Style and personality go hand in hand in Datin Penny Yong's transformed family home that is filled with the owners’ favourite things.

It is a bright, sunny morning. Streaming through the huge skylight, the daylight pleasingly falls upon the dining table and lights up the area which Datin Penny Yong would later describe as one of her favourite places.

Set against a gallery wall mostly filled with warm-hearted family photos (including a framed Malaysia Tatler cover in which her eldest daughter Mei Ling was featured), the long wooden table naturally becomes the ideal setting for an intimate family meal or even larger gatherings.

“There is where we have our breakfasts, Christmas parties, even rotary club meetings,” the lady of the house happily points out.

Just like the dining area, the rest of the house was constructed and decorated to be big on warmth and cosiness. From the very beginning, her husband Dato’ Kevin Yong had roped in Daniel Charles, the managing director of DACS Construction and a good friend, to help realise their dream house.

The couple share similar tastes in home interior and have unanimously agreed to an airy, open-planned living space with a high ceiling, which Charles have successfully delivered despite the tough building codes in the residential area.

The first step of the major makeover process involved stripping down two adjacent properties and rebuilding one from scratch. The invasive surgery saw that the new house comes with a big lawn that encourages people to move outside and enjoy the outdoors.

Next, Charles designed the interior in a way that there would be no walls separating some of the major sections on the ground floor, such as the living hall and the aforementioned dining section, which effectively simplifies traffic flow in the house.

A kitchen counter may have separated the food preparation area into a zone of its own but the owners’ clever integration of bar stools allows visitors to be a part of the cooking preparations, emphasising on the friendliness and approachability of the entire space.

And thanks to the high ceiling, skylight and sliding doors that open up to the lawn, the sense of roominess and seamlessness is further enhanced.

While it is not always easy to create a welcoming and homely ambience in a space of considerable size, the couple has managed to achieve it by incorporating many pieces made of light colours and solid wood. But what truly makes the Yongs’ home one of a kind is how they throw in shots of colours and personality amidst the subtle, neutral palette, sometimes in corners that could have been easily overlooked.

The dining table is a good example; a colourful patchwork table runner, a vase of tropical flowers plus a few pieces of citrus fruits served in simple blue platters all come together to paint a lively, summery hue on the wooden surface.

Datin Penny credits most of her eye-catching decorative decisions to the interior magazines that she had been reading and referring to throughout the home-dressing process, though she may not have been able to pull off such a feat without an eye for beautiful things.

Several decoration items around the house are, in fact, second-hand goodies and charming collectibles she spotted in flea markets and inconspicuous antique shops, such as a tiffin with oriental design and a cobalt blue chest that was found in her favourite flea market in Manila.

She likes that they all have a story behind them. “Apparently, the tiffin used to belong to her grandmother – or at least that was what the shop owner told me,” she laughs.

Apart from vintage stores, Datin Penny also frequents Thamesa. “It is a furniture store on Jalan Universiti, PJ and a very good source for Fusion Asian pieces,” she adds. Her other great passion – art and reading – is evident in every corner of the home where a few walls have been dedicated to some of her favourite local artworks. Stacks of her favourite novels are also placed in the living room for guests to browse through.

While the architecture and design are mostly driven by the couple’s personal preferences, their children are given the freedom to decorate their own bedrooms which are located on the top floor next to the gym room-cum-dance studio.

The youngest daughter’s room, for instance, is infused with both style and soul with an artful mix of handmade, designer and personal pieces. A pair of repainted doors makes a unique headboard, old trunks are stacked into a decorative pile on the floor and the girl’s collection of jars, perfumes and scents peppered the wall-mounted open shelves.

On the whole, accessories in powder pink and dusty rose add girlish warmth to the otherwise neutral scheme. Datin Penny’s aesthetically-inclined gene seems to have been passed down to her daughters as well.

Now when she looks back at the renovating process, Datin Penny remembers it to be “fun but also stressful at the same time, because what we imagined may not always be practical when translated into reality. But we learned a lot along the way,” she says.

One of the biggest lessons she had learned is, “Never decorate a house until you move in. Unless you have a very precise concept in mind, take your time to explore. Don’t rush and wait patiently for what you want. It will come. Some of the pieces are lucky finds at the most random, hidden shops. That part of the process is the most fun.” 

(Photography by Chris Leong)

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