Experts say


Integrate fridge into cabinets for seamless look

I want to conceal my fridge so that my kitchen has a seamless look. Will this affect the way the fridge operates? There are two ways to conceal a fridge - use an integrated or built-in design or hide it in an opening that is closed off with cabinet doors.

In the first, the cabinet door is mounted to the fridge door so that both open in unison.

Some refrigerator brands such as Smeg offer both sliding and fixed hinge versions (these can take more weight and allow the door to be opened to a wider angle).

The second option is a matter of hiding the fridge - in a side-by-side or top-and-bottom design - in a large cabinet.

Mr Kerhow Wong, founder of architectural practice Solid, says: "The kind of clearance required around the fridge is dependent on the technical specifications of the fridge model. A key point to note is the clearance for the door when it is opened for internal drawers to be taken out for washing.

"Ventilation holes are strongly recommended to allow the hot air to escape."

Timber cabinet doors should be at a maximum of 2.4m in height, as the timber may warp over time.

Light it right for dark bathrooms

I want to use dark tiles in my bathroom in my next renovation, but the space does not get a lot of natural light. What kind of lighting should I plan for? Black and charcoal-grey bathroom tiles bring a seductive sophistication to bathrooms, but only with the right lighting.

Mr J.Q. Ong, creative director of The Association, advises using warm-toned LED spotlights in specific functional areas, such as one spot over the sink, the WC and the shower.

The vanity counter needs special consideration as this is where you shave and apply make-up. Lighting the mirror and not the face is a common mistake.

"Consider doing your make-up outside the bathroom where there is good natural light instead. Or install two daylight white-tone LED diffused lights on each side of the mirror to flood your face with light. This leaves no part of the face in shadow," he says.

Polish to protect solid wood furniture

How should I care for my solid wood furniture? Keeping your wood pieces dust-free not only keeps them looking good, but also prevents the build-up of dust, which can scratch the surface.


Feather dusters and rags just move the dust around rather than collect them, so use a microfibre cloth instead.

Dining and coffee tabletops suffer the most wear and tear and should be cleaned more often than shelves and cabinets.

Remove light soiling with a diluted solution of dishwashing soap. For any oily or sticky build-up, try a solution comprising one part white vinegar and one part water.

Regular polishing also protects as well as highlights the timber grain.

Most commercial furniture sprays and polishes have silicone, which is not recommended as it forms a cloudy or sticky layer on the surface over time. Check with the store you bought your furniture from about the kind of wax, oil or polish to use.

When polishing, work in the direction of the grain. Lastly, some timber - such as walnut - are prone to lightening in direct sunlight, so minimise exposure through window treatments or breathable coverings.

Keep water heater switch outside bathroom

I often forget to switch off my water heater after a shower. Can I place the switch in the bathroom instead of outside so it is more convenient for me? For safety reasons, HDB and PUB regulations do not allow switches to be placed in bathrooms, says Mr Raymond Kua, design director of The Design Practice.

"This restriction also extends to electric sockets, even those with splash-proof covers or isolators," he adds.

Mr Kua suggests buying a water heater with a mechanical timer switch. This allows the user to preset the duration the water heater is switched on, which means he can enjoy a warm shower without worrying about switching the heater off later.

•Home & Decor and experts in renovation and home decoration answer queries from readers in this series. These questions first appeared in the October issue of Home & Decor, published by SPH Magazines.

•Have a decorating or home renovation issue? Write to Experts Say, Home & Decor, Level 7 Media Centre, 82 Genting Lane, Singapore 349567 or e-mail Photos and layouts are non-returnable.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2017, with the headline 'Experts say'. Print Edition | Subscribe