Beyond Walls And A Roof (Part 2)

What makes up a home?

/ October 11, 2021
How do you build a place you will eventually call home? Source: Aspenepic
  • What does the word ‘home’ mean to you?
  • Journey with us as we explore the fundamentals of ‘homemaking’ with proud homeowners

Welcome back, home lovers! 

Like many other things in life, the concept of a home has always been open to interpretations. If you have always wanted to understand different perceptions, this has been a fulfilling journey to learn about the different dynamics that build or break homes. 

We are grateful to the homeowners’ community that opened their arms to us and answered several questions that broadened our viewpoint. If you missed the first article, you could find this interesting read here.

Diha (@adsweethome)

 

Home isn’t a place; it’s a feeling- Diha.

 

What does home mean to you?

A home is a happy place where you laugh, learn, love, and be content. I always feel calm when I’m at home. Home isn’t a place; it’s a feeling.

Was it always your intention to design your own home?

Yes, my husband & I decided to sketch & design our own house. We planned everything before we received the keys because we wanted to make something memorable for ourselves. 

What would you say is the greatest insight you have learnt from this experience?

Since we do a lot of DIY, we learnt a lot from it. We gained a lot of knowledge as it was my first time playing with the cement & tools. A great experience! 

 

You decorate your house for you and your family, not for others – Diha

 

Were there any challenges you faced along the way, and if so, and how did you manage them?

The challenges we faced was when we struggled to find the best contractors for our house. Most of them are expensive, and we have a tight budget for the renovation. It was also during the early phase of MCO, so we had to delay some renovation works. So we took the time to focus on our planning, and MCO was lifted, we called the contractors to settle everything, and we managed to finish it in 2 weeks! 

 

I always remember this; size doesn’t matter- Diha

 

How much time does it take to design, plan and complete a project?

For one project, about 2-3 weeks. From designing until its completion. We do a lot of research and always make sure we have all the tools ready. Once we have a proper plan, everything will flow smoothly.

How can you design a home and run it while also maintaining a healthy work/social life?

We have no problem with this. My husband and I love doing home decorations. Usually, we spend time decorating our house on weekends because we both work on weekdays. 

Would you ever consider doing this again?

Yes definitely! I would love to. 

Are you pleased with your current changes, or do you wish to do more?

I love our house now. We love to keep our home simple. Maybe I would like to add some frames and plants for our house. 

What advice would you give to a new homeowner who has the same intentions of renovating their home?

I always remember this – Size doesn’t matter. My house is 750sqft & I think it would be no problem to renovate it. I love how it turned out to be now. Don’t wait until you have enough money to decorate your house; it will never happen. 

Plan your journey and save up. You decorate your house for you and your family, not for others. 

 

Humaira Zainal (@zecozeyhomey)

 

Your desires should rule rather than designing our home around other people’s opinions and preferences- Humaira.

 

What does home mean to you?

Home to us means some sort of belonging, a sanctuary, comfort, and safety—a lifestyle and place to nourish one’s well-being.

Was it always your intention to design your own home?

Yes, as for me, it is an enjoyable experience as I enjoy house décor so much. Also, I can create a space that works with my family’s needs and lifestyle and incorporate touches that define my home’s unique personality.

What would you say is the greatest insight you have learnt from this experience?

The most significant insight that I’ve learnt from this experience is that our home is about Us. Proper planning is essential, and building a home takes time.

Were there any challenges you faced along the way, and if so, and how did you manage them?

Yes, staying in a condominium comes with a specific challenge – Space.

So we manage it by utilising all spaces effectively, using all possible surfaces for storage using wall-mounted cabinets and shelves. It gives plenty of room to store things, and shelves also make an excellent opportunity to incorporate some décor and picture frames.

Another challenge was the budget constraints. So due to that, we had limited kitchen designs, but I learned to go with the flow, and as long as my kitchen is functional and practical, I have to embrace it. 

 

Home to us means some sort of belonging, a sanctuary, and place of comfort- Humaira

 

How much time does it take to design, plan and complete a project?

We didn’t have many renovations done at our house as we only added our kitchen, which only took us around a week to complete.

How can you design a home and run it while also maintaining a healthy work/social life?

As for me, the most important thing is to manage time appropriately. When designing our home, I always ensure that we have the same understanding that both expect and negotiate together to find a common pathway on our house design. This move will clear up any problems that might surface in the process.

Would you ever consider doing this again?

Yes, of course, as I love house décor so much and plan to buy a bigger house in the suburban areas.

 

I can create a space that works with my family’s needs and lifestyle – Humaira

 

What advice would you give to a new homeowner who has the same intentions of renovating their home?

My advice is to determine your style, create an inspiration board for specific rooms such as the living area or kitchen, pin everything you want, such as sofa, rugs, curtains, etc., and then find a common theme and colour. Once you have this as a guide, stick to it and not buy anything not on the board. With that, you will save a lot by not purchasing unnecessary things that will make you over budget. Also, keep in mind that building a home takes time. Your desires should rule rather than designing our home around other people’s opinions and preferences. Just enjoy the process!

 

Atira Aliek (@atirapaanhome)

 

A home is where all storylines, dreams and fantasies begin- Atira

 

What does home mean to you?

A home is a place or space where all storylines, dreams and fantasies begin. It has various feelings such as feeling happy, sad, relaxed and calm.

Was it always your intention to design your own home?

From the moment I became a wife, I dreamt of having a beautiful and comfortable home. 

What would you say is the greatest insight you have learnt from this experience?

Fun and satisfying! That’s an accurate picture of the experience. My interest in home decor deepened as I met virtual friends who inspired me. They shared ideas and opinions on home decor layout and how to organise, which made me dream of having a beautiful and cosy house. 

Were there any challenges you faced along the way, and if so, how did you manage them?

Although my husband and I are still called ‘tenants’, that is not a barrier for decorating our rental house. We are lucky because our Host is an open person, so he doesn’t mind us repainting the walls or drilling the walls. Always communicate with your “houseowner” for prospective tenants, especially if you want to make drastic changes.

 

Choose a concept or theme that suits your soul -Atira

 

How much time does it take to design, plan and complete a project?

I am a “simple “ and “not so fussy” person, so we don’t take much time. The longest we have taken to complete a project was probably 4 to 5 months because of my husband’s time constrictions. He helps with most of the small projects in the house. It helps if the goods are readily available in the market as all you would need is to identify the concept and theme. All of that depends on your budget, of course!

How can you design a home and run it while also maintaining a healthy work/social life?

As a “stay-at-home-mom”, I just do my daily routine like other SAHMs. I get up in the morning, tidy the house, prepare food, and manage the children according to my schedule. I have a 4-year-old child who has become accustomed to seeing me decorating the home since birth. Most importantly, provide a special room or “play area” for the child to learn while playing.

Atira’s colourful take on a playroom with cool soothing tones.

 

Would you ever consider doing this again?

Of course! Home Design has been my hobby and interest since I got married. I always want my house to look neat, clean, orderly, practical, and most importantly, my home decor is always perfect in my eyes.

Are you pleased with your current changes, or do you wish to do more?

Of course, I want more. But as a tenant, I have limits in decorating the house. However, my small family is now quite comfortable with what we have. Our place is perfect in our eyes in line with our abilities. Of course, our dream of having our own home with a luxurious interior will not stop.

What advice would you give to a new homeowner who has the same intentions of renovating their home?

First thing first, it does not matter if you are a tenant or property owner; you need to know how much “living space” you will occupy, then calculate your estimated budget and survey which will be the best contractor for your house. The next tip is to choose a concept or theme that suits your soul!

 

Safina and Naqiuddin (@rumasafinaqi)

 

Home is where we can truly feel safe and comfortable being ourselves – Safina

 

 

What does home mean to you?

Safina: Home is a feeling. It radiates a sense of safety, blessing and comfort. I always believe that home is where we can truly feel safe and comfortable being ourselves and reflecting on who we are. If you’re familiar with our Instagram account, it’s probably too obvious that I love plants. I know I’m happiest when I get to decorate my home in a way that expresses my interest and taste.

Was it always your intention to design your own home?

Naqiuddin: Yes indeed. When we were renting, I always found things that I didn’t like and how I wished to improve or change them, but many landlords don’t allow any permanent or huge changes to their properties. Now that we own a house, I want to make sure that we wisely utilise and maximise every corner and space.

What would you say is the greatest insight you have learnt from this experience?

Safina: The most significant insight we have learnt from this experience is that we don’t have to sacrifice design and function even if we don’t have the luxury of working with big space or budget. Leave no space unconsidered and look for antique or second-hand furniture that we can refurbish with little budget and labour.

Were there any challenges you faced along the way, and if so, how did you manage them?

Safina: One of the challenges we faced was when we had a limited budget to execute the ideal furnishing design that we wanted during MCO. We had to comply with the movement control order. We also need to invest in home furnishings without blowing our budget. The MCO forced us to think out of the box and find alternatives that cost us less within our district that offer the same design and function. If we don’t find any, we focus on other projects first and revisit when we are financially ready.

 

It’s important to stop putting pressure on yourself…it’s okay if it’s not as perfect as you imagine it would be – Safina

 

How much time does it take to design, plan and complete a project?

Naqiuddin: Usually, it will take us a few weeks to study, design, discuss, or ask expert opinions. We wanted to make sure what we plan to do is completely safe and at the same time offer a good space-saving design. It also depends on the availability of certain products that we need for our projects. Overall, it will take us 1-2 months to complete a project for a specific space.

How can you design a home and run it while also maintaining a healthy work/social life?

Safina: For me, it’s important to stop putting pressure on ourselves. It’s okay if it takes a longer time to complete, and it’s okay if it’s not as perfect as you imagine it would be. Everything is a learning process and a chance for us to improve ourselves. We just need to trust the process and enjoy the journey. We also enjoy taking a break from our busy life as it’s important to restore energy and reassess our intention. We keep reminding each other to remember our intention and hold on to it tightly when we feel stressed. We’re doing this to improve the quality of our life, not to ruin them. Sometimes, we find new inspiration while taking a break too!

Would you ever consider doing this again?

Naqiuddin: Of course we would! We think that we might buy a second house in the future and design the dream house we’ve always wished for.

 

We are pleased and grateful for everything we managed to establish right now -Safina

 

Are you pleased with your current changes, or do you wish to do more?

Naqiuddin: We are pleased and grateful for everything we managed to establish right now. But, there will always be a time when we need to make some changes depending on our needs and situation in future.

What advice would you give to a new homeowner who has the same intentions of renovating their home?

Safina: Take your own time. Do not feel guilty about taking things slow because renovating a home requires much energy, time, and money. It’s a pressure-cooker moment. A mistake will cost you a lot, so be extra vigilant when making decisions and do more study if you’re unsure of what you’re doing. There’s many platforms nowadays that can help you find a new idea or inspiration, such as Pinterest and Instagram. All in all, it’s the journey that we need to savour.

 

DR NISHA.R BASKARAN (@nishahome_) 

 

A place of love and comfort that always welcomes us with open arms – Dr Nisha

 

What does home mean to you?

HOME will always be a place where we get to be ourselves without wearing any masks.  It is a feeling as we feel comfortable, happy, enjoyable, safe, soothing and warm.  The ambience calms our mind; it is eye capturing. A home is also a place of love and comfort that always welcomes us with open arms. Not only that, we always refer to our home as our lucky charm. Countless great memories lie here. For example, we got pregnant two months after we moved here, we also got promoted at work whilst staying here. It created a sentiment where we always eagerly wait to get back to our home. There is a saying, “Home is where the heart is,” and we believe it!

 

Was it always your intention to design your own home?

Yes, it was. Before I got married, I designed my room at my parents’ place. I repainted my room, changed the wardrobe, bed and got it done as I wanted. Since then, I have always wanted to design our home after marriage. In August 2020, we moved in. Before moving in here, we had almost 5 months to plan on our home theme and designs. To be honest, we had so much fun with the ideas to design our home.

 

What would you say is the greatest insight you have learnt from this experience?           

Indeed, we learned a lot of things during the process. We are not professional interior designers, but we created many sketches prior to our process. We sketched every part of our home with the things we wanted to fix according to our theme and colour. Honestly, it wasn’t easy, but slowly we managed, and now we are doing great at it by changing the designs of the house from time to time.  Of course, you need to save money first if you are planning to design your house. Moving in a house and making it your home will cost you more, secondary to your wedding expenses. Save more money for your home. We did everything under budget, and we are so happy to see the outcome now when our Instagram family members are commenting on it.

 

We are so happy to see the outcome now when our Instagram family members are commenting on it- Dr Nisha

 

Were there any challenges you faced along the way, and how did you manage them?            

Yes, there were a few. First of all, we had only two weeks to bring all our stuff in. Time was short, but we pulled through. We planned everything earlier. We started to buy furniture two months prior. Once we completed wiring and installing house grills, we cleaned our home and began to bring in our things. All we did for the upcoming two weeks was to prepare and arrange our home. We also had a shortage of manpower due to covid lockdown, so we would stay there until 1 am or 2 am to complete everything. We DIYed everything and fixed all the cabinets and wardrobes by ourselves. When we think back, we loved the process, and we learned a lot throughout that journey.

How much time does it take to design, plan and complete a project?            

For us, it took five months to finalise everything. We started with the sketches, discussed them, and then decided what we wanted. Once completed, we began to survey all the things we wanted to buy. We went to IKEA, visited some furniture shops and explored online too. We constantly compare the designs and discuss the prices before we buy something. 

Most importantly, we separated our survey lists, and we managed to survey according to them. For example, my husband took care of the hall, home electric appliances, house grills and wiring. I took care of three rooms, the dining area and the kitchen. We split our budget too. It was so easy to manage that way. But before we bought anything, we showed everything to each other. 

For your information, our home is a semi-d landed house (land itself 5000 sqft), but we never renovated our home till now. The main reason was to wait two years to finish the house warranty(given by the developer), and secondly, we love how our home is and felt there is no necessity for renovation for the time being. That’s why it took only two weeks from the day we got the house key to the day we moved in. (It took one week for wiring and grills)

 

We love the satisfaction of seeing our home looking beautiful – Dr Nisha

 

How can you design a home and run it while also maintaining a healthy work/social life?

We honestly felt it’s not that hard to maintain both. Both of us have different career paths, and at the same time, both of us are interested and keen to keep our home beautiful, clean and most importantly, both of us love plants and gardening. Our home is filled with a lot of indoor and outdoor plants, fruit trees and vegetables. It was our idea to create content on Instagram about a home that might help others. We were surprised how it has grown to date with 20.5k followers, and we got to know a lot of home decor lovers. 

Both of us work 8 am-5 pm, and in the evening, once we are back home, we rest, then clean our home and do gardening together. When a couple has common interests, it’s easy to maintain both lives. Deep cleaning sessions are always at the weekends where I’ll wipe all the shelves, rearrange the things, and sweep, and my husband will do moping and cleaning the washrooms. We always have surprise visits from families or friends during weekends, so we always make sure our home is immaculate. 

In addition to that, we love to take photographs of our home. We love the satisfaction of seeing our home looking beautiful, and mostly we feel thrilled when visitors say our home looks like a show house.

Would you ever consider doing this again?            

Yes, absolutely. It somehow became our hobby and passion. A lot of our Instagram friends have asked us to design their homes. Maybe in the future, we might consider doing it. We even planned to do a diploma in interior design. But it’s still under consideration. Hopefully, we can pursue that. 

Are you pleased with your current changes, or do you wish to do more?          

We genuinely love our current changes and wish to do more changes in the future according to the season or festive seasons. We always love to play with colours in our home. Currently, our home colour themes are white, green and oak. 

What advice would you give to a new homeowner who has the same intentions of renovating their home?            

If you want to renovate your home before moving in, please do according to your needs. Like us, we decided not to renovate for at least 5 to 6 years. If you planned earlier, better do it before moving in since the renovation will make your home messier. Besides, plan on your budget before any renovation and choose professional contractors. If you’re happy with your home ground plan as it is, just move in and design according to your theme and shop according to it.

 

What makes a house a home?

 

While we might have different perceptions regarding what home means to us, one thing remains the same, a house is a building, and a home is what you make of it. The sole ability to turn cold, grey walls into something of such sentimental value is phenomenal, something our amazing interviewees have mastered. It’s not a matter of how grand it is; it’s about how much you put into it, which will describe you as a person and your values. Does your home speak for you? Let us know in the comment section below! 

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