This Insta-Famous Home Led the Owner to Launch a Design Firm
This interior stylist zhuzh up her family's home with a mix of cosy Scandinavian and warm Bohemian touches!
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Dina Sallehudin, a mother of three, has always had a passion for interior design. When she and her family moved into their new home in Kajang, Selangor, in October 2017, she was thrilled to transform it into a warm and inviting space, furnished with generous touches of neutral colours and natural materials like wood, rattan, and indoor plants for a Scandinavian design with a touch of Bohemian aesthetic.
Her attention to detail was recognised when she garnered more than 40 thousand followers on her Instagram account (@dinashuz) after documenting and sharing her home's mini-renovation and decorating journey. This led her to co-found Studio DinAjai, where she works part-time as an interior stylist.
We spoke with Dina to know more about her experience renovating and decorating her home, and what inspired her to start her own interior styling firm.
Qanvast: Hi, tell us about yourself and your family
Dina Sallehudin (DS): Hi, my name is Dina Sallehudin. I am a small business owner at @daisydahliatoys, digital content creator, Thermomix Advisor, and a part-time interior stylist at @studiodinajai. My husband, Faizal Aris is my business partner, and also a legal counsel at a road maintenance company in Kuala Lumpur. We have 3 children, Zabi, age 10 years old, Daisy, age 5 years old, and Dahlia, age 2 years old.
We reside in a double-storey intermediate terrace with 5 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms on a 2800 square foot lot located in Kajang, Selangor.
Q: In brief, how would you describe your home’s style?
DS: Our interior comprises a mix of Scandinavian and Bohemian elements. I adore a clean and simple style with an eclectic combination of colours, patterns, and textures, as well as a laid-back vibe.
Q: What renovation works had to be done to achieve the desired look?
DS: Due to a limited budget, we only did minor renovations to our home. This includes adding a plaster ceiling in the living room, repainting the whole house white, changing the kitchen tiles and backsplash, and installing built-in cabinetry in our kitchen.
The rest of the house is furnished with loose furnishing. To create the Scandi-boho vibe, I incorporated plenty of rattan furniture or décor into our home. I love using rattan furniture because it reminds me of nature, and I believe in supporting local businesses, therefore I purchase all of my rattan collections from local vendors.
To bring texture, colour and life to our interior space, I introduced baskets, macrame wall hangings, fringe throw pillows, pouffes and hanging lights made of natural materials. I also added plenty of plants housed in woven baskets that go well with the rest of my rattan furniture and accessories.
Q: Did you experience any difficulties during your house renovation? If so, how were they resolved?
DS: Because the renovation work was minimal, we did not experience major setbacks, only minor ones. For example, we were dissatisfied with the outcome of the kitchen tiling project; some of the tiles were damaged, and we had to replace them.
Q: What makes your home unique?
DS: A lot of people who visit our home have commented on how unique our main entrance is, which features a collapsible grille (shop grille). It is our favourite feature of our house and I love the feeling of opening those grilles because it makes me feel like I have my own little vintage sundry shop, just like in the old days!
Q: Which is your most favourite area in your home?
DS: Definitely the kitchen! It is the heart of the home, where my family and I spend the majority of our time chatting, cooking, and eating together, and where the kids enjoy doing their homework at the kitchen island.
Q: How do you keep a clean and organised home with small kids!?
DS: It’s not easy because kids being kids, love to explore and they have messy hands! The key to a neat and organised home is to teach them to appreciate the things we have at home so that if they make a mess, they will have to clean it up.
Although they have a designated play area upstairs, we make it a point to ensure that everything they own, whether toys, books, or clothes, has a storage space that is easily accessible to them to store once they have finished playing/using.
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?
DS: It took us four years of blood, sweat, and tears to furnish and decorate the house. It was a long and difficult journey because the budget is always a challenge for us, but after four years, we can finally call it home and are happy with what we have for the time being.
For me, building a home is a lifelong project, and we will always look forward to engaging in small home improvement projects in the future. If there is one thing I would like to improve, it is my backyard and pantry. It would be fantastic to have a proper butler's style pantry!
Q: Tell us about your interior styling firm, Studio DinAjai. What prompted you to start your own firm?
DS: It all started when I shared my mini home renovation and decorating journey on Instagram back in 2016. This has resulted in an increased number of followers.
One day, one of my Instagram followers sent me a video of her 16-year-old home and asked for my help in renovating it. When I told my husband about it, he said, "Why not?" And the rest, as they say, is history!
I began renovating her living room, dining room, and study area, and she was so pleased with the results that she asked me to renovate her rooms upstairs as well. As a result, I began sharing the transformation with my followers, and more people became interested in our services.
Q: What do you feel sets Studio DinAjai apart from other styling firms?
DS: What makes us unique is that we can work with any budget range. If the client's budget is limited, we would repurpose whatever the client already has in their homes and try to give it new life.
Q: What is the biggest challenge you face as an interior stylist?
DS: Budgeting and management. Labour or raw material costs can quickly spiral out of control, especially if a project takes longer than expected, or if clients change their minds midway through the project, affecting both time and money.
Other than that is managing the client’s expectations. Clients sometimes have visions and expectations but lack the resources, so managing that is difficult, but we take it positively and use the opportunity to educate our clients on how much things cost and let them decide from there.
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