I’ve kept it under wraps for that long. But no more.
As an apartment dweller for the last 18 years, I never imagined myself owning a little bit of soil with a skinny house on top. It still feels strange some times. Like it’s mine but not quite, if you know what I mean. Surreal.
But first, back story. I was in the market for a 3-bedroom apartment, as my current 2-bed-1-bath is rather constricting. When family and friends stay over, the one bathroom is a challenge. I vividly remember my nephew, then 5, banging on the bathroom door when I was washing my hair, or doing the no. 2 or something, screaming, “Aunty! I need to pee pee. NOW!”
I also wanted a more defined home office space. My current “office” is sandwiched between my kitchen and living room and it’s hard to stop work when the workstation is there. In my face. All the time. Whether I’m cooking, eating or lounging, it beckons. And being the workaholic that I am, it’s so dang hard to draw definite lines between work and home. (See a photo of it here) So I began having very real fantasies of a “proper” home office. You know, with my papers and work stuff all in one room and not distributed between my kitchen, guest room and bedroom. That would be perfect and good for my sanity.
I viewed many apartments and even paid a booking fee for one. Then one day out of the blue it hit me. With the price I’m paying for a condominium with fancy facilities, why not get a house instead? It’s not like I ever go swimming in the pool or use the barbecue pits? (Which you should, by the way, if you own a fancy condominium. Slice through the waters and roast hotdogs and sweet potatoes over the fire, to get your money’s worth from the monthly maintenance fees.)
I believe the thought was divine, it was a God-nudge to free me from my own constricting view of life. After the moment of clarity, I was on to houses. The search started end-2016 and in April 2017, I found a house I couldn’t stop thinking about. I viewed many, but it always came back to this one.
I knew I was smitten.
After a few rounds of negotiations, I inked the deal. Scary, for a commitment phobe like me. But I did it. Like an adult and all.
Then, reality hit. For the next 10 months, I saved every spare penny I could. Because I pretty much smashed the piggy to death to pay for the downpayment, fees and what not. As much as I wanted to get on with it (I heard you, Mom!), I couldn’t because renovations are SO FREAKING EXPENSIVE! Give me a knowing nod, if you agree.
Okay. With that off my chest, on to happier things.
House 17 Renovation Diary starts today!
First up, photos of the house! They are not pretty, nothing staged, styled or even cleaned. (I know, lazy ass me) These are BEFORE shots, okay. There are old furniture left behind by the previous owner, even some crumbling NaNophotoNics pieces (I’m half wondering whether that’s the reason I fell for this house.)
House 17 is only 17 years old. So don’t bother to look for character.
Layout and ‘before’ photos
This is the original layout of the house. The previous owners made a few changes — they removed two walls (circled blue) and re-sited the door (green). The rest is pretty much intact.
Now, please step inside my soon-to-be humble abode. First thing you’ll see is the living room on your right. And stairs leading to the second floor. I love those stairs so much!
Next to the stairs is the dining space (which I think is odd and will move it further into the house). And after the dining area is a room on the right which I will turn into my home office. On the left is a dry kitchen. A what? you might ask.
What’s a dry kitchen? And is there a wet one?
A dry kitchen is a very Asian thing. In many houses, you’ll find two kitchens. One for light cooking such as making toast, boiling pasta and other types of cooking where your makeup won’t run. And then there the wet kitchen … the fiery furnace where kung-po chicken, sweet and sour pork, kangkung sambal belacan and all sorts of wok-king and cling-clanging happen. Asian cooking is a terribly messy affair, with the aftermath akin to an oil spill. Wet kitchens are usually closed off from the main portion of the house or even sited outside the house, in the yard. Yes, it’s the original open air cooking. And you hose down the floor and tiles afterwards. Easy peasy kitchen cleaning.
Dry kitchen aka show kitchen. Where you show your guests what a pretty kitchen you have. And make tea and serve them biscuits.
And the wet kitchen, where you get dirty and oily and nasty, behind closed doors. In all fairness, the wet kitchen in House 17 is not such a hell-hole. I can’t imagine the previous owners stirring a cauldron of boiling curry in this.
The cabinets looks decent in photos but IRL the condition is less than perfect. Some parts are peeling, scuffed and worn. So come Monday, I (more accurately, my contractor) will be gleefully demo-ing all of this. I do want to keep the handles for some DIY projects though.
Out through the kitchen doors, you’ll see this open area which was used as a laundry space. (Sorry about the bouquet of mop+brooms.) I do have a few ideas for this space, which does not involve laundry.
Moving on up to the second floor. Once you reach the top of the stairs, you’ll see what they call a family hall. Many use this type of space as a second, more private, living room. For me, I don’t really know what to make of this space yet. Any thoughts?
On the left of the family hall is the master bedroom, which takes up almost half of the top floor. It is huge. The placement of the windows are a bit of a pain but I love how much light this room gets. Those wall sconces are too high, you reckon?
The last photo I have for you today is the ensuite. It’s not as big as I would like it but adequate. Not into the style though. I’m envisioning a more luxurious and indulgent vibe.
I thought making the decision to buy the house would be the hard part, but I’m starting to realise that’s the easy bit. Since embarking on the project, the number of decisions I need to make have jumped ten-, twenty-fold. Every step of the way. there are so, so, so many decisions to be made. Size, colour, materials, style, costs. Always costs. With many variables, it’s not easy to get the mix right. I’m quite certain I’ll be making some, if not a lot of, mistakes a long the way.
I know you guys are a creative bunch and may have a lot more reno experience under your belt, so I’d be super appreciative of any advice you have. You can comment here below or head on over to for House 17 Renovation Diary updates as they happen. I need all the ideas and input I can get. Thanks guys. Let’s get this baby in shape.
In Renovation Diary part 2, I’ll share my vision and renovation plans. Stay tuned.