Skypeak at Butik Batok

Living room sketch

Skypeak at Bukit Batok

Shan designed Wilson’s home at Skypeak in 2018. In this post we’re interviewing Wilson, a financial advisor, and his experience remodelling his home.

You are professionally from the interior design industry, but moved into finance. Why did you decide to work with an interior designer? Why not do it yourself?

Wilson: Well, I was a graphic designer before starting at a financial services firm. After spending much time on the idea of my home, I was pretty confident that I knew-it-all, and only needed someone to help me in executing the plan as per the idea in my mind. So, I started looking for professionals and engaged one of the popular design and build firms and secured their services by placing the required deposit during the first meeting. During my initial meeting with the designer, I realized that the renovation process was not as simple as I thought and there were several things and options to consider when designing my place.

However, the subsequent meetings with the “designer” was a disappointment. She acted more like a salesperson than a trained designer, did not guide me nor add any suggestions, hence, leaving me and my partner arguing over design. The firm and the designer did not fully understand us and what we were trying to achieve. They started giving us random solutions hoping we’d just pick any without any thought process. Their main focus was selling their design instead of working for and with us on our design.

The unfruitful discussions wasted too much time which eventually led us to more confusion. Finally, I forfeited the deposit and went to search for another designer. During that time, I came to know that Shan had started her design firm. So, without delaying much and looking for other designers I went straight to her.

Shan Wong Interior Design — Kitchen mood board
Kitchen mood board

You moved into a BTO (“Build-to-order”) — this means that the home is delivered close to finished. Why did you decide to still hire an interior designer?

Well, most of the BTO are handed over to owners near completion. So was the case with my 5 room BTO. It needed finishing. I did not select any tiles, doors, or toilet accessories. Its interior and décor was the final and crucial stage.

What were you looking for in terms of design? Did you have expectations?

As I have stated earlier my first experience did not go well, so quite frankly, I was a bit cautious. I focused more on the person that I am working with rather than the design: I was looking for someone who was both an experienced designer and loyal to their profession. I needed a person who could produce the dream home, vibe, and lifestyle that we pictured in our minds into reality. So, when I approached Shan I had high expectations from her, seeing her work and professionalism on other projects.

Shan Wong Interior Design — 3D of the kitcher
3D rendering of the kitchen

Did the design meet your expectations? What’s your favourite part of the house?

Yep. It did. I am both happy and excited to share that my expectations were met. My experience working with her turned out well and in hindsight, we didn’t have to worry. The outcome of our renovation project was fantastic. We finally got our dream place. See, like most other people, we didn’t know much about options that suited our design. Shan facilitated a lot in this regard. She shortlisted a few options that were all within the look we wanted. It was easy for us to select from the short-listed options, speeding up the decision process as it aligned with what we wanted.

As for the favourite part…! I often cook, so the kitchen is my favourite space. The layout of the kitchen and the height of the cabinets and counters are perfect for me. The height was adjusted for me (being a bit taller than average). Now, I feel very comfortable while cooking (no need to bend down all the time). I’d like to mention that the experience and journey from the design to the outcome was what made our renovation process fun filled.

Shan Wong — Picture by Wilson after moving in.
Picture taken by Wilson after moving in.

Being in the design industry with one foot — what would you say are common pitfalls or things people should be aware of or keep in mind?

In my sincere opinion, people should properly estimate their budget for the renovation. This saves them from overspending (or underspending). Believe me, this affects your pocket and your project. Take my advice and do not fall for the cheapest quotes. Before hiring a professional, do your research about their services, communication, reputation, etc. because this is what matters the most. Once you have found the right person, the next thing is to arrange a meeting, tell the designers about you and your preferences, and ask questions about their approach toward your ideas and how they will overcome challenging situations. It is essential to know the person you are going to work with and how he is going to deal with your problems in light of their experience.

This was all about Wilson’s journey to his dream home. Wilson is a personal finance advisor; he can be reached on his website: www.withwilsonlee.com or via WhatsApp.

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Yeri Tiete
Singapore