Living: Queen of the hill

This article first appeared in Haven, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on June 5, 2017 - June 11, 2017.

Chicka the cat welcomes guests into the house

Details like an Hermès plate and a Diptyque candle add a touch of subtle luxury to the living room

Natural light and a neutral palette keep the home clean, uncluttered and chic

Suzanne Eyton with Chicka

Clever use of glass adds depth and dimension

“The dining room is dominated by a beautiful table from Stellar Works and a punchy artwork by Catalan artist MaxÓ Rennella”

“The top level of the home is a treasure trove of books and Suzanne’s husband, Nazim Esa’s collection of guitars.”

Graham & Brown wallpaper, coupled with pom-pom throw cushions from Thailand, make the guest bedroom whimsically cosy

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Suzanne Eyton’s artistic eyrie in an upscale enclave of Kuala Lumpur oozes character and chic
 

Nestled between Desa Sri Hartamas and Mont’Kiara in Kuala Lumpur is Kiara View, a hilltop cluster of elegant semi-detached houses built on Malay reserve land. Having lived here for just over 2½ years, Suzanne Eyton admits that the peace and quiet proved to be a little disconcerting at first. “I used to live in an apartment and was used to the noise of neighbours and generally a little more buzz and bustle. It’s absolutely quiet here at night but I’ve got used to it now,” she laughs. Having spent much of her life abroad, Suzanne’s international sense of style shows through in the interior design of her home — a joint effort between herself and her husband Nazim Esa, a former filmmaker who had won the 2008 BMW Shorties Award and whose accolade now takes pride of place on a countertop that separates the kitchen and dining area.

Sharing their spacious five-bedroom, semi-detached corner unit that spans three levels are two privileged kitties — a tabby named Chicka and Naim, a sweet-natured tomcat. “As ours was a former show unit, we didn’t have much renovating to do ... we focused primarily on the interiors,” explains Suzanne. The result? An invitingly warm home decorated with precious finds from the couple’s travels all over the world. “I like clean lines and light colours,” adds the lady of the house, and looking around, contemporary best describes the overall effect. 

The living room, done up in neutrals, is dominated by a beautiful marble coffee table with copper legs from Gudang, which Suzanne has topped with plants, a Diptyque candle and a precious Hermès plate. “A wedding present,” she smiles. The living room adjoins a shaded patio created with weekends in mind and where a well-used Outback barbecue set stands. It is almost deluged by Suzanne’s collection of potted plants, all thriving and lush. The sound of water echoes throughout the space and a pond filled with bright and beautiful carp adds flashes of colour amidst the abundance of green. 

Overlooking this tranquil space as well is the dining area, which is punctuated by family photographs, a retro-looking gold-hued stand fan by Höum and a punchy artwork by Catalan artist Max Rennella titled The Heart of Barcelona. “My husband and I love art and we happened to be in Barcelona, where we’d already bought several artworks by this time, so we said ‘no more’. But then, as we were wandering around the narrow alleyways of the Gothic Quarter, we suddenly spotted this cute, tiny gallery, walked in, saw this piece and instantly liked it. We told ourselves we had to have it and there you are. Now, it occupies a special place in our dining room,” Suzanne smiles. The dining table, another beautiful acquisition from Gudang, is by Stellar Works while a sideboard holds a Bang & Olufsen sound system most smartly. 

Other quirky artworks fill the space leading to the kitchen, including fun finds picked up while trawling the artsy arrondissement of Paris’ Montmartre as well as a photograph by Slim Aarons, the American shutterbug best known for capturing the global jet-set at play, titled Desert House Party. 

A saunter up the stairs will bring you tête-à-tête with Asmawi Ismail’s Yellow Fields, Suzanne’s first major art acquisition, before arriving at the first level, the domain of the master bedroom as well as Suzanne’s impressive walk-in wardrobe. Lamps, cushions and leafy arrangements in unique vases abound throughout the house and the cosy, whimsical feel extends to the top level, where the guest room echoes the theme, replete with palm leaf-printed wallpaper by Graham & Brown and pom-pom-accented throw cushions picked up by Suzanne while travelling through Chiang Mai in Thailand’s north. Nearby, a self-contained kitchenette stands ready to serve the needs of guests lucky enough to be invited to stay. The only overtly masculine part of the home is, perhaps, the study area, dominated by Nazim’s collection of books and guitars. All one needs to do is step out onto the expansive balcony to be rewarded by views of rolling hills and, in the distance, the impressive Kuala Lumpur skyline — a pleasant but palpable reminder that the city is within a stone’s throw of their verdant, artistic eyrie.