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Homeownership Dilemmas: Built Ins or Standalone Furniture? ID or Contractor?

I knew nothing about furniture design when I first joined the team. These are the biggest lessons I’ll take to heart when I have a family (and home) of my own.


Urban Salvation Gallery Space

Home ownership is a major stepping stone for anyone; whether you’re just married or an expecting couple. Chances are, you’re in a flurry of anxiousness and excitement in between meeting IDs, contractors or furniture shopping for the beginning of a new chapter.


But as always with social media and the internet, there’s simply too many choices to pick

Urban Salvation Gallery Space

from. The Contractor VS I.D topic is one such example of a dilemma that may make or break your dream home. There are also the concerns of purchasing quality, budget furniture online from e-commerce stores or visiting the massive Tan Boon Liat Building which is home to Singapore’s most famous furniture companies. Which should you choose, when you simply have so many options?


The first thing that stood out to me when listening to the dilemmas of homeowners or expecting parents, is the budget they’ve allocated to their new furniture. Most spend a hefty portion to renovations that cover all rooms in the home, and have a 10%-15% remaining from their original budget to furnish these rooms. Too many couples rely on their I.D to solve their design problems of functionality and aesthetics in the home without taking into account their budget and timeline. This is (in my opinion) where most I.D projects often go south.


Not everything in the home has to be a built in, especially if its main function is purely for storage. If you’re moving into your first B.T.O and have plans to sell it off after the 10-year ban, your built-in cupboards, wardrobes and cabinets will not be able to move along with you to your second or forever home. With HDB units getting smaller and more compressed, you’ll have to take into account what will actually solve your storage concerns wherever you go, at every stage of your life.

Custom Shelf/ Designed In-House

Given example, perhaps you have a huge shoe collection and intend to display it in the bedroom or living area. A built-in open display shelf or shoe rack might do the trick. Fast forward five years, and you end up with more kids’ toys and books than you have shoes. You can’t possibly ‘display’ the kids’ toys when they’re knocking them off the shelves at any chance they get. You already have storage in the bedroom? Sure, but the in-laws keep buying their grandkids everything they want and the collection has eventually overgrown the storage. You end up with a real problem and it’s not realistic to deal with the mess the kids leave behind for you to clean every day.


Custom Shelf/ Designed In-House

ILE Trunk Bench

In comparison to built-in furniture, standing furniture pieces that can be moved to any part of the house are both multi-functional and user friendly. You’re able to use these cabinets to store anything you need to, out of sight and out of mind. Our best recommendation is the trunk bench; which serves as both storage and seating. Most of our customers have placed them at the front door to store and put on their shoes. Other have used it as a bench in the dining room for extra seating and at the same time, to store away their linen items, cushions or throws when having guests over for late dinner parties. Not too brag, but it does solve two very real problems.

Reclaimed Teak Dining Table

Another cliché I often come across are families who invest the most in their dining table and barely anything on their dining chairs. Yes, a dining table often sets the aesthetic for your space as most dining rooms are wedged in between the kitchen and living area. Take it from me, you’re going to be using your chairs more than the table itself so prioritize comfort over aesthetics. This may mean fabric cushion seats that are removable and washing machine friendly, and easy to replace with a quick trip to IKEA. You should also look for a tall and wide backrest to provide the most support and comfort, especially when you’re using your dining table as a work from home station for long periods of time. If you’re the type to sweat profusely, then a solid wood chair will be the most comfortable in Singapore’s humid weather.

Reclaimed Teak Dining Table

On the flip side, you might also consider purchasing a dining set instead from the countless discounted offers and sales on e-commerce and retail stores. However, most companies will often limit the minimum number of chairs to 4 pieces for a 4-seater dining table, when in fact it can seat 6 people at the head and tail of the table itself. In turn, it’ll encourage customers to add to their overall order (2 more additional chairs) and in the end, earn a profit equal to the all the items at a standard price. Furthermore, these sets are also limited to dining chairs with no armrests too, so that means you’re compromising on comfort just to stay within your budget. So, you really need to question if the sale is worth it, and is it really for you?


My biggest takeaway? Plan ahead and stretch my coin to cover everything I need, without compromising on quality and comfort. You’ll probably find me customizing a dining table and going to IKEA for cushion seats for the dining chairs.