Equatorial Luxe

The living room’s customised furnishings with mixed-material prints add a warm but bright touch. Louvred windows and wood furniture in the foyer set the tone for the modern tropical home right as you walk in. The house is filled with decorative accents, creating an intimate sense of character.

The contrast of cool tones and brighter hues strike a visual balance for the house, accentuating the intended modern-retro theme

The spacious master bedroom is kept uncluttered and simplistic, with a soothing grey colour scheme

Carefully selected artworks hung on every wall give off a vibrantly incongruous vibe

The upstairs study cum family room

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This article first appeared in haven, The Edge Malaysia, on Issue #82 December 2016 - February 2017.


Surrounded by lush foliage and sprawling gardens, this retro, art-filled home pays tribute to the simple pleasures of family life and is an ode to the languorous lifestyle afforded by tropical living 


House No 10 sits particularly prettily in a quiet, mature neighbourhood in Petaling Jaya. Encompassing 9,000 sq ft of spacious land at the end of a cul-de-sac, the double-storey home, with a built-up of 5,500 sq ft, is the ideal size for a small family. Happy with the original structure of the house, the owners — who wish to remain anonymous — brought in their designer, Raymond Lee of Xceptional Interiors, to focus on refurbishing the interior with only minimal changes to the architecture. 

“The owners wanted something very family-oriented. If at all there is any entertaining, it would be for really close friends. They do not entertain at home for business,” says Lee of his brief. 

At first glance, the moderately-sized house gives off a modern but classic vibe; its broad and welcoming façade partly attributable to an extension of the front porch to fit the family’s multiple cars. A water feature leads the way into the home, joined to an existing water feature that sits underneath the staircase, just indoors. 

Just beyond the stairs is the dining area, which is adjacent to a spacious double-volume living area and a beautiful foyer with louvred windows leading in from the main entrance. Bordering the living space is a sizeable terrace and lawn, with a koi pond that runs the length of the home and a vegetable and herb garden at the edge of the property.

On the other side of the dining room is an archway that leads to the open plan kitchen with Shaker-style cabinets and Caesarstone quartz countertops. Decorated in grey and black tones, the rather compact kitchen adds to the cosy vibe, one that is reminiscent of a New York-style home. Beyond the kitchen is the family room, where they gather to watch TV or read. Here, the orange-hued wallpaper, warm lights and light-coloured wood panels make for a bright but inviting corner. “The previous layout made the whole house really dark and closed up. We gutted the kitchen and family room, ripped out the floor tiles and replaced them with solid white oak floorboards,” says Lee. “Large glass pocket doors with Nyatoh timber frames were added to bring in light.” 

Having built a good rapport with the designer when he worked on their past two homes, the owners’ only request was for a warm ambience and nothing too minimalist, entrusting the rest to him. Employing floor-length glass panelled doors for natural sunlight and plenty of wood accents — such as the custom-made, American walnut dining table — Lee further made the large space cosy in several ways: mixing different materials, carefully planning the furniture layout and adding multiple rugs. 

The last element took a little more convincing for the lady of the house, being wary of maintenance, especially with the family dog taking a liking to them. “But now he’s got his own rug right here,” they point out. Lee adds, “It comes down to proportion, how you arrange the furniture to fill up the space.” Colour accents in the soft furnishings bring a bright touch to an otherwise earthy and natural ambience. 

Yet what really catches one’s attention is the abundance of artworks throughout the house, something Lee pushed for. “The owners are lovers of art. So, I felt that it is a good opportunity for them to boost their art portfolio as well,” he says. Almost every wall is adorned with original pieces, including on the first level, where four of the five bedrooms reside. There, Lee used wallpaper as the focal point in each room to bring out different characteristics. In the master bedroom, a large walk-in wardrobe connects to the bathroom, which has a distinctly resort-like feel, complete with pebble wash flooring. However, the most inviting room on the second floor would be the study, which features cream and brown tones that invoke a colonial-style sensibility. Here, the family sits at their old dining table to read, work or just gaze out onto the lush greenery around their simple but comfortable tropical home.