Red flags to look out when appointing an Interior Designer!

Throughout our career, we have had feedback from our lost clients that they regret appointing the designer that they did. When we dug deeper and found out why, we realised most of the times was due to over-promising from the designer during the preliminary phase. Here, we area going to look at what are some of the common ‘over-promises’, also look into some potential red flags.

“Can!”. Is a most common over promise we have heard. When a designer answer quickly without much hesitation, you should challenge the designer and find out how they are going to tackle the issue you have. We admit, we do agree to some requests promptly. However, when challenged, we are able to provide a valid solutions. We enjoy being challenged by our clients, because then we are able to showcase our knowledge & experience.

When faced with an issue that we have no immediate solution to, we will inform our clients that we are unable to think of a solution now. We will then brainstorm as a team to find various solutions, if possible.

Refusal to provide a schedule! As home owners, you should be aware of what is happening to your home, and when. We have had clients who had experience with designers who refused to provide schedule. End up, they had to deal with major delay in handing over. When dealing with tight deadlines, it is imperative to have a schedule!

Here @ Salt, when we are unable to meet the deadline, we will choose not to take up the project instead.

Unclear quotation! We have discussed in our earlier blog posts on what to look out for in quotations. Please be on high alert!

You should always have questions when it comes to quotation! Be sure of what you are paying for, what is included & what is not. More commonly, we have heard designers charging extra for drawers as the construction goes by. You should ask if there will be certain surcharge if you need extra drawers, if so, how much would each cost!

Pros & Cons of different type of flooring.

There are many types of floor finishing in the market. Today we will list down the pros & cons regarding the most common flooring that we have been asked about.


  • Pros:
    • HUGE range of design
    • HUGE range of texture
    • Waterproof
    • Durable
    • Non-porous
  • Cons:
    • Takes longer time to install
    • Not easy to replace
    • Will generate lots of dust when replacement is needed
    • Noisy installation
    • Visible grout line (can be viewed as a pro too!)

Vinyl floor

  • Pros:
    • Quick installation
    • Almost dust-free installation
    • Water resistant
    • Easy to replace
    • Easy on the wallet
    • No visible grout line
  • Cons:
    • Limited design (mostly wood look alike)
    • Feels rubber-ry when walking on them

Cement screed

  • Pros:
    • Natural look
    • Almost maintenance free
    • Seamless look
    • Unique pattern every time
    • Able to receive other flooring finishes in the future
    • Water resistant after lacquering
  • Cons:
    • Crack over time (which creates a unique pattern! so… pro!)
    • Brittle
    • Limited colours

Solid wood flooring / Parquet

  • Pros:
    • 100% Natural
    • Able to varnish & sand
    • No repeated grains & pattern every time
    • Higher perceive value
  • Cons:
    • Expensive
    • Limited colours
    • Extensive installation process
    • Harder to maintain
    • Soft, very prone to dents & damage
    • Porous

Engineered wood

  • Pros:
    • Pre-finished
    • Slightly more colour selection vs Solid wood
    • No repeated grains & pattern
  • Cons:
    • Expensive
    • Limited colours
    • Extensive installation process
    • Harder to maintain
    • Soft, very prone to dents & damage
    • Unable to sand & varnish over time
    • Porous

Marble / Granite

  • Pros:
    • Crazy beautiful
    • No repeated grains & pattern
    • Able to polish for a new shine
    • Colder to step on (which can be viewed as a con for elders)
    • Seamless grouting
  • Cons:
    • Expensive
    • Extensive installation process
    • Harder to maintain
    • Soft, very prone to dents & damage
    • Not very water resistant (marble)
    • Porous, tend to retain water, causing stains if left unclean

Metallic Epoxy

We have never used it before. So…….. here’s a link! Metallic Epoxy. If you are reading this Metallic Epoxy team, we hope to work together soon! Do drop us an email!

How to achieve a good working relationship with your designer

As interior designers, we treat every project like our own home. We want the best for all our clients. However, thanks to some black sheep in the industry, many owners tend to think that we are constantly up-selling them.

We will share our opinion on how you can achieve a better working relationship with your designer.

Firstly, we feel that having a certain level of chemistry is one of the main reason we work so well with our home owners. We are looking out for home owners who are honest & straight forward. If they do not like our initial proposal, they voice it out directly. And you should do that too. A well trained designer will find out more about you & your preference, instead of insisting that their design is ‘right for you’. At the same time, setting a sense of honesty allows us to be upfront further down the road.

What this does is setting a standard which will be expected by you. If you are concern about being ‘rude’ or ‘insensitive’, stop it. It is your home. End of the day, it will be YOU who will be living in it.

Trust your designer. We understand that trust should be earned. If your designer do not seem trustworthy initially, why are you working with him/her in the first place? We assume you are going to appoint someone you trust, please have faith in your decision. (Unless red flags start to pop out going into the renovation).

If you do not understand anything that the designer mentioned, please ask. Ask for a second opinion, a third opinion, a forth opinion. Ask your friends who recently went thru a renovation. You can ask us too. We are more than happy to help.

Look out for companies reviews & the portfolio. If the portfolio is not to your liking, feel free to reject them. It is very important that both of you have the same design sense.

There are many other factors that can contribute to a healthy working relationship with your designer. We like to conclude that the main factors are: 1. Chemistry. 2. Trust. 3. Honesty between both parties. 4. Similar design sense.

Our interior designer idols.

Singapore has many many interior design firms, some would argue too much. In 2016, it was estimated that there are more than 3,000 interior design firms in Singapore. In this post, we would want to share with everyone some of our local talented interior designers / architects (other than ourselves). Their designs are nothing short of amazing.


It appears to us that 0932 can turn every space into a carefully crafted minimalist space. For a minimalist nerd like myself, it looks like a wet dream come true. We feel that they are not afraid to use bold colors in their space. Talk about combining great colour combination with crazy good photography skills.


Architology has been involved in many of Singapore’s hot spots such as, Helipad Club, The Mad Men Bar & The Tuckshop.

Peter Tay Studio

In our opinion, Peter Tay has one of the best, if not the best, approach to making full use of reflective surfaces. Peter Tay also won the “Designer of the Year” at the 2014 President’s Design Award.


As stated in their website, Farm is many things at once. Being amazing at design is also naturally one of them. Not just that, they do have their own e-commerce stall which features their localise products.

There are still a handful of studios that we idolise, such as, Sumisura, Super Fat Designs, Ministry of Design & Aiden T.

Upcoming design trend: Our observations.

When it comes to interior design theme, there are plentiful to choose from. From Modern contemporary, to Industrial. In the recent years, we saw the Scandinavian theme on the rise. Today we will share what we think will be the up & coming themes.

Eclectic / Bohemian

It’s definitely becoming one of the powerhouse in local design scene. We noticed that it is especially popular in younger homeowners nowadays. The beauty of eclectic theme lies in their uniqueness of each home.,because it has a very high tolerance for variance. Each eclectic homes tells a story of their home owners, we almost never see a repeated colour scheme or textures.


All time classic (and personal favourite). We noticed the upward trend of minimalist interior. It is ideal for people who wants a fuss free home. Due to the hectic & fast paced life in Singapore, we strongly highly recommend home owners to adopt a minimalist interior. It creates minimal visual disturbance, allowing you to go into a state of relaxation faster. It also hides away a lot of your storage. This means that we have less things to clean (yay!). People often mistake minimalist = boring. NO! Minimalist does not mean you have to throw everything away. It simply means keep what is needed.

Modern French

People have the mindset that only elder homeowners would appreciate a good ol’ classic home. WRONG! We were shocked when we have young couples approaching us for a Modern French design. It is clearly starting to appeal to younger generations. We believe it’s because of the intricate detail that comes with designing a Modern French home.

Quarts: Are they the best worktop?

Kitchen is the heart of the home. It is important that everything in your kitchen is well planned. One of the most used item in our house is the kitchen top. From washing our utensils, to grabbing a cup of water. Hence, it is important that you select the best material suited to your needs & lifestyle.

We are going to look into the different tops in the market and elaborate more on each of them to our best knowledge.


One of the most common material used today is the quartz. Why are they so popular? One of the best quality in quartz, in our opinion, is their non-porous characteristic. This means that the water condensed on your coke can will not sip into the quartz. Why is this important? This will prevent de-colouration from happening.

Another excellent quality is their scratch resistance. This is because quartz is 1 of the hardest material available. Albeit not 100% full quartz, Caesarstone boasts a 90% quartz content in their surfaces.

Quartz come in many designs. The more critically acclaimed ones are the marble look-alike design. They are supposed to produce a visual effect same as natural marble, with better durability.

Marble lookalike quarts! Credits: Silestone
Solid colours quarts! Credits: Silestone

Major brands includes Caesarstone, Silestone, iQuartz.


Marble looks AMAZING. There are different types of marble you can select from and they vary in price. Personal favourite: Gold Calacatta.

Sadly, in today’s society, we are afraid to say that is their only advantage. Thou they are also natural material, they are not as durable & dense as quartz. And they are also porous.

This means that marble is prone to stains & scratches. Which makes it not ideal to use as a kitchen work top where daily house hold item like knifes & water are present almost all the time. Oh, did we mention that they are also more prone to cracks?


Granite has many application due to their sturdy & non-porous nature. Kitchen counter top is one of them.

Thou durable, they are more porous than quartz, less porous than marble. The granite selection available nowadays are crazy nice, thanks to our friends at Consentino.

Not just that, they introduced a protective treatment placed 5mm under the surface. This prevent staining & reduce the porosity of the granite. This range of granite is known as Sensa. We highly recommend Sensa because: 1. it is crazy beautiful, and 2, it is low maintenance with their porosity reduced!

Beautiful, BEAUTIFUL Sensa granite! Credits: Consentino

Compact Top

Long before the discovery / invention of quartz, Formica was the leading kitchen counter top market with their durable laminate finish. Now imagine many layers of laminate (kueh lapis style) being compressed under controlled environment. You get compact top.

They possess the same quality as quartz, they are durable, scratch resistant, water resistant. HOWEVER! The main difference lies in their design available. Most of the design available for compact top comes in wood-grain design.

EDL Compact top! over 10 design to choose from! Credits:EDL

They are one of the more cost efficient counter-top available nowadays.

Major compact top brands are: EDL, Kompacplus.

Solid Surface

Solid surface was very popular back in the days before the rise of quarts. Solid surface are basically made from acrylic. The advantage of solid surface: no visible joint line & polish-able.

They have a wide range of design. From terrazzo like design to solid colours, like red (yes red). Their popularity is really dropping these days, due to the fact that they are less sturdy than materials like quarts, more prone to scratches & stains.

Credits: Corian

Corian is the leading brand in solid surface.


Dekton should be one of the latest product in the market. And it has taken the market by storm. Dekton is a composite of materials, includes natural stone & glass.

Dekton is highly scratch & stain resistant, “withstands high temperatures without burning, scorching or cracking. Hot Pots and Appliances like Crock Pots can be placed directly on the surface with no worry of damage.

Credits: Dekton


Of course there are others work top materials, such as tiles, stainless steel & butcher wood blocks. These are seldom seen and not commonly used. Hence we shall not touch on them!

If you find this useful, be sure to share with your friends!

Types of Carpentry finishing

In this post, we will be covering the more commonly seen carpentry finishing in Singapore.


The most cost efficient finishing, in our opinion, would be laminates. So what is laminate? Laminates are a composition of materials, consisting of maybe layers of kraft paper, decor paper (this is what gives laminates their patterns) and a protective layer of overlay. After which, they are fused together under heat and high-pressure in a controlled environment. This results in the laminate that we so often use today.

Credits: Formica

Laminates are known to be extra durable when compared to their counterparts. Which is why we generously use them for high usage carpentry, such as wardrobe & kitchen cabinets. They are also known to be extremely water resistant. So rest assure to use them in wet areas such as bathrooms. However, please do not attempt to submerge laminated carpentry in water. Where laminates are water resistant, they are not 100% water proof.

Another advantage of laminate: they have a ton of different design to select from. Ranging from solid colours to marble pattern. And that makes it extremely versatile.

Huge range of selections. Laminates by: Panaplast

One of the more distant disadvantage of laminates is their visible joint lines. This can be rectified by mixing paint colours and paint their visible joint lines over.

Visible joint lines on our working table.

Major laminate brands includes, EDL, Formica, Lamitak, Admira.


Veneer is arguably the best looking finishing. It’s simply because veneer are produced from real, solid wood. Veneers are produced by either slicing the log, or rotary cutting the log into thin sheets. Different process achieve different patterns on the veneer. The more commonly known patterns are quarter sawn & crown cut respectively. Quarter sawn veneer gives us a more straight line pattern, whereas the crown cut gives us a beautiful…. crown cut pattern.

A beautiful crown cut veneer! Credits: Toseva Group
Quarter sawn veneer! Credits: Toseva Group

Unlike laminates, which gets their pattern from decor paper, the pattern on veneer are derived from the wood they are produced from. Each wood has their own different characteristics, and they produce different type of grains.

A mappa burl veneer vs a crown cut oak veneer, with walnut veneer as the background. Veneer by: Toseva Group

Because it’s a thin sheet of ‘wood skin’, it can be easily damaged. A coating of varnish will be applied to the veneer to make it more water resistant. The varnish are available in both matte & gloss.

Is it possible to get a different colour other than the natural wood colour? Yes. Skilled carpenters are able to stain the colour of the veneer (not paint!). However, this also relates back to the characteristics of the veneer. If the wood itself is less porous, we might not be able to stain it to other colours (say black).

A distinct difference between laminates & veneers: a seamless joint line is expected when using veneer!

Spray paint

Another commonly seen finishing is the spray paint. Do note that it’s spray painting with industrial grade tools. A similarity between spray paint & veneer is that they both can be easily damaged. However, it is possible to repair a damaged spray painted cabinet.

First, we must sand down the damaged portion of the cabinet. This is to even out the surface. After which we must spray paint the entire door. This is to ensure that the paint colour are spread out evenly.

However, if it is a glossy spray painted cabinet, all we need to do is the polish the cabinet.

Personally, we absolutely love the finish of spray paint. It gives you a very nice, smooth & even out texture. Maybe laminates are trying to mimic the effect. But nothing compares to the real deal. Much like veneer vs laminates. Needless to say, you can expect almost no visible joint lines from a spray painted cabinets.

Major furniture brands use spray paint finishing for their products. A very good example is Ikea.


There are many different materials we can still apply on carpentry as a finishing touch. Here @ Salt Studio, we have even tried using wallpaper, tiles, stucco effect as finishing for our carpentry.

The type of materials that you should be choosing, should ultimately depends on your life style. For us, we absolutely love veneer finishing. However, because store heavy & sharp items, we tend to damage the veneer more often than not. Hence we opted for laminate for our own office!

So which finishing suits you the best? Do share with your friends who are going to renovate their homes so they can select the finishing best suited to their lifestyle!

Overlaying, what is it and how it affects you?

Now, we all have heard the term overlay wayyyyyyyyyyyyyy too much. We can’t deny the fact that it is getting more popular nowadays.

So, what is overlay? Simply put, it is the process of putting a new layer of finishing ABOVE your current finishing. Usually it only applies for flooring & wall finishing. It is especially popular in BTO & Resale housing.

Why do people do that?

Because it lowers the price significantly and it saves the hacking time. Popular materials that supports overlaying includes vinyl flooring & tiles.

Overlaying of vinyl flooring in process!

Of course, overlaying comes with its own disadvantage also. From our friends at Woodculture, it is not recommended to overlay vinyl floor onto parquet or existing vinyl/laminate flooring. Reason being the original material are of ‘soft’ nature. They are probable to ‘move’. When that happens, it will affect your new finish, causing it to dislodge. And warranty will NOT cover the extra cost that you have to incur to rectify the damage.

Heck, we have seen & heard stories of tiles breaking by themselves due to old age & vibrations!

Imagine having to rectify the original finishing, and to pay extra for the new finishing. You are paying twice!

How to prevent this? We recommend overlaying ONLY on floor tiles not older than 10 years old. Of course, if budget & timeline allows, we recommend replacing the flooring entirely.

Quotations: What to look out for! Part 2.

In this post, we will carry on to discuss more about the quotation and the scope of work involved.

After masonry works, we will look into the plumbing work quotation below. For plumbing works, it is pretty much straight forward. One thing to take note is the type of pipes that will be used. As a rule of thumb, for resale HDB housing, stainless steel pipes will be used. Reason is because stainless steel pipes are not suitable for concealment. This is due to the fact that stainless steel cannot be welded. As for condo & private housing, mostly copper pipes will be used. There is another kind of pipe in the market, it is called the PPR pipes. PPR pipes is suitable for concealment in walls.

Also, make sure that bathroom accessories installation fees are included! (E.G toilet paper holder, towel rack, shampoo holder). If you require hot water for basin & sinks, be sure to let your interior designer so they can cater it into their quotation! Some appliances might require water inlet as well, such as dishwasher, fridge, water filter.

They usually come in a package price!

Following the plumbing works, we have the electrical works. Now this is the tricky part (especially in resale flats, for us at least). Some of the designers out there might not include electrical price into their quotation, they might give you a unit rate instead. Others might just give you a lump sum price instead. Let us try to explain it to our best ability.

It is only fair that works are being charged when they are done. Having a unit rate will let you know roughly how much does each of the points cost. In the example below, if we are able to calculate that your house require only 30 lighting points, it is understandable that the cost for the lighting points will be S$1,200.00 (30 x S$40.00). The same goes for other electrical points.

Do note that while it is nice & cool to have lighting effects around your house, this effect might have a spike in price. For e.g, people usually would want their kitchen to be well lit, they opt to have lighting effects underneath their kitchen cabinet. This will incur a cost of S$40.00 (A) + S$ 25.00 (B) = S$65.00. (A) is the lighting point cost, and (B) is the labour cost to install the LED strip light. Do note that this cost does not include the light fixture itself!

Another thing to find out from your interior designer, what kind of switches are they providing! For us, our default switches are Legrand Malia or Legrand Belanko. Other brands such as Berker, Yung, Schenider might incur extra cost!

A preliminary quote we did for a resale HDB house, which will be going thru rewiring.

After the electrical works, we have the plastering works. Basically plastering works are false ceiling works. However, other works that might fall under this category includes building a dry wall, ultra hard plastering to smoothen existing walls.

Do make sure that your interior designers’ quote includes what you want in the false ceiling design! I.e. cove lighting effect, cornices, pelmets.

A thorough false ceiling works in this resale HDB!

Next up is the carpentry works. As this is usually the bulk of the quotation, we encourage our clients to ask us as many questions as they can. A lot of things to be taken note here!

Most basic things, make sure all hinges are soft closing! Soft closing hinges do 2 things. 1. It prevent your cabinet doors from slamming. 2. Since it doesn’t slam, it protects the longevity of said cabinets. Also if you are a fan of anti-slam, make sure that your interior designer factor in the cost for soft closing drawer tracks also!

Be sure to ask your interior designer what finish will you be getting for the internal portion of the cabinet. If they say colour PVC, do ask which range you are able to select from! If you see something you like that is NOT within the range, do ask them if it will incur extra charge if you were to select something else!

Your counter top usually falls under this category also. Some quote that we have seen usually just puts “quartz” top. Do ask them which quarts they actually quoted, and what is the range that you can select from! Famous quarts brands that might be a bit pricier includes Caesarstone, Silestonem Deskton. Other table top materials includes EDL Compact, Kompacplus and of course your natural marble and granite.

Last but not least, do take note of the height of carpentry quoted! It is very common that people quote only up to 2400mm height cabinet. However, especially condo, your ceiling height usually extends beyond 2400mm. Make sure that you are maximising your storage space by requesting it to be full height!

Lastly, we have the painting works. We like to group painting works & cleaning works under the same category (Miscellaneous). Here, all you have to note is what kind of paint did your designer quote for you, for both walls & ceiling. It is not uncommon for designer to use Nippon Matex white for ceiling. For us, we make sure that your whole house is of the same type paint, Vinilex 5000.

Also, find out if there will be a surcharge if you would like a different colour for your ceiling!

There you have it! Our advise for all home owners. There are some aspect that is not covered here. For example, vinyl flooring, window doors, door works. We will touch on those next time!

Quotations: What to look out for! Part 1.

In this post, we will teach you what to look out for in quotations, and the right questions to ask! We will use our own quotation as example.

First, as shown below, we charge a small professional fee for our design services. Now, we know that a lot of other interior design companies do not have this particular fee. Usually, they dissolve the cost into the overall quotation, but we might be wrong. You can do a quick check and ask if they will impose this fee in the future. If they do, do ask how much!

Our design fee is subjected to the scope of work done!

Up next, we have the general works. General works usually entails haulage works. I.e. labour fee for our contractors to remove demolition debris & to upload new materials such as tiles, cement & bricks. This is where usually we would place our admin fees. A very good example is the Professional Engineer (P.E.) endorsement cost for demolition of walls. Do note that if you are renovating a Condo, and you are removing some walls, MOST of the MCST would require you to have a P.E Endorsed demolition plan. So do remember to confirm with your Interior Designer!

Also! Do note that what kind of protection is being used for your flooring! This is very important. We do not want a damaged marble flooring now do we?

Now is where the actual construction costs come in. Below, you will find the demolition cost. Do make sure that whatever that needs to be demolished & disposed are included! Ideally, you would want your Designer to have a demolition plan to tally it with!

In this case, we have not visited the site before, hence we had to estimate.

Here, we have the masonry part. It is very important to be aware of the capped tiles price. Tiles price have a HUGE variation. Starting from $2.00 all the way to $20.00, $30.00 per square feet (PSF). Do make sure to check with your designer what is the price capped at! Of course, the higher the price is capped at, the higher the quotation will be. Fret not, after selection, we would come out with a variation order to increase, or decrease the price according to the tiles we ultimately select.

Also, do check with us the acceptable size that you can select without being charged extra. For bigger size tiles, 1200mm onwards, our tiler will charge us an extra charge. Same goes for mosaic & smaller sized tiles (subway tiles, 100mm x 100mm tiles). Reason is because they require more labour & time.

Other masonry works includes, making good for floor & wall after demolition. Especially relevant if you are planning to overlay your flooring!

Our tiles price are clearly stated!

If you find the above information useful, please remember to share to your friends! Spread the love!