Experts say: Sliding ladder adds vintage-industrial feel

Sliding ladder adds vintage-industrial feel

I want to build my cabinets all the way up to the ceiling for more storage space. Is there a way to access the higher ones more easily?

It is a good idea to build storage units as high as possible, but they are useful only if you can reach them easily to retrieve items or to clean them.

The best-looking option is a ladder which slides across your wall of cabinets. Not only does it add a vintage-industrial feel to your interiors, but it is also convenient to use.


Ms Kelly Choong of interior design firm Project File has designed such ladders for her clients and she says they are popular with occupants of loft-style studio apartments.

"They're usually made of powder- coated steel as the material makes it easier for the ladder to slide, unlike wood.

"For a 2.4m-tall cabinet with ladder, it will cost about $9,000."

The storage unit can have a mix of closed and open shelving, with the closed shelves near the ceiling and the open ones nearer the ground.

As the ladder has to be inclined to make it easier to climb, some allowance for space on the floor has to be made around the unit too.


Clean and repair wallpaper before painting over it

Is there a quick alternative to replacing faded wallpaper such as painting over it? Also, the wallpaper near my bathroom door area has stains resulting from dampness. Any solutions?

Depending on its colour fastness, wallpaper tends to fade over the years, especially if it is exposed to sunlight.

"If the wallpaper is made of vinyl and has a smooth surface, you can paint over it. But the effect does not look good," says Mr Edson Khoo, regional head of the wallcoverings division at Goodrich Global.

A spokesman for paint company Dulux says wallpaper is not an ideal surface for paint and should always be removed before painting.

While you can do it anyway, make sure you prepare the surface.

Ensure that the wallpaper is cleaned of dirt and dust; does not have rips and tears; and is not peeling off the wall - you would need to repair those problems first before painting over it.

To prevent wallpaper seams from looking too obvious, sand them and the entire surface of the wallpaper with fine sandpaper.

The slightly rough surface will also make it easier for the paint to adhere to it.

Next, paint on an oil-based primer, as the moisture from water-based ones can cause the wallpaper to become unstuck from the wall. After the surface is dry, sand it lightly and apply your top coat of oil-based paint.

Let it dry, sand it down again and apply a second coat of paint, preferably a day after the first coat was applied.

To prevent wallpaper from staining or peeling due to dampness, try not to use it near areas of high humidity such as bathrooms and kitchens.

If it is near your bathroom door, install a ventilator fan in the bathroom to reduce moisture.


Chipped marble tiles usable after patching

Does marble come in standard tile sizes? If there are defects, such as chips at the corners of the tiles, do these affect its look? And if the tiles are cracked, can they still be used?

Marble is cut in huge boulders at the quarry and hence available in customised sizes.

But for conventional flooring, they also come in standard dimensions of 30cm by 60cm and 60cm by 60cm, says Mr Simon Cheong of building material supplier Hafary.

Marble tiles are usually installed with rectified edges, which means straight edges, so that the joint lines are less apparent. So, any chip at the corners or along the edges is noticeable and will affect the overall look of the floor.

If the tiles are cracked, they can still be used after they have been patched with marble glue and powder.

Wing chairs great for privacy

How do I enjoy an open-concept space, but also make provisions for privacy when needed?

Open-concept spaces are double- edged swords.

On the one hand, they look good as they make spaces look larger and brighter. They also facilitate communication between people in different parts of the home.

But aside from physically moving to another room, you can hardly enjoy quiet or "me" time in a shared open space.

If you want the flexibility of closing off a kitchen space or an adjoining bedroom, a simple solution would be to install folding or pocket doors, which can open up and close off rooms.

When physical partitions are not feasible because of space constraints, the easiest way to enjoy privacy might just be to cocoon yourself within a wing chair.

These armchairs have a high back and "ears" on the sides to block out peripheral vision and noise.

Some sofas also come with high backs and sides so you can separate yourself from your surroundings while seated on them.

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

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

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2015, with the headline '(No headline) - EXPERT10'. Print Edition | Subscribe