If you’re thinking of redoing your bedroom, living room or any room for that matter, it’s worth noting that “colours are in at the moment”.
I was lucky enough to be invited for tea at Khatijah Hj Ahmad’s effortlessly styled home -where odd bits and bobs come together to make a beautiful living space.
“Interior decorating is about you and who you are. Whether you are formal or casual,” she says.
The Malaysian-born lady has a slight air of quirkiness to her – in her signature tunic top and statement jewellery pieces – a hint of Iris Apfel.
She has perfectly balanced her whites, blues, browns and greens to make her home feel like a warm embrace. Not surprisingly, it has been featured in local newspapers and magazines too.
“Maybe I inherited it from my parents. My parents have always been into interior decorating and my mom has even won a national level competition (in Malaysia) for best traditional house.”
In fact, the youngest of seven siblings says that they have all inherited the love for decorating and enjoy furniture hunting together.
According to Khatijah, with smart and strategic “editing”, there are easy ways to update a room without breaking the bank.
“It doesn’t have to be expensive, you can put in smaller pieces to change the look of your room. Scatter cushions, change the carpets and add little things like fresh flowers. You can make slip covers for sofas,” she says.
Or, it seems, even something as simple as flooding the room with natural light.
As mentioned earlier, colours are in too, although Khatijah says she has not yet jumped on the bandwagon.
“I have a penchant for blue, but all these international decorators are now into colours. (Mix and match) there are no restrictions.”
She also suggests placing pieces that “tell a story” such as antique heirlooms or unique travel finds for guests and home owners alike to enjoy.
“I bought this Indian mother of pearl inlay door after years of contemplating. I love it, it has turned into a conversation piece.”
The intricate wooden inlay door frames her dining area beautifully, separating the living quarters from her entertaining area. She has also cleverly used mirrors to make the dining area feel spacious and more open.
From time to time, Khatijah also attempts small projects refurbishing furniture with her husband. “We painted one of our Chinese cupboards, it was originally black,” she says.
Her otherwise classic rosewood furniture pieces have also been given a fresh contemporary look thanks to a lick of white paint. Her style comes through with a generous dash of ethnic vibe.
The mother of two admits that she isn’t as active as she used to be. “Now my back is weak,” she laughs.
However, when she was younger, she used to turn her garage into an entertaining area.
“I love to entertain. I love to cook for my friends and family. When I was younger I would hold events like open houses and turn my garage into a transformed area.”
Khatijah draws inspiration from internationally renowned decorators including Iris Apfel, so she constantly rearranges and edits the look of her home.
In fact, her passion for home decorating has led to a small online business. “Two years ago, I started an Instagram business called @chicbits to let go of preloved items. It was my daughter’s idea.”
“There was no more room in my storage… It was starting to clutter,” she says.
If there is anything we can take away from being invited into Khatijah’s home, it is that perhaps, less is more.