A Secret Home Makeover on The Quiet

By Ibu Jenny

“Let’s send her out of town and remodel her whole house in two days!” A friend was intent on ignoring a significant birthday. We thought differently. Fuelled by one too many cocktails, we arrived at the arguably reckless decision to do up her home in secret – an extreme home makeover if you will.

It’s amazing what can be achieved by a group of friends with an abundance of ideas, boundless enthusiasm, an endless supply of coffee, and a Machiavellian instinct for secrecy.

A month and many brainstorming meetings, action spreadsheets and shopping trips later, we had everything organised right down to the last detail. We’d sat at her table pulling the wool over her eyes and whipping out a tape measure whenever her back was turned. Her friends from Bali and beyond had donated home items and money to buy what was needed. My home was groaning under the weight of supplies hidden away out of sight; she tended to drop in unannounced, and one occasion caught a friend dropping off bedlinen, thankfully wrapped in black plastic bags… “For the next clothes swap”, I improvised. And we’d manoeuvred her into making a rare overnight trip away from Ubud in the company of, and in collusion with, friends. Minutes after she left her house at 9am, we – eight friends, four staff, two handymen, and a kelompok of painters – swarmed in and set to work. We had until 4pm the next day.

I thought about this makeover when writing in the last issue about Alej Cisneros and her tips for refreshing a home. Presciently, we seem to have followed the advice she shared. Here’s how:


Paint everything white

The entire house received a facelift with Nippon Spotless White Lace paint. It isn’t the cheapest, but lasts much longer and ensures the house won’t need to be painted again. The colour is a soft warm white, and it lifted the entire space.


Add colour

Colour can be effectively used to define different spaces in an open plan living area. By painting a strong statement colour on one wall and at the same time painting the blue kitchen wall white, we placed emphasis on the seating area – the social heart of the house. That rich burgundy- perfect for a wine enthusiast – was also the prime colour in a dreamy semi-transparent curtain that extended the impact of the statement wall and screened a private seating area outside the bedroom. (We hemmed 10 metres of gorgeous Indian sari Alta Moda fabric on the spot and draped it over a piece of bamboo found in the garden.)

We picked up the accent colour in the Indian fabric, and covered new cushions in a deep teal twill found in Jalan Sulawesi and made by Zidni at D’Zone on the Andong Road (who delivered them in the nick of time, a heart-palpitating half-hour before the return of the birthday girl).

Improve lighting

It was fun shopping for new lighting in Denpasar, Kuta and Ubud. We chose art-deco style wall lighting for the bedroom, added bright spots for the kitchen and pendant lights in the hallway, used gentle spots on some of the artwork, and converted a huge chicken basket into a contemporary pendant light over the dining table. All bulbs were replaced with warm energy-saving LEDs.

Mirrors also have an impact on lighting. We added a strip of mirror along the full length of the kitchen above the tiles, and angled it so that it reflected garden greenery.


Add glamour to the bedroom

Painting the bedroom white and white-washing the bedeg ceiling transformed this space, helped by changing the lighting, and moving (or removing) furniture in order to open the mosquito-screened double doors onto the terrace. To declutter the space, we built a storage cupboard, and made provision for the creation of a walk-in wardrobe utilising an existing door onto a small patio, (also freeing up space in the hallway where clothes were currently being kept).


Consider new bedding

Thanks to another friend, the antique Chinese bed became a place to retreat in supreme comfort, nesting on goose-down pillows covered in crisp 100% cotton bedding on a new duvet and pillows (from Tenaga Bahru on Jalan Imam Bonjol). Such luxury encourages deep sleep, revelatory dreams, and lazy lie-ins!


Consider modifying furniture

To create a more comfortable seating area, we added hardboard all around the L-shaped concrete dining bench to extend the depth to 75cm and allow a space for legs to tuck under, then added new mattress cushions – perfect for quick naps or extra house guests. This simple modification turned out to be perhaps the most transformative, and the most commented on by subsequent dinner guests.


Check if you are fully using the house

Opening up the bedroom to the terrace by moving the daybed created a better flow and somehow activated the space and made it more usable. The same happened in the hallway, where shifting around furniture created space for a gallery of paintings and artefacts.


Add floor mats

A confession. This is one thing we didn’t anticipate. Rather than adding mats, we actually took them away. For the low-down on what happened to her oriental rugs, read www.baliadvertiser.biz/on-the-carpet.

Yes, dear reader, the recipient of this home-improvement-by-stealth surprise was our very own Greenspeak columnist Ibu Cat. “It was the most gobsmacking, mind-blowingly amazing birthday present ever conceived…my fresh and delightful new house looks like something out of a magazine.”

Have you completed a home makeover? What stories of the joys (and challenges) would you like to share? We’d love to hear from you.


If you would like to share some interesting home design products, services and ideas, please get in touch.

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Copyright © 2018 Ibu Jenny


Copyright © 2018 At Home in Bali

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