Some of the most important considerations in renovating your ‘Home Sweet Home’ are the materials and finishes you are going for for various parts or areas of your HDB flat or house.
The world of interior design materials and finishes — all the things that make up the completed design of your home, office, or space — isn’t short of options. Indeed, we’ve probably never had access to a wider range of raw materials and technologically-engineered surfaces. I visited an online ‘material bank’ and found 25 categories listing thousands of products from more than 300 brands. So, like many areas of life today, your problem is going to be making an informed decision, not facing a lack of choice. Who do you call? The experts: interior designers.
Designers carefully consider several factors such as budget, comfort, durability, flexibility, personal preferences, and safety before selecting a material or finish for you. This includes evaluating painting techniques and finishes, floor coverings, and fabrics and fibres.
Everything begins with your requirements and preferences, however. What are your motivations? What effect do you hope to achieve? What can you compromise on?
Are you passionate about sustainability and lowering your ‘ecological footprint’, a trend globally? Don’t think your only option is to use recycled materials. You can opt for sustainable interior-design materials: bamboo, cork (from the bark of the cork oak tree), glass, hemp (no, NOT the marijuana plant), natural stones, rattan, reclaimed wood, etc. These ‘novel’ materials can not only lower your ecological footprint but also give an elegant and exciting new look-and-feel to your home.
Perhaps you’re on a strict budget? There are several inexpensive materials that nevertheless can transform your interior: cinder blocks (typically hollow building blocks made with concrete and coal cinders), copper pipes, cork, plywood, steel sheets, acoustic tiles (tiles that absorb sound) and regular tiles.
Or you want nothing but the best? The sky’s the limit, here. Some old, premium favourites are leather, stone such as limestone and marble, and wood (natural and engineered). More unusual materials include laminated glass and textured glass counters, 3D gypsum boards, faux (fake) leather, stainless steel, and woven vinyl.
Other materials, finishes, or techniques that are useful for transforming a space are carpets, faux painting (a painting technique that makes a surface resemble something else), mosaic tiles, and wallpaper.
Finally, never forget the power of a fresh coat of paint to rejuvenate a space at low cost and with relatively little effort. Consider the use of no-VOC paints. ‘VOC’s, meaning volatile organic compounds, are toxic to humans, animals, and the environment. So no-VOC paints have two benefits: they are better for everyone and they aren’t classified as hazardous waste.
Just as with the effective use of design and colour, use of the right materials and finishes can make a huge impact to your home or office.
This article is only an introduction to the world of interior design materials and finishes. Need more information? We shall elaborate on these topics and more in future articles.