Cover A wabi-sabi family home. Photo: Lawrence Choo

From a restored shophouse in Penang to a farmhouse-inspired home in Kuala Lumpur, eclectic is absolutely fantastic as these five Malaysian homes prove

1. A wabi-sabi Shah Alam home lush with greenery

The home of IDr Joe Chan, founder and principal of the award-winning firm DesignTone Interior Practice, in Shah Alam is an ode to his love for natural beauty and wabi-sabi. Inspired by the Australian verandah home, the relaxed family home is surrounded by lush greenery.


On the ground floor, the living-dining-kitchen-patio-garden appears as a singular space with its functions and spatial qualities changing throughout the day to suit the family of three's daily rituals.

The house accepts and celebrates imperfections and a sense of impermanence with the interior finishes of cement, plywood, natural wood, and vintage and aged pieces passed down from generations.

Read more here.

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2. A holiday home in a Penang heritage shophouse

The holiday home of gallerist Lim Wei-Ling and her husband Yohan Rajan in the heart of Penang’s UNESCO Heritage Zone is an eclectic combination of heritage and modernity.

Restoring the pre-war shophouse was completed with minimum fuss and kept relatively simple to serve as a blank canvas for the couple's extensive collection of furniture, object d'art and contemporary art.

Furniture comprises classic and modern pieces, including family heirlooms, antique items sourced from Penang and a carpet collection amassed over the years.

The artwork reads like a who’s who of the local and regional contemporary art scene including works by Chong Kim Chiew, Shia Yih Ying, FX Harsono and Irfan Hendrian. Some pieces were previously in storage as they were too large for their Kuala Lumpur home and are now showcased here, including a pair of multi-panel Sean Lean pieces and fine art photographer Diana Lui’s large scale black-and-white series called The Feminine Beyond.

Read more here

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3. A photographer’s bohemian apartment in Bangsar

The home of acclaimed Lithuanian-born photographer Paulius Staniunas of All is Amazing fame, his wife and a new baby, this apartment in Bangsar may be compact but has plenty of personality to spare.

Since the space is a rental, the couple did not make many structural changes but decorated it with items which resonate with them like vintage wooden furniture and customising pieces with natural materials.


Staniunas' eye for design is apparent, from mid-century classics like the Louis Poulsen PH 2/1 table lamp to a carved Chinese panel. Not to mention the artworks collected from the couple's friends, who are fellow creatives.  

The balcony with an expansive view of the city skyline is crowded with plants the photographer has collected even before the pandemic. Today, the area is a microcosm of the forest reserve adjacent to the apartment building.

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4. An artist's hillside retreat in Janda Baik

Designed by Choo Gim Wah Architect on a sloping site in Janda Baik with a spectacular view, Canvas Hill Residence gets its name by combining its painter owner’s medium and the inclined site. 

The house comprises a courtyard framed by two pavilions inspired by the traditional Chinese courtyard residence, with an infinity pool enclosing the fourth side. Accessed by a moon gate entrance, the larger of the pavilions is the three-storey main dwelling-cum-art-space, while the smaller pavilion is reserved for guests.

Materials were kept rustic with raw finishes. Local hardwood was favoured for this, with Chengal for the decking and integrating vertical strips of Merbau into the steel columns. All interior fittings were left to the client, an artist himself, with a finely tuned affinity for beauty and arrangements.

Read more here

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5. A modern farmhouse in Kuala Lumpur full of colour

Designed by Framework Design Studio, this traditional mid-terrace house was completely refurbished to showcase a modern farmhouse concept per the client's request.

The client also wanted plenty of space to fit the furniture, art pieces and knick-knacks they had collected from their travels throughout the years in it.

Since the clients had a lot of colourful artwork and knick-knacks, the designers kept to neutral materials and finishes like mosaic and subway tiles and mostly white painted walls. The kitchen was reconfigured to accommodate an island and a little nook which allowed natural light to shine into the kitchen area.

The designers also added an attic space with a balcony that serves as an entertainment cum study area with plenty of room to display their books and knick-knacks.

Read more here


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