Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Home Tour

It has been almost three months since we moved in and I'm finally here to update with a home tour!

The whole renovation process took us quite awhile because we only started searching for an ID after receiving our keys in December. By the time we confirmed one, it was the Lunar New Year period so everything came to a halt. Thankfully, we didn't encounter much problems with our renovation and the house was ready by April. We went furniture shopping, took our time to move in and finally did so in May.

In this entry, I will share on what I splurged on and what I saved on.

SPLURGED: Interior Designer

It was not necessary for us to hire an Interior Designer because I already knew what I want. However, he wanted an overall in charge so we opted for an ID instead of a contractor (but in the end he still went down frequently to personally check on the works -_-)

The ID we selected was more expensive than the other options we had, but S liked her service so we decided to go with her. I will not go into details about the ID. Generally I am satisfied with the carpentry done and I liked that she allowed me to decide on all the designs myself.

SPLURGED: Flooring

We opt out of the HDB tiles because I have always wanted wood flooring. I think it makes the place feel much cozier! We did vinyl flooring on the entire house including the kitchen. Only the bathroom tiles remained untouched. I was torn between light grey or light brown and I'm happy we eventually chose light grey!

SPLURGED: Air Con

We purchased our aircon at more than 5K for 4 units. It was impulse purchase because we wanted to settle it asap but on hindsight we could have just settled for something in the 3K range.

Lets start with my favourite corner of our house.

Kitchen

I knew right from the start it would be open concept, just that we aren't sure of the layout.

I love how our island is in the center! And I love the chairs I bought from Taobao after searching high and low for a nice counter chair. Brown tiles are original from HDB. We like it.



I don't like gas stoves so we had an induction stove installed. Made sure to find one without knobs so that it looks sleeker.



I love our fridge!! I bought it because it looks pretty. Hehe. Our kitchen is not long enough for an additional column so we placed our built in oven below the stove, which looks great too! Our microwave oven is under the island.


I am so satisfied by how it turned out. I can't seem to capture the correct tone in photos but I'm in love with our wood laminate! In real life, it is the exact colour that I envisioned and I'm so glad I chose correctly from the catalog. It's very difficult okay, selecting from the tiny pieces of wood samples in the catalog. I was afraid the wood laminate would turn out too yellowish, too orangey, too raw, too light, etc. In fact, it was so difficult to describe the shade I was looking for. Thankfully the shade is damn nice. We asked for an all-white backing because I didn't like the default clear ones with a greenish tint.

This is the back of our island. I requested for two cabinets at the side for dishes.


Washing machine and dryer goes to the service yard.

SAVED: Island Top
I got a shock at first when we received the quote as the ID's plan was to have quartz for both our kitchen top and island top. I quickly told her to change the island top to laminate hahaha. It reduced our cost greatly but it also means that we have to be careful and not place hot pans on it. I love the marble laminate we chose! We obviously kept the quartz for the kitchen top because that's money that cannot be saved and quartz is already quite mid-range as there are better (and more expensive) materials.

Living and Dining

SAVED: Minimal Carpentry

We did a full height shoe rack at the side and that's all.



Instead of a feature wall and built in TV console, I decided to paint one side of the wall grey.

We did not do any false ceiling as well, we just used the lighting points that were provided to us. Instead of trendy cove lights, I got some nice hanging lights instead.  I think it's a worthy save because I feel false ceiling or no false ceiling doesn't do much to change the overall look of a house. The cost difference is just not justifiable enough for me.

Most people use false ceiling to hide aircon pipe boxes but I thought it doesn't bother me much so I chose not to box up those at my corridor too. Doesn't affect the overall look. I only boxed up the one running above my kitchen island cos that one's too obvious.

SAVED: Furnitures

Most sofa are in the 2K range but we got ours at only $599 from courts. Loved the design too!



The TV console and coffee tables were beyond our budget as we got them from a normal furniture shop. We bought them on impulse because we had limited choices and this was the most acceptable one. We had to find a wood tone that matched the rest of the house and most are too orange or dark. Afterwards we found a wide range of nice wood consoles and coffee tables at Ikea but too late.



For our dining table, we initially purchased a table separately from a normal furniture shop because I liked the table but not the chairs. However, it kept having shipping issues and we asked for a refund. Eventually, we found a table on Hipvan and ordered some chairs from Taobao. I LOVE OUR DINING AREA.



We got our curtains at $1388 for the entire house, which I think is quite an okay price too.

Guest Room

SPLURGED: Platform

I chose not to get a traditional bed for this room because I didn't like the idea of having "three beds" in a "home for two". Haha. However, I was sure to have guests so we still need to cater space! I decided to build a platform instead. A mattress can be pulled out from below and if needed, we can put another one on top to make two makeshift beds. I almost scrapped the whole idea because of the cost... Told him we can just buy a sofa bed/ day bed and it would still be okay. However, he liked the platform so in the end we retained it.

We also planned for the future okay. If we have kids in future, first few years will be in the baby cot in our master bedroom and when the kid grows older, he/she can have the pull out bed and we don't have to redo the entire room :) The only problem is currently the room is painted mauve rose on one side and if we have a boy, he confirm complain why so girly hahaha.



SAVED: Simple furnishings

We placed a rack and a small side table to furnish up the room. We also signed up for Popsical so that the small room can double up as karaoke room. However, I didn't want to fix a TV here so we bought a portable projector to be used against the white wall facing the platform, where our guests can sit.

Master Bedroom

SAVED: No Carpentry

We placed our bed in the middle and bought two side tables and fixed two side lamps. Tada~



SAVED: Wallpaper instead of feature wall. Building a feature wall for the TV is going to cost another bomb so I decided to wallpaper that side instead. For our headrest side we painted it grey.



Walk In Wardrobe and Study

We closed off the original door of the 2nd bedroom and created a "hidden door" in the wall from the master bedroom. It became like a secret room within our room!

Ideally, I wanted a narrow long walk in wardrobe shown in movies but our room was a square, so I had no way to do that. Hence, I just did a normal L-shape against the walls. He has the shorter side while I have the longer side. But still not enough I feel!



SAVED: Swinging wardrobe doors instead of sliding doors. It would cost more to have it sliding and I didn't really care so I chose the cheaper option. Note the measurements for the door and make sure it doesn't hit the ceiling fans when you open it.

SAVED: I didn't bother to have special doors for the corner because it would cost more. It's okay I can stretch my hands in for those items in the corner.

SAVED: No special lights fixed in the wardrobe. Okay lah I get it, it will look prettier but not necessary for me.

SAVED: No dressing table. I figured I can just take my mirror and put on the study table for the same usage.

SPLURGED: I wanted the study table to face the windows... I can easily just find a long table to have the same effect but I decided to go with carpentry because I am not sure if I can find a table that fits perfectly.


Bathrooms

SAVED: Although it would be nice to have a "hotel bathroom", it was the least of my priorities so I didn't bother to set aside any budget for it. We did nothing to the bathroom except installing shower screens and getting the bathroom accessories included in our ID package. We also did a small cabinet below the sink of the master bathroom. We are lucky that our default tiles from HDB has quite a nice brown wood grain look which matched the other parts of our house.

That's all! Am quite sad that I didn't manage to take really nice shots of our house because we mess it up.... The colours don't see accurate lei.... In real life it's a pleasant shade of light grey, white, and light wood.

Am quite pleased with how everything turned out!

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Spa Central Batam

When Spa Central Batam sent an invitation to experience their new branch at Nagoya Hill, I thought it'd be a good chance for me to go on a besties trip with Fiona since we have been talking about it for some time!

Did some research online about Spa Central Batam before we went. The original branch in Sukajadi has been around for years and maintained a good reputation especially for the warm and professional service. The branch we are going to was newly opened in May 2018 and conveniently located just behind Nagoya Hill Mall.

Checked into Grands I Hotel, which was walking distance to the spa.





Did some shopping and upon recommendation, we visited this cozy cafe located near the spa to relax while waiting for our appointment time!



Finally time for massage!!


Friendly spa staff!


Love the waiting area, so nicely done up~



We did the Half-Day Spa, which includes:

- Foot Bath
- Choice of 3x 60-minute treatments from the spa menu including massage, reflexology, body care, facial, hair care, nail care, or waxing)
- Pickup and Drop off from Batam Centre Ferry Terminal

For more information, visit https://spacentralbatam.com/spa-packages/


I chose to do a full Swedish massage, head and back massage, and body scrub. There were various scrubs to choose from, including Chocolate, Candle, Green Tea, Milk Body, Turmeric, Coffee. We both chose Turmeric for its healing and cleansing properties. It was highly recommended by our therapies.





After our foot bath, we were ushered into individual massage rooms for our relaxing session. I was amazed at how my petite therapist had so much strength in her strokes! She was courteous and friendly throughout.



We got to know that the people behind Spa Central Batam are very passionate about giving back to society and has been actively employing single mums. Most importantly, some were paid better salaries than market rate, so you can be sure that the therapist here are best of the crop.

After the massage and scrub, I showered and wandered around the spa. This is the "salon", where they provide hair and nail services too.





Afterwards we had dinner at Hociak!




One thing I love about Spa Central is that they provide FREE transport services between the ferry terminal and the Spa. I think it's really good for people like me, because I have no idea how to navigate around Batam. This makes everything much easier and fuss-free! On top of this, I also love the location of the new outlet as it's conveniently in the city center and buzzing with activity. I am already thinking of arranging a day trip with my mum and sister! I have been looking around for an accessible spa with quality massage at affordable prices... and I think Spa Central Batam is a good choice! Best thing is there is online booking.... so much easier!


The next morning, we went back to Nagoya Hill Shopping Mall to buy some kueh back for our families and I was so attracted to the fragrance of this coffee bakery and bought one even though we just had breakfast at the hotel. NO REGRETS. It was super yummy!! The exterior was crispy and the coffee flavour was intense. Inside, the bread was soft and buttery. Could be the nicest coffee bun I ever had.... the ones I had in Singapore were just so underwhelming sometimes.


Wanted to visit the cafe again but on the way we saw a KTV room and spent our afternoon singing songs!

Back to the Ferry Terminal after a good short trip. Can't wait to return!


Find out more: https://spacentralbatam.com/

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Ruoxuan said yes!

Hello all!

It's been a long time since I last updated here. In fact, I was so busy this year that I hardly posted on the other platforms too.

We recently moved into our new home and weekends have been spent hosting family and friends. I'd post photos once I have the time to do so!

So yesterday, I was part of a surprise proposal that Dixon planned for Ruoxuan! Here are some photos for memories sake :)



Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Melbourne Day 3-4

Took the chance to travel out of Melbourne CBD on Day 3 and 4, before S returns back to SG. We spent an entire day on Great Ocean Road and another day at Werribee Open Range Zoo, which was a significantly shorter drive.

Started the day with McDonald's breakfast!



And because the parking in Melbourne is very expensive and we wanted to offset the parking fee, we bought these huge macarons to qualify for the free parking promo hahaha. Better to pay for expensive macarons than expensive parking!


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Wrapping up 2017 Q2 Q3 Q4

I'm reluctant for 2017 to go, because it is probably one of the best years I had in recent times.

2017 was FANTASTIC.

As you can probably tell by my lack of update, I have been super busy this year.

Highlights would probably be,
- Getting Married
- Honeymoon in Europe
- Maldives surprise trip
- New Job
- Getting the keys to our new home!

Besides Europe and Maldives, we also made several short trips to neighboring countries in Asia as well~ Hong Kong, Hokkaido, Malaysia Genting and Tioman. My travel backlog is piling up so much that I've decided to post everything else that is non-travel related in this single blog post.

For my convenience, I shall be really random with this! No time to sequence the photos. Haha.

So we got married in March, and our wedding was featured on Blissful Brides magazine!


Saturday, January 6, 2018

FoodLine Chinese New Year Catering

Chinese New Year is coming soon!



I thought that we'd be able to move into our new home before Chinese New Year but I guess that's impossible now, because we are still considering our renovation options.

I definitely want to host Chinese New Year gatherings at my new home the next year though! However, as I'm planning to have an open-concept kitchen, it's unlikely that I will do much cooking... But a big feast for Chinese New Year is still a must! Thankfully, Foodline.sg has a listing of CNY menus (party sets for small group of 5-10 pax to full buffets for 20-100 pax), complete with the necessities like Yusheng and Pencai. How convenient is that?! I am able to compare the menus and see which one I prefer, all on a single platform. With the best price guarantee, I can also be sure that I'm getting the best deal! Sometimes there are even free dishes/ discounts up to 50% off that is exclusive on Foodline.sg which I can't get even if I order directly from the caterer!

I think that some of you may also consider getting caterers to prepare the reunion dinner, especially for those who can't cook. The prices are definitely also more value for money compared to booking a restaurant outside!




Use my coupon code ESTHERCNY38 for $38 off (valid for all orders till 31 Dec 2018, min $350 spending) - Doesn't have to be CNY menu because the code is valid for the entire year! Just remember to use it for any events you require catering for - baby first month, housewarming (i'm already checking out the menus for myself!), birthdays, etc.


--- This post is brought to you by Foodline.sg ---

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

FoodLine Christmas Catering

It's nearing Christmas again!

I'd be celebrating it with the family this year and I've been trying to order a log cake and other festive goodies online. The first site I went to is of course FoodLine.sg! I've been recommending them ever since I used them during my Guo Da Li earlier this year. I like how convenient it is to search and compare a wide variety of vendors on one platform.




If you are also looking to order catering for Christmas parties or platters for small gatherings, you can check out the Christmas tab on FoodLine.sg. You can easily filter your search to party sets for small group of 5-10 pax to full buffets for 20-100 pax. There are a number of menus available depending on your budget. FoodLine.sg has a Best Price Guarantee and some vendors give exclusive Catering discounts up to 50% off if you order it through FoodLine.sg!






For additional discount, you get $38 off all orders if you input my exclusive coupon code ESTHER38 (min $350 order, valid for all orders till 31 Dec 2017)!


--- This post is brought to you by FoodLine.sg ---