Design Inspiration from Malaysian Travels….Part One

I’m just coming to the end of a wonderful holiday in Malaysia and with my mind full of interior design, I feel especially lucky to have been surrounded by such beautiful, and colourful, sources of inspiration. Plus the free time away from the office has been absolutely brilliant for a whole host of online shopping! Wallpaper samples and design books galore await me on the return. I may be getting just a little carried away… (Which I think will be a common theme of my new house).

I always try to bring things back from the countries I visit and as such I’ve bought a number of things for my new house (as well as being full of beautiful things, it’s also incredibly cheap here). I’ll post those up separately once I am back and they are unwrapped, but here are a few pictures I’ve taken while visiting Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi and Penang which I’ve found especially inspiring for my home (pt one)

This is my first time visiting Malaysia and the mix of cultures here, particularly Indian and Chinese, has been such fun to explore, and can be seen in the mixture of photos. Each is an explosion of different colours, heavily featuring red and gold in the run up to Chinese New Year, and I will never ever tire of visiting Asian temples, which are just the most glorious things to behold. There is something about the colours, statues and structures, that I could look at for hours. Despite not personally being religious, I’ve always loved visiting religious buildings. As well as being incredibly calming, the art is usually breathtaking – I am particularly partial to a mural or two – and I am always captivated by the intricate stone carvings and woodwork. The colour of Buddhist temples is obviously a world apart from English churches and I remember the first time I saw one in the flesh being a little shocked by how bright they were!

Now though I’m wondering if recreating my own in the heart of Bermondsey might just be a little too OTT or whether I could pull it off….


A never ending array of beautifully bright fabrics in Kuala Lumpur Indian/Punjabi clothing shop Leo’s Boutique. I came away with four and a promise to come back for more on my next trip!


Central Market in KL was absolutely my shopping highlight of the trip. In amongst all the shops selling souvenirs, crafts, clothes and food, we discovered this amazing Chinese shop which was overflowing. It looked like Auntie had simply been piling item upon item for years and years. We couldn’t figure out how she ever found anything but thankfully these beautiful dogs were sitting right on the top so I snapped them up.


I spotted these two at the back of another shop at Central Market. They immediately made me think of the blue summer house in the garden at Alma Grove. At around £250 each (though that was before discount) I didn’t think I could quite justify the expense, not to mention the fact that they would be a nightmare to carry back on a plane!


My mother is an avid and talented gardener, as was her mum before, and so I grew up in a house that was always filled with flowers. Its a tradition I’ve tried to continue despite the fact that I’m still waiting for my green fingers to come through! If I was pushed I would probably say that orchids are my favourite flowering plant and I like to have a few around my house at any given time. The value seeker in me loves the ROI of price/duration and there is something so graceful and classic about an orchid plant. I’ve always felt they give off an impression of understand elegance, as well as giving a nod to Asian style, and I intend to fill my little house with them. This was taken at the KL Orchid Park, where they are said to grow up to 800 different species of orchid. I have to say I didn’t even know there were so many!


Whilst this isn’t something I would want to recreate as is (the pattern isn’t to my personal taste), I adored how even the floor was decorated at the Wat Chayamangkalaram Buddhist Temple in Penang, which is famous for its giant reclining Buddha, the third largest in the world.


Ever since my mum bought me a little ceramic elephant from India a few years ago, I’ve tried to pick one up where possible on my travels. I’ve now got a collection of about five or six, which are soon to be joined by another two I bought out here. So when I saw this giant gold elephant, also at Wat Chayamangkalaram, I fell in love. Its said that elephants are a symbol of good luck and I can’t think of an elephant that looks more lucky than this.


Just across the road from the Thai Buddhist temple, is the Dhammikarama Temple, which is apparently the first and only Burmese Buddha temple outside Myanmar (which I was also lucky enough to visit last year). Much larger, with many more distinct areas, structures and statues than its Thai neighbour, I particularly liked the softer blue on this figure and the gentle features.

Yet another different culture in the Malaysian melting pot, this time Chinese, right in the heart of Penang’s capital Georgetown. I have never seen anything quite like the Khoo Kongsi clanshouse. This is one of the oldest and grandest Chinese clans in Panang; you only need to glimpse Khoo Kongsi to know. I took far too many photos to post on here, especially of the intricately carves architecture and gold decoration, but from a house perspective, I was very drawn to all the hanging lanterns at the entrance. Its approaching Chinese new year so there are red lanterns galore in Malaysia, but the colours of these ones are softer and more subtle. I’d actually just finished reading a spring back issue of Good Homes Magazine and had clipped a page of a garden tree decorated with paper lanterns for a picnic, thinking that I would get some for my new garden, so to also see them here while out sightseeing seemed very fortuitous.

Keep your eyes peeled for more Malaysian photography. You can also head on over to my Pinterest for more inspiration like this.

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