Home Tour: A Terrace House In Suburban Seputeh Transformed Into A Tropical Oasis
We all know that two heads are better than one but it's all the more apparent when those two heads belong to a married couple. This was certainly the case with Charles and Ray Eames, celebrated for the incredible, timeless designs they created together, and Robert Venturi who protested when his wife and lifelong collaborator Denise Scott Brown didn’t win the Pritzker Prize with him.
Then there are interior designer Eelin Loo and architect Seng Kheong Leong, whose working arrangement came together organically. Loo started ELD Sdn Bhd almost 11 years ago specialising in private homes, apartments, property showrooms and office designs while Leong joined her in 2016 to make ELD a complete architectural, interior and design-build practice. And although the couple share a beautiful home that they both worked on, Batu Laut in leafy Taman Seputeh, Kuala Lumpur, is their first ‘official’ project together.
A distinctive glass encased foyer entrance addresses a sense of arrival along with an open terrace covered driveway
Another view of the pool
The corner terrace unit comprises five split levels, typical of the original layout features of houses in this neighbourhood. While this initially posed something of a challenge, Leong reveals that on closer examination, this was turned into an advantage: “The split levels are a distinctive feature of the Seputeh houses which we intend to preserve, but we added an extra level (room) to accommodate a new brief by the clients', Wendy and Darren, requirement.
"Our concept in space planning is defining the clarity of the spaces in each split level with an ease of circulation—the many split levels featured many steps, treads and risers. The original open riser stairs were retained with the changing of all the old solid timber to recycled glue laminated solid timber treads. Its ubiquity made it important to maintain a lightness, therefore open risers and a single-hand rail from a simple hollow steel sectional beginning from the ground floor to level six was introduced.”
One of the clients’ requests was for a resort style home where the outdoors merged almost seamlessly with the indoors, and this being a corner house meant that there was sufficient land for an outdoor lap pool and a semi outdoor pavilion. “Wendy and Darren are avid travellers and love entertaining so the interaction of the pool pavilion and the drykit plus dining spaces serve their purpose well,” enthuses Seng Kheong.
TO INFINITY AND BEYOND
The pool’s edge was placed at the edge of both sides of the wall with fully collapsible doors to suggest a blurring of indoor and outdoor spaces. The original split level allows for the design of an ‘infinity’ pool edge at the end of the lap pool, with a cascading waterfall flowing into a trough at the lower level of the open space towards the driveway, giving a resort-like ambience with the sound of cascading water upon entering the compound of the house.
External glazing, doors and window openings were kept simple with a clear design intent, corresponding to the interior space. The clever deployment of glazing in strategic places make the most of the views while balancing it with the need for privacy.
The interaction between the dry kitchen, dining room and pool was deliberately planned to fit around the clients’ sociable lifestyle
Diners can enjoy the view of the pool
The owners' collection from their travels adorn the shelves
The living room has floor to length glazing which allows for a generous view of Taman Seputeh and beyond. The second storey glazing is layered by a specially designed external aluminium powder coated vertical screen.
Transparency is achieved when viewed directly from the front but when seen from any other angle, it appears opaque. This creates a softened outlook of a lighted screen ‘lantern’ effect when the space behind is lighted at night,” explains Leong.
As with many houses in Seputeh, it features five split levels which initially proved a challenge but the designers chose to embrace this quirk and define the clarity of the space in each level
The view of the pool is captured form the dining and open kitchen
Furniture is an eclectic mix
A distinctive glass encased foyer entrance addresses the sense of arrival but it is on the upper levels where the glass has been used most effectively. “The master bath, complete with a Jacuzzi in the centre, on the fifth level features a high ceiling which creates a feeling of lightness. Ample daylight streams in from the two sides of high glass fixed panels while natural ventilation is offered from the front facing sliding windows."
"Privacy is maintained by a row of planter boxes with screening indoor plants plus a vertical aluminium screen that triples as an architectural piece, privacy protector and security feature,” adds Leong. “The master bedroom on the topmost floor faces the rear elevation and boasts a full glass view of an outdoor open sky terrace. Planters and cement vent blocks provide privacy but the full-height glazing facing the open-air terrace creates a visually spacious bedroom. Additionally, the master bedroom has a visual sightline of the master bath below via a horizontal fixed glass panel.”
A neutral colour palette is enlivened by interesting shapes and textures
The multiple stories of a typical Seputeh House
While Loo took the lead on the interior design and provided built-ins in most of the areas, all the furniture, lighting and art were procured by Wendy and Darren from around the Asian region, as well as decorative objects from Melbourne. “Both of them are seasoned travellers with an eye for design, beautiful objects and the styling of their home so my role was more of a curator,” shares Loo.
The homeowners can peek into the level below via a horizontal glass panel behind the headboard
The master bedroom has a full view of the outdoor open sky terrace although planters and cement vent blocks provide privacy;
The high ceiling is a feature here and creates a feeling of lightness
Privacy is maintained in the master bath from a row of planter boxes with screening indoor plants and a vertical aluminium screen
Simple but quality finishes in the bathroom
Through this project, we notice the ease in which the architecture, interiors and personal objects coalesce effortlessly and beautifully; there’s no doubt that Loo and Leong’s first collaboration was an auspicious start.
- PhotographyLawrence Choo