Good interior design and renovation need not be expensive
Designing a kitchen is much harder and complicated than I thought. The small little place packs up to 12 electrical points, 10 lighting points and eight kitchen appliances using more than 2000 watts of electricity if they are all powered at the same time. In many Singapore apartments, the kitchen doubles up as a laundry room, store room, and sometimes, maids room as well. Yet, newer HDBs/condos have featured smaller kitchen space – much to my disappointment.
When we bought our apartment, our kitchen can only be described as an uninspiring, tiny little corner with pink cabinets that screamed 80s. It was functional alright, but not a place I will choose to prepare meals everyday. We had a laundry list of “must-have” in the overhaul brief (to myself, since I was the project manager):
1) It must be big enough for an adult and two kids to stay in the kitchen without jabbing elbows into faces, or toes kicking the trash can at every turn.<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/105100034″>In the kitchen</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user30854456″>Vanessa Seow</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
(We had the fortune of living in an apartment in Beijing with a large-enough kitchen, totally enjoyed the time we spent cooking with Rachel when she was a little girl. This is a video of her making cookies.)
2) We chose to automate our kitchen as much as possible since we do not have a domestic helper to clean up all the time. So it meant we had up to eight appliances (refrigerator, electric hob, oven, microwave, coffee machine, undersink garburator, dish washer, washing machine) that could potentially be operating at the same time in the tiny space. The electrician needs to know this to prepare for the power surge, or we may end up tripping up the entire house all the time (which happened to one of our rental apartments back in Beijing), or creating a fire hazard.
3)We have to work with a budget of less than $5000 for approx 20 ft top-and-bottom cabinets and countertop. This is a real challenge in today’s market rates.
4) We need sufficient countertop area for food prep, much like an island kitchen top. I like to separate the areas where raw food is handled and cooked food is temporarily stored before it is brought to the dining area.
5) I need to fully utilize the space in the cabinets and to ensure there are no wasted corner spaces. Best if I can design a cabinet that does not even have a corner, or use the lazy susan if there has to be corner.
(Check out this site for kitchen lighting tips.)
7) I would like the countertop to be sturdy, long lasting, and easy to maintain. Commonly used materials like Formica or granite has a dated look that does not appeal to me, and stainless steel is too cold and too expensive.
8) The original layout has the sink by the kitchen window, which is good in most cases because of the great lighting, except our condo has neighbouring kitchens facing each other. I hate to peek into my neighbour’s kitchen (or seeing half-naked bodies) while doing the dishes, so will have to move the cooking and washing away from the window.
(View from our kitchen window: It’s less than six degree separation.)
9) Bold use of colours or tile design to give the kitchen some character. Many local interior designers for some reason, like the minimalist, zen, white-on-white look in the kitchen. I don’t like it. I think a kitchen should have a soul and be bold – YOLO afterall. This black-and-white combination is very invigorating.
10) I would like to use a hob that doesn’t create fire hazards and doesn’t run out unexpectedly. Our condo does not have gas pipes linked to SingGas, so using a gas hob will mean we have to call for LPG companies for delivery whenever supply runs low – worst thing to happen when you’re planning for a party.
So this is our list of must-have’s and a tiny little dream. What are yours? Share with me in the comments section. Perhaps it’s something we have overlooked and should be included in our list.