Different people found different things to do to occupy themselves during the first movement control order last March.
For a couple in Johor, they decided to transform their house – which is in a teachers’ quarters in a Felda scheme in Kota Tinggi, Johor – into their dream home a la farmhouse design.
The DIY enthusiasts decided on a white theme to work on.
“I fell in love with this theme when I watched a home design show on HGTV. A white theme is also a timeless design,” explained school teacher Suzaituladwini Hashim, 32.
Together with her engineer husband Muhamad Solehin Daud, also 32, they started the process by first sketching out the design they had in mind.
“Then we proceeded with looking for the materials needed on online shopping platforms and nearby hardware shops,” said Suzaituladwini.
“We then built the furniture and decorations based on our design, painted them and proceeded with the finishing touches,” she said, adding that they got ideas from social media and also shows like Dream Home Makeover and Fixer Upper.
Being a government quarters, there was a limit to what they could do to alter the interior of their home.
“The key challenge was how much (or rather how little) we could detach or move the existing furniture (which included the built-in TV cabinet, beds, dining table and kitchen cabinets). Since it is a government quarters, we can’t do extra renovation so we made do with minimal modifications to the existing structures and furniture.
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“At the same time, we also needed to make sure all our furniture and decorations did not cause any damage to the quarters, by not fixing them permanently to the building structure. We also ensured the wall could be mended smoothly, if we were to move out of the house one day,” she added.
The result of their hard work is a country farmhouse setting in white, grey, green and natural wood tones, incorporating new furniture and decor items that were mostly made by hand. These include their kids’ study tables, storage bench and coffee bar.
“Some of the items were modified from the stuff we bought and any reusable items that we could find and reuse,” she said.
One of the DIY projects that they are proud of is the faux fireplace in the living room.
“This project is the main focus point of our decor. It gives a different vibe to the Malaysian house atmosphere,” said Suzaituladwini, who shares most of their DIY projects on Instagram.
The fireplace, made using medium-density fibreboard (MDF) and plywood, took only one day of planning and another day to build and apply the surface finishing.
Not surprisingly, their favourite spot in the house is the living room.
“It’s not only a place to watch TV, but it’s also our kids’ play and study area. We spend most of our time together in the living room so most of our projects revolve around the area,” she said.
With two small kids, it can be a challenge to maintain the pristine white condition of their home.
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“It’s quite difficult because our kids are still young and they like to explore things, so sometimes it can be messy when they have coloured pens or pencils in their hands while not under our supervision.
“But it’s a learning process and we will touch up with paint from time to time,” said Suzaituladwini.
In addition to their home, the couple has also transformed the library at the school where Suzaituladwini teaches (SMK Air Tawar in Kota Tinggi) into a conducive and pleasant environment for the students.
“The idea is to give a new look and good vibes to a Malaysian school library and also to offer comfort to the students.
“The library has three main areas and the idea is to set a different theme to each area. The refurbishment is being completed in several phases due to limited access to the library during the pandemic,” she said.
The first room under phase 1 features a farmhouse design, while the second room has an English cottage feel.
The third room, which will continue after the current movement restrictions are lifted, will either embrace a Scandinavian design or an industrial look, said Suzaituladwini.
As for their own dwelling, some future plans include completing the decor for the kids’ rooms in the same theme.
“We’ll also redecorate our balcony to set up a proper place for our plants and flowers.”
And that should complete the look, and keep them busy, at least for a while.