There is a quote that goes something like this: “Wherever there is air, and light, and space to breathe, things grow.” Indeed the same could be said of family.

“We lived in another unit in the same development before but we wanted a bigger space as the kids were growing up,” says the lady of the house. “And it happened that another building, a development, was coming up right next to our old unit. So we decided to explore the possibility of finding a bigger home but in the same area. We didn’t want to move away as there is just such a lovely community here and we do have very good neighbours. It made sense to stay on here. We started looking immediately, shortlisted a few options but this place really spoke to us.”

The patinated counter by Australian firm Axolotl is a major talking point

Spanning two levels and four bedrooms across approximately 5,000 sq ft of space, the duplex penthouse’s overall aesthetic concept was ultimately conceived between the couple and their interior designer friend, Chew Hui Lin. The latter — a founding partner of Nettleton Tribe & Chew, the Malaysian office of the award-winning Australian practice which has branches in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Canberra — shares, “My brief was simple. They told me quite plainly, ‘Huey, we want a space for family and where we can entertain frequently, both on a formal and informal basis’. And to be honest, whatever you see is the result of their own good taste. I do primarily commercial spaces but this was a project for friends … a labour of love, you could say. Besides, I would never dictate if it’s a residential project. You would want the homeowners’ taste and character to take centre stage. They will be the ones living there, after all. I just helped out with the curation of the overall look and the placement of things — and they do have a great many nice pieces — so that they pop.”

Zeroing in on the popular indoor-outdoor living trend, a philosophy championed and mastered by the late great Geoffrey Bawa, whose structures are synonymous with open layout plans, a love of natural ventilation and innovative use of materials suitable for the climate, the three of them worked together to create an overall minimalist look that is not only punctuated by colour and design-conscious pieces, but also flooded by light and air. “I love having all the windows open and letting the wind blow through the entire space,” says the lady of the house. “Although we live in a condo, doing so makes things feel a little more resort-ish despite the fact we are in the KLCC area. We don’t even have curtains yet. But I guess we would have to get sheers or something at some point.”

The Spun Seat by Thomas Heatherwick for Magis tells you the pool and outdoor deck are designed for stylish fun

Large glass doors let the light in while allowing you to admire the stunning city views from whichever vantage point you happen to be at. An al fresco deck beckons you to lounge beside or jump straight into the swimming pool should you so wish, creating a veritable oasis in the city. All-weather swimming is made possible by the clever placement of a see-through roof. “The outdoor area was only partially covered.

We got a contractor in to extend the terrace roof so that, when it rains, things don’t get so messy.”

The heart of the home is usually the kitchen but here, it would be the seamless dining and living spaces. Aesthetes would not fail to notice the stunning patinated bar and island counter. “For this, I turned to Axolotl, an Australian company that specialises in specialist metal coatings for interior and exterior applications. I’ve known of them ever since I was studying, and then working, in Australia,” says Chew. “They perfected the use of a revolutionary technology developed by the founders that applies liquefied semi-precious metals like zinc, copper or bronze onto any surface. As a designer, I have always wanted to use them but their prices were so unaffordable. Thankfully, the homeowner’s husband gave me the go-ahead!”

A stunning metal wall sculpture that spells out “Love” by the American artist David Kracov is a focal point of the living room. “It is placed on a wall by the staircase but really does command attention,” says the homeowner. “We originally saw his work in Berlin in mid-2010 and liked it ever since. But we got this piece from Ode to Art, a gallery in Pavilion KL that has since closed.” Beautiful seating, courtesy of a statement lime green On the Rocks sofa by Francesco Binfaré for Edra, an organic curved Art Nova piece and Walter Knoll side tables, makes this space irresistibly inviting.

A Walter Knoll side table complements an Art Nova sofa from Forest Furniture; a vibrant artwork gifted by a dear friend

A precious stash of old ebony, transformed into fluted wooden panels, disguises a door that leads to the kitchen and the helper’s quarters while faceted bevelled mirrors cleverly conceal another door that leads to the secondary living area, the more informal one. “They wanted a place where the children could hang out with their friends, play music or watch television while the adults catch up outside,” says Chew.

“This is also where my husband has his breakfast while watching CNN,” adds the lady of the house. A Technogym Kinesis gym machine is affixed to a wall, ensuring practical usage of space and optimum convenience for squeezing in a workout whenever possible.

“One of the hardest things to do is make a space look clean if it’s already very busy,” says Chew in parting. “But whatever we design, rest assured it is always from the heart … and expressly for the people who will live there and call it their own. And while I have stated clearly that I don’t and will never dictate to homeowners, I do have secret plans for a vegetable patch somewhere here soon. They don’t know it yet but it will be quite a fun project to execute.”

Perhaps it is, after all, as she said from the start — this home is indeed a labour of love.


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