Atika Omar has always been passionate about home decor, for as long as she can remember.
So, when she and her husband moved into their own apartment in Kuala Lumpur a few years ago, she was excited to fashion her personal space.
“I was very happy to finally be able to realise most of what I had envisioned for our home: built-ins, wall shelves, storage spaces, etc. For me, having all these basic necessities properly tailored to our needs really allowed me to get creative and put my own stamp on our home, ” said the 32-year-old pharmacist.
Today, her 800sq ft (74sq m) living space exudes a warm and cosy feel, representing a modern take on urban living that embraces wood and rattan-based decor with lots of indoor plants.
“I would describe my home as maybe Scandi-boho-jungalow, with a generous touch of plants. My decor style usually evolves over the years and I guess it just translates into how I decorate our home at any given time, ” said Atika, who shares her decor ideas on Instagram (thesmallnook).
Atika is also part of a local home decor community on Instagram (#ighometourmalaysia).
“It’s filled with so many wonderful, amazing and talented people with beautiful homes that really inspire, ” she enthused.
Living in a small space, Atika has showered much attention to decorating certain nooks and corners of her home.
“My most favourite spot would be my little green oasis right next to our living hall windows. I love to just sit, relax and unwind there, watching my plants dangle and dance in the breeze.
“I’ve put up another layer of sheer curtains over the windows for extra privacy. I’ve also hung some of my trailing plants on the window grille for a better, greener view.
"If a house doesn’t come with a view, we can always just create our own!” said Atika, adding that the plants she has placed there are the heartleaf philodendron, philodendron lemon lime, philodendron micans, and a pothos N’joy.Another part of her home that she is proud of is the entryway.
“I love how practical it is for us as a family, while still staying true to my décor aesthetics. I’ve got a storage bench, wall mirror, some wall hooks, and most importantly, my beloved philodendron Burle Marx perched on the cabinet, ready to greet us every time we get home, ” she shared.
Atika also loves her vanity area, despite not being a make-up person. She has cleverly adapted a laptop table as her vanity table, and for storage and extra space, included a drawer unit as well as added a shelf insert above the table.
“The thing I love most about this space is this pretty mirror that I bought. And recently, I’ve added more plants to the space, including one in a hanging macrame plant holder which I love!”
Having these relaxing spots at home really makes a difference during the MCO periods and stay-home orders.
“I think it’s really important to create beautiful, comfortable spaces for ourselves in our homes. A home should be a sanctuary, a respite from our everyday chaos.
“It’s a place where we should be able to rest, recharge and feel most comfortable in, especially during the pandemic when we are required to stay home a lot.
“A home should also be practical for our everyday needs and routine. I get my much-needed little moments of peace from my green oasis, and my vanity space is such an eye-candy for me. As for our entryway, I love how the bench provides much-needed storage for all our everyday things, making the space look neat and clutter-free.”
In creating her home oasis and favourite corners, Atika had to be creative and practical due to the limited floor space.
“I had to figure out ways to decorate sensibly while prioritising storage spaces and reining in my ideas so I won’t overdo it and make our house look too busy for my liking.
“Also, because our home is quite small, it can get messy really quickly, especially with our busy routine. I always remind myself to clean on the go, so as not to create too much clutter, ” she shared.
For now, Atika is quite content with how her home looks and feels.
“I’ll probably add more plants to our home... and maybe paint our room doors in the future. Other than that, I don’t have many plans. For now, I just want to enjoy our home as it is.”
Making spaces work
Humaira Zainal’s cosy 900sq ft (84sq m) abode in Kuala Lumpur is as welcoming as it is practical. Together with her husband, she has set up an inviting coffee counter, a lush green balcony, as well as a dedicated workstation for the family of four, for example.
In fact, not surprisingly, Humaira’s three favourite parts of the home are the living area, coffee station and the family-friendly workspace.
“I love our living area because it’s where we spend most of our time in, and since it’s the main space, we are forced to spend more time together here. Besides, it’s near our balcony and we can enjoy the fresh air and plants from our couch, ” shared Humaira, 38, who works in the financial sector.
Being coffee lovers, they have always dreamt of setting up a designated spot for their favourite beverage at home, hence the coffee station.
“As for the workspace, we created it due to the pandemic when we started working from home. By sharing the workspace with our kids, we could do our work while giving encouragement to our kids during their online classes, ” Humaira said.
Overall, she describes her home as Scandi-boho.
“I’ve always loved neutrals. I was always drawn to whites, earthy colours and I find furniture in this style easy to mix and match.”
Humaira and her husband got their decor ideas by browsing home decor sites and also Pinterest. They then created an inspiration board to settle on a common theme before finalising their budget and shopping list, getting most of the items from local home furnishing stores.
“Sticking to the plan is so important, because if you don’t, you will try to make that piece of furniture that was not part of the plan to work, but it just won’t. And it’s frustrating because you end up wasting money because it’s just not your style.”
Humaira believes that having conducive spaces and corners at home gives them a sense of belonging as well as promotes overall wellbeing.
“As we are working from home during this pandemic, having these corners helps maintain normalcy as well as create a strict divide between our work and home life, ” said Humaira, adding that their next project is to renovate their kitchen to make in it sync with the rest of the house’s theme.