A MUJI-Inspired Home That Embraces Slow, Quality Living
A newlywed couple in their early 30s was inspired by the Japanese lifestyle brand, Muji, prompting them to commission Penang-based interior designer, EMPT Studio to transform their first home together as a married couple into a cosy sanctuary, with a minimalist, Japanese Zen-like vibe in mind.
The firm was provided with a budget of RM250,000 to give this 1250 sq. ft. apartment a complete makeover which includes an intensive overhaul of the original structure.
We spoke with Jamie Kok, the interior designer of EMPT Studio to know more about the design process involved in transforming the empty apartment into his client's dream home.
Qanvast (Q): What was the homeowner’s brief for this project?
Jamie Kok (J): When the couple approached us via our social media for our service, they were looking to create a Muji-inspired home filled with plenty of natural daylight, good air ventilation and a Zen-like home that promotes calm and harmony.
Q: What structural changes have you made to the home to achieve the desired look?
J: We made quite significant structural changes to this home. Originally, this apartment came with a closed kitchen next to the main entrance door. We decided to remove the wall that separates the hallway and the kitchen area to create an open-space kitchen concept and fill the room with plenty of daylight.
Next, we redesigned the poorly-lit hallway that leads towards the rooms. Since the master bedroom receives the most sunlight, we installed two semi-translucent window openings in the master bedroom to allow light to travel through the hallway and into the playroom to brighten up the space.
We also installed translucent glass on the door and the cabinet in the playroom to overcome the insufficient daylight from entering the space. As a result, the dark hallway, as well as the playroom, is now much cosier and brighter.
We also changed the entire flooring of this home with earth-toned timber floors, except in the living room where we use pebble wash terrazzo floor to add textural contrast and to visually divide the open-plan living area into three zones; the casual sitting area, the dining area and the kitchen.
As the couple plan to have kids in the future, we proposed to create an interlink that connects the master bedroom to the future kid's bedroom via a hidden sliding door, pocketed between the wall of these two rooms. We also added a daybed that stretches along both rooms to tie the space together.
Q: What was the colour combination chosen for this project?
J: To keep the colour palette interesting, we come up with several colour combinations for this home and we end up with the following colour choice; brown, grey, light wooden colour and white. The colours we choose are very harmonious and warm. We also choose a similar tone colour for the flooring, wall panelling, doors, cabinets and furniture to make the home look more natural and seamless.
Q: Besides structural changes, were there any design changes made to the home?
J: Other unique things found in this home is the furniture arrangement. Typically, the TV is positioned against the living room wall but we decided to shift the TV console close to the window. We also choose to install white blinds instead of heavy curtains to control the sunlight from entering the room and to create a minimalist look.
Did you weave in any impressive design solution for this home?
J: Oh yes, the most unique thing about this home is the lighting feature found in each room. We use ‘trimless’ lighting design that looks like the ceiling is punched through the wall and creates a bunch of holes in them. To achieve this look, we used plaster ceiling to create the ‘holes’ and employed a technician to install the LED lights, which proved to be quite a challenge as this type of lighting feature is not commonly used in many homes due to the technical difficulties of installing it.
Q: Besides installing the lighting, did you encounter other challenges during the renovation process?
J: Other challenging aspects that we encountered during the renovation process was to equally level both the terrazzo and the wooden materials found in the living room floor. We had these two parts customised and we frame the terrazzo floor with a stainless steel profile. We also custom made the stainless steel profile so that the skirting does not appear too thick on the floor.
Q: What are your thoughts on the final result on this home?
J: We enjoyed working on this project as every part of the home has been meticulously planned throughout. On top of that, the homeowner liked the outcome of this home renovation!
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