Cover The ornate living room, overlooking the Kuala Lumpur skyline and KL Bird Park

In just 8 months, the wizard of interiors transformed a classy living space into a 6,800 sqft modern luxe apartment, perched atop of St. Regis The Residences Kuala Lumpur.

When he’s not traipsing the globe seeking creative inspiration, Raymond Lee, the sought-after founder of Xceptional Interiors, is consumed by various projects ranging residences, hotels and retail spaces. From a young age, the former creative director always had a flair for beautiful things. Growing up in a Peranakan household in Malacca coupled with his passion for international interior magazines inspired him to create his own spaces, which drew the attention of his friends. Paid commissions flowed in and he realised that his true calling lay in interior designing and decorating, which he went into full time in 2005. Today, he is the go-to creative eye for professionals, businessmen, and even celebrities. One of his recent projects was an expansive apartment at St Regis The Residences Kuala Lumpur, that took modern luxe to a new level. We speak to him about how he made the brief that and much more, including as an opulent, family-friendly sanctuary.

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The Brief

“Have fun, make it work, and create a special space for me and my family!” reveals Raymond. The client had a space combining 2 apartments, covering 6,800 sq ft of floor space. The result was 2 master suites, 3 bedrooms, a TV room, and enough space to spare for a housekeeper and 2 maids.

A Good Client Relationship Is Imperative

Raymond is a staunch believer of 2-way communication with his clientele. Not only does it help him understand them more, it also leads to a smooth work flow. “Understanding the client’s vibrant personality and her appreciation for the finer, more elegant things in life helped me put together this interior design concept I call ‘modern luxe’”, Raymond divulges. This project proved a joyful 1 with just a few stumbling blocks. Since he was on the same page as his client right from the initial concept, everything else fell into place naturally. What’s more, Raymond’s client trusted his judgement with decorating the apartment. “I even had the chance to go shopping to pick out many of the accessories and artwork on display.”

The Art Of Picking The Artwork

Speaking of art, Raymond couldn’t emphasise more the pivotal role of artworks and sculptures in defining his client’s taste. “It’s very much an extension of the client’s personality. Some of the pieces had come from the clients collection with many new pieces sourced from local and regional galleries featuring mostly Malaysian and regional Asian artists,” he refers to the ones picked for this unique apartment.

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Supportive Suppliers

Being the modest interior designer that he is, Raymond is quick to give credit to the suppliers who have helped him execute many a project. “My very reliable contractor David Chin plus all my vendors and go-to suppliers such as Janine, Flexform, Studio 216, Xtra and VLUZ Lighting, had contributing roles in this apartment,” Raymond divulges.

A Melting Pot Of Influences

Besides Asian influences via art pieces, there were traces of European influences throughout the apartment, most prominently on the decoration and furniture. “Many of the pieces had been ordered in from Italy and London, with some purchased from the many local designer shops we have here in KL,” Raymond explained. He also commissioned local contractors to build custom wardrobes and cabinetry that his team had designed.

An Easy-going Working Style

Since most of Raymond’s clients are accustomed to the high life, he makes it a priority to meet their lifestyle habits when starting a project. After getting to know them and their interests in the fine things like dining, travel and hotels, he taps into their surroundings: “I look at the floor plans, visit the site, meet their family. It’s important to check out their current home and collections,” Raymond hints. In essence: explore, explore, explore!

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Managing Expectations

Working on home projects of the high profile, coordinating with numerous vendors, working with the space’s limitations and tight deadlines: it can be a rather stressful environment. Raymond has some advice to offer: “Your experience helps you go a long way in dealing with challenges and that come in many forms, in any project. Patience and managing client expectations are also important,” he adds.

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