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petetherock

An Audiophile's Mid Century Home

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So I guess since my renovations are now underway, I can post some details, and ask for opinions...

I know everyone will ask for pictures, but be patient with me, as I will relate my stories first, whilst I get my pictures sorted out...

 

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Join 46,923 satisfied homeowners who used renotalk quotation service to find interior designers. Get an estimated quotation

This is a write up of my renovation, which should end by the end of November if all goes all.

I recently took back my tiny “mickey mouse” place, which has two bedrooms and a study.

It’s a place of modest proportions, with only 925sq feet, two bedrooms, a small study and an oversized balcony.

So I decided since it was returned empty, and I am a Hi Fi aficionado, why not do it up, with an emphasis on my home theater?

So the job specs were:

In short-

Provide lighting for the living

Get a feature wall with cabinet storage for discs

A console solid enough for placing my amps and a centre speaker on top

Bookcases, assorted furniture for the living, dining and study area.

But the key “hi fi” related features are:

Acoustics:

Rock wool filled feature wall

With special imported Swiss wood panel behind the speakers (more on this later)

Rock wool filled Cove lights

Treated ceiling with acoustic boards

So I did the initial search and posted my needs on a local hi fi forum, and I got a few very nice people, who were acoustic and renovation professionals, and they came round to offer some tips and even recommended a few contractors.

I will post more on the contractors in a while...

 

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IMG_2778.jpg

Mid- Century retro Scandinavian theme:

I had originally thought about a contemporary theme – whatever that means… but the current plan is a 50-70s kind of theme.

This was not a planned move initially, but somehow most of the pieces of furniture I selected fitted into this theme, and I then made a formal decision that the rest of the design of the living area will be based on this.

I then began shopping in earnest for smaller items to fit this, such as a retro clock, radio, and other such items.

I then scoured the usual sources for more ideas: internet, magazines etc…

However I made a conscious decision that my place was to be livable, rather than a Home and Décor ready place, which was nice to see, but not warm and welcoming.

The light, wall colors etc were to be warm, so when I sit down to enjoy my movies, music or entertain guests, I will be bathed in a warm, and relaxing environment.

Since my place was tiny, I had to be judicious and careful when getting my furniture. Something that looks good in a showroom maybe be too huge for my place. Although the living and dining area blended into a single rectangle space, which allowed me to maximize the space, it was ultimately a small 5.9m long and 3m wide space.

I decided to do away with the conventional sofa, as it will take too much space. Instead, I used the bay window as a space to create a sofa, and it was also to be used as a seat with a wooden backing. That way, guests can sit on the bay window, or lean against the back and use it as a lounge chair as well.

I had grand plans to add a whole bunch of stuff to the ceiling but I realized early on the that the old adage “less is best” was true. I already shrunk the central ceiling area with the L box and lights, plus there was to be a Kotoku Fan plus a PH5 dining lamp.

http://www.relitespecialty.com/images/products/Haiku-Kotuku.png

http://famousfurniture.eu/image.php?type=P&id=16275

- from Lights + Form Concepts, at 341 Balestier Road

So I omitted the track lights I planned to light up my posters, and we had four down lights on the longer length of the room and two behind. With two bulbs for each fitting, that’s pretty bright and I still had the cove lights too.

I planned for a warm feel, so the down lights were warm, and the cove lights were warm white.

The color chosen for the wall was a safe walnut, which had a slight red hue, and the bay window was a Meridien ash.

I went down to the factory which does the laminates (made in Korea) to see a larger piece and I also tried to search for pictures online of the finished product. When you see a small swatch of it, it can be quite deceiving, as some fancy designs may look good that way, but when you translate that into a larger wall, those elaborate designs can be quite bad. Also if the patterns do not fit, it heightens any deficiencies in workmanship.

Where the edges of the bay window turn down, again workmanship is the key. Do a good job and you won’t feel the joints or the rough edges. See if the laminates meet properly.

 

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Table Matters

With most of the pieces in my new place coming together, the them of a retro place from the 70s is slowing but surely emerging from all the other scattered ideas and concepts.

And as a result, right now the main thing that is taking a whole load of time is my dining table. Apart from the lounge chair, this will be the piece de resistance… I am reluctant to part with a big wad of cash, and the Ikea Bjursta extendable table at $245, makes all the rest look expensive. So being so “cost conscious” doesn’t really help at all.

It means you are getting the real deal based solely on looks and not form. However, as a friend mentioned, if you have got period pieces that cost quite a bit in the living room, using the Ikea does not seem to fit, and perhaps getting something you like and then enjoying it maybe be better?

Furthermore, I have plenty of experience with the Ikea Bjursta, since it is used at a friend’s home for Bible Study every week and I can see that with 15 people sitting around it week in and week out, the wear and tear is evident. The laminate is fraying and the table is showing it’s edge.

So the hunt for an alternative, begins…

Well first, there are replicas of famous pieces at much lower prices, which can be had from Lush Lush, Lorgans and an online website “Studio 1961”. The price varies on them, and the designs are many…

So far the top hits are:

Kawaguchi Table

Hans Wegner Dining table

Calligaris Finland (nonextendable) table

Gers 50s table: retro-oak-kitchen-table.jpg

Replicas for them can be had from 1300 upwards.

I also went to Grafunkt, a nice local company with some really nice tables, but they really cost a lot and I was a little embarrassed, with almost everything beyond what I wanted to pay, except for a small “Werk” table that resembled a study table instead of a propery dining one.

Calligaris from Italy makes extendable tables, but the trouble is price price and price. Most of them begin at $1700 and the cheaper ones seem flimsy. Some of them also don’t go with the 50-70s décor anyway. So it’s like I am trying to fit them into my home with a hefty price tag and yet, I may not enjoy them.

However one of them impressed me more:

The Calligaris Baron 130 extendable table in Walnut for $1698.

Calligaris_Baron_Dining_Table_CS4010_3.jpg

The version which is specially made for our “mickey mouse” houses in Singapore is a smaller 130cm version which extends to 190cm.

I got a nice deal on a walnut frame version with a dark coffee colored top made of glass – so it’s ‘girl friendly’, since you can’t look through the dark glass…

75cm H x 130-190cm W x 85cm D

http://www.wayfair.co.uk/Calligaris-Baron-Wooden-Extending-Dining-Table-130-190cm-CS-4010-LL-130-CII1819.html

So the price difference and the struggle over the vast difference between the Ikea table and the nicer, fancier ones got me ruminating for a long time…. And it was almost an obsession.

Why pay more?

It’s just a table, one side of my head and some friends said.

Why not?

After all the rest of the décor has been spent on stuff which makes the place look nice so a little more on this table won’t hurt.

I finally decided to splurge on a nicer table after some tough days at work, and when those cases went really well, I decided to reward myself, especially since there was an extra allowance of $500.

So it was down to a Hans Wegner replica CH 327, but I still kept my eye out for the Calligaris ones, even though there was a 4-500$ difference.

What clinched it was the lunch I had at my friend’s home, where I saw the Calligaris in action, and how nice it felt, the solidity of the structures and that it was truly useful in accommodating more guests when required. Plus the fact that there was a shipment arriving within days of my order helped, as ordering any of the others will mean a 1-2 month wait.

I was nevertheless very impressed with Studio 1961 and will try to get something from them.

Footnote:

When we shop, it's imperative that you get the proportions, and measurements right. For example, even though my hall was 3m wide, I found that a 150cm was pretty big already, as you need space for the chairs, for others to walk etc. A table which is too large will be disproportionate, and look overbearing.

The color tone, and scheme should also go with the rest of the chairs used and the living room theme too.

Finally a table needs to be durable. A simple push and shove test will suffice and if the table flexes to the left and right, that's not acceptable at all.

I actually wanted something bigger than the 130 cm version, but it was good that I went to my place and placed a paper of that size there.. Even though the room was close to 3m wide, actually you need space around it to walk around, and if the proportions are wrong, then it will look too overbearing, and with only one PH5 light on top, it is imperative to get the lighting correct too.

Plus, it extends to 190 cm when needed, which will fill up the entire dining area too.

I look forward to seeing how the lighting will be with the PH5, reflecting off dark glass top. Actually, the Baron 130 in walnut is created only for Singapore, all the other model can be bought worldwide, but if you Google for this combination, you wont find it. With only five pieces locally, I guess it's a limited edition then..

On the subject of tables…

I found out with some fortune before Ikea delivers my study table tomorrow (Amon with Vicki legs or something like that) that it was too big for my tiny study, so I went down, found a friendly Ikea man who then simulated my room size by using adjacent tables and cupboards and we found one study table which fitted nicely. And it was on sale at Ikea Tampines, going down from $625 to $399! So I hopped into my car, drove like the wind, and also tried to contact the delivery people and they were very kind, as they helped me contact the Ikea customer service and together, they arranged for me to swop out the older table, get this one in time for the delivery. Kudos!

Edited by petetherock
 

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So where am I right now?

Well I am in the throes of renovation, and being a control freak, which I assure you is an asset when you are doing renovations. Today, they painted the wrong colors for my dining wall, and yesterday, the Rose White I chose for my living area was way too "pink" and "heaty" so I coughed up $300 for a new "Picket White" and at the end of the day, the colors look much better now.

And the electrician is a laid back guy, and the ceiling dude covered up his cables and now they have to dig holes in my nice cabinets to reach his cables :(

 

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I will share the contacts for furniture, my ID guy etc later on, but essentially I handed him powerpoint slides with the exact measurements of all my sound system requirements, where to drill holes and even the feature wall design... He then suggested colors, tweaks to make it nicer, and practical considerations.

 

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My Home theatre project:

Power:

- Four 20A dedicated power lines from a new distribution box to the feature wall

- which will feed 2 new sockets each, plus a cluster of 6 pairs of sockets at the side of the cabinet

- split the existing socket into 2

- these will feed

o Emotiva XPA 3 200 times three power amp

o Denon AVR 4311

o Two 1000W subwoofers

o Oppo BR player

o MIO STB

o CD player

o Plasma TV

o Projector

o Other smaller items like a modem, lights, screen motor etc

Additional acoustic treatment will be done later on after the completion of main installations, and we will measure again when we have done the initial Audyssey XT 32 calibrations.

The equipment to be used:

Denon AVR 4311 – XT 32, 11.2 capable with nine amps inbuilt, twin sub out

Emotiva XPA 3 – three times 200W power amp to drive the left, right and centre channels

Oppo BR player BDP 95

Monitor Audio speakers: GS 10, LCR, Radius 90HD for height and wide channels

Usher 520 for rear back

PSB Image 10S Dipole for surrounds

QED XT 300 for front and centre speakers

QED Micro speaker cable for all the rest

Audioquest Cinnamon HDMI for amp to TV

LHS and monoprice for the rest

Audioquest subwoofer cables

Assorted Xindak, PS Audio and other power cables

MK wall power sockets

Atacama stands

Auralex subdude platform and under centre speaker

Da lite screen

 

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Renovation musings

Getting the nice end result, requires planning, careful consideration to details and even if you get the best Interior Designer, Contractor or workers, some simple tips will prevent you from getting a total meltdown and give you that Home and Decor worthy home at the end of the day.

First plan, plan plan...

Attention to all the details is essential, even if you have employed someone to look after it. How the color flows from one wall to the next, or how one cabinet blends into the bay window requires you to give it some thought.

For those into Hi Fi, buying enough cable length is also important.

The Extra 20% rule....

Always give it 20% more, be it speaker cable length, budget or even time taken for renovation.

Do some spot checks

If you do not wish to find out that your home now resembles a horror house, pop into your place once in a while and check that things are going the way you want it. Sometimes things get lost in translation and what you wanted wasn't carried out simply because the contractor's interpretation was different. This helps save costly revisions.

Time….

Be realistic with the time frame but be specific. Rome was not built within a day and neither will your home. Buffer the time by 20%, then ask for specific details. i.e. what is the time line of events. If you are working with many contractors, this is very important.

Make a date…

Get your main contractor to sort out the dates, so the delivery dates for your bed, other pieces of furniture are well sorted. This prevents a situation where a delivery is scheduled whilst there is still dirty construction going on.

Usually the curtains come last, and so do the other smaller pieces of furniture. For any installation work and movement of heavy items, do it near the end, before the big clean up and whilst the permit for moving items covers it and the walls of the lift are lined with the protective material.

Audition the work:

Ask to see the contractor’s previous work or even visit an ongoing project to see the work in situ. Sometimes, if you only see pictures of his work, it can be deceiving.

The feel:

Working with another individual is not easy, and you need to see if you and your contractor can get along. That may seem obvious, but how responsive, or how receptive he is, is vital to your final outcome and plans. There will be those you get along famously and others you hate.

Take lots of pictures, and document each step, and keep in touch with the contractor so he knows you are watching!

 

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Look forward to see ur finished reno. I also wanted to do a TV room but dun know how to start.

Hi you may want to read the stickies I posted in the www.xtremeplace.com home theatre section or in hardwarezone.com : http://forums.hardwarezone.com.sg/showthread.php?t=1687284

A lot will depend on what kind of money are you willing to put into the home theatre room. If your system is worth 10k or more, spending another 5-10k on room treatment may be worth it, for example.

FYI I spent more than 30 k on the my system... So my sound system budget is a bit different from yours... Eg the wood for my wall is imported from Europe specially flown in for acoustic treatment, that cost 2000$. Will you want to do the same?

Hwz may have people with that kind of budget like that which you posted and you can refer to the sticky I posted there too...

http://forums.hardwarezone.com.sg/showthread.php?t=1687284

The members at xtremeplace tend to be more enthusiastic and hardcore, so the budgets are also higher.. but the tips I posted there also apply to any budget:

http://www.xtremeplace.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=73638.msg711184#msg711184

Cheers :)

Edited by petetherock
 

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Living / HT area

Feature wall project

- 100mm thick feature wall (glossy white to mount tv) large enough to wall mount 65" flatscreen (Panasonic / Samsung), width 1800mm

- holes in the wall to mount TV to the wall –

- TV will be 60kg

- side shelving with total depth of 250mm thick, width of 700mm, with shelves of 150mm (can fit DVD - typical DVD is 135mm deep),

- Indents for grip handles

- Folding doors for side cabinets, and hydraulic uplifting doors for the top

- Cabinet goes down to 1000mm, then strips stop and it is a solid walnut color with a half folding door on the LEFT, and just the back panel of 50mm thick on the RIGHT - right side shelving elevated 1m off the ground to allow SVS PB 12+ subwoofer to fit underneath, with 100mm thick wall behind

- Back of cabinet – 55mm thick

- Soundproofing of feature wall with rock wool 80kg type

console

- of 1660mm width, depth 600mm, height 450mm from the ground with two layers of shelfs - mahogany

- Three sections, central 500 mm wide each, lower section with 280mm height for placing amp / BR player / others

- upper section for discs, 150mm height

- top panel has a hinge at the back measuring 10cm, which allows access to the rear of the console, and the shelves do not reach all the way back, allowing you to reach into the console, and get to the back of the amplifiers and other devices.

- I have also installed a light there, with a mirror on the feature wall, so this allows me to see what I am inserting better

- You can also keep a diagram of the back of the equipment handy for such work

Console – Custom made Mahogany shop Lifestyle 2010

Just a few words about this shop – Sani the chap at Lifestyle 2010 was very accommodating, and I found that he could make me a solid mahogany console for less than the cost of a custom made plywood one from my contractor, so he got the job. You will need to give him plans and specific details on the construction, but its worth the trouble.

As for the design, I specific slats for the doors, and I then realized, I created a console which looks a lot like the Air Division Telefunken “Line” console without trying to copy them!

Cable management:

This is very important if you wish to prevent back aches and also have smooth access to the equipment. That is why I opened up the back of the console as mentioned in the design of the console. Too often, you get a really nice console, that looks great, but has no access and it’s a struggle to do a simple thing like plug in a new HDMI cable.

I will place a mirror and a LED strip light behind my console so I can access my cables and see the back of my amplifier.

The wood is imported from Switzerland, and was air-freight over, arriving a tad earlier than expected (Swiss efficiency) and will be mounted directly onto the frame of the feature wall.

 

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Wow...thanks bro for the advice. :)

Hi you may want to read the stickies I posted in the www.xtremeplace.com home theatre section or in hardwarezone.com : http://forums.hardwarezone.com.sg/showthread.php?t=1687284

A lot will depend on what kind of money are you willing to put into the home theatre room. If your system is worth 10k or more, spending another 5-10k on room treatment may be worth it, for example.

FYI I spent more than 30 k on the my system... So my sound system budget is a bit different from yours... Eg the wood for my wall is imported from Europe specially flown in for acoustic treatment, that cost 2000$. Will you want to do the same?

Hwz may have people with that kind of budget like that which you posted and you can refer to the sticky I posted there too...

http://forums.hardwarezone.com.sg/showthread.php?t=1687284

The members at xtremeplace tend to be more enthusiastic and hardcore, so the budgets are also higher.. but the tips I posted there also apply to any budget:

http://www.xtremeplace.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=73638.msg711184#msg711184

Cheers :)

 

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