Saturday, December 27, 2008

Ideas for Bedroom Decoration

Black and White All Over

Black and white is a popular contemporary decorating trend. This black-and-white duo is both flirty and sophisticated. Two floor-length mirrors complement the black wood-framed bed and highlight two glass chandeliers. Above the bed, three floating shelves allow for space to display photographs or other favorite accessories.

Floor-to-Ceiling Simplicity

This well-lit room with floor-to-ceiling windows is the perfect space for contemporary design. Simple bedding pops with colorful pillows in different textures. A sleek partition wall in a neutral shade keeps the bed space separate from the rest of the room.

Style Combination

This room transitions between contemporary and traditional. To make the two work together, subtle hints of traditional style sneak onto the bed with striped and floral pillows. A contemporary headboard with an upholstery pattern is nestled into the windows behind the bed.

Pillow Talk

In this room, modern elements can all be found in the bed. Oversize pillows in contrasting colors are a dramatic touch to a neutral down comforter. A tall headboard with a ledge allows for a unique way to display artwork.

Calming Retreat

Contemporary doesn't have to be bold. For a pared-down modern look like this, choose furniture pieces with simple lines and neutral colors. Unique lamps on the bedside tables provide additional modern flair.

Sleek and Fresh

Simplicity, subtle color, and clean lines help to define contemporary style in this master bedroom. While maintaining a very neutral and simple palette, two chairs in the sitting area add some personality and a dash of color. The design and visual appearance of the glass partition wall finishes the modern look.

Confident Color

This bedroom is exploding with warm colors, prints, and texture. Color and pattern were brought into the design with several pillows, contrasting rugs, and bold paint. A neutral couch sitting in front of the window allows for color to be spread beyond the bed and walls.

Understated Elegance

This room features a tone-on-tone color palette that relies heavily on brown, light blue, and pure white. By keeping the room basic, the brown leather headboard and decorative pillows are able to pop off the wall even more.

Wall of Windows

A wall of draperies calls attention to the focal-point bed with an extra-high headboard, plump pillows, and striking geometric throw. Nearby, matching contemporary lamps sit atop similar, yet different, night tables in dark wood.

Twist of Lime

Dark chocolate walls outlined with white moldings reinforce the geometry of the furnishings. A rectangular bed, striped bedding, squared-off nightstands, and angular lampshades are offset only by a handful of rounded elements.

Modern Canopy

This contemporary bedroom gets a shot of personality and interest from a repeating pattern of boxes and squares. Wall niches, built-in bookshelves, and a metal canopy bed each include geometric shapes. Canopy draperies are made of striped fabric hung from tabs.

Brown Beauty

Dark walls make all the difference in this contemporary space. White feminine bedding is offset by lime green fabric accents throughout the rest of the room. A built-in bookshelf displays modern accessories and hides personal belongings. A retro-inspired chair in front of the window completes the look.

Color Coordination

Contemporary style is a display of beautiful contrasts in both texture and color. This room focuses both on bold color and the basics of line, shape, and form that are signature to contemporary design.

Into the Woods

Contemporary style transcends all aspects of this room: the walls, the floor, furniture, and accessories. Natural wood elements bring warmth and beauty to the minimalist design and are combined for an unexpected but working mix.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Damai Perdana

Recently we had a lady who was very adamant to see the full colour 3D design before job confirmation. Try as we might, we cannot convince her that software designs are time-consuming to prepare compared to sketches and that we normally present quotations together with sketches, which is enough to let most customers know what it is that we are quoting on.

You see, kitchen showrooms are able to produce 3D designs fast because they just present a modular cabinetry design without considering the surrounding tile colours, the wall colours, the usage of surrounding areas, etc. A few years ago, when we were just doing kitchen cabinets, that was what we did. MERELY design the cabinets, without considering the surrounding areas.
I later empathise with the house-owners who, despite spending lots of money on house renovations, just didn't know how to get it right for the rest of the areas - the plaster ceiling was wrong, the electrical points were wrong, the furnitures were of wrong colours, the wall colours and tiles were all not matching, etc.

That's why now I go on site visits ( which I did not do a few years ago ), to meet clients to understand their likings so that I can incorporate the information that I gather into my designs. That way, I will understand which direction the sunlight comes in, whether to propose thick curtains or just sheers, whether my proposed designs will match the exterior of the house, whether the exterior colours will match the interiors etc.

I would like to share the various stages of my work from quotations to 3D designs…

We are currently halfway through renovation work at Damai Perdana. These are the stages of our work.

1) We asked client to give a budget for us to know what to propose.

2) I did some hand-sketches and submitted these along with the price quotation.

3) When customer agrees with the pricing, then we asked for a 10% non-refundable deposit to start the designing work.

4) I submit the 3D drawings with a few colour combinations for them to choose from. When the colours are agreed upon, then only we start the actual renovation work with the collection of another 20% payment.

5) Subsequent payments are on a weekly basis as work progresses.

This job costs :

A. Living Hall

Divider at entrance RM1,750.00
Altar RM980.00
Carpentry work at TV area RM3,660.00
Divider at TV area RM2,950.00

B. Dining

Framed mirror c/w bevel edge at dining area RM1,650.00

C. Kitchen

Wall cabinet RM2,100.00
Base cabinet RM1,200.00
Solid surface RM1,260.00
Tall unit RM1,800.00
Fridge cabinet RM1,200.00
Tear down dividing wall RM1,200.00
Concrete slab c/w 2'x2' tile RM3,150.00
Under slab door frame, door & drawers RM1,795.00
Mosaic tile @ hood area RM1,200.00
Sink 2 bowl with tap RM580.00
Plumbing work
- reposition inlet & outlet & reconnect RM600.00

D. Painting

Exterior wall & interior wall painting job (incl. Nippon paint) RM5,200.00
Skim coat on uneven wall surface only RM800.00

Updating The Client

Because this customer is working overseas, I will take pictures of the house every few days to update him on the progress. Our payments are collected on a progressive manner depending on how much the job has been delivered. I have an idea to write a posting on determining progressive payments and how much to pay to help those renovating the house on a DIY basis so that you reduce the risk of contract workers absconding with the money.

It's Great Being An Agent Of Change

Last Sunday was the launching of our designer hostels in Shah Alam. It was exhilarating looking at the excited faces and the exclamations of " I love it !" from the people who walked into our doors. And the immediate booking for those rooms! The exciting part actually started a few weeks BEFORE the apartments were ready. Quite a number of people were already rather anxious to pay money to book their rooms without seeing it!

Competitors had torn down all our promotional posters except one. Instead of feeling angry, I suppose we should feel flattered that they thought us to be a big threat especially since we are not competing in a price war.

Again I would like to emphasise that it's not a matter of how much we spend on renovations but the ideas and creativity that makes the overall package nice. I shall not talk in detail of what exactly we've done because that would be revealing our " trade secrets " and that wouldn't be fair to my partners. What is important is that we are being an agent of change - changing the way rental apartments look and creating " a home away from home " for our tenants… and we are having some fun along the way.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

ideas for Open-Plan Decoration

Vibrant open-plan living room

Make your living room an extension of the outdoors with clever use of vibrant textures, fabrics, plants and ethnic furniture.

Bold open-plan kitchen/diner

Red and cream walls highlight the sleek MFI lacquered units and wooden worktops in this kitchen. Two stainless-steel curved cupboards with roll-down doors add a modern edge. A breakfast bar gives extra work space. In the foreground, a glass table and contemporary chairs create a dining area.

Classic dining room table

For an evening table setting, replace chair cushions with smart white box-pleated skirts and transform a New Heights dinner table with a Ralph Lauren runner in delicate shell-pink linen, and co-ordinated place mats in a faded floral.

Modern family kitchen/diner

This kitchen has a wooden floor and simple flush units in lacquered white, both practical choices in a busy family space. The walls, units and paintwork are all in light-reflecting white to make the room seem bigger and keep it airy. The centrepiece is a Terence Conran wooden table and benches from Benchmark Furniture, with bright cushions and accessories and a lime green runner. Simple but striking blinds and glass pendant shades from Baileys Home & Garden complete the streamlined, modern look.

Open-plan contemporary living room

Everything in this eclectic contemporary living room is low-level, from the Designers Guild sofas to the coffee table that is in fact a dining table from Ikea with its legs cut down. The wall print is an enlargement of a Jordi Labanda picture from his book of illustrations, Hey Day.

Zesty open-plan living-dining room

Dark cabinetry in stained oak and high-gloss ties in well with the lime green furniture in this open-plan scheme. The 1970s-style modular sofa in faux suede is ideal for separating the living space from the dining area. Statement furniture like the multi-level coffee table add a modern touch to the retro scheme.

Professional kitchen-dining area

Sleek lines and modern appliances give this open-plan kitchen a professional feel. A breakfast bar zones the modern kitchen, while the chic glass table and chairs add to the sophisticated yet welcoming feel of the room. Solid oak flooring keeps the look from being too stark and modern.

Open-plan dining area

A low shelf unit has been positioned to create a division between the dining and living area of this open-plan space. It also creates storage for the dining area and a handy surface for buffet-style lunches or drinks. A large table is useful for a number of activities such as homework, paperwork, as well as dining. Pendant lights have been hung above the table to add further definition to the area.

Cosy living-dining room

A comfy modular sofa is used to mark out the living zone in this living-dining room. Cushions are piled high for extra comfort and wallpaper is used to create a focal point. Homely accessories and light-wood ensures that the open-plan scheme is cosy. A modular storage and a cream rug is used to define the living space, while handy storage clears clutter.

White open-plan dining area

A reinforced glass panel on the staircase acts as a balustrade while maximising light in this open-plan dining area. White gloss furniture creates a contemporary feel that is softened by wooden stairs and surfaces. Modern orange dining chairs add colourful accents to the scheme.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Helping Us Make Interior Design Affordable - Part 2

Today, I'm continuing on my previous posting about my passion and mission :
"making ID work more affordable."

I need to put up this 2nd part quick because I'm getting an avalanche of enquiries but the people who enquire about our service are getting it all wrong.

To help us lower our costs so that we can pass cost savings to customers, we need customers to cooperate. This is how to go about it :

1) We can only pay you a site visit when you have received the keys to your house.

TIME is a major cost. If a customer asks us for quotes on a house that is not ready, we will need to put in much more time than if we go in when it's fully ready. There would not be any urgency to confirm the designs and the work will drag on and on. That's why we don't quote using just layout plans. ID work is not cabinetry work alone but includes electrical planning, colours, restructuring, etc.

2) We need customers to plan own budget first.

Plan how much you need to allocate to buy electrical items, how much for sofas, beds, etc. Then you'll arrive at the left over figure that you can spend on renovation work. We need customers to give us a budget so that we know what to propose, what materials to propose, what areas to concentrate on ( because most people will have a LIMITED budget). Again, this will help us save time so that we do not have to play the guessing game not knowing what to propose. I've written on another article that a bungalow owner has only minimal budget and only wants the cheapest
materials but another condo owner has a budget that is 5 times larger and is expecting trendy items. We also do not quote per sq ft because a kitchen of the SAME size can be RM10k or even go up to RM40k! That's why we can work much smoother and faster if we don't need to guess.

3) We need customers to find out their own likes and dislikes.

Most people will approach an ID and say " Design this house for me" without identifying their own likings. Customers think that " I'm paying you to do the designing so why must I spend so much time thinking?" THAT'S THE REASON why IDs must charge very expensive for their service! This category of customers use up a lot of our time - changing and changing the concepts and proposals without knowing what they actually want in the first place. Can you imagine what our time costs will be if the designing process stretches over many, many rounds of endless discussions?

4) We cannot allow more than 3 times amendments to 3D designs.

This area is one of our big advantage over many designers ( young graduates who rely too much on computers ) and traditional contractors - both Chee Hoong and I are equally able to draw free-hand. By being able to draw free-hand sketches, we are able to present our ideas and concepts QUICKLY to customers on the spot and get them to confirm the layout and internal of cabinetry work. When we give a price quotation, we are able to show what we are quoting by attaching the relevant sketches. Free-hand sketches done on the spot are much faster than having to go back to the office and reworking changes to designs on computer. ONLY AFTER the design and pricing is agreed on, will we do a proper colour design in 3D.

5) What I'm trying to do is making ID service more affordable.

This doesn't mean we are selling low! What I mean is, by keeping close watch on time efficiency, we are able to sell considerably lower than other IDs but we are not skimping on other costs like materials or workers' wages.

From the Cost Triangle above, I'm presenting to you the relationship between COST=TIME=QUALITY . The Cost of a service or product depends on how much TIME and QUALITY we put into the production. All these elements are inter-linked. In order for Meridian Design to pass cost savings to customers, we need to reduce either TIME or QUALITY.
Reducing QUALITY is definitely out of the question here! We didn't strive our butt off over the last few years to build credibility and reliability for nothing. So the only logical and workable thing to do is to keep TIME under control and reduce it by striving for better work efficiency.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Helping Us Make Interior Design Affordable - Part 1

Some readers are asking why I'm updating this blog more regularly nowadays. The reason is…there are not that many interesting activities to distract me lately. What I mean is, reading is my topmost hobby but my current reading lists are unusually dull and dry - in the car is the book Businomics, for bedroom reading is Project Management and the only bright spot is the colourful Practical Feng Shui in the living hall. So blogging is a nice alternative to fill my spare time!

Today, I would like to share my vision and passion.

This was what happened and is still happening in the renovation industry :

1) In our parents generation, renovation work was done by the traditional contractors. Contractors are skilled but they were unable to give much consultation. Interior design was exclusively for the very rich.

2) In the present day, there are still many contractors operating in the traditional manner. They normally sell cheaper in order to compete with their many competitors that engage foreign labour. There's nothing wrong with this. In fact, competition brings better value to the consumer in terms of cost savings while helping the company to be more efficient and reduce wastage. Again, these groups have not progressed beyond providing the basic construction skills which is labour based.

3) IDs are still very much exclusively available to those who are willing to pay the big bucks for it. Exclusive ID studios will ask to collect a designer fee before starting any work.

4) Many IDs are also based in kitchen studios where they are fully concentrating on kitchen design. If people are wondering why many people like to do the kitchen business, it's because they come in modular sizes and are easier to manufacture and easy to train workers to install or sell a kitchen set. Besides, the market for kitchens is huge.

My vision and passion is :

" Making interior design affordable "

… at least, to more people. Notice that I don't say for everyone because there are some people who are looking for something of the best quality but of the cheapest price. In reality, whether such a product or service is in existence remains to be proven.

The costs of every product and service roughly come from these items :

1) Design -
Ideas and creativity are not cheap. That's why traditional contractors are fighting based solely on price alone.

2) Skills of craftsmen -
Ever wonder why in your own office, some people are paid higher and some are paid less? Point made.

3) Materials -
Contrary what most people think, materials are not the main contributor to product/service costing. Just pay RM20,000 to 2 contractors for a home renovation. Contractor A may come up something but Contractor B will come up with something very different even though both are paid equal price. Why? Because, there's something called intrinsic value! 2 jobs may require the same cost but it take the soft skills of creativity and a craftman's skill to produce something that Contractor A cannot see nor realise.

4) Overheads -
While materials and labour are variable costs that fluctuate with production activity, there are many other costs that are factored into the product pricing. Fixed overheads include salaries for non-production workers, advertisements, rent and rates, etc.

…and how am I going to do it?

I'll share more of what I'm doing in the next posting.