Contractors and architects make their job look like rocket science. But seriously, how hard can it be? Short of accidentally removing a load-bearing wall, and then being crushed to death in the most excruciatingly painful manner possible, not much else can go wrong. I guess. But I know what you want: You want to be safe, and still prettify your house for free. In which case, try these methods. They’re cheap, and harmless even if you mess up:
Why Not Call the Contractor Anyway?
For the activities on this list, you’ll be paying your contractor $300 at least. And you’ll be lucky if anyone wants to lug tools and a workforce to your house for that amount.
I spoke to a General Contractor, who only wants to be named Sam. He’s been in the business for over five years, and he says the following methods:
“…are some of the cheaper things you can try to DIY. Some of them can also be used for staging, to make the place look nicer to rent or sell. All of them are very safe. You will not do any permanent damage, even if you get them wrong.”
- Change Faucets and Some Bathroom Fixtures
- Optimize Lighting (Without Wiring)
- Do Your Own Vinyl Flooring
- Tile Maintenance and Backsplashes
1. Change Faucets and Simplify Bathroom Fixtures
Sam thinks that ugly, old-looking bathrooms happen because of:
“No uniformity in the fixtures and faucets. This is quite common, especially in older flats where the shower-head, taps, and so forth have been changed many times.
You can make an old bathroom look newer just by standardizing the colours and shapes. If one tap is silver, make all silver. If one looks modern, make all look modern. Don’t have one blue plastic shower-head, one gold old-fashioned tap, one silver modern-style tap. All like Rojak.”
Most faucets are easy to install; just ask the seller in the store what you need.
For bathroom fixtures (toiletry holders, towel racks, etc.) Sam suggests you prize uniformity and simplicity. Throw out the ones with singing angles and twining roses. It’s a bathroom, not a concert hall.
“Besides,” Sam adds, “The fancy fixtures are hard to attach. You usually need to screw them in, instead of just hooks or suction cups. And frankly, the fancy ones look quite gaudy and ugly, unless everything in the bathroom is equally fancy.”
2. Optimize Lighting (Without Wiring)
Houses tend to look bigger when they’re brighter. There are two ways to do this: Natural and artificial lighting.
“Natural lighting is not easy to do, it’s almost an art form,” Sam says, “You also need a lot of space. Move out as many unnecessary cupboards as you can, and keep the windows unblocked. You also need to leave the walls and floors mostly white, or some other reflective colour.
For natural light, you also need to position mirrors and reflective surfaces. You can DIY of course, but it will take a lot of trial and error to find the right effect.”
What about artificial light then?
“Much easier. Purchase track lights, and point them at dark corners and corridors. This will make such spaces look wider.
You should also get uplight floor lamps, for open areas like the living room. These are like lamps where the shade is inverted, so the light is thrown up at the ceiling instead.
Uplight lamps and track lights are quite cheap, you can get them for under $200. If you want to stage your apartment, and make it look bigger, this is the easiest way.”
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3. DIY Vinyl Flooring
Vinyl (or PVC) flooring was meant to be self-installed. That was one of it’s main selling points when released.
Unfortunately, Singaporeans have degenerated to the point where anything involving glue and sweat is too hard. But make an effort, people:
“The first time you try, you will probably cock up,” Sam says, “So maybe get help on the first try. But after you’ve done it once, it’s quite easy. And anyway, if you try and you cock up, just call us later. No harm trying it yourself first, correct?”
Sam says the only possible damage is glue all over the floor.
The PVC flooring itself is quite cheap, and can look like wood, marble, ceramic, etc. It’s also easier to clean than tiles. As for the better quality PVC, “…it can be mistaken for the real thing in photos. Good for advertising your house.”
4. Tile Maintenance and Backsplashes
You can’t replace a cracked or chipped tile. But you can take steps to clean up the grouting, and revamp faded pieces. Sam reckons a small pot of paint and an hour will do wonders:
“You can try this simple method: Just get a small pot of white paint and a small brush. Repaint the grouting, the space between the tiles. As long as you don’t let the paint get on the tile too much, it will look a lot newer when you’re done.”
As a more advanced project, you can try to build your own backsplash:
“A backsplash is an area behind a sink, where the water goes. Most older flats don’t have these, and it’s quite amazing how much a kitchen can stand out with one.
Shop around for thermoplastic or vinyl backsplash kits, which you can find in DIY stores. It’s just a matter of cutting to size and sticking it on. Alternatively, you can get some tiles and just glue them behind the sink, to make patterns. Keep to a basic rectangular or square shape, and it should look good.”
So if you’re free on the Holiday weekends, try out these DIY renovations. Besides, you never know when you’ll need staged pictures of your house.
Do you do your own renovations? Comment and tell us about it!