BTO? Check. A wedding with all the frills and glamour, planned more than a year in advance? Check. An exorbitant bill from the renovation you wished you had the time to be more involved? Check.
This may be the case for many newlyweds, but not Cody and Rae. The self-professed “little charming and a little weird” couple got their hands dirty in each step of creating their new life, from their wedding reception to renovating their house without the help of an interior designer.
Instead of a BTO, the young couple went for a two-bedroom resale flat in Marine Parade due to its location, as it was close to East Coast Park as well as numerous retail and F&B options in neighbouring estates such as Katong and Joo Chiat.
Despite not having the budget to engage an interior designer, the couple was not fazed by the designing process. After all, it only took them four months to prepare for their wedding, which entailed decorating the Sculpture Square chapel, designing the invitation cards, and even the table runner and flower vases.
The designing and construction of their house was a similarly dynamic process which took the couple through a steep learning curve. They started a fundamental requirement for their home, which was light—lots of it.
“It was the one key idea that we worked from—to make the home feel big, spacious, and bright. Everything else was done along the way,” Cody says.
The walls of the single bedroom were thus hacked away completely and replaced with sliding glass doors, allowing for the flexible delineation of the space from the living and kitchen area without obstructing the flow of natural light.
Cemented floors and exposed black pipes lay an industrial base, balanced by wood to provide a warm contrast against the cold bareness. The rest of the furnishings were kept basic and simple—the couple is not shy to admit that many of their home products come from Ikea. This allowed them to splurge on a few statement pieces such as the Chesterfield couch they got secondhand from Craigslist.
“It seems like not a lot of Singaporeans use Craigslist, which is a pity because there are a lot of great finds. We got our Chesterfield couch from there for $500 and also managed to find replica Eames chairs for 40 bucks each,” they reveal.
“I guess it's about finding a nice balance between Ikea items and statement items like our couch and Eames chairs,” Cody says.
Rae’s love for D-I-Y had them use framed posters and small decor accessories to personalise their space without adding conflicting visual noise. The couple loves cooking and baking, so their next splurge was a marble tabletop in the kitchen. A KitchenAid and various mason jars of ingredients complement the clean white palette.
The renovation process was definitely not all rosy and smooth. They had no renovation experience and external help, plus they had to juggle their full-time jobs with meetings with the contractor.
“It was definitely a lot tougher not having an ID to help us properly think through the entire design of the house. We had to pick up a lot of things and learn a lot about properly spacing out the stuff around the house,” Cody says. This not only required sitting down together to filter through design inspiration from various blogs (the fun part), but also making difficult budgeting decisions and taking trips to electrical stores to pick out the light bulbs and electrical wiring they wanted.
The couple shares what they would have done in retrospect: “Something that we really should have thought about is storage items. We have a lot of junk that we cannot seem to figure out where to put...maybe we should have considered cupboards and drawers around the house to help with that."
Still, there is an undeniable touch of character and personality in the couple’s house that intertwines with the cosiness of their space. The few cracks on the cement floor are charming, and their adorable Miniature Dachshund, Lucy, further enlivens the space with her energy. The experience and lessons learned from doing so much on their own will undoubtedly be valuable in shaping their future home.
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Photos by Xiangyun Lim (Alexa)