We answer your renovation and decorating questions with help from industry experts in Singapore.
I love the way carpets and rugs soften a space, but I’m not sure how to use one in my living room. Does the carpet go under the furniture or stop at the edge? And is there a general guide to how big a carpet should be in relation to the room size?
Carpets and other soft furnishings are crucial in infusing a space with cosiness and texture. As Hadi Nishaburi of carpet specialist Jehan Gallery puts it: “A rug in any room defines a space. In the living room, its main role is to bring the furnishings together, create harmony in the space and, in doing so, build the desired ambience. A rug helps to demarcate an area and emphasise the importance of that space, too.”
He says there are no fixed rules to determine the size of your carpet or rug. “Proportion is key. The design and colour of the rug plays a part, too. Decide if the rug is to be the focal point or just serve as a complement to the design of the room. “If it’s the focal piece, it can be of any size within the confines of the living set, going slightly under some pieces or beyond the living set.”
Placing the edge of the rug underneath your sofa, for example, hides the edge from view and creates the illusion of a bigger space. “As a complementary piece, the rug should not fight for attention and it should be just slightly under the general living set’s size. It should help the living set create a sense of space and not make the room look cluttered,” says Hadi.
Decals seem to be a very quick and easy way to decorate a bare wall. There are so many designs available – are smaller repeated motifs nicer or one big mural? I don’t want to spend the whole day putting them up, either. And how do I maintain them?
Wall decals are indeed a fast decorating fix for bare walls, and if you get tired of the design after a few years, it’s easy to just remove them! But there are so many fabulous designs available; we understand that it might be difficult to make a choice.
Carmen Tang of Mr Fox Creative Loft uses wall decals for her interior projects and provides some tips on selecting them: “The size of the decal really depends on the objective of your space. As a designer, my rule of thumb is to always ‘go big or go home’. I’ll customise bold and original wall decals for my clients for that dramatic interior statement. “However, if your aim is not to create a feature wall, but to complement other highlights in your space – such as designer furniture or a painting – then it makes sense to opt for smaller decals that will serve as a great backdrop without overpowering the ‘star’ of the room.”
Ready-made wall decals are meant to be DIY projects, with enclosed instructions that make them easy to apply and remove. Large customised ones are slightly trickier as they require professionals to get the job done, says Carmen.
Decals are also easy to maintain. She advises wiping with a slightly damp cloth and soapy water to remove dirt, dust, or other substances that may end up on your decals. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaning agents which may damage the material.
I have always wanted a comfortable reading chair – one I can spend hours in. Is the type with “wings” better? If I change the furniture around it, which patterns or colours are versatile enough to match most furniture pieces?
Spending hours curled up with a good book certainly requires the right “tools” for the job. That would be a good supportive seat. Wing-back chairs (those with a “wing” on each side) have come into fashion again recently, and contemporary fabrics can give what is seen as a traditional design, a modern look. The “wings” provide head support and were originally designed to trap the heat from the fireplace.
Comfort is a completely personal concept, says Nikki Hunt of Design Intervention. “When choosing a reading chair, think about the position you find most comfortable and start from there. “Some people like soft seats, while others prefer a firm base to give support. Arm heights will depend on how tall you are, and those that are too high can result in shoulder or neck ache.
“Also, consider the height of the back and the incline. If you like to lean back with your feet up (as I do), then the angle of the incline should be quite generous and the chair should be tall enough to offer head support.” She designed the Detendez chair (pictured above) as her personal reading chair. The shape of the chair, which encourages relaxation, offers great neck and head support, and the incline encourages one to lean back.
Nikki explains: “I chose a bold pattern for my chair, which adds just enough punch to enliven a neutral room. But in a bright, colourful space, it is bold enough to hold its own.” Go for upholstery in a colour or pattern you love, so that even if the rest of your furniture changes, you’ll never get tired of looking at the piece. Otherwise, just change the chair’s upholstery to match your other pieces.
I don’t have a balcony, but I’d like to keep plants at home. Which plants will survive indoors and where I should place them? For plants that can grow in both water and soil – such as money plants – which would be a better option?
Although all plants need light for growth, different types require various levels of light. Not having a balcony is certainly no barrier to having houseplants to beautify your home! We spoke to Hedrick Kwan, a horticulturist at Plant Visonz, who says: “Plants that do best indoors are green leafy plants with little colour and broad leaves. Plants with broad leaves live below the jungle canopy to capture sunlight filtered down from the trees.”
He suggests philodendrons, money plants, caladiums, bromeliads (from the pineapple family), pandan and Hoyas. “If there is only artificial light, stick to green plants with thick waxy leaves. If there’s natural light, choose coloured foliage,” he adds. Money plants are one of the easiest plants to grow and propagate. Stick a portion of the stem in water to let new roots grow but, after that, Hedrick suggests: “Don’t grow the plant entirely in water as that can encourage mosquito-breeding. Grow it in gravel with small pebbles, with the water level below the gravel. This way, there won’t be exposed stagnant water.”
By Rebeckka Wong, Home & Decor, March 2015