Maintaining a home can be expensive. From large scale renovations to daily maintenance and upkeep, there's no shortage of ways your flat can end up draining your wallet and time. However, as homeowners find ways to upkeep their home more efficiently and design becomes more multifunctional, home upgrades and hacks have taken centre stage. Whether it's repurposing affordable Ikea furniture to increase storage or using colours to make your space look bigger, we explore 5 home and renovation hacks to help you save money and keep your home fresh and organised.
1. Stack Cabinets and Storage Creatively to Increase Space
If you don't want to spend money on custom built-ins, but still want to customise your storage, you can stack shelves on top of each other or repurpose cube shelves to create custom cabinetry. For instance, Ikea has great nondescript shelving that you can stack on top of each other, install horizontally or sideways, truly creating a unique look for cheap. Some ideas include installing shelving above low-lying consoles or stacking short bookshelves on top of each other to create floor to ceiling storage. Another bonus is that you won't need to spend money on cabinetry and labour, which can cost up to S$7,000 for a light project. It’s also not as permanent—so you won’t have to spend money taking down custom cabinetry if you want to renovate your home later.
For bedrooms, you can try laying your mattress on top of Ikea cabinets to create a platform storage bed. However, you will have to make sure the platform will be structurally sound so you should prepare for a bit of DIY. Another cheap Ikea storage hack is to use the Billy bookcase to create a kitchen island. Since there are Billy bookcases with the same vertical heights and depths but different widths, you have ample opportunity to create an island that fits your space. To complete the look, you can install a custom slab of butcher’s block as the countertop (approximate cost: S$20-S$150 psf) and add moulding around the bottom perimeter. For a 6-foot kitchen island, your approximate total cost would be S$266-S$305 for the shelves and the cheapest butcher block—36-45% less than the typical cost of building a kitchen island.
2. Play With Colour and Light to Make Your Flat Appear Larger
If you have a small flat and want to make it seem larger, then paint will be your best friend. By playing with colour and finishes, you will be able to visually make a room appear roomier and even brighter for all less than S$250. For instance, if you want to increase the airiness in your flat, opt for white paint of the same shade on the ceiling and walls. Having the same colour all around will draw your eye upwards and increase the vertical length of the space. Another option is to use a semi-gloss paint finish (or high gloss if you're daring) for either the walls or ceiling, which can help reflect light around the entire room.
However, there are other paint options that can still visually increase the size of your flat if white is too boring for you. Unbeknownst to most homeowners, dark colours can also have a similar, space opening effect. For instance, a soft black or dark navy can make a room look grander and add depth.
Once you've chosen your paint colours, you should strategically place mirrors to complete the visual enhancement of the space. Buying oversized mirrors (rather than small ones), hanging them at eye level and pairing them with a light source is an effective way to open and brighten up your space. If you opted for moodier wall colours, then placing a mirror across from a window will bounce enough light to brighten and visually enlarge the room as well.
3. Use Floating Shelving or Folding Desks to Carve Out a Home Office
Now that many Singaporeans have gotten used to working at home, home offices have become a staple. For those who don't have the luxury of having a separate room dedicated to an office space may have needed to convert part of a room into an office space. A great, budget-friendly hack is to use a wall-mounted desk or simply make one out of a large slab of wood or shelving. Ikea's minimalist wall-mounted desk costs just S$59. To replace the shelving you'd otherwise have with a traditional desk, you can repurpose baskets or bins that can be tucked away against the wall under the desk.
If your space has no extra wall space to install a floating desk, you can consider two other affordable options. The first is to get a foldable tray, which you can use if you work from your sofa. You can find foldable tray tables on Amazon and Lazada and can easily cost less than S$40. Alternatively, you can also get a foldable tray table that you can store in a closet after you’re finished with the workday. While they’re not the most aesthetically pleasing pieces of furniture, they get the job done and provide much needed support as opposed to working on your bed or hunched over your coffee table. These tables are also easily found on Lazada for around S$26.
Bonus Hack: When It Comes to Maintaining Your Home, High Value Protection is Key
Whether you're doing a full reno or incorporating a few home hacks into your space, it pays to not forget that all your carefully curated items need to be protected with a home insurance policy. Why? If your home catches fire or something gets stolen, your home contents insurer can step in and cover you whether it's for your brand-new fridge or your small catch-all. Furthermore, the average home insurance policy costs less per year than even some of the budget friendly hacks we mentioned, making it a valuable addition to your home. In fact, you can get S$100,000 of coverage for contents and renovation for just S$70 per year from popular insurers like FWD. That being said, you should always be sure to read the policy terms and conditions to make sure all of your belongings are as well protected as they could be.