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Thread: From woe to wow

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    Default From woe to wow

    April 21, 2007

    From woe to wow

    MTV veejay sisters May and Choy spent $7,000 to transform their two-room apartment with furnishing items bought from eBay

    By Tay Suan Chiang, DESIGN CORRESPONDENT


    YOU dream of a new look for your home, yet dread a renovation budget blowout. Well, take heart from MTV veejay sisters May and Choy. In two weeks, and with $7,000, the designing twins took their apartment from woe to wow.

    The celebrity twins transformed their two-bedroom apartment at Telok Blangah from cookie-cutter basic modern - think leather sofa, fluorescent lighting and bare walls - to a contemporary Asian haven, complete with tactile fabrics and wood features.

    They chose earth tones and gold as their main colour scheme and picked pieces in dark wood to match.

    'The Asian look is an extension of our personalities - modern, yet embracing the Asian culture,' says May, the older of the 26-year-old twins, who adds that they share similar tastes.

    The telegenic twosome were luckier than most home renovators in that they were given the $7,000 to spend on furnishings as part of competing in a makeover event organised by popular online auction site, eBay, called the eBay Show House Challenge. It showcased how online shoppers can use the site.

    Those taking part had to buy their items off eBay, which means most goods were second-hand.

    The style challenge did not deter May and Choy, who have been living in the apartment for the past 18 months.

    The Malaysia-born sisters say that home decorating is a hobby of theirs in any case, and that they used to shop for home decor items on eBay even before the challenge.

    They chose not to work with an interior designer and went with their gut feel and whims to overcome the constraints of the 90 sq m apartment's limited space.

    Choy says finding storage-efficient furniture was a priority as they had a large CD, DVD and book collection that they had brought over with them from their previous home in Brisbane, Australia.

    They found a square coffeetable with storage drawers from an Australian buyer, paying $1,343, including shipping.

    'I wanted a coffeetable just like that, and when we saw it on eBay, Choy and I just couldn't stop screaming with excitement,' says May.

    As they had only two weeks for the challenge, they would spend about an hour a day shopping and browsing on eBay for items.

    The big items that they bought for the home included a fabric sofa set for $350.

    'Key consideration for us when shopping for a sofa is comfort,' says May. 'We looked for fabric sofas because they are easier to clean, and unlike our previous leather one, it doesn't stick to your skin.'

    Another item they bought was a solid wooden TV console, which they picked up for $800.

    'The colour of the wood matches the colour scheme of our living room,' says Choy. 'Plus the front sliding doors of the console have intricate designs that add to the contemporary Asian flavour.'

    One of their best buys for the living room was a Philips 32-inch LCD TV that was bought for $1,700 from a local eBay seller who won it in a lucky draw.

    'It was fantastic as we bought it at more than 40 per cent off the retail price,' says Choy.

    The twins disliked the drab lighting in their apartment, especially in the dining area, so that was one area they desperately wanted to change.

    They found a black chandelier on eBay for $300 inclusive of shipping, and consider that one of their best finds.

    'The dining area now looks more inviting, warm and romantic,' says May.

    For their bedrooms, the twins treated themselves to luxurious Egyptian cotton bedlinen, for $457.

    'We wanted to pamper ourselves and got these 1,000-thread- count sheets that would make us feel like princesses,' says May. The higher the thread-count of linen, the more fine it feels against one's skin.

    Other soft furnishing items that they bought included cotton damask dinner napkins, beaded coasters, beaded tea-light holders and Egyptian cotton bath towels.

    In the end, the twins - who had only two short weeks to redecorate but say they enjoyed taking part in the challenge - spent the entire $7,000 allowance.

    While many people have heard horror stories of getting items that looked nothing like they do on the site, the twins say they did not face such problems.

    Choy says the important thing about shopping online is to ask the seller for the shipping amount, which sometimes can come up to a hefty sum, before you place your bid.

    The twins paid by PayPal, an online payment system. Everything was done on the Internet and there was hardly any paperwork.

    'The only 'paperwork' was making sure we were keeping within the budget, which require careful planning and discipline,' says Choy.

    She adds: 'Stick to sellers who have at least a 98 per cent positive feedback rate from buyers. This way, you can be sure that what you get is what you see online.'

    The twins say their friends and family love the apartment's new look, which is now much cosier and feels more like a home.

    As May says: 'They love hanging out in our living room and watching movies on our 32-inch LCD TV.'

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    The celeb Series

    A home is your refuge and your castle. In this first of a six-parter series, we ask celebrities how they go about executing their vision of a dream home.

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    Default Re: From woe to wow

    April 21, 2007

    Space savers

    SO YOU live in a small apartment, like May and Choy? Here are their tips on how to make the most of the limited space.


    Store it smart

    While wall-mounted shelves, cabinets and hanging small racks are storage solutions, they can eat into precious space, especially in a small apartment.

    'Instead, get furniture with built-in storage compartments, like the coffeetable we bought for $1,343,' says May.

    Choy adds: 'Make use of otherwise wasted space, such as in alcoves or recess space. There, cabinets can be built and they provide storage without eating into space.'


    Deck the walls

    Use pictures or frames to dress up a plain wall. On the wall leading to the bedrooms, the twins have hung baby pictures of their two goddaughters.

    Choy says: 'A hand-painted abstract art piece of a sunset adds colour to the wall next to our dining area.' The twins spent $73.77 including shipping for this painting.


    Rugs galore

    Carpets are not the only way to jazz up the floor. Rugs do the job just as well. The twins have a $236 flokati wool rug in their living room, which they can sink their feet into when lounging in front of the TV.

    Their tips on picking the right-sized rug: Measure the length and width of the area where the rug will go before buying.

    'If the rug will sit under a table, measure the top of the table and add 4 inches to your measurements to ensure the table legs will fit,' says May.

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