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Chic Space Ideas for The Unique Expat Phase In Your Life!

Now that you’ve read all about the best homes to rent in Singapore based on your budget or the best neighbourhoods in Singapore for expats, it’s time to get decorating. The joy about settling down in a new place is beautifying your space, and placing your own style stamp over your territory. Singapore is renowned for growing upwards (vertically), not sideways (horizontally) due to its lack of space, hence space may more or less likely be a constraint for many young working expats. Team Expat is a great believer however in 'size doesn't matter'—just as long as you place zero constraints on your creativity! So without further ado, we bring you 7 ways you can glam' up your apartment to make your relocation abroad feel like home.

1. Inject some colour

Yes, white walls give your apartment a clean and minimalist look, but don’t be afraid to add some colour if you feel like it! For example, cool colours such as greys, blues, and greens can make your apartment look bigger than it is and produce a calming effect on its residents. In contrast, warm colours such as reds, yellows, and oranges, injects an element of excitement and fun to your apartment. However, if you’re living in rented property, you may not be able to paint your walls, so try painting your bed frame or buying colourful pieces of furniture instead.

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2. Get creative with everyday items

This is a great tip if you’re living in a tiny studio apartment. Turn your collection of hardcover books into a side table to place your lamp on, your widescreen television into a divider between your bedroom and living room, or a chest into a coffee table, which doubles as storage as well. You can also opt to have windows seats or beds with storage compartments below or have your writing desk mounted on the wall so as to cut down on table leg space. By intelligently repurposing uses for your everyday items, you get to conserve space and earn brownie points from your visitors for your “I’d never have thought of that” ideas!

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3. Personalise with pictures

Most people are reluctant to hang photo frames due to the hassle of drilling, and if you’re renting, you’re probably not allowed to do so. However, we’re already in 2016, and therefore blessed with the invention of Command Picture Hanging Strips, which enable you to hang pictures without having to drill or damaging your walls! Reviews are mostly positive, but bear in mind that their effectiveness depends on the weight of the pictures and type of walls. Hanging photos are a good way to make your home feel more cosy and personalised, especially when you hang photos of family or your favourite posters—it also creates an interesting display for visitors as there’s nothing that screams for attention more than apartment centrepiece photos that highlight your individuality.

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4. Install better lighting

Believe it or not, good lighting can completely transform a room. Like paint colours, lighting can make your apartment look more spacious and inviting (imagine going home to a semi-dark home late at night). Unless it’s your sleeping area, the rest of your house should be decently illuminated. It goes without saying that we don’t mean you need to install 10 overhead lamps for a tiny HDB flat, but you can invest in lamps to place on side tables and nightstands; undercabinet lightning to make cooking late-dinners easier; and string lights above your bedframe for some added whimsy.

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5. Have a couple of quirky/vintage key pieces of furniture

Go ahead, buy that neon orange sofa you spotted at an antique shop or vintage alarm clock that doesn’t quite work. Most people tend to hold off on buying quirky or vintage items because they’re not sure where it fits into the look of their apartment. Conversely, there are people who overdo it by turning their whole apartment into their grandmother’s storeroom. The idea is to have a few pieces of furniture that are different from the overall look of your apartment as focal points. After all, where’s the personality or fun in an apartment decorated by IKEA furniture—you might as well live in the IKEA showroom.

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6. Add some fresh flowers and plants

Admittedly, having fresh flowers and plants regularly in your apartment can cost a bomb, not to mention that they require maintenance such as cleaning up dead leaves, changing the water, and going to the store to buy new ones when the previous flowers wilt and wither. However, the presence of fresh flowers and plants in your home can be uplifting, and so is the process of buying them. It has been scientifically proven that fresh flowers help to generate positive feelings, and you can place them in mason jars instead of fancy vases for some added chic!

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7. When in doubt, add rugs

If you’re not really feeling up to redecorating your whole apartment, but you would you like to jazz up your apartment a little, here’s a tip: Add a rug or two. You’d be surprised by the wonders a colourful floor rug can do for your space, like covering up ugly wall-to-wall carpets or flooring! Just make sure that your rug complements the colour of your apartment walls (e.g. don’t put a bright pink and orange carpet if you have meadow grass green walls) and furniture.

Otherwise, why not consult these top 5 interior decorators for their expert advice on giving your home the ‘wow factor’?

Elliot James – If you want to be living like a tai tai, then Elliot James Interiors is the right place for to ask. The studio works on luxury residential and commercial projects in both Singapore and overseas, and produces elegant, opulent, and bespoke designs for their clients.

Urban Interiors – Urban Interiors are licensed professionals with a diverse customer base, as they provide interior design advice for commercial, condominiums, HDB, and landed properties.

Mara Miri – The name “Mara Miri” means “Exuberant Creation”, and that’s what this interior architecture company hopes to deliver to their clients. Their services include complete renovations, building from scratch, and providing furniture, fixtures and equipment.

E & A Interiors – A Singapore-based interior design studio that has been featured in Singapore’s leading publications including The Straits Times, Singapore Tatler Homes, Home and Décor, THE BUSINESS TIMES, and Expat Living. Look no further if you want a home adorned with high-quality and exclusive fabrics, wallpaper or rugs, as E & A Interiors pride themselves on their extensive library.

Arete Culture – It started off as an interior styling service by Caroline Chin-Geyler, but quickly grew into a firm with two retail stores under its wing. Their portfolio includes interior staging, home consultations, and complete interior overhauls done within two days.

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Did this article inspire you to get creative and glam up your apartment so that it feels more like home? We would love to hear from you if you have any more interior decorating tips, so feel free to share them in the comments below!
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