Singapore 2024 Renovation Budget – Does Having Design Styles Affect Your Budget?

Congratulations, you just got the keys to your new home. Renovating a home is an exciting venture, but it's also a substantial financial commitment, especially since renovation rates have been going higher and higher.

Homeowners often overlook how their preferred interior design style can drive up or cap their renovation costs. In this article, we explore the popular styles in Singapore and the cost implications of various popular design styles. 

Sample new 4 room HDB layout plan as basis for study

We are using a standard new 4 room BTO flat as an example and basis with a standard layout, the scope of works will include the following:

    Preliminary works – Protection, design work, submission etc

    Wetworks – Supply and lay new flooring for Living, Dining, all Bedrooms & Kitchen

    Site works – Painting, false ceiling, electrical & plumbing (whole house)

    Customised carpentry – Shoe cabinet, divider, suspended TV console with TV feature wall, full height wardrobes in MBR & Bedroom 3, built in bed heads in MBR & Bedroom 3, suspended study desk with drawers in Bedroom 2, suspended vanity cabinets and mirror cabinets in 2 bathrooms, top & bottom kitchen cabinets with selected work top.

    Fixed fittings and appliances – 2x vanity basins and taps, shower heads and heaters, kitchen sink, tap, hood and hob, light fixtures for whole house.

    Glass works – shower screen in 2 bathrooms

Based on the above plan, the scope of works, we multiply it with the different styles to get an average spending and the results paints an interesting picture.

Chart showing average spending based on different design styles in Singapore based on. 2023 renovation rates.

The understated minimalist look by Ciseern

Minimalist Style

Good: Less to build, minimise variety, blank walls and spaces is part of look

Bad: Can be cold and uninviting looking

Cost: Lowest in comparison in the whole list, largely due to use of inexpensive materials and simple forms in terms of customised carpentry. However, if high end materials like natural wood or stones are used, it will drive costs up tremendously.

Minimalism, characterized by its "less is more" philosophy, might seem cost-effective at first glance. However, the focus on high-quality materials and custom-built pieces can become a costlier endeavour. Minimalism demands precision, which often comes with a higher price tag for both materials and labour. 

A Scandinavian themed home in Tampines designed by Apex Studios 

Scandinavian Style

Good: Very popular with 1st home homeowners, generally adopting a minimalist approach, easy to find furniture to add flavour to design. Good for small apartments especially in Singapore.

Bad: Over used style, and lacks uniqueness

Cost: If the designer wants to add extra details like use of fluted glass, panels, curved forms, and natural materials to stand out, the price will tend to go up very quickly.

Scandinavian design is lauded for its balance of aesthetics and functionality, frequently incorporating cost-saving solutions. The use of light woods, white walls, and simple lines means cost-effective building materials can often be utilized, potentially lowering renovation expenses.

A Japandi inspired home by Carpenters

Japandi Style

Good: Very popular look and has an inviting appeal

Bad: A good designer with good understanding of Japanese style is needed to get the right balance of these 2 styles in a space.

Cost: Very close to Scandinavian style but the difference is usually on material usage. A good Japandi home should adopt more natural wood like veneer or real timber flooring as opposed to synthetics like laminates and vinyl wood flooring.

Japandi is a hybrid aesthetic combining the modern-rustic vibe of Scandinavian (or Nordic) design with the traditional elegance that is typical of Japanese style. It emphasizes a clean, calming palette, functional furnishings, and a blend of natural materials and textures. Spaces are decluttered and thoughtfully composed, focusing on balance and serenity, often with a touch of nature indoors.

An Architect’s Wabi Sabi home by Kaizen Architecture

Wabi Sabi Style

Good: Raw, edgy vibes, bad workmanship can be passed off as a design intent

Bad: There is an organised approach in the seemingly chaotic look, which may become a challenge to upkeep the look daily.

Cost: This can be quite extreme, recycled materials, furniture can be incorporated to reduce costs, but at the same time you could get pricey antiques to dress up the space.

Wabi-Sabi is a Japanese philosophy that finds beauty in imperfection and the natural cycle of growth and decay. It involves an acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is modest, appreciating the integrity of natural objects and processes. In design, it translates to asymmetry, roughness, simplicity, and an earthy palette, often with a touch of rusticity and artisanal objects that reflect wear and the passage of time.

An industrial themed home in Telok Blangah designed by Zenith ARC

Industrial Style

Good: Raw, edgy vibes, bad workmanship can be passed off as a design intent

Bad: Unrefined, may post safety hazards, hard to achieve a natural, raw look or replicate a natural “distressed look” by unskilled workers or local suppliers

Cost: While it may seem like industrial look is easy to pull off, it may not be true as in real industrial spaces, like factories, tend to use heavy duty materials for resilience and abuse. Galvanised iron conduits, industrial switches help to create the look, but they cost more than the standard PVC conduits used in residential projects.

With its raw, unfinished look, the industrial style often leverages existing structures, which can minimize costs. Exposed pipes, concrete floors, and reclaimed wood are common in industrial interiors. These elements can be cost-effective, provided structural integrity is solid, and there's no need for extensive refinishing.

A Modern Classical home in Choa Chu Kang, designed by Project L

Classical/European Style

Good: Never boring, timeless look, adds class to a space

Bad: A lot of designers in Singapore struggle with this style. If paired wrongly with wrong materials will end up looking cheap and cringey.

Cost: To really pull off this look, and still be cost effective, it is really all about looking at realistic substitutes for natural stones or woods. Can explore PU wainscot as opposed to natural wood trims.

Classical interiors are known for their timeless elegance, which often includes antique pieces and rich, detailed woodworking. Sourcing authentic antique items and replicating intricate mouldings or trims can quickly inflate costs, especially if requiring skilled artisans. Our local celeb couple recently shared about their Modern Classical/European home, learn more about their project here.

A Modern Lux home designed by Home Philosophy

A dark themed Modern Lux home designed by HOFT Interiors

Modern Lux Style

Good: Feels like returning home to a 6-star hotel everyday

Bad: Expensive to have a hotel as a home

Cost: We’re talking about building a hotel as a home, it is going to be expensive.

Modern Lux (Short for Modern Luxury) is a design that blends sophistry, sleek clean lines with luxury materials. It’s emphasis on simplicity can be a double-edged sword cost-wise. On one hand, the use of manufactured materials and modular components can reduce expenses. On the other hand, modern design can also demand high-end finishes and custom fittings, which increase costs. Don’t be fooled by designers who tell you they can achieve this look with synthetic materials like laminates passing off as real marble slabs. The people who know will know and you will end up with a cringey pass off, which goes again the ideal of this style.

Styles Have Impact on Your Wallet

The interior design style you opt for can considerably influence your renovation budget. Minimalism may seem inexpensive but requires costly precision, while industrial can save money by incorporating unrefined elements. Traditional style carries weight in labour and materials, as does modern with its high-end finishes. Scandinavian offers cost-effective simplicity, Bohemian encourages thrifty finds, and shabby chic calls for inexpensive upcycling. We hope this article has help you to understand more about the different styles and their different nuances. This will help you prepare accordingly to manage your renovation expenses effectively.

Posted on 21st February 2024

Written by Astley Ng – The Designerd

SIXIDES Editorial Team


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