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I’m baaaacccckkkk!

I was last here five years ago when I was documenting my renovation journey and eventual move to a condo in the east. You can read about that adventure in my signature below.

My latest reno adventure all started from a remark made by a potential buyer of my house (I’ll get to that bit in a little while). The wifey said my house needed a lot of work so I need to lower my asking price. I was quite incensed by that remark :curse: . I take a lot of pride in my home. It’s clean and fairly well-maintained, so for her to criticise it, I took it very personally.

Then I took a long, hard look at the apartment and realized that yes, some parts of it do need work. The whole place could benefit from a paint job which I’m planning to do anyway before we thought of selling it. The parquet floor in one of my girls’ bedroom is faded out. The laminates of the built-in bedroom set in the other bedroom is peeling. The white gloss on my kitchen cabinets has turned a yucky yellow colour, same goes for the toilet seat covers etc etc.

But these were minor stuff and the new buyers are probably going to replace them anyway, so it shouldn’t matter. I think the couple was just finding excuses to justify their pitiful offer, which we initially rejected but then reconsidered and counter-offered. But the deal fell through, and though the apartment is still being listed, in my heart, I’ve kind of given up trying to sell it. Apart from the kitchen (which I hate) and some bits of the bathrooms (poorly designed), I love our house. It’s in a fantastic location! It’s on a high floor! It’s unblocked! Why would I want to move? This was a question my kids asked me – which they also asked five years ago when we decided to uproot from Queenstown to move here. (I’m still 80-20 on that decision. 80% of me think it was a wise decision, 20% of me wished we hadn’t moved. But, bygones!)

Why do I want to sell the apartment if it’s so great? Several reasons – to cash out on the capital gains, to move to a bigger place where I can go all out and reno to my heart’s content, and to reduce our housing loan payments so we have a bit more CPF when my husband and I retire. Sound decisions on paper. But when you put in the emotional attachment, all the hard work my hubby and I had to put in to get this apartment in the first place, then it’s not so simple anymore.

We started listing the property sometime in July/August. Apart from that one firm offer, it’s been a disappointing nine months. I blame the gahmen of course for introducing the cooling measures but I think a Higher Authority is telling me I should stay put and enjoy what I have.

And so children, this is how my reno story begins.

 

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Have I mentioned I hate my kitchen?

It’s one of the bigger sacrifices I had to make when I moved to this apartment. The new condo kitchen is like half the size of my old 5A HDB kitchen. And the design is so impractical. It’s already so small and lacks counterspace, but the ‘clever’ people who designed it thought it would be a good idea to plonk a double-bowl sink in the middle of the cabinet. The floor is this dirt-trap tiles in an ugly brown-orangey colour that defies description. The very wide drawers underneath the hob were already not working well when I moved in.

The worst thing is it’s all in white. Okay for families who hardly cook and want their kitchens to look all pristine and glossy but for my family who eats at home almost 7 days a week, it’s a nightmare. And we’re the typical Malay family – spicy food, with lots of deep-fried stuff.

This is what my kitchen look like when we moved in. See how glossy and nice the white cabinets look? Take special note of how pristine the microwave is.

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Here are the pictures of my kitchen now:

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the floor looks grimy and dirty even though we mop it every day after cooking.

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You can see the yellow discoloration clearly on the doors.

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This door is worst-hit. But surprisingly, the doors next to it (underneath the oven) is still looking good.

 

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Having a big, open kitchen is a big deal to me. My dream home would be one with a big-*** kitchen with a nice island, a butcher countertop, a Moroccan-inspired backsplash and floor tiles, tall larder unit, special cabinets with all-Blum fittings for my pots and pans and plates etc. Other girls dream of being a princess, I dream of having that kind of kitchen. (Contrary to my dream, I'm not actually that great of a cook though most of my cooking experiments do turn out okay).

I guess that dream will remain a dream for as long as I stay in this apartment. But that doesn't mean I have to put up with what I have now. So, as a sign of my total commitment to remain in my current home, I'm throwing in money to renovate my kitchen.

My initial plan was just to change the doors - don't need to spend a bomb since the carcass is still in good condition, and the countertop is granite so it's a waste to throw it away. I won't feel the pinch too much if I decide to sell the house.

Then I wanted to change the interior fittings as well. You see, in a few weeks time, I'm going to have a big change in my life. I WILL NOT HAVE A MAID ANYMORE. It's a scary thought, having to cope with household things on my own (and my 3 girls, but they're unreliable as far as teenagers go). I've put up with a sub-optimal kitchen because I'm not the main user, but now that it's back to me, I want to make sure it serves my purpose. So I looked through the Blum catalogue and got inspired by all the smiling women and their beautiful drawers and gorgeous cookware and dinner plates.

Yesterday, I decided I'm going to redo the whole kitchen - or at least just the bottom cabinets. If I just change the doors, the kitchen will look unsightly with mismatched trimmings (no way am I going to replace the discoloured doors with white doors). And I'm afraid the body will be damaged once the contractors start putting in fittings which may or may not be the ideal size. Some of the cabinet are odd-sized (another peeve of mine).

I've talked to a few reno contractors - some big ones, and some direct-factory types. I haven't got any quotes from the latter (supposed to come back to me yesterday), but so far, here are the quotes I got from the big companies:

Chew Interior - $5000 inclusive GST, Quartz Countertop, Excel wire baskets and corner baskets

Darwin Interior - $6K+, GST, Quartz, standard shelf fittings

* Interior - about $5k, depending on what options I choose. Will talk about them in a while

Hamid and Sons - quoted me a ridiculous $9000. Buh-bye!

I'm not looking for an ID this time round coz I don't need one. I just need a reliable reno contractor.

(On a related topic, looks like my previous ID is getting a lot of bad reviews here in Renotalk :( She was okay when I worked with her. Nothing fantastic, a bit overpriced, but no major disasters. Wish her good luck in handling angry RTers :P )

 

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The third contractor has the same name as Kanye West's daughter, so you know which one ah? I will call them Nori coz that's what K&K call their girl.

So, I went down to Nori's showroom at MacPherson yesterday and the guy who served me was really friendly and patient. What I like about Nori's package is that their bottom cabinets come with 4 drawers with Blum fittings in the price, and all of their doors come with Blum soft closing mechanism. Of course I ask them whether there's limit to the width of the drawer. Was told it's up to 2 feet, so that's like 4 x 60 cm drawers, or 2 x 90 + 1 x 60 cm drawers, depends on what I need and want. I didn't check what the other contractors offer, but if it's worth mentioning (like Blum fittings), then they would have, right?

Nori's prices are also quite competitive. Chew charged me $150 pfr for the Caesarstone Quartz, Darwin $180 for iQuartz and Nori is $130 for Lianhin quartz.

I'm not too sure about the qualities of these different brands/companies. Anyone would like to enlighten me?

By the way, sidetrack a bit. I did ask if I can keep my granite countertop coz so sayang but was told it's highly risky coz the countertop will be damaged during the dismantling process :( . So, the closest option to granite is quartz. I'm not going for granite again coz it's expensive and not worth it if I'm planning to move out in 5 years' time.

But then the guy at Nori introduced me to this countertop called Kompacplus when I asked if he has any woodgrain top.

It was love at first sight :wub: . It's cheaper than quartz too and quality-wise is comparable. It's not too popular in Singapore it seems. In the 2 years he's been promoting Kompacplus, he has only installed it at 3 kitchens. I went home and read up about Kompacplus - its very thin about 6 mm only (unlike granite and Quartz which is usually 38mm) and it has limited range. But I still love it though. I can have my butcher countertop! There are 3 colours I like - the NY teak, American Walnut, and the riskier Texas Ash. You can view the range here http://www.kompacplus.com/#!collection/cwqx

I love Texas Ash but hubster made a face when I suggested it. He'll come around..... :notti:

Nori's guy was open in sharing with me what's the labour costs to install my own fittings - $30 per set, and I can deal directly with the installer so no need to include in his bill and pay GST for it. And he also never quote me for chemical cleaning which I noticed the other companies did which I don't understand is there a need to do it.

Oh, another thing which I found to be a good deal - the interior is colour PVC finish instead of white and based on what's in their showroom, it looks very nice :wub: . As you can tell, I'm like 80% sold. :D

 

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Looking forward to seeing the pix of the completed kitchen. I'm thinking about using KompacPlus for my kitchen too. No granite and not sure I'd use it enough to justify the quartz!

 

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Yay, I found a Kompacplus fan :) ! They do look gorgeous don't they? I just hope the quality stands up after time. Given our weather, wood tops are impractical. But I do love the look and feel of it. Kompacplus would be the closest choice but I'm worried that it's so thin. The advantage is that I can get more room in the cabinets :)

Edited by Umaisarah
 

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So yesterday I invited Nori to come down and after much discussion, we finalise the contract.

14 ft bottom cabinet with Texan Ash Kompacplus countertop + skirting, Blum drawer and hinges and Excel hardware.

I'm also asking them to redo the vanity cabinets in all three bathrooms (I'll post some 'before' pics later).

Total damage $9000 including GST.

Also bought my single bowl Siligrant kitchen sink at Hoe Kee last evening.

 

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On 13 April 2015 at 10:40 AM, Umaisarah said:

Posting my floor plan in case anyone's interested.

gallery_23602_705_28953.jpg

Hi! Care to share new pics of the kitchen? I'm interested in kompacplus too and wondering how it will hold up :)

 

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