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YOUR RENO & DECOR QUESTIONS ANSWERED

MY HUSBAND WANTS AN EXTRA-LARGE FLATSCREEN TV, BUT I’M WORRIED IT WILL DOMINATE OUR TINY LIVING AREA. DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE TO KEEP THE

A huge TV screen can be too «in-your-face», if what you want is a cosy, art-filled space. Create a feature wall that the TV screen will blend into. Start by using darker wall hues — grey or wood tones go well with black TV screens. Incorporate the TV screen into a wall of stylish bookshelves with a console below to hold set-top boxes, remote controls, DVDs and other electronic gadgets.

As your living area is small, you can temper your hubby’s exuberance by reminding him that experts recommend that the size of the new high-definition TV screens should be a third of the distance from your spot on the sofa for strain-free viewing.

MY APARTMENT HAS A VERY LONG BALCONY THAT FACES A NOISY ROAD. HOW CAN I BLOCK OUT THE TRAFFIC? WHAT KIND OF DECORATION WOULD BE IDEAL? IS A MINI GARDEN AN OPTION?

Even elongated balconies can be turned into restful spaces, with the long vista and green environment perfect for revitalising your eyes and soul.

If the space is fairly wide, you can place a series of three or four deep planter boxes flush against the balcony wall. This will allow you to grow tall, dense trees and underlying shrubs to block off the view of the road and reduce noise.

Place a small, slim-line patio set there adjacent to your living area. This creates an inviting nook for breakfast, or simply to sit down for tea and a chat. At the other end of the balcony, create a large decorative feature for the eyes to rest on. This can be a water feature with a bubbling pond; or if something low-maintenance is preferred, a tall metal sculpture on a stone pedestal.

If the balcony flooring is too slick and potentially dangerous, you might want to install timber decking. You can either get it professionally installed or DIY with decking squares and pebbles to fill the gaps.

For the 35m-long balcony fronting his apartment (below), this homeowner created raised sections with Mondo grass, stepping stones and water plants in some; and an outdoor dining and chill-out area in others for different «experiences» to enjoy.

THE EXISTING MARBLE FLOORING OF MY NEW HOUSE IS WHITE WITH BLACK STREAKS AND A YELLOWISH TINGE. IT FEELS A BIT OVERBEARING. WHAT FURNISHINGS CAN I USE TO MAKE THE MARBLE GRAIN LESS STARK?

Your marble flooring may feel cold and stark as there isn’t any furniture on it yet. But be assured that black-and-white is an easy colour theme to work with. If the marble veins feel too vivid, just cover them up with large carpets in the hall and living area. Carpets in black, grey or even deep red will create blocks of contrasting colour that lend harmony and balance to the overall scene. Balance the yellow tinge in the flooring by choosing warm colours in your decor accessories.

ALL MY BEDROOMS AND THE DINING AREA FACE THE SUN DIRECTLY. ON A HOT DAY, THE HEAT IS INTOLERABLE. HOW CAN I CUT MY AIR-CON BILL?

Your best bet is to stop the sun’s heat before it enters your home. Get your windows protected with 3M Prestige window film. This specially treated film will cut glare and UV rays by as much as 80 per cent, and keep your rooms cool all day. The special film is graded according to different tints, so you can choose a darker tint for better protection without marring the view.

Next, drape the windows with thick curtains in a light colour. Light hues will reflect back the sun’s rays, and heavy, thick fabric will trap heat in its folds so it never reaches your interiors.

When you arrive home, open all the windows to let out the trapped heat. Let the breeze blow through and ventilate the rooms before you turn on the air-con. Letting hot, damp air stay indoors will just strain your air-con as it will have to work extra-hard to cool down the hot, humid rooms. Moreover, humid air will damage your belongings, with clothes and upholstered furniture attacked by mildew.

THE INSIDES OF MY CROCKERY CUPBOARDS ALWAYS SMELL MUSTY AND WOODY. I GUESS IT’S BECAUSE I DON’T USE MY BEST DINNERWARE OFTEN. IS THERE A WAY TO GET RID OF THE STALE SMELL?

You can counter musty odours inside your cupboards by using your crockery more often. Failing that, make it a habit to air out your storage cupboards regularly. This is especially important if you live in a low-lying district where the air is still and humidity is high. Mould, termites and roaches will also multiply in dank, dark cabinets.

To prevent this, leave the doors wide open for a few hours every month. Pest exterminators say that insects hate to be disturbed. So, shuffle things around a bit and inspect the back and sides of your cupboards for termite trails and insect droppings. Draw up a cleaning schedule -take out the china-ware on each shelf and clean it on a rotating basis at least three times a year.

A convenient location often ensures better utilisation. If you have to search the upper reaches of your cabinets, you won’t bother using the items placed there often. Look for a neat, low console suitable for crockery storage, and place it right next to the dining table. Chances are you’ll want to take out your treasures more often. Besides, daily chores like setting the table or locating the serving spoons will be a breeze. Do rotate your dinnerware so every piece gets an airing and a cleaning more often.

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