Quietly elegant and unmistakably modern, The Privé Malacca is a welcome respite in the bustling historical quarter.
Text by Jennifer Choo Pics by Chris Leong courtesy of Xceptional Interiors.
Malacca holds a wealth of allure to KL dwellers – just a short two-hour drive away rewards the traveller with delicious food and a charming historical setting. Founder of Xceptional Interiors, Raymond Lee’s client was very much in the habit of commuting to Malacca over weekends and spending time around the heritage areas of Heeren and Jonker Streets, so it made sense to acquire a modest pre-war town house when one came up in the market. “The idea was to restore the property while fitting it out to a standard and comfort level relevant to the 21st century. And on days when the property was not occupied by the client, it would be let out as a holiday home,” explains Raymond. Serendipitously, the designer was no stranger to Heeren Street, where the property is located: “As a Malacca-born person of Peranakan heritage, what appealed to me greatly was the fact that it is right in the heart of the UNESCO gazetted Heritage Zone – in fact I was also born on Heeren Street!”
Although the original site was not derelict, it was badly maintained and had seen better days. Furthermore it didn’t possess much redeeming architectural features with the exception of the lower façade of the house and the internal arch separating the foyer from the living room. Nevertheless a conscious attempt was made to retain and reuse as much of the original components of the house such as the ground floor timber doors and windows, timber floorboards, trusses and beams. “A lot of the original roof tiles were salvaged and those damaged, replaced. Unfortunately there were no terracotta or cement floor tiles to be found in the house and most of the original features inside at the time the client purchased the property were long gone,” recalls Raymond. While structural and safety issues were addressed in the renovation, changes enhancing the space were also incorporated. The most dramatic being the “recreation” of the existing internal courtyard which had been boarded up by the previous owners. Now the interior is bathed in natural light streaming in from the air-well outfitted with 3-metre high sliding wooden doors and beveled glass panels. The precariously narrow and steep wooden staircase was replaced with a modern steel frame powder coated staircase with timber threads and frameless glass balustrades while two bathrooms were added on the first floor as the building originally only had one downstairs.
Christened The Privé Malacca, Raymond wanted to distinguish the space from most of the other heritage guest houses or hotels in Malacca by offering a sleekly modern, comfortable and fully equipped retreat right in the heart of the historical quarter of Heeren Street. “While there are some references and nods to the Malaysian/Asian heritage, the interior décor approach is intentionally contemporary in style and devoid of the usual kitsch Nyonya-style embellishments,” explains Raymond. Instead, the designer has chosen an understated luxe feel with a neutral colour palette, meticulous details and lush textures. The client is also very passionate about local art and it is only fitting that original artworks from the client’s collection featuring contemporary style pieces by top Malaysian artists such as Tajuddin Ismail, Awang Damit and Khoo Sui Hoe add the finishing touch.
It’s no surprise that the tasteful yet cosy results have pleased the client immensely and Raymond reveals that the privilege of this charming retreat has also been appreciated by others: “Guests at The Privé Malacca enjoy the entire 3-bedroom house all to themselves as the property is let out to only one party at any one time. And so far, the guests who have stayed here have found it to be a refreshing change and an oasis of calm from the hustle and bustle of the heritage quarter.”
The Privé Malacca
4 Heeren Street (Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock)
75200 Malacca City
tel: +6012 398 8302