Inside This Couple’s Cosy, Laid-Back Retreat in Nilai
When Erma Harlina and her husband, Mohd Faizrul Anuar, bought a double-storey Superlink in 2013, they set out to create an ideal home that would suit their lifestyle and needs; a modern yet cosy home with an understated, down-to-earth vibe. The end result is a meticulously curated but serene abode where elements interact harmoniously with one another, reflecting the couple's design goal.
We had a chat with the homeowner, Erma, to discover more about how she turned an empty 2,356 square foot landed home into a modern yet laid-back space without the help of an interior designer.
Qanvast: Hi, tell us about yourself and your family?
Erma (E): Hi, my name is Erma, I work as an administrative and diplomatic officer, while my husband works as a network engineer. We outgrew our previous 774 square foot apartment unit in Puchong and opted to relocate to a larger house, a double-storey Superlink located in Bandar Seriemas, Nilai. In comparison to our former apartment, this 2,356 square foot landed home has four bedrooms and three bathrooms, which is enormous for two people and a cat to live in!
Q: What made you decide to start an Instagram account dedicated to your home?
E: It started when I shared photos of my house renovation on Kelab Dekorasi IKEA Malaysia’s Facebook page and from there, people began to follow me via my personal Instagram account. This resulted in numerous personal requests to create a separate Instagram account for my house, particularly during the first MCO (2020) when there was a major home remodelling frenzy since everyone spends so much time at home.
So I decided to create an Instagram account for my house called Rumah Kuntum. We used the word Kuntum, which is named after my deceased cat, Mek Kembang Kuntum, to give the Instagram account a more local feel.
Q: In brief, how would you describe your home’s style?
E: I would say my house is mid-century modern with farmhouse chic elements in the kitchen area.
Q: Sounds interesting! Can you tell us about the renovation you have done to achieve this look?
E: As we enjoy travelling and have previously stayed in various Airbnb houses and lodges, I was motivated to give our house a homey vibe rather than making it look showy and shiny as a show unit would. We didn't want our house to look too clean, sharp, or constrained, but warm and inviting, filled with our favourite things.
We also prefer not to have many built-ins in our house, except for the kitchen and laundry room. I love loose furniture because it is more flexible, especially if I want to change the overall aesthetic of my house immediately. All I have to do is rearrange the furniture, which I often do regularly.
The kitchen and laundry room were the two rooms where we made the most modifications. The kitchen features a black and white tile floor, grey built-in cabinetry, and a dark hardwood counter that matches the white subway tile walls wonderfully. We also purchased mint green retro style kitchen appliances to complete the farmhouse chic design theme.
Due to ongoing construction in our neighbourhood, we installed a window grill in the kitchen for added privacy. When we visited Kyoto in 2016, I was impressed by the lattice design featured in Japanese townhouses (machiya), therefore we chose to incorporate this grill design in our home.
We added a wooden door with a glass panel to connect the kitchen and the laundry room. This type of door adds visual depth while also allowing more natural light to enter the kitchen area.
Previously, the laundry room was a few inches lower, had a lot of awkward nooks and it felt isolated from the rest of the house. To create a continuous flow between the kitchen and the laundry room, we levelled and tiled the laundry floor using the same black and white tiles found in the kitchen to create a seamless flow between these two areas.
We also opted for open shelving over closed cabinets to bring more natural light into the space. Besides laundry, this room also acts as our pantry where I keep some of my dry groceries.
Q: How do you keep your kitchen neat and organised? Can you share with us some tips?
E: As I enjoy cooking regularly, I've discovered a few easy techniques to keep my kitchen clean and neat. For example, I will wash and clear the counter immediately after cooking so I only have to do the dishes after eating.
I also use a microfiber towel to wipe off the backsplash and stove, which is easier and more environmentally friendly than using a disposable kitchen napkin. After each cooking session, I spray the floor tiles with floor cleanser/multipurpose cleaner and wash them down with a microfibre cloth. This method of cleaning is much more convenient because it does not involve water.
On my dishrack, I keep the same sets of side plates, dinner plates, and glasses that I use on a regular basis. This eliminates the need to remove unnecessary plates, glasses, and mugs from the stack and cabinets, resulting in less washing and tidying. If not, everything tends to pile on the dish rack!
Q: We can’t help but notice that you have a cat. How do you make your home cat-friendly?
E: Yes, we have an outdoor cat called Panda. This house comes with a small window in the kitchen where the cat can enter or exit the house at any time. We also placed a few cardboard scratchers throughout the house, particularly near the couch, to prevent the cat from clawing it and leaving scratch marks.
For the cat’s bed, we added some decorative rattan trays and baskets around the house so the cat can use them to sleep. We also used jute and flat-woven rugs throughout the house to provide some underfoot comfort as high-pile and wool rugs tend to trap cat fur.
Although we have a cat, I only vacuum on weekends. In the middle of the week, I'd wipe the cat fur off the cabinet and the floor with antistatic wipes and it only takes less than 10 minutes to run the sweeper around the house!
Q: Tell us more about the unique details available in your home.
E: I enjoy drawing and using colours, therefore I use the study area to express myself. The wall behind the study area desk is covered in postcards we mailed to ourselves while on vacation, and the frames are packed with illustrations from one of my favourite books, as well as wrapping paper and paper bags.
I decorated the study desk with terracotta pots which I drew myself. I also created a few pieces of artwork, which are displayed in frames on the stairwell and in the study.
Q: Are you satisfied with the overall look of your home? Is there anything else you'd like to change or enhance in the future?
Overall, we are very happy with the current look and layout of this house as it is functional enough to fulfil our daily needs. In the future, we plan to renovate and furnish our guest bedrooms as they remain vacant at the moment.
We also plan to enhance the look of our bathrooms. However, this project is currently on hold due to MCO.
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