suitable, and use the right materials to protect the work in the long run. They will also be able to change the frame without damaging your art piece.

photo Skdesign /
photo Skdesign /
Photo Kirill Ryzhov /
Photo Kirill Ryzhov /
The plaster on my walls have started to flake off, and not too long after my renovation. Why does it happen, and what can I do to prevent it?

There might be a few reasons, as you mentioned you had just renovated your home.

“If your walls have been newly plastered, the plaster needs to be totally dry before applying any paint. If not, the paint will not stick properly. Or it could be that there was no primer coat added before the wall was painted, so the paint layer was not able to bond totally with the wall,” shares managing director Montie Mahtani of M3 Studio. Another reason could be extreme temperature changes from day to night (from air-conditioning) and vice versa, which might make the wall damp and cause peeling.

A solution would be to scrape off the flaking parts over a slightly larger area, re-plaster that area and apply a primer coat once the plaster has completely dried. Only then should you repaint either the whole wall or just that portion. To prevent other parts from flaking, he recommends applying the above process to the whole wall.