Renovating their new home in Iskandar Puteri, Johor proved to be a challenge for Firanah Anuar and her husband when they first received their keys in 2020.
With the Covid-19 lockdown, the couple – who works in Singapore – was stuck in the city-state, and the renovations were done by a local contractor who communicated with them mostly via WhatsApp and video calls.
“Thanks to the power of online shopping, I was able to order items such as light fixtures and ceiling fans online and get them shipped directly to the contractor for them to install in our home. It was really a challenge but we made it work via proper planning and sketching,” shared Firanah, 43, a senior UX designer who designs apps for mobile and TV.
There was, however, one snag.
“The only thing I regret is that the end result of our kitchen cabinet colour did not look like how it was supposed to be. The contractor did show us a colour sample beforehand (via photo and video call) and it looked like the blue colour that I had picked initially, but in reality it looks more like dark green than blue.
“I was disappointed that the contractor did not flag us earlier that the actual colour when they spray painted it in the factory looked like dark green, when all along they knew we were expecting a dark-blue finish.
“That being said, we only found out when the borders were opened and we were able to return back home to JB but by then there was nothing that could be done to change it,” said Firanah, whose four-bedroom, double-storey corner lot house is located in a gated and guarded community.
Nonetheless, Firanah has still managed to create a welcoming abode in predominantly neutral, pastel and light wood tones with a beach home feel.
“I have always loved the beach, sun and seaside. For me, a home should be a relaxing place where you can unwind, pretty much like you’re on vacation every day.
“So that’s the concept that I try to create for our home – a little less Balinese, but more of an Australian beach home vibe. The key to a modern coastal home is to embrace light, airy spaces, natural fibres and calming colours.
“I chose a colour scheme that reflects the sand, ocean and sky – various shades of beige, grey and white for the walls, with blue accents in the cushions and decor items such as vases and seashell bowls that you can easily switch up in the future,” she shared.
Inspired by the organic textures of nature, Firanah also incorporated light wood tones for shelves and cabinets, baskets and rattan furniture, and embraced fabrics like cotton and linen.
“These would all combine to make our home feel uncomplicated, organic and comfortable, which is the main goal,” said Firanah, who shares her home decor journey on Instagram.
Recently, her house was selected by @ighometourmalaysia – a local home tour group on Instagram hosted by home decor enthusiasts to inspire one another and share ideas on home design and decor – under the theme #ightmfeaturewall for its appealing design.
“This feature wall is the first wall you see when you open the main entrance door, so to leave it white and empty would really be a waste. I chose a simple greyish palm leaves wallpaper to add texture to the wall and to carry over the modern coastal theme.
“I also placed a rattan two-seater bench with beige and blue cushions there that can be used as extra seating when we have guests over, and adorned the wall with black and white family photos as a focal point,” said Firanah.
Emphasis on functionality
Their living room design was also well thought-out, especially the feature wall.
“When planning for the living room feature wall, I wanted symmetry (there is one small window on the left side of the wall) and my husband’s wishlist was to have a shelf that could display his soundbar and hide all the messy wires.
“So the design of the TV feature wall has to solve all these problems. I found lots of ideas and inspiration from the #ighometourmalaysia community and decided to design a TV cabinet that spans from the floor to the ceiling (which covers the small window behind it), with three open shelves in light wood tones on both sides to display decor items, and a compartment covered by black glass that hides the router and messy wires.
“For the main backdrop wall where the TV would be mounted, initially we wanted to incorporate some stone textures to give it more character (like a fireplace design) but our carpenter said it was difficult and costly to implement.
“After much research, we found a local supplier that carries a material – which has a rough texture like stone, but comes in thin flexible sheets made from clay and stone powder – that is lightweight and easy to install, and that completed the look.
“As for the main focal point, we chose a 65in Frame TV for the aesthetic reason that it hangs flat to the wall like a painting and we can customise the frame colour to match the shelves. It can also display digital art so when the TV is not in use, we can display interchangeable paintings to change the mood of the room,” said Firanah.
As their kitchen, dining and living spaces come under an open-concept layout, Firanah chose a small L-shaped peninsula kitchen design with a waterfall countertop to separate the kitchen from the dining area.
Meanwhile, her dark blue/green tone (depending on the light) kitchen cabinets are paired with a white quartz countertop and white marble-patterned herringbone backsplash. Firanah also opted for kitchen floor tiles with a texture and colour similar to wood.
If given another chance, would she go for dark kitchen cabinets again?
“I think the answer is no. You tend to have water dripping off from the countertop and to the cabinet doors and when it dries, it will leave obvious watermark stains that could easily be seen on dark cabinets as opposed to light ones,” she said.
In the downstairs room, which doubles as a guest room, Firanah has also set aside a cosy work-from-home corner.
“Initially this room was much smaller but we knocked down the small store room at the back so that this room would get more light from the window and be less stuffy.”
Her 17-year-old daughter’s bedroom has also been done up nicely, with an emphasis on practicality.
“To design a room, it’s not just about the aesthetics but also the function. In this case since the air-cond ledge on the second floor is right outside my daughter’s bedroom window, we wanted to cover it up but at the same time create lots of storage space and a study area for her.
“By creating a seating bench by the window, it serves a dual function of providing storage space while blocking out the not-so-nice view outside the window.
“We also opted for a hanging desk to optimise space and high shelves with a little arch design to add interest and for her to display all her knick-knacks,” said Firanah.
Despite all the work done on the home, there are still things to be carried out.
“Believe it or not, it’s been three years but we still do not have a wardrobe in the master bedroom. This is a project that is currently underway. We are also planning to add some built-in cabinets for the pantry section at the back of the kitchen.
“I think the key is to prioritise the important areas based on our lifestyle as we do not have the luxury to complete everything all at once,” she said.
Meanwhile, their lovely home continues to be a place they look forward to coming back to every time.