Home essentials

THE process of owning or renting a home, then furnishing it and moving in is a long, tedious and sometimes complicated process. On top of being subjected to all the documentation to see to, there is also the job of the interior design and decoration, aside from the nitty-gritty of dressing individual rooms and sections of the home for a "wholesome" look.

While home decor may sound exciting to many, the actual work can be taxing. With that, we did some legwork to help make the process a little easier by sharing online recommendations on "must-haves" or basics for a home.

Home insurance

Nothing hurts more than losing your home to disasters – both natural and man-made. Your house is one of the most important and costly investments you will make in your life, so take proper measures to protect it.

According to iMoney.my, there are three main types of insurance policies: a basic fire policy, houseowner's policy and householder's policy. As it suggests, a basic fire policy can only protect your home against damage by fire, lightning and explosions. There is better security with a houseowner and householder policy.

A common mistake many homeowners make is to read their policy only when they need to make a claim. When looking for the right insurance package, iMoney.my advises to ask five important questions: What disasters does the policy cover? How do they define each disaster? How much will the policy cover? Does the policy provide enough insurance to cover the cost of rebuilding your house and any extra costs you might incur? In what circumstances could the insurer reject claims?

Lastly, ensure that your house is not under-insured. Under-insuring or insufficiently insuring your house happens when the policy covers less than 90% of the rebuilding costs in the event of loss or damage.

Security system

A security system is a must-have for anyone, especially in the current climate where many Malaysians believe has become increasingly dangerous. As with all technology, installing a security system requires a lot of planning. However, the need for a home security system differs depending on whether you are the landlord or the boarder/renter.

For renters, it would be best to consider a wireless system that can be removed easily when you move or customised to fit the changes from house-to-house. Companies that require a long-term contract will also be impractical for renters. Service providing firm Kaodim advises to ask these questions when considering a security system: Is the system user-friendly? Does the system come with a maintenance plan to cover parts and servicing? Does it come with rechargeable backup battery? Is it connected to a 24-hour monitoring centre? Who does the monitoring and what is their experience and reputation?

Other security measures to take include investing in strong locking mechanisms for doors and windows. Use deadbolts and install peepholes on exterior doors. Solid wooden doors are also an added security measure.

Ensure the surrounding areas of your home are properly lit so that there won't be blind spots for robbers to use to their advantage. Motion sensor lights are a great option because it not only saves on electricity, but gives that "element of surprise" if a robber steps close and finds him or herself "in the spotlight". The sudden brightness also helps those in the home stay alert and to prepare to take action.

Bedroom comforts

Spend money on a good mattress because a beautiful room should also feel great. Pile on the comfort with a good comforter and a few pillows (the right amount is two to six pillows, depending on your bed size). Your bed can also function as decoration when you mix up the patterns and colours with pillow covers. Consider a bed frame with underbed storage where you can store extra bedspreads, pillow sheets, and the like.

If you own the house and plan to stay there for a long time, then consider customised storage that can hold your clothes, bags, shoes, accessories while looking fabulous. A modular closet organisation system allows you to expand and customise storage according to your needs.

Every bedroom should have a good nightstand with a night lamp. A small space to place necessities like your alarm clock or phone and your night-time read.

Find space for a full-length mirror, whether standing on its own or attached to the wardrobe door. It allows you to give yourself a once-over before leaving the house and also bounces off natural light for sufficient lighting.

Bathroom niceties vs necessities

Sadly, not many Malaysians put in much effort in decorating this part of the home. Most bath renovations include a change of tiles for the floor and wall to give a splash of colour and elegance in the room that's only needed for its function. While tiles can also make it easier to scrub off the grime that collects after each shower, there are some that can give your lavatory an exquisite look and feel that could make you want to spend a whole day in it.

In meeting form and function, experts suggest creating a proper separation between the wet and dry areas using glass doors or a shower curtain. Place floor mats at the door of the shower to soak up any excess water, while also adding a pop of colour and personality in an otherwise plain bathroom.

Ensure proper bathroom organisation with a towel rack for towels in use and a basket or shelf to store extras and toiletries, or have a caddy in the shower to hold the bathing necessities. Lastly, the choice of bathroom accessories can make all the difference to any bathroom experience, so choose wisely and stay with a theme.

Room for socialising

Some call it the living room, others the drawing room, sitting room or even lounge. This is usually where socialising takes place; a space to welcome guests and visitors, as well as an area to sit back and relax in, over a cuppa or conversation.

An important investment for this part of the home would be a comfortable and durable sofa. It shouldn't be too big that there isn't enough space to move around; too bulky that it feels overwhelming; and it should complement the theme of the room. Where a sofa feels too much, go for smaller pieces like multiple armchairs that can be moved around.

Have a small coffee table or side table where drinks can be placed on when guests come over. Place simple plant decor on the table, have a tray with simple snacks and coasters within reach so you do not have to scuttle about when the doorbell rings.

The living room is also the best place to display great wall decor, such as an artistic piece or a photo gallery. A "command centre" near the door helps keep the important things like letters and keys in one easy-to-reach place. For those like I who did not know, a command centre usually incorporates a mirror, pinboard, wastepaper basket and coat hooks.

Kitchen or kitchenette

Where cooking is concerned, there should be ample room for easy movement while cooking, additionally so if there are two or more cooks in the area at one time. While not all homes have the luxury of an island top where preparation can be done and there is space all round; in tighter surroundings, it is advisable to have one's daily gadgets and cooking utensils within arm's reach.

For the single yuppie or homes for two (working adults), a kitchenette will suffice as one will only require a cooker hood and hob unless entertaining over a meal. Bar counters also come in handy for small families; an alternative to a dining table, especially for the younger set. This also provides a place for additional family members to oversee the cooking process, have simple snacks or breakfast at.

However, it would be wise to also have a proper dining table if space permits; ideal when bigger occasions beckon, like large gatherings or on festive occasions when entertaining a crowd.

Have the basic utensils for cooking such as a good frying pan, a small pot and colander, along with the necessary ladles and cooking spatulas, not forgetting your personal set of knives. For serving, the basics include serving dishes and bowls, cutlery, glasses, cups and mugs, and a kettle for boiling water, perhaps another for brewing tea. Also invest in a good water filter for constant clean water, essential for both hydration and in the preparation of food. A coffee percolator would also come in nicely.

While every homeowner has their own individual tastes and fancies in decorating and interior design, the basics are a must to add comfort and convenience for a relaxing place to return to. In all, the beauty of home may be subjective but having basic necessities settled gives one time to add more personality to interiors.