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

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

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

<b>Design</b> BOX ID <b>photography</b> JASPER YU.
<b>Design</b> BOX ID <b>photography</b> JASPER YU.
I like the look of European wallpaper designs, but how can I use it in an apartment? I’m worried that it will make my home look small and cluttered.

“European wallpaper designs are typically more ornate and have classical or baroque motifs mimicking fabric patterns. Used appropriately, they make a dramatic impression,” says Terri Tan, design director of Designworx Interior Consultant.

To prevent pattern from overwhelming a room, have visual breaks to “interrupt” the wallpaper. Doors, window, mirrors, cabinets and even a headboard can do this, and that will reduce the overall surface area of wallpaper you see.

Terri has even used patterned wallpaper on the ceiling of a walkin wardrobe, allowing it to flow from the walls up to the ceiling. “It instantly ups the luxe factor of an otherwise utilitarian space,” she explains.

Choose a pattern you really love and temper the energy or busyness of the pattern through colours. Bright colours energise, while muted colours evoke stillness. If you choose a large-scale pattern, make sure there is a large enough expanse of wall to show it or the effect will be cluttered.

My contractor refuses to create a screed concrete floor for me because he says it will crack easily. Why does screed concrete crack?

Your contractor is right – concrete floors will develop hairline cracks. It’s a given, says Raymond Seow of Free Space Intent, as it is an inherent attribute of the material. “If you don’t like cracks, then you don’t really like concrete as it is a property of concrete,” he explains. With 17 years of experience working with the material, Raymond says he hasn’t seen any concrete floors that don’t crack, adding that the pristine ones we see in interior photos have probably been digitally edited.

“Cracks occur not due to workmanship, but to building expansion and contraction,” he explains. If you can accept this, then assure your contractor, but refrain from installing concrete in the bathroom as the hairline cracks will give rise to mould, incomplete drying and even waterproofing issues later.

<b>Design</b> DESIGNWORX.
<b>Design</b> DESIGNWORX.
I would like to use mirrors to make my home appear bigger, but where should I place them and how large should they be?

Mirrors are one of the oldest (and most effective) tricks in the interior decorating book, and they are easy to incorporate. Vincent Ang of Black N White House recommends using them in the foyer or main entrance area as this is the point of entry into your home and “expanding” this area is important.

The next area is in the living room, behind the sofa wall. “It will reflect the living room and TV console, and the view in the mirror will not be too distracting,” he explains. The size of the mirror should be as big as the space allows, after taking accessibility into account (how do you get the mirror into your home?).

Both Vincent and Terri (of Designworx Interior Consultant) agree that framed mirrors give a luxe look – and they are most effective in multiples. “They can be hung in a series of decorative panels or a cluster of four, like artwork in the dining room,” says Terri. “Alternatively, a series of oversized framed mirrors can be used to lighten up a dark corridor or corner.”

A less obvious place to give a mirror finish are columns. Unframed, straight-edge mirrors are often used to clad columns to minimise their mass and make them “disappear” in the space. To avoid giving your home the clinical glare of a fitting room, opt for tinted mirrors as they are more comfortable on the eye.

I would like to have a frameless glass balustrade for my maisonette. Is this approved by the HDB?

To carry out alteration work for the staircase balustrade in HDB maisonettes, a Professional Engineer (PE) has to submit an application to the Building & Construction Authority (BCA). After receiving BCA’s approval, the submission then needs to be given to the HDB in order to obtain a renovation permit.

Glass balustrades come in many designs: fully framed, semiframeless or fully frameless. For safety reasons, the glass is both tempered and laminated. Lamination prevents shards of glass fragments from separating should the glass be shattered, as they remain firmly bonded to the laminate.

<b>Photography</b> DARREN CHANG.
<b>Photography</b> DARREN CHANG.