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An Apartment Transformed into a Picture-Perfect Homestay
When it was time to design their apartment, both Tunku Alizan and wife, Andita Ismarani had a clear direction and ultimately they came up with an instruction, “We wanted the home to be Instagrammable.”
The couple commissioned Line2pixels to turn their three-bedroom apartment in Putrajaya into an attractive looking homestay dubbed ‘Centurixa’ with the goal of renting it out on platforms like Airbnb and Bookings.com. To make the home look visually attractive, Line2pixels infuses eye-popping colours (bright yellow and green), mirrors and gold elements, all in the hopes that guests who stay at the apartment will share photos of their ‘Instagrammable’ home in their social media account.
Qanvast caught up with the couple to learn more about their “Instagrammable” home and to discover their interior design secrets!
So tell us, why did you decide to turn this apartment into a homestay?
Andika (A): When this apartment was completed in 2016, it was left empty for three years. Then we started to have an idea of turning it into a homestay because it seems like many people were doing it at the moment. We also have a friend who’s renting out their unit as a homestay in this residence and told us that the market is quite good and there’s always people looking to book the place every weekend. So we decided that OK, why don’t we just convert this space into a homestay rather than leaving it unused/empty.
How did the idea of “Instagrammable” home came about?
A: The idea of turning this space into an Instagrammable home came about when we realised that a lot of people today are looking to dine (or stay) in a place that looks good in photographs, not because the food is good. It’s usually because there’s a famous corner where you can take a picture and everybody will recognise that you are dining in “a particular” Instagrammable restaurant.
A: The apartment is also designed to cater to the niche market because if you look at Airbnb listing, there’s already a few properties listed of this residence on the site, but with basic furnishing. We decided if we want to cater to the niche market and charge a premium price, we have to design it ‘this’ way. So far, we managed to charge double compared to other Airbnb units in this residence, and so far, we have received bookings almost every weekend.
Tell us about your experience working with Line2pixels and the interior design of the home.
Tunku (T): Actually it was totally smooth with Janice (laughs!) We took quite some time (three months) looking into the design in detail, while the construction took three months.
T: We gave quite a lot of freehand to Janice when it comes to designing the home. Apart from the key idea “Instagrammable”, the house should also be easy to maintain and the design concept must make the impression of visually larger than it actually is (1200 sq ft), which explains why Line2pixels incorporated a mirror on the walls and the way is it laid out, it gives you a sense of space.
T: When we first saw the proposed design by Janice, I think what caught our eyes was the strong colours chosen and if the colours are too plain, then it’s not really that “Instagrammable”. The colour contrast creates a visual interest complemented by the stunning outdoor view, facing the Putrajaya bridge.
T: While the team at Line2pixels came out with the aesthetic design, we look into the practicality and the functionality of the space. The initial design proposal wasn’t practical enough so we try to actually marry the interior designer’s input with our input by adding practicality and functionality.
Tell us about the unique details found in your home?
A: When we sat down to discuss with Janice, we told her that since this apartment will be turned into a homestay, we want to make the entrance door to be accessible using a card like you would normally do in a hotel room.
A: Also, we decided to produce access cards for guests who stay in our apartment, because we want to avoid guests from duplicating our home key.
A: We also installed a card slot in our apartment whereby once you take out the card from the card slot, the electricity will turn off by itself except for the fridge power which will continue to run. We specifically asked for this feature because we don’t want the guests to just leave the A/C or the lights turned on all day (if they are not at home), especially since we have to bear the cost of the electrical bill.
A: However, we configured our access cards to only work with the batch of cards that we have produced and programmed hence the electricity will only turn on if you slot in the RFID cards that we have issued to the guests, unlike in some hotels where you can insert a replacement card like an I/C card for instance, (speaking based on experience!) instead of the actual card provided by the hotel.
A: So when our guests stay at our apartment, they will feel like they are staying at a professional Airbnb homestay. This is not like a normal homestay that has been converted into Airbnb, but more like a proper hotel.
A: Other minor details you’ll find in this home is when you open the front door and there’s a voice that says, “Doors opened” or “Doors closed” makes this Airbnb stay truly feels like you're staying in a fancy 5-star hotel!
Going into your renovation, what qualities does your home have?
T: The apartment isn’t just Instagrammable but it is also functional and practical as well. For example, we spend some time designing the makeup table area so that there will be ample lighting when someone needs to apply their makeup on. To achieve this, we install a lightbox around the mirror of the master and the second bedroom.
T: Other details such as universal plug - which is convenient for tourists - are among the things that we added during the renovation process of this home. We took a lot of input during our various stay in Airbnb homes and hotels in the past to incorporate it in our home.
If you noticed, we embroidered the towels, pouches, napkins, etc with our home name, Centurixa. Apart from that, we also provide free toiletries, WIFI and pantry for our guests. We even provided guides and equipment manuals, ie. the washing machine, and we also provide high chairs for children because most of the people who rent our apartment are families with small kids. Ultimately, our goal is to provide an all-inclusive hotel-like experience as if they are staying in an actual home.
To sum up… what are your thoughts on the final result on your renovation experience?
A: What they (Line2pixels) deliver looks exactly the same as the proposed rendering photo. We were worried that there would be some design changes - like the sofa might not look the same - but everything turns out to look exactly as seen in the photo, even down to the decor items like the picture frame, the vase and type of flower. They actually deliver what they promised!
A: Janice and her team also truly delivered an Instagrammable home! A few months ago, we had an Astro tv-series shooting for a drama series called Puteri Yang di Tukar in this apartment for the antagonist character’s home played by a local actress, Jasper Supayah. I followed her (Jasper) Instagram account and when she came to shoot at our apartment, she took photos of herself in this apartment and uploaded it onto her Instagram account. For me, this was a “mission accomplished” moment of trying to make this home Instagrammable!
Any advice you would like to share for first-time homeowners looking to renovate their home?
T: To avoid disappointments, spend some time looking and improving the initial interior design of your home. Sometimes, the 2D render photo doesn’t match the actual size of the room itself so it’s better to spend a lot of time planning and looking into the design rather than once the renovation process starts, only then you realised that what you imagined the designed look like a picture doesn’t actually deliver in real life.
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