Top home improvement hacks from the pros

Get handy expert hints on how to revitalise and add polish to the place you spend the most time in…

Perhaps it’s the allure of starting from scratch, but a brand-new year brims with the promise of fresh beginnings.

What’s key, however, is to be realistic about the changes you can undertake. Whether it’s conquering your cluttered closet, or jazzing up your home, let the experts show you the way!

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1. Clean

Evelyn Tan, who founded CleanHomes, a cleaning and sanitising business, was driven by the need to get to the root of her family members’ allergies.

“After investing in quality equipment to de-mite the home, my kids’ allergies miraculously disappeared,” Tan notes. Go-to tools in her personal cleaning arsenal include a not-too-heavy duty vacuum cleaner, a robot vacuum and a microfibre flat mop that picks up dust as it mops.

* Clean from top to bottom. For instance, dust cobwebs and vertical surfaces like doors first, before moving on to lower surfaces like tables and floors.

* For homes with babies and young children, focus on cleaning the floors well, as they usually sit and play on these surfaces. Try to get the floors steam-mopped every now and then to remove germs and bacteria.

* Many baby cots have designs that trap dust in corners, so clean your baby’s crib thoroughly and regularly with a safe anti-bacterial solution.

* Reduce moisture in the bathroom by keeping the windows and doors open to ensure good ventilation and to prevent the growth of mould and bacteria.

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2. Declutter and organize

Georgina Wong, CEO of Asian Professional Organisers, provides de-cluttering and organising advice to clients to help them master their space.

Being organised, Wong points out, means saving time looking for lost belongings, saving money by avoiding late surcharges, and even living a healthier lifestyle. “Imagine having packed a nutritious lunch, and being able to get a 30-minute workout at lunchtime because you were sufficiently organised,” she says.

* Cut clutter by allocating 10 minutes daily to organising ― concentrate on one small area at a time, like one box file or one kitchen drawer.

* Discard anything that hasn’t been used in six months, anything that has no financial or sentimental value, or if you’ve got too many of a particular item to reasonably use.

Cut clutter by allocating 10 minutes daily to organising – concentrate on one small area at a time, like one box file or one kitchen drawer.

* Group similar items together in boxes or trays, and keep them close to where they’ll be used. For example, baby bibs might be in the dining room, rather than in the bedroom.

* Always return the item to its original place, so that it’s easy to find.

* Help junior organise his toys by giving him a special box or bag to keep his favourite playthings. Let him personalise the box with his name or initials. Encourage him to play with only as many toys as the box can hold, and return them to the box when he’s done.

* For your kid’s artwork, suspend a washing line across the ceiling of a room, hang the latest masterpieces on it and secure with a clothes peg.

* A coat of paint or a strategically placed mirror will certainly give your living space an instant makeover. More tips, up ahead.

A coat of paint or a strategically placed mirror will certainly give your living space an instant makeover. More tips, up ahead.


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3. Paint

Jeremy Rowe, managing director of AkzoNobel Southeast and South Asia and the Middle East, says that colours play a crucial role when you’re creating an ambience for your living spaces.

Factors to take into account when choosing colours include the room’s location, as well as the lighting and furnishing, which can influence the overall composition of the space. “Bold and dramatic tints can evoke visual interest, while warm hues like reds and oranges can bring energy into a room,” says Rowe. “On the other hand, blues and purples offer a sense of calm and serenity, as well as elegance and grandeur.”

* Use light colours on the walls and ceilings to enlarge the feel of the entire space.

* If you don’t have time to paint the entire room, create a feature wall. Use bold or contrasting colours, patterns like stripes, opt for a different sheen, or try sponging to add texture.

* If you have kids at home, choose paints that do not contain toxic chemicals like lead and mercury, and go with washable paint, so that you can maintain the walls.

* For a baby’s room, try white or subtle shades like pink, so that the vibe is relaxed and soothing. Yellow is cheerful and energetic but too much can agitate babies and cause them to stay up all night. Use bright colours in small amounts to promote concentration.

“Bold and dramatic tints can evoke visual interest, while warm hues like reds and oranges can bring energy into a room.”

* For an older child’s room, opt for pastels to mid-hue colours like green, pink or blue. Green, which is associated with nature and gives a room a refreshing feel, is suitable for either gender.

* As red is a stimulating shade, balance it with textiles and furnishings in softer colours.

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4. Decorate

Interior decorator, space and home stylist Caroline Chin Geyler of Arete Culture can make your home resemble a five-star hotel or a relaxed beach scape in less than two days.

Lots of people are under the misconception that you’ll need to renovate extensively to see results but this isn’t necessarily so. Chin Geyler believes that you can refresh your room with just a fresh coat of paint and by decluttering, grouping and incorporating some carefully selected soft furnishings.

* Use space-saving furniture. A stunning ottoman can easily give you additional seating for two or three people, without taking up existing space.

* Don’t forget about colour. Use a monochromatic colour scheme ― variations of the same colour can give you the illusion of space.

* For nursery ceilings and walls, choose neutral colours that are warm and soothing, such as beige and cream. For some fun, accessorise with colours that “pop”. Place stuffed animals or other toys on the dressers and use decorative baskets to store necessities like diapers and wipes.

* In the bathroom, colour coordinate your rugs, towels and bathroom accessories. Place your toiletries in storage solutions ― don’t lay them out in the open as it’s messy and gives the impression of clutter.

* Mirrors not only add a luxe factor to your living area, they open up a room, giving the illusion of space. Artwork and paintings add depth and character to a room.

In the dining room, flowers, candles and carefully chosen cutlery are inexpensive ways to glam up your room.

This article first appeared in Mother & Baby Singapore, January 2014 issue.

Photos: iStock

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