December 2. 2021
Decorating where we live to reflect our style is an act of creation. We attempt to bring beauty, joy or even practicality to our lives within our little corner of the world. Undoubtedly, decorating reflects who we are at a particular moment in our lives. As expats, how do we decorate an apartment or a house in Saigon on a budget? Like most of us, if you have champagne taste and a beer budget, this should not stop you from making changes that enhance your daily life. You do not need to spend a fortune or commit to a major remodelling project to make a dramatic change in the look of your apartment. Here are six design ideas that are low-cost options that will instantly update almost any room of your home.
Split the Room
If you are lucky enough to live somewhere with a large square meterage, consider using some of that space to create a feeling of separateness. Using a tall bookcase, a screen, or perhaps a rug can separate your living area from your TV area. The same idea also works in your sleeping area. If you have a nightstand, use it for stationery or whatever else you need close at hand. Use what you have available, even if it means using a piece for something other than its original purpose. Always remember that the less intrusive the separator, the more effective it will be.
Any space can benefit from art on the walls. If you have high ceilings, then hang some larger pieces of artwork. A smaller wall will benefit from smaller art pieces. The effect of art is usually dramatic and, if done tastefully, can liven up a bland, featureless room. Think about using large, ornate frames or plates or mats. Consider painting frames a bright colour like yellow, orange, or hot pink. Hang pictures on the walls or create a photo montage board! Even old, empty frames stacked together can look interesting.
Our tip: ask one of your building technicians for help to drill the wall, or ask around and find a handyman. Always be sure to talk to your landlord before doing any drilling or renovation work!
Personalize the Bathroom
Your accommodation will feel more personal and homey when you make your mark in the bathroom. Add a cool shower curtain. Even old towels, if they are in the same colour scheme, will look more expensive. Shells are popular, as are scented candles. Old bottles in different colours and sizes, when stacked, can also break up a basic bathroom. Finish off your bathroom with a fresh scent. Smell enhances the feeling in any room. As bathrooms can be small with minimal airflow, it is one of the most important rooms to have a scent or essential oil that you enjoy.
Spruce Up the Hallways
Don’t overlook the nooks and crannies. Even if your home has only one hallway, it can look and feel inviting. A well-designed hallway can add colour and life to a drab space and make it more livable. Otherwise, your hallway is just another long, straight stretch of beige paint. Instead, create a place that tells a story about your life. Here, a small rug, a vase and some artwork, all styled around a dresser, made this space extra-special. Even a shoe cabinet in this space, with some curios on top, works well.
Throw a rug
Rugs and throw-rugs come in all shapes and sizes. A rug can provide warmth and colour to any room. There are hundreds of ways to use them in a home. Rugs can be both beautiful and practical as they can serve to protect your hard-earned furniture (or your deposit) and add a pattern to your otherwise blah space. You can use rugs to warm up a cold, hard surface like concrete or tile. They can visually separate one room from another and add both comfort and texture.
Plants add beauty and freshness to any indoor space. Aside from their obvious beauty, they filter the air by producing extra oxygen through photosynthesis. Plants help reduce stress and anxiety and lower blood pressure by creating a sense of calm and alignment. They can even increase your productivity when you include them on your desk or in your home office. Start small, with just one or two plants on side tables in your house, or you can go all out and create your garden room filled with dozens of different plants. Urban gardens are becoming more popular as people wish to create edible gardens on small balcony spaces or vertical gardens along a balcony wall. It’s super-important to check on how to care for any plants you purchase, especially if you have a knack for killing them, as this will save you from any disappointment.
Picking up pallets or fruit boxes from local vendors or messaging plant companies to buy their pallets or wooden storage boxes is a cheap way to get storage bins that look super-cute, especially when painted white with some plants and books on top. They can be stacked and made into attractive shelving or a coffee table. Facebook groups here offer the most astonishing assortment of pieces from expats moving or leaving the country. Facebooks Marketplace is now a ubiquitous destination for second-hand, big and small, furniture pieces. Expats price things to “go”.
Check out GAGACO for plant and garden advice in Saigon. They will consult with you and suggest some great ideas for small spaces both indoors and outdoors. They also offer composting solutions for every size of home. A popular spot for plants and pots is one particular area in D2, home to many affordable shops on Nguyễn Hoàng in An Phú, D2
Baya stores offer anything from pictures, prints, frames, bedding, toppers to bookshelves and tables.
JYSK stores have an incredible variety of rugs and bathrooms wares, both practical and decorative.
Index Living Mall is a new addition to Saigon that has been hugely successful in Thailand and offers decorative and practical homeware pieces.
These stores open on Sundays. Head to their Facebook page where you can chat with English speaking consultants on messenger. Of course, Saigon has many artisans in every district, where you can go to direct for cheap and high-quality products.
Cudle bedding offers bedding in natural fibres, Minh Bedding offers hotel quality bedding at a fraction of the price. Amai Ceramics have unique designs. Hay Ceramics offer many individual handmade pieces at reasonable prices. If budget is not an issue, then Peony Home offers luxurious products and one-off collectables. Each of these shopping destinations has yearly and twice-yearly sales which is the best time to pick up a few bits and pieces.
Home decorating is an attempt to bring a sense of order and self to our lives. When creating a little haven we don’t have to spend a fortune or even get too crafty. Some simple ideas can help us to create a space that we enjoy. One where we can be ourselves, that says something about who we are.
Guest Contributor, Mr Malik N’Diaye
Founder of My Saigon City, Real Estate, HCMC
Contact Malik at www.mysaigoncity.com