Visual breaks for patterned wallpaper
I like the look of European wallpaper designs. How can I use them in an apartment?
I am worried they make my home look small and cluttered. "European wallpaper designs are typically more ornate and have classical or baroque motifs mimicking fabric patterns. When used appropriately, they make a dramatic impression," says Ms Terri Tan, design director of interior design firm Designworx Interior Consultant.
To prevent pattern from overwhelming a room, have visual breaks to "interrupt" the wallpaper. Fittings such as doors, windows, mirrors, cabinets and even a headboard can do this and they will reduce the overall surface area of wallpaper.
Ms Tan has used patterned wallpaper on the ceiling of a walk-in wardrobe, allowing it to flow from the walls up to the ceiling. "It instantly increases the luxe factor of an otherwise utilitarian space," she says.
Choose a pattern you love and temper its energy or busyness with colours. Bright hues energise, while muted ones evoke stillness. If you choose a large-scale pattern, make sure there is a large enough expanse of wall to show it or the effect will be cluttered.
Expect concrete floors to develop hairline cracks
My contractor refuses to create a screed concrete floor because he says it will crack easily. Why does screed concrete crack?
Your contractor is right - concrete floors will develop hairline cracks. It is a given, says Mr Raymond Seow of interior design firm Free Space Intent, as it is an inherent attribute of the material.
"If you do not like cracks, then you do not really like concrete as it is a property of concrete," he says.
Mr Seow, who has 17 years of experience with the material, says he has not seen any concrete floors that do not crack, adding that the pristine ones people see in interior photos have probably been digitally edited.
"Cracks occur not due to workmanship, but to building expansion and contraction," he says.
If you can accept this, then assure your contractor. However, refrain from installing concrete in the bathroom as the hairline cracks will give rise to mould, incomplete drying and waterproofing issues later.
Use mirrors in foyers for illusion of space
I would like to use mirrors to make my home appear bigger. Where should I place them and how large should they be?
Mirrors are one of the oldest, and most effective, tricks in the interior decorating book and they are easy to incorporate.
Mr Vincent Ang of interior design firm Black N White House recommends using them in the foyer or main entrance area - this is the point of entry into your home and "expanding" this area is important.
The next area is in the living room behind the sofa wall. "The mirror will reflect the living room and TV console, and the view in the mirror will not be too distracting," he says.
The size of the mirror should be as big as the space allows, after considering accessibility - such as how you can get the mirror into your home.
Both Mr Ang and Ms Terri Tan, design director of interior design firm Designworx Interior Consultant, agree that framed mirrors give a luxe look and they are most effective in multiples.
Ms Tan says: "They can be hung in a series of decorative panels or a cluster of four, like artwork in the dining room. Alternatively, a series of oversized framed mirrors can be used to lighten a dark corridor or corner."
To avoid giving your home the clinical glare of a fitting room, opt for tinted mirrors as they are more comfortable on the eye.
•Home & Decor and experts in renovation and home decoration answer queries from readers in this series. These questions first appeared in the April issue of Home & Decor, published by SPH Magazines.
•Got a decorating or home renovation issue? Write to Experts Say, Home & Decor, Level 7 Media Centre, 82 Genting Lane, Singapore 349567 or e-mail email@example.com. Photos and layouts are non-returnable.