Cover A "floating" staircase accesses

Home to partners in work and life, this pre-war terrace house in Penang with a modern Interior is a culmination of their shared passion for design

Partners in work and life, interior designers Chuah Say Yang and Chong Su Min transformed a pre-war terrace house in the heart of Georgetown Penang into a sleek light-filled home combing both their styles.

Chuah, the founder of design firm NEVERMORE and Chong, founder of Xcent Design Consultancy, looked at this "project" as a collaboration between their companies – built by Nevermore and styled by Xcent Design Consultancy.


Both based in Penang, the couple were drawn to this 2650 sq ft pre-war terrace house on Irrawaddy Road because of its strategic location. Despite its bare and run-down state, being both professional interior designers, they could see the endless possibilities of what could be done to the space.

The narrow 2-storey property was afflicted with the problem most terrace houses face: the lack of natural light. The solution was solved by gutting out most of the house's original interior, implementing an open concept, and introducing skylights to allow light to penetrate the space.

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Proper zoning and space planning was necessary for this to be successful. The designers designated the entire first floor to combine the living room, kitchen, dining and open bar area.

In contrast, the upper floor has three bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms. Two staircases were built to access the upper floor, the first leading to the master bedroom and the second in the front of the house, while the spiral staircase accesses the guest room.

More than just functional, the staircases have become features in themselves. "For the first staircase, we built the skeleton of the staircase and cladded the structures with solid mild steel sheet. The challenging part was hoisting the second set of the staircase skeleton before we could weld and secure it to the concrete slab," recalls Chuah.

"The spiral staircase was clad in mild steel sheet finish with Murobond rust paint series; the result of the rust paint effect was also one of a kind."

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The couple loves beautiful materials, so the home features well-placed precious materials.

"Arabescato Orobico marble from Italy was installed on the bar counter. We love this marble's exotic grain and colours, and we wanted it to be a statement piece once we enter the house," explains Chuah. " Natural solid teak wood flooring laid in chevron patterns creates a classy mood for the bedrooms."


High-quality fittings were included in the elegantly realised kitchen primarily geared for Chuah, who enjoys cooking. The ultra-modern kitchen in black FENIX laminate features handless cabinet doors and drawers with Blum mechanisms. An integrated fridge and downdraft hood on the island counter keep everything hidden and neat.

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Unsurprisingly, the home is finessed with elegant furniture sourced from the couple's suppliers and accented with designer pieces: "Most of our furniture are custom made by local furniture makers. One of our exceptional pieces would be the Moooi Smoke Chair by Maarten Baas. We imported most decorative pieces from South East Asia during our trips to Bali, Singapore and Bangkok."

The culmination of the couple's shared love for design, Chong describes the completed home as sporting a unique look. "It’s pretty much a style of our own. I like something modern and minimalist, while my wife prefers something feminine and classy. I would say it combines our ideas and inputs, and the design turned out quite well," he opines.

Chong's pride in the finished product is well-placed, especially as the home won them their first international awards - the British SBID International Design Awards 2018 for private residence under £1 million.


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