We moved to our current home in Sugai Buloh about 10 months ago. It’s a lovely neighbourhood, built around a lot of greenery and cooler than most KL suburbs because it sits on a higher plot of land. Friends who visit us call it ‘the bubble’ and we can’t disagree. The development has its own grocer, salon, 2 cafés, music and art classes and a double-storied club house with a gym, golf and swimming pool. Technically, you don’t have to leave the development. Technically.
The heart of the house: We spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I wanted a café-style kitchen and this is the first time that we have ever had an island. Now that we have one, we use it all the time. We eat breakfast here, get homework done whilst dinner is being cooked – it’s the heartbeat of the house. There’s a command centre with school schedule, notes from teachers and party invites. The boys have started writing notes here : ‘Friday – movie night, please’ or ‘Soccer on Thursday’. They are expected to pack their own bags and plan their week based on the schedule. As a working mom, everything needs to be in a system – otherwise, I tend to get too overwhelmed.
Melting of two styles : My husband and I have very different buying styles. I am not an impulsive buyer but if I like something, I will know it immediately and I will buy it. I may not even have an idea of where it will sit in the house – I would like to think of myself as a follow my heart kind of person. My position is that if you buy only what you love, it will always work. My husband on the other hand would have two excel sheets with price comparisons, pros and cons of a purchase, and will need to know where exactly it must go in the house. We still try to buy together – and learn to work around our quirks. But if I really, really like something, I would go and get it myself.
Where is all the kids’ stuff? The carved Nyonya cabinets that frame the teak sideboard were bought 10 years ago in Melaka. They hold tonnes of kids homework, toys and various bits. The teak sideboard with metal handles has stickers, a medicine box and art paraphernalia. It’s perfect to get work done on the dining table. I feel it’s possible to keep kids stuff in a ‘grown-up’ room without having it end up looking like a kindergarten.
Of course, upstairs, the kids have their own space. The landing area is big and we are in the midst of converting the play room into an art and craft space. They picked the colours and décor for their room – but I have to confess, I did a hard sell on the nautical idea. If I left it to them, it would have been a soccer-themed room all the way.
Pulling it together : When we moved here, we had furniture collected over 5 houses, 2 continents and 12 years of marriage. The only style we could settle for was ‘eclectic’. We had a budget constraint after the renovation – so really stuck to most of our existing furniture. Suzana Ahmad from Studio Eclectica was fantastic with working around our existing collection and also sourcing – bar stools that must swivel (kids request) and must have a back (husband). I was going crazy and did the next best thing – call Suzana. She’s introduced me to many new furniture places: Kian, Joy Design Studio, Nest Nordic. And we trawled through some old favourites: SSF, Fella, Ambiance and Thamesa.
We decided unthinkingly on a mustard headboard in the master bedroom. Now, I usually go for white sheets but when Suzana saw the space, she said GREY sheets. Magic! And that gorgeous chevron spread – she sourced them when she was in Bali.
Sunday mornings: Sunday mornings are sacred. It’s always lazy and starts with breakfast on the patio – toast, eggs, jam and coffee. We read the papers at leisure and the boys will check out Premier league scores. We usually have lunch at home and I will cook based on how I feel – sometimes something simple but sometimes I make a proper meal. We almost always eat on the patio. Actually, come to think of it, we spent most of our Sunday at the patio. The kids get an hour of iPad on Sundays – and I catch up on my reading. After that, they are in the garden, kicking a ball. There are at least five other kids of similar age within a few roads away, so they have their own little play too.
Home renovation in KL: When we bought the house, it was in need of some TLC. We broke the wall to the kitchen and made it open plan, we got rid of a big fish pond and put the patio in with hardwood flooring. The key is to get a contractor who will work with your vision – and the best way is to get a recommendation. Mine came from a friend. We did have our moments but overall, Ku did a good job. He didn’t understand the need for all-white walls or getting rid of the pond but he was spot-on with bringing to life the café style open plan kitchen and also re-used existing built-ins in the rooms upstairs which went some way towards cost savings.
There are still many little areas that I want to add or improve. But a home is always work in progress.
Kitchen: Bar stools: Kian
Play room: White wicker chair, navy striped poof: Joy Design Studio, carpet: SSF.
Children’s room: Bed:Harvey Norman, shelf: Ikea , throw cushion: Kaison.
Kitchen: Bosch from Harvey Norman.
Dining room: Flower mirror: SSF, rugs: Jakel, lights: Alfo.