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By Annie Ooi
When the living room of your 30th floor penthouse faces the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, curtains would probably not be needed.
The floor-to-ceiling windows in the double-volume sitting room facing the Twin Towers, have a film of "V-cool" to cut the glare. And besides offering a first-class view of the annual New Year's eve fireworks display, the stunning sunset is a daily bonus.
When given the brief to undertake the interior design project for home owners E.L. Chan and his wife, SoDeco design director Ellen Ho "did a background check" on them and came up with a decor scheme which is both elegant and subtly sophisticated, nice and functional, but most of all, liveable.
"They are busy business people and entertain guests and associates regularly in their home, which has a fantastic view of the KLCC area. So I planned a simple and uncluttered layout, and which is easy to maintain," says Ho.
The lady of the house actually found her dream designer on the Internet, and when both of them "clicked," she entrusted the decoration of her living space to Ho. "I prefer that she did everything; otherwise there would be a mix of ideas," she says.
"It was a blessing to have them as clients, as they trust me, and did not hold me back," says Ho.
So complete was the trust that the couple love to tease their designer by saying that, "all credit, as well as brickbats, go to her."
Good friends now, Ho drops by now and then, to help the couple with updating any detail.
"The look I planned for them is good for about five years, and with just a little change of accessories and lighting every couple of years, you can get a different feel," says Ho.
The idea is urban and contemporary living, which is a far cry from the homeowners' previous home of traditional Chinese decor.
Previously living in the same Ampang area just across the road, the family of five (three children aged 14 to 20) moved into the penthouse in mid-2008 after the condominium development was completed in 2007.
With 3½ storeys and a built-up of 648sq m (7,200 sq ft), the RM3.6 million (S$1.5 million) that the homeowners paid in 2004 is well worth the price, as the "asking price" of an adjacent unit is said to be RM11 million, currently.
The lift doors open directly to the foyer and a door opens to the formal sitting room, which has been done up in pleasant tones of cream, white and grey. Cut-to-fit string carpeting, sourced from Lorenzo, is laid out all over the home, to soften the overall look.
Bathed in sunlight, a feature wall of natural stone enhances the look of quiet elegance. A clean-cut looking console adds to the air of urban sophistication.
Nothing should block the multi-million-dollar view and Ho has wisely placed custom-made low ottomans in front of the glass window. The light-coloured leather sofas are purchased from Miva.
Heavy glass tables add to the modern look. "I guide my clients on the selection of materials," says Ho, "and contrary to popular belief, glass is quite easy to maintain."
No cabinets are in sight to spoil the clean and linear look. The stairs leading to the first floor are at the side of the room with a three-dimensional feature wall highlighting the area. The space under the stairs is used as a store, with a "hidden" door.
The dining area is darkly city-chic with a leather set from Lorenzo and dark-coloured glass was installed in the background to give it depth.
Another wall is covered with a bronze mirror finish, which is not as reflective as the usual mirrors. Who can resist the Feng Shui concept of having one wall mirrored to "double" the food as well as to give the illusion of space?
The dry kitchen is in full view near the dining area, and behind closed doors, lie the wet kitchen, utility area and maid's room.
"We did not have to do any major renovation," said the homeowners, but they did spend RM400,000 furnishing the home, including the furniture and lighting.
The audio-visual room just off the sitting room is down a corridor, and is for the family to relax while watching movies. A couple of bedrooms are located here, each with its own bathroom.
Textured wallpaper marks the end of the corridor and this design is carried through to the floor above, at the exact spot. To add interest, a bronze sculpture of a leaf is placed on a marble stand.
There is not much wallpaper to be seen as "I am careful about using wallpaper, if there is water leakage, for example near a bathroom, the wallpaper is ruined," says Ho, who also guides her clients on how to maintain wallpaper.
The first floor, which overlooks the formal sitting room, is the designated family area, where family members can "hang out" watching television and where family photographs are displayed. "I advise the owners on what to look out for and where to buy. For instance, Metrojaya has good discounts for photo frames during sales," advises Ho.
The master bedroom is located at one corner of the penthouse. And the windows, sited at right angles form a cosy corner, with a Swarovski crystal lamp hanging over a circular settee. The bathroom here is of hotel standard with marble and granite paving material, as are all the bathrooms.
Up one more flight of steps is the attic where many things are stored. Here, the family can make as much noise as they want, with their karaoke set.
A lovely surprise at the very top is the infinity lap pool where the fireworks display of New Year's eve are actually at eye level.
Outdoor furniture is placed on a floor laid with broken tiles for a casual look. Lying on the reclining chair at dusk is like seeing a picture of the city skyline come to life, says a happy visitor. There is also space allocated for a rooftop garden, if the homeowners can get hold of a regular gardener.
When the Chans first moved in, the Feng Shui consultant told the lady of the house that this location would bring the family good fortune for the next 20 years.
Looks like they will enjoy the unobstructed view of the fireworks for many years to come.