YOUR RENO & DECOR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
We answer your renovation and decorating questions with help from industry experts. E-mail questions to email@example.com.
I often forget to switch off my water heater after having a bath. Can I place the switch inside the bathroom instead of outside, so it’s more convenient for me?
For safety reasons, HDB and PUB regulations do not allow switches to be placed inside bathrooms, explains Raymod Kua, the design director of The Design Practice.
“This restriction also extends to electric sockets – even sockets with splash-proof covers or isolators,” he adds.
Raymond suggests purchasing a water heater with a mechanical timer switch. This allows you to preset the duration that the water heater is switched on, which means you can enjoy a warm shower without worrying about turning the heater off later.
I want to conceal my fridge so that my kitchen has a seamless look. Will this affect the fridge from operating properly?
There are two ways to conceal a fridge: Using an integrated or built-in design, or hiding it inside an opening that’s closed off with cabinet doors.
In the first, the cabinet door is mounted to the fridge door so that both open in unison. Some brands like Smeg offer both sliding hinge versions and fixed hinge versions (these can take more weight and allow the door to be opened to a wider angle).
The second option is a matter of hiding the fridge (in a side-by-side or top-and-bottom design) inside a large cabinet. Kerhow Wong, the founder of architectural practice Solid, says: “The kind of clearance required around the fridge is highly dependant on the technical specifications of the fridge model. A key point to note is the clearance for the door to be open in order for internal drawers to be taken out for washing. Ventilation holes are strongly recommended to allow the hot air to escape; even proper integrated models have them.”
Timber cabinet doors should be at a maximum of 2.4m in height, as the timber may warp over time. “However, larger doors can still be achievable with proper details,” he adds.
How should I care for my solid wood furniture?
Keeping your wood pieces dust-free not only keeps them looking good, but also prevents the build-up of dust, which can scratch the surface. Feather dusters and rags just shift the dust around rather than collect them, so use a microfibre cloth instead.
Dining and coffee tabletops receive the most wear and tear and should be cleaned more often than shelves and cabinets. Remove light soiling with a diluted solution of dishwashing soap. If you have an oily or sticky build-up, try a half-and-half solution of white vinegar and water.
Regular polishing also protects, as well as highlights the timber grain. Most commercial furniture sprays and polishes contain silicone, which is not recommended as it forms a cloudy or sticky layer over the surface over time. Check with the store you purchased your furniture from about what kind of wax, oil or polish to use. When polishing, work in the direction of the grain. Lastly, some timber (like walnut) are prone to lightening in direct sunlight, so minimise exposure through window treatments or breathable coverings.
I’d love to use dark tiles in my bathroom in my next renovation, but I don’t get a lot of light in there. What kind of lighting should I plan for?
Black and charcoal grey bathroom tiles bring a seductive sophistication to bathrooms big or small, but only with the right lighting. JQ Ong of The Association advises using warm-toned LED spotlights in specific functional areas, “such as one spot over the sink, one over the WC, and another one over the shower”.
The vanity counter needs special consideration as this is where you complete tasks that need close attention, like shaving and makeup application. Lighting the mirror and not the face is a common mistake. “Consider doing your makeup outside the bathroom where there is good natural light instead. Or, install two daylight-white tone LED diffused lights on each side of the mirror to flood your face with light. This leaves no part of the face in shadow,” he says.