Taiwan & Japan ‘Decoration Lite’ Trend: 14-day Home Transformation

Posted: Jun 12 2020Last Updated: Jun 12 2020

quick cheap renovation ideas

12 June 2020 - Many people's homes in Hong Kong are old not well decorated and show signs of peeling paint. And, the reason for not making improvements is often not a lack of money or living circumstances, but rather it’s because there is just no time to take care of the property.
In fact, this problem is not unique to Hong Kong. The concept of ‘decorating lite’ has sprung up in Taiwan and Japan in recent years and is aimed at the busy urbanite. Compared to a complete overhaul home decoration project, which would take two to three months and cost upwards of around HK$300,000, for only about HK$100,000, you could undertake a decoration lite project that transforms your home in just a couple of weeks.
*Information provided by Codeco
What is the difference between the two approaches? The following is a point-by-point breakdown:
Part one: Eliminating unnecessary infrastructure
Water and electrical-related repairs during a complete home decoration project often take up nearly half of the entire cost. This includes the replacement of water pipes and electrical wiring as well as re-finishing walls and laying new floor tiles, and other modifications. These renovations are, of course, very important for much, much older buildings with aging water and electricity infrastructure, but if the building is currently occupied, or the last renovation was completed within the previous 10 years, the existing facilities can generally remain in place.
Renovation or decorating without changing the original infrastructure is the first principle of decoration lite. In addition to saving lots of money and time, it also reduces demolition and construction waste.
Part two: "re-decorate" with paint along with ready-made furniture and accessories
Without changing over the underlying infrastructure, decoration lite focuses on those design aspects that most affect the appearance of a home, including primarily: paint, furniture, and accessories. Along with lighting fixtures, these three major elements are the key elements that affect the overall atmosphere and style of a home, but the cost is not comparatively so high. Taiwanese decoration companies often describe the strategy of spending money on interior design as either ‘decoration lite’ or ‘decoration heavy.’
Based on this strategy, decoration lite generally makes use of ready-made furniture items instead of custom-made pieces. In fact, unless custom-made furniture comes from a professional designer at a similar price, ready-made furniture often has more design features, making it easier to fit in with a particular style.
Part three: style is paramount
After reading the previous two points, you may be asking - ‘If I repaint the unit, and do everything by myself, is it still decoration lite?
In theory, yes… but you have to have a lot of confidence in your personal taste, and more importantly, you have to be willing to take the time and effort to create the design and carefully select the right furniture pieces. Decoration lite focuses heavily on style. How to match colors, choose materials, and create a coherent design are some of the key points in this process. Since not everyone has the time to carry out a project on their own, many interior design companies in Taiwan and Japan provide decoration lite solutions together with specific design motifs.
This time we discovered a good master designer, Brian, who will show you how to approach a decoration lite project in the same space with different styles:
quick cheap renovation

The pre-renovation state of the space and an industrial style makeover

quick cheap renovation ideas

Scandinavian decoration lite design using the same space

simple renovation design

Hotel-style decoration lite design

If you are interested in taking on a DIY decorating lite project, we recommend the Taiwan YouTube channel ‘Lo-Fi House’ where you’ll be able to view a host of décor transformation examples… and the host is also quite beautiful.

Time and cost

Since decoration lite is not a strictly defined practice, different design and decoration firms will offer their own practices and project scales in which time and costs will naturally vary. But all in all, most decoration lite projects will be completed within a two- to three-week period, and will rarely exceed one month. The average cost will run from tens of thousands to HK$100,000. If it’s DIY, of course, you can control the deadline and cost yourself.
Average time and cost for decoration lite projects:
400 sq. ft. entire house renovation
The average time takes about 2.5 to 3 months
The average cost is about HK$250,000-300,000
400 sq. ft. decoration lite
Usually within two weeks
Usually below HK$100,000
Decoration lite is not the same as a ‘paste over’
The last point to emphasize is that decoration lite is not a “paste over" job. In order to increase the asking price when selling or renting a property, some owners in Hong Kong only use the cheapest methods and materials to decorate a unit’s appearance even if the infrastructure is aging or there are leaking pipes. This is commonly known as a "paste over."
In contrast to a paste over, with decoration lite, due consideration is given to the quality and durability of the overall finished décor. Take painting as an example, many times, the process of ‘scraping off’ old paint down to the wall surface will be done first, and a high-quality paint will then be selected. These are procedures not normally associated with a paste over.
This also means that not all units are suitable for a decoration lite make over, such as properties with aging water pipes and electrical wiring, loose tiles, and even water leaks, all of which still require a ‘full monty’ renovation. Relatively speaking, decoration lite is worth considering for newly purchased flats as well as previously occupied but recently renovated units that aren’t suitable for an extensive renovation project. Or, simply those tired spaces where the owner just wants to pursue a fresh new look.
*Codeco: We have been matching households with quality contractors and designers since 2013. Our goal is to provide the best renovation experience, ultimately reinvent it, and consolidate the market with technology and innovative ideas.

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