Cover Modern tropical was chosen for this family home

Using local materials and craftsmen, this house by Ground Up (Design + Build) exudes a sense of timelessness

The term 'forever home' carries a lot of weight. The task of designing one is understandably laden with expectations, as a 'forever home' needs to evolve with the needs of its residents and feature a style that doesn't date.

This was a task for Ground Up (Design + Build), an interior design firm that had been approached to design a home for a young family. The two-storey terrace house was a bare unit located in Elmina 8, a new development in Shah Alam.


The homeowners were a young couple with a two-year-old daughter who had found the designer’s profile online.

“We wanted to expand our residential portfolio and quickly clicked with the clients. They gave us a lot of trust with design and execution, and the final product looks almost identical to our original concept proposal, which is quite rare,” recalls Megan.

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The overall concept was modern tropical, with local Nyatoh wood applied across the home via cabinetry, ceiling and floor treatments. Touches of marble and black steel were added to accent certain areas.  

An open-plan common area encompassing the living, dining and dry kitchen was created. The design intention was to treat these spaces as one, carrying the same theme and materials.

“The space is also focused on how the family can all be together whilst doing separate activities, the wife baking at the island, the husband watching TV and their daughter having a snack at the dining table,” explains Lai.


Natural light was encouraged wherever possible, particularly in the master bedroom. “We designed the layout of the upper floor’s master bedroom and an en-suite bath to allow a lot of light in while still providing sufficient privacy to both spaces via thoughtful placements of the windows that also inform the façade’s outcome, which has a good balance of wall-to-window ratio,” states Lai.

Timber blinds behind the timber framed windows also add a subtle touch to the modern tropical vibe when viewed from the outside.

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Besides using local materials, the designers also sourced furniture, decorative objects, lighting and art from local suppliers and artisans. Tropical-inspired décor like the cluster of dining room pendant lights and decorative further underline the theme.

“The end result is a warm, edgy look that we believe would be timeless. This was going to be their 'forever home', so it was important that we considered timelessness for the home,” muses Lai. “The family invited the team for dinner after the project was handed over to experience the space with them. They were happy with the result and can see themselves inviting people over often and building many happy memories there.”


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