A number of houses in Kuala Lumpur’s Bukit Persekutuan boast a unique orientation — the top floor is at street level, and the bedrooms are downstairs. The layout is meant to adapt to the hilly terrain of this relatively quiet neighbourhood, which is where you can find quite a few colonial-style houses that were once the homes of senior government officials.
In this suburb, narrow asphalt roads meander through lush green foliage, which looks healthier than ever now that the monsoon season has arrived. Although KL’s busy city centre is just a few kilometres away, Bukit Persekutuan is nothing if not peaceful — the solitude is broken only by the chirping of birds and the rustling of leaves.
Many of the homes don’t have especially interesting entrances, saving the drama for the interior. One home in particular stands out for its eclectic style that is inspired by the homeowner’s personality. Each item is chosen because he likes it, and that’s how he makes it all work.
His passion for art is immediately evident, starting from the small landing on the top floor. Above a small cabinet, a large painting — the homeowner’s most recent acquisition, as it happens — overlooks the living space a few feet below.
The main living area is not very big, but is able to fit an eight-seater dining table and a day bed in the awkward space ahead of the kitchen. The light in the living area is most complementary in the late afternoon, with the rays of the setting sun streaming through the generously proportioned sliding doors that open out onto a small balcony. The view is breathtaking, especially the twinkling lights of Bangsar at night.
A neutral palette of white, tan and brown in the living area is the perfect foil for the hand-picked accents that the homeowner has collected during the 20 years he has lived in Malaysia as well as his travels across the region. Each item has its place, and an accompanying story. The homeowner says he shops by intuition, whether it’s for simple things like the coterie of wooden figures on the coffee table or the large Balinese artwork that anchors one wall. The overall effect is warm and welcoming, without feeling cluttered or too sparse — a balance that isn’t always easy to get right.
As welcoming as the living area is, it is the kitchen that is the most used — its convivial and warm feel is a magnet for guests to linger well past mealtimes. The warmth of the dusky brick flooring and wooden fittings is complemented by yet another eclectic selection of furniture. For example, the coffee machine and a few other electrical appliances take pride of place on a Peranakan-style table instead of being stored away in a cabinet.
Eschewing traditional, straight-backed chairs, the homeowner has opted for café-style metal seats around the dining table. A bright yellow sink replaces the standard chrome version. The windows, which are usually left open, let in ample sunshine and cool bursts of fresh air, courtesy of the mature trees that line the property.
If the living areas are defined by a convivial and welcoming theme, the master bedroom — located downstairs — is completely the opposite with a dramatic look and feel to create an intensely intimate setting. Again, this comes from the homeowner’s desire to create a private sanctuary, a space that one can surrender to.
This home proves that the best way to decorate your personal space is from the heart — choose things that make your soul soar, and your house will become a home.
This article first appeared in the December 2015 + January 2016 issue of Haven, which comes complimentary with The Edge Malaysia Weekly. Subscribe here for your personal copy.
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