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After 10 years of renting, an interior designer gets to work on her dream home


For this interior designer and her husband, her first home was love at first site (visit). But the MCO threatened to derail her fairytale ending.

© Ulrica Goh

You’d imagine someone who makes a living transforming slabs of concrete into beautiful spaces would own houses by the dozens. But for Ulrica Goh who has lived in rented spaces for the past 10 years, this was the first home she could truly call her own.

A spacious, open living plan on the second floor. © Ulrica Goh

A self-admitted HGTV buff, she was deeply inspired by the homes she saw in far-flung countries. The style that stood out for her? Farmhouse chicrustically whimsy and laidback with a modern touch. So when she bought her first home, she set about bringing her late-night, reality-TV fuelled vision to life.

The living room before its maker’s touch. © Ulrica Goh

But just as renovations were underway, COVID-19 threatened to bring everything to a halt. Managing a house renovation project is already a daunting task during the best of times. Throw in the Movement Control Order (MCO) and the task becomes something beyond an uphill battle.

With a bit of hard work and a lot more smart work, she deftly manoeuvred her way through gruelling MCO restrictions and a landlord who left her and her husband effectively homeless right after Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) to bring her dream abode to life.  

Six months down the road and they are now happy to be able to call this beautiful space their home.


? These before-and-after house transformations are out of this world.
?️ See how this Malaysian man transforms his bedroom during the MCO period.

The transformation of the living area from dull as a doorknob to bursting with personality. © Ulrica Goh

After years of renting, what was it that finally made them bite the bullet to buy a house? For her husband who was looking for a home away from home, it was a sense of community. A serendipitous house viewing close to Halloween revealed carefully strung cobwebs, witches’ hats, and other ghoulish surprises greeting them from the shared spaces. It wasn’t the fake spiders that drew him in; it was knowing that this was the vibe they’ve been searching for all along.

They saw in this community of young, like-minded couples a place they felt comfortable building their next phase of life. The beautiful facilities and lush greenery were an added bonus.

With a view like this, who could say no?  © Ulrica Goh

Ulrica has carefully planned how to make full use of her townhouse. Having taken the upper unit, she felt that their living space seemed narrow, so she rearranged the design flow and left it open enough to keep the walls from feeling like they were creeping in. Strategically placed mirrors pulled in some light and clean white walls worked in tandem to make their home appear more spacious.

Same balcony, different life. © Ulrica Goh

She didn’t think twice about breaking down the maid’s room so she could have a larger kitchen, a space that she felt was most important. “If you’re talking about #kitchengoals, my dream design… was to have a LARGE island farmhouse kitchen to entertain.”

This barely-an-island countertop and maid’s room is now a thing of the past and takes on a new life in this dreamy kitchen. © Ulrica Goh

To ensure she had enough kitchen space, she built linear cabinets throughout the entire length of the kitchen wall, with shelving spaces reserved for decorative pieces. The bold designs like the Aztec tiles, reflect her even bolder personality. She wanted to make a refreshing impression every time someone walked up to their unit, with accent pieces that trickled its way into dinner party conversations. 

A few pieces of furniture here, a carpet there, et voila! © Ulrica Goh

An office with a view. © Ulrica Goh

Ultimately, when it came to her home, she realised that making her own renovation and design project a success boiled down to being ruthlessly realistic about how to make it happen.

The entrance that leads to the first floor wasn’t forgotten in the makeover. © Ulrica Goh

With meticulous planning, a lot of Pinterest tagging, and firmly fixed finances, she managed to design each space to what she had in mind while sticking to a budget. Her advice for first-time homeowners who are at a loss about how to approach their home renovation was to prioritise the necessities.

A lot can be done with just the bare necessities (and a little more). © Ulrica Goh

As Ulrica is an interior designer by profession, we asked her advice on how to choose the right contractors. She said that if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Cheap prices often come with poor workmanship, so she looked at the after sales service and wanted assurance that her work would be prioritised. A well-planned execution, good materials, and good time management were key to making her home happen, so go in knowing you get what you pay for.

These 3D drawings prove that with good planning, you don’t have to compromise on what you set out to do. © Ulrica Goh

As Ulrica and her husband settle into their new space and the routine that comes with it, she sees in this once unassuming townhouse a storied place for her growing family and a home to be filled with laughter and memories.

If you love this home transformation, check out Ulrica’s website and Instagram for some serious design inspo and furious Pinterest tagging of your own. When not busy with slews of corporate and commercial projects, she may even lend her keen eye on your upcoming home project.


? Here’s how to create a Scandinavian-themed room.
? Designing a small space? Let this writer tell you how.
? How does feng shui affect your home? Click here to find out.

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