Raymond Lee’s masterful renovation of a family home in Petaling Jaya is cheerful, chic and colourful.
While the prevailing trend in interior design is a monochromatic palette, raw finishes and a carefully calculated loft aesthetic, Raymond Lee’s clients chose to march to the beat of their own drum for their sprawling home in a mature part of Petaling Jaya. A key factor for this confidence no doubt had to do with their belief in Raymond’s excellent and tested creative direction – after all the designer had worked on two previous projects for them, namely another bungalow in PJ and a holiday home up in one of the hill resorts. For this large home located in a serene cul de sac, Raymond conceived an overall concept he describes as vibrant tropical – an invigorating mélange of bright colours, inviting textures and refined finishes, just the kind of well-appointed home that looks put together but effortlessly so.
The previous owners had renovated the large 5,500 sq ft house many years ago and while the basic structure and architecture of the house was well appreciated. the interiors were rather dark with many aspects of the fit out dated. “The garden is one of the major attractions in this house as it is most generous in size. As the lot is almost at the edge of the street, it provided a most quiet and peaceful space for my clients. The garden was one of the key inspirations and provided me with the base idea to develop the interior décor and styling in this project,” explains Raymond. “One visit during the site inspection in the early days gave me inspiration to make the house so much brighter and livable for my clients. I already saw the potential and recommended several changes that would make a significant impact to the house.”
One such change was to reconfigure the staircase from a straight up and down frame starting at an inconvenient edge of the house to one that turns around and starts (and ends) at the dining hall. The kitchen and family room was totally remodeled and now features large full size glass pocket doors that open out to the back terrace and greenery beyond allowing heaps of light into a space that was once very dark and pokey. American white oak solid floor boards replaced the dark tiles and brighten the space up immensely while a brand-new kitchen with a much improved layout including a user friendly island, Caesarstone work tops and lots of useful storage was incorporated.
As befitting the lush natural environment afforded by the rambling ground, Raymond reveals that the deep wide verandahs which provide ample shaded indoor outdoor spaces are often used for the client for entertaining purposes. Fold-away glass timber framed doors open up the house to the garden and allow lots of light and airflow. As such no air-conditioning is required and the home owners are usually very happy with just a fan cooled environment.
A new foyer for the house was created with the position of the main door changed and bench seating and storage for shoes added. Likewise, an entire wall of wooden plantation shutters add character to the space and provide air flow and privacy when required. To accommodate the cars for the family, a larger car porch was also created. The garden was redesigned to be more user friendly with a koi pond that extends the length of the side terrace (at the right wing) added and a barbeque console and gathering spot worked in. This reflects the existing koi pond at the left wing of the house which now runs right into the house and sits below the stairs. The colourful Japanese carps swim happily amidst the smooth gurgling of a delicate water feature.
Within the house itself, Raymond has carefully devised entire schemes for the various rooms and settings. Rather than be constrained by a fixed colour palette, Raymond has made bold but tasteful choices which add oodles of personality to each space. Many of the furniture and drapery were custom made from shops such as Janine, Gudang, Fiske and ArteFloor while store bought designer pieces from FLOS, Ashley Home, Nassim Carpets, Foscarini, Tom Dixon and Linds add the finishing touch. Art also features strongly in this home and Raymond explains that it helps that the owners have built a strong personal collection of works mainly by Malaysian artists such as Foo Yong Kong, Sharifah Fatimah Zubir, Raphael Scott Ah Beng, Eng Tay, Ahmad Zakii and Jack Ting.
The finished home is impressive yet cozy, colourful but also soothing – a welcoming family home that have allowed the clients to naturally fall into the rhythms of their every day lives. Indeed, when Raymond is asked what his favourite part of the house, rather fittingly he chooses where the family often congregate to spend time together: “I love the dining room and how it feels so comfortable and is such a perfect spot for the family to gather around.”