Easy Make Overs

Q: I will be moving into my in -laws’ home. Their built-in wardrobe and study table in the bedroom are in good condition, but I would like a new look by changing the colour of the surfaces. How do I go about doing so?

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Q: I will be moving into my in-laws’ home. Their built- in wardrobe and study table in the bedroom are in good condition, but I would like a new look by changing the colour of the surfaces. How do I go about doing so?

My Reading Room

A : In the buy-and-throw mentality of today, sometimes, people are amazed at what a lick of paint or a new laminate can do – making something old, new again. Have fun with laminates and make your wardrobe and table surfaces look like they’ve been clad in marble, exotic wood, metal or even fabric. Laminates are embossed textures provide that extra degree of realism. For your wardrobe, as long as its internal structure is in good condition, you can simply resurface the doors with new laminate or make new doors. “However, if the condition of the wardrobe is worn out, it would definitely be more costeffective and easier to rebuild your wardrobe,” says Jansen Tan, the director of product and brand at Lamitak. The construction of your study table will determine if you are just able to change its top, says Jansen. For instance, if the tabletop is screwed onto the table legs or a support, you can get your contractor to build a new tabletop. However, for structures which are permanently fixed, replacement will be tough.

My Reading Room
Q: My kitchen is looking tired, but I don ’t have the cash to renovate the whole space. Can I do a partial renovation?

A : It isn’t possible to do a partial reno as kitchen cabinets aren’t constructed as individual units, but as long sectionals. A countertop is also cut as a continuous slab to make the surface waterproof. What you can do to pare down reno expenses is to refresh your kitchen. Go for a cosmetic redo rather than a total overhaul. As long as the appliances and cabinets are sound, you can get away with a surface redo. For instance, countertops see the most wear and tear, so a brand new one in a different colour or finish will transform your kitchen immediately. If the cabinets are still sturdy, settle for updating the hardware – the drawer pulls and knobs – to more post or modern versions. Want a more drastic facelift? Change some of the top-hung cabinet doors to wire-glass frosted ones. Or, go for very different materials – in an all-white kitchen, you could play with an ash wood finish on some doors for contrast. Best of all, a cosmetic overhaul will let you escape the dreadful mess of hacking and demolition, plus the inconvenience of not having a kitchen for at least two weeks.

My Reading Room
Q: I would love to dress up my bare walls with art, but I’m on a very tight budget. Where can I find affordable but nice art works? How else can I dress up my walls?

A : You can put anything you want on your walls, and the best “art” pieces are those that are personal. Create a framed photo collage of your favourite family snaps; for a fun variation, integrate old photographs into your display as well. If you’ve always loved that image of your mum and dad as hip youngsters, get a digital imaging lab (try the ones at Bras Basah Complex) to scan, enlarge and print the picture to the size you want for your wall. Typography can also add a stylish graphic edge to any space – find a fabulous quote, or select words you like, experiment with fonts and create your own personalised poster on a computer! Print on good-quality paper for a professional finish, and frame. Alternatively, try your hand at painting your own work. Buy canvases and acrylic paint from art supply stores such as Art Friend. If you’d rather not risk making a mess at home, try art jamming at places such as Arteastiq, My Art Space and Art Jam Studio. Just pay a fee and these studios will provide the canvas, paints, and guidance to create your own masterpiece.

Q: I have an apartment that is about 15 years old. It has been rented out for many years and looks very old and dated. I want to give it a facelift at a minimal cost so that I can rent it out again at a higher rate. What can I do?

A : Giving your “tired” apartment a new look is as siple as giving it a fresh coat of paint. Keep it simple, and stick to light colours, such as a tint of white, to make the space look clean and spacious. Don’t forget to paint the ceiling too! Your flooring, another large surface area, also makes a crucial first impression. Give marble a good polish, revarnish hardwood floors and replace broken tiles. Look around the place and decide what you would like to keep or throw. Keep items that are still in good condition, and throw out anything broken. Then you can update the look of what you are keeping. For built-ins such as wardrobes and kitchen cabinets. You can replace the doors instead of the whole structure, or even paint over them! You might also want to paint your bedroom doors.

For loose furniture pieces, replace outdated and dirty upholstery with neutral-coloured fabric that won’t date so quickly. Throw the pieces out if the seats have given way. Unless the selling point of your design is a mismatched look, make sure the style of the pieces look cohesive, and not give the impression that your apartments is a collection centre for unwanted furniture. But all these changes will not make a difference If your bathroom doesn’t pass inspection. Make sure it’s clean and bright; there are special paints that can go over tiles to cover dirty grouting. Go the extra mile by dressing up the interiors with mirrors to enhance space and light, and soft furnishings sich as rugs and cushions, to make your flat look cosy and inviting.