Home and Decor (Part 4)–Dressing up your walls and glass doors with Decals by Decorette

Decals are not a new thing. But they change their form and shapes as vendors get creative with the changing time.

In our previous place, we had this really huge wall decal of “Gaia” which is still standing today. I find it timeless to use decals if the designs are clean-cut and not too cheesy.

When we moved into the new place, there are a massive number of glass doors! Then again, it is the new norm. As the average sizes of apartments get smaller in Singapore, architects made use of glass to allow more natural light and at the same time, create spatial division of the usage of space without a wall.

I like glass but I dislike crashing into them!

More than once, I had people “walking through” my kitchen glass doors. It is not funny.

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Our tiny kitchen – when we first collected the keys.

So we decided to look for decals which can add some character to the interior design and prevent accidents too.

After a long search on the Internet, I found Decorette – a local online shop – which stocks some really interesting designs. From Decorette, I learnt a thing or two about decals vs stickers.

The below information are from Decorette’s FAQ page which provided a very good summary of vinyl die-cut decals vs stickers/non die-cut decals.

“Vinyl wall decals (not just any type of decals) are graphic cut outs using self-adhesive coloured vinyls. They are intricately cut by machine (not printed with ink) followed by the removal of the negative space, leaving only the design itself to be installed. Unlike printed decals where the graphics are ink printed onto a clear or white vinyl backing, die-cut decals do not come with any backing. Instead, your wall colour (or glass) serves as the background giving a clean, seamless and professionally painted effect.”

Still not clear enough? Simply-put: Die-cut vinyl decals are of a better quality, more lasting and gives a clean look unlike stickers. Naturally, their prices are a little higher than stickers or low-grade decals.

For more information, do check out Decorette’s FAQ page and Behind the Scene to understand the difference in quality.

Beside the assurance in quality, the main thing that attracted me was the Uniquely Singapore decals.

It tells of my age, I think. Open-mouthed smile

After spending 2 years flying around the world and hearing foreigners asking if Singapore is part of China?!, I am even more drawn to This-is-Home-Truly. I appreciate the uniqueness of our little red dot, the “rojak” (mixed) style of residents and even the Singlish we are famous for.

Decorette has been around for 8 years. 2 years ago, the folks behind it revamped the way decals look and feel. They conceptualised Uniquely Singapore collections decals which I fell in love with.

Look at these:

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Fancy Gems – our ubiquitous, old-charm gem biscuits! These look so daintily cute in a kids’ room.  You can customise the colors accordingly.
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Another one of my favourite – Peranakan Tiles. There are 2 designs (rose and lotus) and you can customise the colors. This a good alternative for those who love tiles and can’t use tiles in their place (read:ME!).
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My absolute favourite – Kopitam Talk. Or maybe it’s a tie with Fancy Gems. Open-mouthed smile This screams SINGAPORE! Even though most coffee shops do not have such a menu, you will hear shouts of all those drinks orders “thundering” through the kopitams in Singapore.
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Singlish – how can you leave Singapore without a souvenir LAH? Smile  Great gift idea for that foreigner friend who is relocating or the overseas Singaporean who missed home!

Besides “Uniquely Singapore” decals, Decorette also specialise in customised designs for corporations,  monograms and text/quotes/wordings. In a nutshell, they can do anything you can dream of. Almost. Smile More designs selections are available on their newly revamped website.

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Scallop Monogram – If I have a girl, I would love this for the nursery room. Too sweet.
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For the Christians, they stock several designs of bible verses or you can customise one with your favourite verse.
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Customised wall decal design for one of Decorette’s corporate clients.

After meeting up with Decorette’s bosses, I found out that they are revolutionizing the world of decals. From catering to the end-users with DIY good quality decals, they are also taking on projects to customise designs and engage in branding for individuals and businesses. It helped that both of them – Catherine and Brandon – came from a marketing and branding background. They are strong in communications, design and branding from a business angle and are able to tailor make designs to suit various set-ups or your home.

Decals are actually highly versatile and can be used in many ways on different smooth surfaces such as floors, doors, walls, glass, mirrors and even ceilings. In my case, I needed decals urgently for my glass surfaces in the kitchen and yard. We had a great conversation on the designs and they kindly came in person to install them!

Here are some details to share if you are going to D.I.Y installing decals yourself:

1) Know your surfaces

There are 2 ways to install decals on glass – wet and dry. In my case,  the Decorette team applied the dry method as the decals are not large. For newly painted walls, it will be ideal to stick decals after 30 days so that the paint had “rested” and the decals will adhere properly. Catherine advised that she also give out sample stickers to clients who are not sure if their walls are suitable surfaces. Some wall paints have Teflon substance (non-stick material) and thus decals might warp or not adhere.

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Installation of Peranakan tiles decals onto the kitchen glass divider. Usage of simple material such as masking tape to hold the decals in place while you position/adjust them.

2) Follow the instructions

There are clear instructions on DIY pasting of decals on glass and wall surfaces. You can also watch the videos or read the instructions on Decorette’s website for a better idea. Follow the instructions and you will be an expert in no time. Brandon mentioned that some of his clients made it into a family bonding activity and allowed their children to help out with the easier applications. Sounds fun. Smile

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Step-by-step decal pasting on glass surface.
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Brandon used the same technique of securing the decal using masking tape and using a squeegee or an old credit card to smooth out the air bubbles.
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After determining the position of the decal, I had the easy task of removing the transfer tape; thanks to the high-grade properties of the European vinyl material. Imagine trying to peel off one letter at a time?! *horrors* !

3) Be Creative!

It is really just plain walls and glass when you first start off. Beside customisation, you can play around with the pre-designed decals too. For example, Fancy Gems come in separate “biscuits” and “sugar toppings”. It is up to your creativity if you want to create a free-form, structured, around-the-border or even a vertical design.

We went with the same design shown on Decorette because I liked it. Smile

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Printed “Fancy Gems” decals prior to cutting
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Thanks to Catherine, she prepared a cardboard piece with exact cut-out squares for the Fancy Gem biscuits. You can prepare this easily with an used cardboard or mahjong paper. Alternatively, if you prefer to have a free form design, you can let your kids have a hand in pasting them. Smile
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The biscuits are pasted onto each square and replicated throughout the entire glass.
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After the sugar toppings are added, Taa Daaa! You get Fancy Gems in cool yummy shades of green and white.

Altogether, Decorette’s team installed 3 different glass decals for my tiny kitchen. The theme is Uniquely Singapore no less! Smile Here are some before/after shots:

Kitchen Glass Divider:

Catherine recommended Peranakan Tiles in Ivory and White to match the colors in our house. If I had more surfaces to play with, I would have chosen bright colors as Peranakan colors are always so vivid and bright! Decorette has a really colorful color chart to chose from. By the way, my tiny kitchen is normally not that neat! So the tiles served a dual purpose to hide the mess behind the glass. Open-mouthed smile

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Glass yard door:

Fancy Gems will work really sweetly on the wall of a baby or girl’s room. But I think the nostalgic gem biscuits add a quirky and unexpected look on the yard glass door which is just next to the kitchen. A fun reminder of my childhood favourite biscuits. Smile Once again, the dual purpose of hiding some of the mess and prevent accidental crashes into the transparent door!

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Kitchen glass door:

This is the most “dangerous” glass door as I had guests who really “walked-through” the door~! with bumps on their heads!

Koptiam – this has got to be my favourite of all. When I posted this photo on Instagram, many of my friends thought that I really opened a new koptiam or cafe!

This classic piece showcased Singapore’s dialect and our coffee shop culture. I really loved its character.

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And so, my kitchen is now “transformed” into Uniquely Singapore! Thanks to Decorette. Though I didn’t get a chance to use their decals on wall surfaces, I believed the good experience will be replicated.

I was very impressed with the conceptualisation, intricate design and careful thoughts which Decorette’s team put into each of their decals and especially so for the Uniquely Singapore series. From intense research work to product design and customisation, Brandon and Catherine are personally involved to ensure that their decals are of high quality. Of course, the fact about design is that it can always evolve. But the good thing is, these decals are easily removable from various surfaces and you can change to new designs whenever you changed your mind. Smile

For now, let me sit back, relax over a “Teh C” – my default local drink. Smile

For those who are interested in decals, do support our local business!

Decorette

Website: www.decorettestore.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DecoretteWallDecals

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/decalsbydecorette/

Good news No.1: Decorette is kindly giving Evespiration’s readers a special 15% off decals from their online store (not applicable for customised decals and installation service) by quoting promo code EVESPIRATION. This will be valid until 31 December 2016.

Good news No. 2: GIVEAWAY!

If you like the “KOPITAM” decal as much as I do, here’s a chance to win one!

Decorette is happy to giveaway one KOPITIAM decal (a different color can be chosen).

Enter this giveaway through the Rafflecopter link below:

Decorette Decal Giveaway

UPDATED ON 16th NOV 2016: 

Winner of the Decorette Decal Giveaway is Justina Tey! Congratulations and you will be receiving an email soon! 🙂 Thank you everyone, for the kind support and participation.  

Terms and conditions
This giveaway ends on 15th Nov 2016; 2359hrs. The winner will be randomly selected from Rafflecopter and announced on this blog post on 16th Nov 2016.

Winners will be contacted via the email address provided and will have 48 hours to respond; failing which a new winner will be selected.

By entering this giveaway, you agree to release your email address to the sponsor for verification, contact and marketing purposes.
This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook.

N.B: We were kindly blessed with the above mentioned vinyl decals from Decorette; of which I honestly would have purchased them nonetheless. All opinions and images are writer’s own unless credited with links.

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Home and Decor (Part 1)–Key Collection and Defects Check

This is the start of a few blog posts I am writing to share about our new place and the renovation journey.

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View of the free form pool – the start of some regular exercise; hopefully?

It had been a really long and tedious process from collection of keys to defects check, renovation and moving. Even though my real job revolves around property, it doesn’t make the process any easier.

In fact, perhaps knowledge brings more options and as such, more headache. Confused smile

Here’s sharing the first part of our learning experience from before key collection to defect checks (what worked and what didn’t) if that help anyone.

1) Write in to expedite key collection

We bought an under construction private condo. As the husband was heading off to be based overseas for 4 months, we needed the keys as soon as possible otherwise I will be left alone with the renovation and moving madness; not to mention two jumping monkeys at home. Not ideal.

Before the project reach the Temporary Occupation Permit (T.O.P) stage, do write in to the developer directly or via your lawyer (if you have an efficient one) to ask for the keys asap. If you have a urgent need to collect the keys, you can try writing in to explain your legitimate reasons. Be persistent here if your case is urgent. But they will still tell you it’s case-by-case basis of course.

If you are in no major rush, then just let nature take its course.

We made the mistake of being (too) patient and waited for the tardy email from our lawyer. In the end, we realised that it might not happen any time soon and thus wrote in to explain the reasons why we needed the keys asap. Thankfully, the developer considered our special circumstances and gave us some priority in our key collection.

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2) Join forums/facebook groups

And the next question might be, when will you know the T.O.P date? In speed-fast Singapore, developers are normally conservative with their official T.O.P dates on paper. For most projects in Singapore, you can expect their T.O.P dates to be 6 to 9 months or even 12 months earlier than the official published date. One of the most effective way to know will be to join any Facebook Groups (most common) or forums which are dedicated to your project or even HDB precincts. If there isn’t one, you can start one and get others to join in. Smile

Unity is power. Facebook Groups are useful avenues for sharing and collecting information too. However, I find it a double-edge sword at times too; some can be offensive with their words; some really nice to share tips and some just lurkers too. Trend carefully just like using the Internet; these people are going to be your neighbours.

3) Defect checks

Hooray! When you reached this stage, it means you got the keys! Do a happy dance, roll some pineapples (some used canned ones!), pop a champagne! Smile

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On the day of key collection: A happiest Xi En at the kids’ flying fox pool

Next up will be the detailed defect checks that we went through. I am thankful that our unit didn’t have major defects. Then again, I think it really depends on how meticulous and “yim jim” (picky) you want to be. My contractor said that he once saw 300 post-it-stickers on a bedroom floor. *gasp*

If you want to be very particular, you might like to engage a proper Defects Check Specialist to assist. From my understanding, they really check everything! They have their tools such as levelling rod and bring along their accumulated experience of worming out all defects. A quick check on Google will render you results of stand-alone defect checks companies to ID and contractors who offer such services too. From my research, prices range from $300 to $500 depending on size of unit.

We did not engage one. Reason –  a) I am somewhat trained to look for defects. Smile  b) On our first check, we didn’t pick up a lot of major defects. c) We are not too bothered with small defects.

Here’s an article from Renotalk.com which might come in useful on what to look out for.

From my own experience, these are my things-to-look-out-for if you plan to D.I.Y the defect checks process:

3 simple steps:

Be Systematic. Thorough. Let Go.

You can list everything you want but pursue the ones that you think you cannot live looking at everyday. Learning to let go of the minute things will render you an easier life. That’s my (husband’s) motto. Smile

Anyway, I digress. Here’s sharing 7 main categories which we looked at during our defects check:

7 main categories:

1) Keys

Check that all keys and access cards are in working order; don’t forget any wardrobe drawer keys or DB box key. Label everything if you have time. I find buying those plastic key rings with labelling tag useful for handling multiple keys.

2) Floors

Given that most developers try to maximise profits these days, sadly, there are cases of bad finishing or rushed work. Spend some time on your all-fours to check for cracks in marble floor, bad joints, scratches on wooden flooring and pay special attention to the joints just outside bathrooms and skirting as these are wet areas.

Check for uneven floors. If you have every time in the world, you can try knocking on each tile to check for hollow tiles.

Thankfully, our floorings turned out almost alright.

There were some scratches on the marble floor in the living/dining room and timber floors in the bedrooms. The defects team readily suggested to sand down the timber and polish them. And to polish the marble floor too. Maybe it became a run-of-the-mill solution for them. I am not complaining. Smile

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Can you see all the masking tapes on the marble floor? It’s kind of a waste of time as the defects team simply acknowledged and polished the entire floor.

*Sanding of timber floor creates tons of dust. Don’t move anything in during this time and tap up the wardrobes to prevent sand dust from entering. Or just be prepared to wipe down everything after they are down; which is what we did.

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Stain marks on the timber bedroom floors.

3) Walls

The most common defect is crack lines. Personally I feel that crack lines are tough to fix; unless you knock down the whole wall and redo it. They can do cosmetic patch-and-paint over, but it is the fundamentals that might be wrong. I understood that you will need a good paint job of proper sealant and a few coats of paint in order to cover crack lines.

Nonetheless, no harm getting the defects team to fix them up and mend any chipped off corners.

*Defect teams tend to be based in the project for over a year. If you need some small amount of paint or the likes, you can look for the workers to “borrow” some. Our painter asked us to “borrow” some outdoor balcony paint to touch up the ceiling after our ceiling fan was installed. In this way, you don’t need to incur cost just to buy a separate paint for a small area.

4) Ceilings

The most important thing I will look for are signs of water seepage. If you notice any water or yellow patches, these are major defects. Otherwise, most ceilings shouldn’t come with too many defects.

5) Windows

As mentioned in the Renotalk article, try opening and closing all windows to their maximum angles. Check for any loose tracks and no visible gaps between windows frame and wall.

Poor joint works are a common complain as well. We are fortunately that our windows and balcony have no major worries.

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No problem with the windows; except maybe it be angled a little more so we can get more of the pool view. Open-mouthed smile

6) Mechanical and Electrical (M&E) fittings

This cover all power points, switches, taps, aircon, sanitary fittings and any appliances provided by the developer.

Common findings are choked pipes due to construction debris, dripping taps, bad joints around the switches, low water pressure and rusty or missing items.

We had low water pressure which was easily resolved by fine tuning the water pressure near the concealed water heater area. And a scratched kitchen hob knob which the defect team promptly found a replacement for me.

*Developer will normally supply electricity and water for a day or 2 after you collect the keys. Thereafter, remember to apply for water and electricity so you can continue more checks if needed.

7) Any other items

Anything affixed to the walls such as kitchen cabinets, built-in wardrobes, shoe cabinets, balcony and etc. Check for warped laminates or badly secured cabinets.

We had a piece of uneven surface on a kitchen shelf which I discovered only when we were cleaning up after the renovation. The defects team did not question anything and replaced a piece of new shelf.

We also found scratches on the common bathroom glass shower door and the kitchen yard window. The former, they polished away the long scratch line and the latter, they replaced the entire piece.

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Bad joint works between ledge and glass.

One last word on defects check – be nice to the defects team. Smile Human relationships are a two way traffic. I found a collaborative relationship more helpful than an angst one. If they cannot solve it at their level, they will ask you to write in to the developer directly. We closed our eyes on some defects because firstly we were running short on time and secondly, we overlooked small issues which didn’t bother us.

Even if you have hired a professional defects check specialist and they might come up with 200 to 300 “defects”; it is up to you if you want to pursue everything or not. For us, we found that we breathe better when we let go of some items and moved on. Smile

We were really grateful that the defect teams finished up with majority of the rectification in 2 weeks and our renovation was completed in 1.5 months. All just in time before the husband left for his long trip! The real headache was the packing of all our accumulated belongings for the last 8 years! It is MADNESS really. How can 5 persons (2 of us with 2 kids and my mum) have so many things! Those who went through packing with young kids will know that this stage is hard work. We ended up throwing, giving away, selling at least half of our belongings as we knew we needed to squeeze into a much smaller place.

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This is just a fraction of all the boxes we packed! In total we have about 100 boxes and more loose items which we ferried in our car. #movingmaddness

All that done, I told myself I am not moving again till the kids are at the stage of ditching their toys…..

Next up, I will be sharing more on the various parts of our small humble place (still work in progress!). Till then, have a good week ahead! Smile

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