Cover The main family area is cosy and perfect for the family to gather and wind down together

Named Rumah Fajar (which means the House of Dawn), this interior designer’s idyllic family home in Bali embodies a sense of laid-back luxury whilst seamlessly connecting to its tropical surroundings

Tucked away in the midst of a tropical wilderness with sweeping views of Bali’s most sacred volcano, Gunung Agung, is a spellbinding villa that exudes tranquility. The sprawling five-bedroom property is home to interior designer Maximilian Jencquel and his young family. 

Situated on a steep hillside, the large 20,500 sq ft property is surrounded by exuberant foliage and tropical fruit-bearing trees, but it wasn’t always that way. When Jencquel, who heads his own architecture and interior practice Studio Jencquel, first laid eyes on the site, it was less than impressive.

“The access road was not available then, and we had to leave the car far out on the main road, and walk alongside an irrigation canal,” he remarks. “The land was overgrown with bamboo, hence there was no view of anything. Instead, there were a lot of mosquitos.” 

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But the site held a magnetising charm that Jencquel couldn’t resist. When he returned back to the area many years later with another developer, it had been cleared and its potential was expressed in spades.

“The site was now open to the valley, revealing the splendorous view, while the freshness of the southern trade winds intimidated any remaining mosquitos,” Jencquel recalls. “That was when I jumped on the opportunity. I had my structural engineer examine the soundness of the retaining walls, and upon his green light I brokered a good deal and acquired the land.”

With the property facing east, the house enjoys an illustrious view of the rising sun; thus earning it the nickname Rumah Fajar, which translates to 'The House of Dawn' in Bahasa Indonesia. “It was obvious throughout the design process that we wanted to capture the beauty of the morning light, and hence the name Rumah Fajar then followed,” says Jencquel.

“We had previously built another house called the House of Rain, and yet another called the House of the Full Moon; it could be said that we are creating a family of homes that have a common denominator in their relation to nature.” 

This family home features a distinct contextual appreciation of the existing terrain that encircles it. Guests and family enter the property through a traditional Balinese door known as angkul-angkul.

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It was obvious throughout the design process that we wanted to capture the beauty of the morning light

— Maximilian Jencquel, founder architecture and interior practice Studio Jencquel

A long winding bridge paves the way to the home. Designed with erratic and twisting turns to confuse malevolent spirits, it sits above a large koi pond and is nestled amidst a verdant garden consisting of coconut palms, tree ferns, heliconias, and blooms such as orchids. Casting a cooling shadow and shade over the home, the beautiful landscaping and gardens were designed by Jencquel himself. 

“This was the first time that I really went ‘crazy’ and dared to play with such an array of different plants,” the designer remarks. “I loved the process and I approached it with much passion. One of my clients took notice, and now we find ourselves designing what could be said to be a botanical garden for him.”

The two-storey villa connects to its surroundings and enforces the idea of the island’s vernacular with its design and materials. The exterior facade is constructed with a combination of two main materials. Bata Tulikup, a Balinese terracotta brick from Tulikup village, adds a rustic allure to the ground floor and the roof, while charred wood is used as a cladding material on the upper floor; its look is inspired by the ancient Japanese charred wood technique of shou-sugi-ban

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The designer’s first visit to the community of Tenganan in Bali 15 years ago sparked the inspiration for the house. “The traditional architecture found in this village is divine, literally and figuratively speaking. The raw materials, and the slender proportions come together in a vernacular splendor that would make any architect envious, for not one single person might have ever conceived anything as beautiful, but only the union of a community over hundreds of years make it possible.

Inside, Jenquel’s unrestrained vision extends throughout the warmly decorated villa. Various tones of natural wood are complemented with the use of volcanic stone and rendered walls to reflect the villa’s connection to the volcano Gunung Agung. “The elements of fire and earth coming together were important here, and analogous to the eruption of Mount Agung, the volcano that erupted as we started building the home in 2017,” says Jencquel. 

The perfect expression of outdoor-indoor living, the lofty open living space on the upper floor boasts panoramic views of the prolific jungle outside. A plush white linen sofa takes centre stage in the main living area, offering a cosy respite for the family to relax and bond together. A low coffee table and two side tables fashioned out of contrasting dark wood accompany the seats.

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Off to the side of the upper floor is a wide terrace that offers its occupants a stunning scenic view of the tropical hills. An extra-large linen-fitted sofa beckons, inviting one to lounge comfortably whilst soaking in the surreal landscape.

“To be honest, nature does the job here,” Jencquel remarks. “All we needed was a larger-than-life sofa, one that gives us the opportunity to gaze, socialise, rest, and play, all the while with nature as the backdrop regardless of rain, moon, or sunrise. You can always find tranquility here.”

The wide-open expanse also hosts the dining area, connected to the main living space to allow a cooling breeze to consistently flow throughout the interior. A large dining table, custom-made by Studio Jenquel, sits majestically under the A-frame ceiling. The dining table, created by the studio’s team of skilled carpenters whilst on-site during the construction phase, features the same durable and stable tropical merbau hardwood that is also used for the home’s flooring.

Located at the end of the upper floor and tucked behind the dining and living area is an open kitchen with touches of modernity and practicality. The heart of the home, the spacious kitchen is the family’s favourite spot. “The kitchen is one of the most—if not the most—important spaces in the house,” says Jencquel. 

“We love cooking and for us as a family it was important that the kitchen be integrated into our living space, yet at the same time have it’s own unique area within the house. Function and aesthetics had to be both considered equally. I have designed many kitchens in the past, and my wife and I have lived in many homes, but by far this is yet our favorite kitchen.”

Countertops are created with classic white Italian Carrara marble for an elegant and luxurious look. With high-end appliances including a Bertazzoni induction cooktop, a Bosch oven, and a large French-door refrigerator with a cooled walk-in pantry, the fitted kitchen is every home chef’s dream. 

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The master bedroom on the opposite end of the upper floor is an ode to laid-back comfort. With its optimal location, the bedroom is surrounded by sweeping views over the pool below on one side, while its west-facing window frames sights of the koi pond and flourishing landscaped gardens.

The calming sounds from the ripples in the pond create a soothing sleeping environment. An en-suite bathroom and walk-in dressing room further offer panoramic sights of the valley below. 

Below, the ground floor features three additional bedrooms. Teeming with natural light and warm tones, each bedroom offers a spectacular view of the rising sun in the early mornings.

Two identical twin rooms connect to a shimmering salt water infinity pool. Located along the outdoor deck, this calming zone is lined with smoothed lava stone.

With a warm and inviting ambience alongside an array of artisanal touches, the serenity of the family villa stands out. The idyllic residence is peaceful and perfect for the family of four.

“We are a very united family and we spend a lot of time together,” Jencquel reflects. “My son loves to play in and around the koi pond. I use the 19m-long swimming pool a lot because it is great for laps and I’m currently training for an open ocean swim event. My wife loves spending time in our garden tending to the vegetables and herbs, which she uses for her family recipes.”

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