18 Renovation Regrets from Real-life Homeowners So You Won’t Make the Same Mistakes

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18 Renovation Regrets from Real-life Homeowners So You Won’t Make the Same Mistakes

We recently spoke to a couple of homeowners as well as asked our readers on Instagram what some of their renovation regrets were. If you’re currently planning your home renovation, it helps to see what others have gone through to learn what should have been done better. We’ve also included our tips so you can make a more informed decision in your own renovation.

These are what they had to say:

#1 “Didn’t realise my laminate choice looked so messy.”

Our tip: Unless you’re opting for solid colour laminates, don’t just rely on sample sizes. Head down to the laminate supplier if you can and request to see the actual size. Laminates with woodgrains, or any other patterned laminates for that matter, can look very different in sample sizes versus actual sizes.
18 Renovation Regrets from Real-life Homeowners So You Won’t Make the Same Mistakes

Choose your woodgrain laminates wisely! These ones in the upper cabinets feel rustic without being too messy.  

Design: 9 Creation

#2 “Marble countertop.”

Our tip: Gorgeous as they are, marble is an incredibly high-maintenance material, especially for a hardworking place like the countertop. Marble is a soft, porous natural stone that stains and scratches easily. Plus, they require regular sealing to mitigate these effects. If you like marble for things like rolling out dough because of its naturally cool surface, consider just having a section of your countertop in marble, with the rest in a hardier material.

» Read this: Which material should you choose for your kitchen countertop?

#3 “Not having enough electrical points.”

Our tip: Rather than just rely on the recommendations of your interior designer, think about how many devices and appliances you have that will need to be plugged in. Then, gather the occupants of your home to see how many electrical points everyone needs.

Consider also the height of those points. Standing fans and vacuums, for instance, work better with points near the floor, while points for charging phones and laptops will work better at waist level. Pay extra attention in the kitchen, where you usually have several appliances used or plugged in concurrently.

18 Renovation Regrets from Real-life Homeowners So You Won’t Make the Same Mistakes

Flexible electrical points like these can be useful if you have appliances with particularly short cables.  

Design: Team Interior Design

#4 “Shaker style kitchen cabinets. The grease!”

Our tip: Shaker style cabinets are arguably one of the most popular kitchen cabinet styles and they work great for a number of interior aesthetics including modern farmhouse and the Hamptons style. Because of their recessed centre panel, they do come with crevices and nooks that will trap dust, dirt and grime, which can be a pain to clean. So, style or maintenance: which matters to you more?

18 Renovation Regrets from Real-life Homeowners So You Won’t Make the Same Mistakes

Ooh, shaker style cabinets can be so gorgeous! But they definitely require more maintenance than flat front ones. 

Design: Collate

#5 “Our painter used cheap paint without us knowing, and our ceiling has mould now.”

Our tip: Unfortunately, we’ve heard of unscrupulous painters who pour cheap paints into used tins to pass them off as more expensive paints. Engage reliable painters or make sure your painter is using the paint of your choice by being there just before they start painting. You want to ensure that they are opening a fresh tin of your chosen paint.

#6 “Not checking in on the progress of our renovation. Ended up with a lot of rectification works and extra costs!”

Our tip: Engaging a reliable interior designer does mean you get to be hands-off for most of your renovation process, but you should still check in on the progress of your renovation every now and then to prevent the development of unforeseen issues or miscommunicated ideas (sometimes a 3D drawing doesn’t look like the actual thing) before it’s too late. Rectifying the mistake later on will only incur extra costs on your part.

#7 “Too many built-ins.”

Our tip: Built-ins are great for streamlining design and for saving space, but the main con for built-ins? They are fixed in place. What this means is you can’t move things around afterwards and you can’t get rid of them when you get bored of the design. You also can’t bring them along when you decide to move.

As such, when planning for built-ins, it’s best to keep to the necessities and timeless styles that can stand the test of time. Concealed ones or ones that blend into the background are good options. If you have plans to grow your family or there are talks of in-laws moving in, keep the built-ins to the minimum so you can change up the layout of your home to accommodate your lifestyle changes.

18 Renovation Regrets from Real-life Homeowners So You Won’t Make the Same Mistakes

Built-ins are great for keeping a space looking neat and tidy. This platform bed even offers extra storage! But keep them to a minimum if you are planning major lifestyle changes down the road. 

Design: The Interior Lab

#8 “Replacing the standard HDB bathroom door with a sliding glass one—can’t keep out the smells!”

Our tip: When choosing bathroom doors, besides aesthetics and space-saving qualities, you also have to be practical about it. You want to go for one that can reduce odours coming through to the rest of the living spaces when people are taking a dump, and a bathroom door with gaps is not going to cut it.

#9 “Not enough drawers.”

Our tip: When planning for your kitchen cabinets or your wardrobe, the question that is on everyone’s mind is: shelves or drawers? Shelves are cheaper as they are easier to construct and can save a bit more room, but in terms of ease of use? Drawers for the win. Drawers mean you can easily reach for things at the backs of your cabinets and closets—no more forgotten pair of jeans or neglected chinaware.

That said, you shouldn’t dismiss shelves completely. In the wardrobe, shelves are great for things like bags, sweaters or jeans. In the kitchen, they are great for storing very heavy pots and pans, since the weight will make it difficult to pull the drawer. Use internal storage organisers to keep things organised on shelves. Have a good mix of all types of systems whether you are planning for your kitchen cabinet or wardrobe.

18 Renovation Regrets from Real-life Homeowners So You Won’t Make the Same Mistakes

Have a good mix of shelves, drawers and hanging space when planning out your wardrobe.

Design: 1618 Studio

#10 “Not planning for a shoe cabinet.”

Our tip: It’s definitely not one of the first things you look at when planning your home, but the shoe cabinet is an integral part of the home seeing as it’s one of the very first things you come into contact with when you step inside. As such, make sure you plan a space for one, whether you’re getting off-the-rack or going for built-in.

18 Renovation Regrets from Real-life Homeowners So You Won’t Make the Same Mistakes

A built-in shoe cabinet like this helps to beat shoe clutter! Bonus points for a convenient spot for wearing shoes. 

Design: Artsy Edge Interior

» Read this: 8 Tips for Designing a Practical Shoe Cabinet

#11 “Insisted on using materials that look nice, but are a pain to maintain.”

Our tip: That happens to the best of us! Because we are visual creatures, we always go for the nicer looking option. Some materials that look nice but are difficult to maintain include high-gloss surfaces (they show up prints), tiny tiles with a lot of grouting and white cabinets. It pays to do your due diligence on material maintenance. You don’t want to spend a lot of time cleaning your home when you should be living and enjoying in it.

» Read this: How to Design a Low-Maintenance and Easy-to-Clean Home

#12 “Regret boxing up my air-con trunking. Mould!”

Our tip: Air-con trunking aren’t the prettiest things to look at and boxing them up to flush them with your walls or ceiling can make the eyesores look nicer. But this becomes problematic in the event that condensation takes place, which can occur because of poor insulation or blockage on the pipes.

When condensation occurs, it can damage the box-up and not identifying the issue early will eventually cause mould to grow. Boxing up trunking can also make it more difficult to access the pipes, which is sometimes needed during your regular maintenance.

In order to make your trunking less of a visual monstrosity, plan out the trunking route with your interior designer and air-con installer so that it runs on less visible areas of the walls. Consider also flushing them with existing ceiling beams to make them stand out less.

18 Renovation Regrets from Real-life Homeowners So You Won’t Make the Same Mistakes

You don’t need to box up your air-con trunking. Paint them the same colour as your walls like the example above to make them less conspicuous.  

Design: The 80’s Studio

#13 “My furniture was too large for my space!”

Our tip: Plan out your layout properly before purchasing any large-sized furniture that will take up substantial space. Try to buy at a later stage, when your renovations are almost near completion and you get a better feel for your space. Some homeowners buy too early, wanting to bank on discounts and group buys, only to regret later on when the furniture they purchased earlier on doesn’t fit their space.

Don’t just rely on the measurements of your floor plan either, which can sometimes be off by at least 2cm. Head down to the actual site and take down the measurements. Use tape to draw out the furniture on your actual space for a better visual understanding.

18 Renovation Regrets from Real-life Homeowners So You Won’t Make the Same Mistakes

When space planning, make sure there’s enough room to walk around your furniture. This home’s furniture may be large, but the designer accorded enough walkway space.  

Design: Mr Shopper Studio

#14 “Day and night curtains. They take up too much space!”

Our tip: Having both day and night curtains afford plenty of flexibility. For instance, you can just use the day curtains when you need some light but want to maintain privacy. Night curtains are designed for blocking out light, and are useful for people who work shifts and need to sleep during the day or for those who live in areas with very bright surrounding lights from things like street lamps and LED signages.

But having both types of curtains can take up more space than if you only have one type, so make sure you take into account the extra space when planning out your carpentry or the layout of your room.

18 Renovation Regrets from Real-life Homeowners So You Won’t Make the Same Mistakes

Day and night curtains are great for those with room to spare as they offer much more flexibility in terms of use. 

Design: 19EightyThree

#15 “Not noticing the stains on my tiles until after my renovation.”

Our tip: Your interior designer or contractor will usually conduct a post-renovation cleaning and chemical wash to remove any unwanted residue and stains incurred during the renovation process. Some of the stains (like grout haze) aren’t easily removed with our general cleaning, so you will want to do a thorough check following the post-renovation clean-up to let the pros handle the stubborn stains for you.

#16 “Going for too many different floor tiles.”

Our tip: A trip to a tile supply shop will probably leave you with more choices than you can possibly process. Rather than trying to incorporate all your favourite tiles, go with the ‘less is more’ mantra, particularly for floor tiles.

With floor tiles, having too many different tiles will make things feel overly busy and visually disjointed. Definitely not the best move if you have a small space or if you are going for an open-concept layout.

18 Renovation Regrets from Real-life Homeowners So You Won’t Make the Same Mistakes

A single tile choice for your flooring can reduce the visual clutter in a space—important if you don’t have a very big home.  

Design: The Interior Lab

#17 “Not using eco-friendly appliances.”

Our tip: Eco-friendly appliances may be slightly more costly upfront, but you will see the savings once you start using them. Down the road, you will be saving more. Plus, they are better for the environment!

#18 “Doing my wardrobe later. Months after moving in.”

Our tip: Sitting on the fence about doing that wardrobe in the spare bedroom? It’s best to do all your renovation works right from the beginning. Not only does it save the hassle of engaging a separate contractor in the future, you won’t have to endure the dust and debris of another round of renovation whilst living in your home. Plus, you are likely to get a better price for it if it’s all in one package.

18 Renovation Regrets from Real-life Homeowners So You Won’t Make the Same Mistakes

You’ll want to do all your built-ins right from the start rather than wait until later when you’ve already moved in. It will save you a lot of hassle. 

Design: Todz ‘Terior

Because not everyone’s lifestyle, tolerance level or home environment is the same, what didn’t work for them, might just work for you. So never discount something too quickly and consider the pros and cons of each scenario when planning for your home.


This article was originally posted on Renonation.sg, Singapore’s leading renovation and interior design site.

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