One would think that veteran interior designer Ho Kwong Wai, who has been in the business for over 30 years, would be living on a grand scale or even in flashy style but understated charm is what he prefers.
Ho bought his 3,000sq ft, five-room home as an investment while he was working in Singapore. He is currently design director with the Axis Identity Group.
|A mix of antique and modern designs|
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The Malaysian Institute of Art graduate returned 10 years ago, after having worked with several international firms for over 18 years. He specialises in hospitality projects such as hotels.
"It is more than enough for me," says Ho, referring to the size of his house.
Outwardly, this two-and-a-half storey, intermediate linked-house in Bandar Utama is unassuming. Upon entering the home, one discovers its utter charm, a place which reflects the owner's taste and personality.
Being a man of few words, Ho's home is true to his character as it has a sense of serenity and calmness. The vibe comes from the natural "flow" that connects the space and furnishings, explains Ho. It took him about two years to complete his own interior design concept - part by part - and by coordinating everything himself.
"You must know the layout of your home, the type of furnishings you want or have, and how they might 'flow' within the space," points out Ho.
In his case, the original layout of his living room was marred by the wall of an adjoining room. The lounge was only accessible through the kitchen. He decided to tear down the wall and turned it into a dining room connecting the living room, effectively doubling the space.
The open space now allowed a clear view of the garden that Ho had painstakingly created and a favourite part of his property.
"It allows nature to flow in," states the 53-year-old designer. Now, not only can he enjoy the view of the lush greenery, he can even hear the sound of the fountain, while sitting in his living room.
Ho also turned a void area at the top of the house into a study, connecting it to the attic that he made into a televison lounge. Windows overlooking the second floor were added, creating a feeling of wider space and better ventilation.
Labour of love While Ho's work may demand strict adherence to design concepts to achieve a professional look, but when it came to his own home, it was all about accessories and collectibles that reflected his taste.
The result is an eclectic mix with antique furniture combined with modern pieces. While the design theme of the home has a distinct Asian concept, Ho is reluctant to label a particular style to his artful arrangement.
"Each item is personal and I like it," says the homeowner. Ho says that he enjoys his home through the process of decorating with the things he loves. Occasionally, he moves his furniture around when the mood strikes him.
Among his favourite furniture is an elephant chair that he sourced from Bangkok, which is placed next to a modern sofa.
In the living room, are two modern-looking chairs, which are actually part of his mother's old furniture. "She wanted to throw them out, but I insisted she gave them to me," says Ho, who re-upholstered the chairs.
Another piece that Ho likes, is a replica of a cabinet originally designed for a Hong Kong governor. The creative expert explains that if the design looks and feels right, it doesn't have to be original or expensive. "How many people can afford such expensive furniture?" says Ho.
His design philosophy is simply about getting the right match or "flow," with the furnishings that you favour.
Ultimately, says Ho, "it just has to feel like a home".