Working with small places

As our homes in Singapore shrink, and our government tells us we still have enough space (ha!), we face the prospects of having to put up with smaller interiors and changing our expectations of how we decorate or furnish our homes.

Our eyes can be bigger than our living rooms, and we can run the risk of turning our new homes into a congested, untidy storeroom in our haste and enthusiasm to get all those cool and pretty pieces of furniture for our homes.

So here are some points that I garnered during my own hunt:

- measure your home properly
This means more than merely taking out the tape and recording the dimensions. That's important to get right, but also simulate what you will place inside. For example, the width of my dining hall is about 3m, but when I placed a cardboard piece which represented the size of my table (130 by 85cm), it filled up this space amply. Throw in some chairs and the place starts to look very cramped.

- ensure that there is flow and moving space
Like what I mentioned above, you need room to move about, and you can't buy a bed which fits your bedroom dimensions exactly, throw in a cupboard and expect room to move. Instead, a rule of thumb is that you need 70-90cm of space to walk around, and each chair at the dining table will take up another 50cm of space.

You also need space to walk past the table, or simply to avoid letting the whole place look too small.

- get the essential pieces to start off

Most homes will need a dining table, some sofa/lounge chairs etc but don't pack everything into that Ikea van so you save on delivery charges. Leave some room, re-assess and then go for another round of shopping. It's fun, and you can change the theme, the whole look if the first round didn't really suit you.

- get those extras later
For little knick knacks, wait; settle the big pieces of furniture, the static items like the kitchen etc, then aim for the paintings, mirrors, or wall decor. That way, you can have an idea of how much space you have first.

- Colors
Lighter colors will make a smaller home look larger
Mirrors work too, but be careful not to have too many things on the wall.
You can have one dark colored wall, just be careful not to overdo it.

- measure that sofa
Again like the dining table, some two seater sofas are really huge, even though the actual sitting space is limited to two.
Slimmer arm pieces, or using a more streamlined design can help. Cushy sofas, and large leg extensions may not suit the new "mickey mouse" breed of homes.

Ultimately, you just need a little attention to detail to get the proportions right.

The Loss of DAB Radio and Digital Transmissions in Singapore

I read about the closure of Digital Audio Broadcasts (DAB) with great sadness. We are only given one-month notice before our equipment becomes redundant. This is a far cry from the initial fanfare on DAB, and all the promises of better signal quality, sound and hissless high fidelity music.

Why the demise? Well, despite a promising start, there has been little focus, news or even marketing, and you will have to go out of your way to find people who know about the equipment and little expansion of the stations.

With such little effort devoted to this, it is of no surprise to hear of its demise. What concerns audiophiles and even the man in the street is the ramifications for other media, like digital television.

Digital television was also announced with much promise, and yet, more than four years after it’s introduction, transmission coverage around the island is still sporadic (you could be staying in the same neighborhood, and experience varying degrees of reception). We still only have one main channel, and the quality of the broadcast is quite variable. This is a far cry from many other countries who have embraced digital transmissions for both TV and radio. This is on top of any paid TV, so citizens have a choice.

Not everyone subscribes to cable, and free to air channels is what most Singaporeans enjoy. It will be a pity for new owners of fancy high definition TVs with digital tuners to turn on their sets and find that they cannot embrace the new technology because the MDA is not pushing out digital TV with a 100% effort as they should.

Singapore prides itself as a forward thinking nation, with early adoption of new technology, but our true uptake of this is only token. Buyers of new TVs will do well to temper their expectation of what digital TV (DTV) is like locally. Unless the authorities do a better job, DTV will also go the way of DAB.

 The ultimate irony? Now that they are shutting the network down, the number of times, the word DAB appears has increased exponentially, as they annouce it's closure...

Luckily my Sagean DDR 3 has regular FM reception, so I don't need to relegate it to the trash pile...