The greens from the bordering hills form the inspiration for the colour palette of this project

A Natural, Contemporary Penthouse Inspired by Its Surrounding Hills
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Inspiration can be a fickle thing. When lacking ideas, we like to turn to social media or magazines to find ideas, but sometimes the best source of inspiration may just be right in front of you.

Overlooking the sea and the hills of Penang Island, this single storey penthouse in Skyridge Garden designed by independent designer Sean Heah takes inspiration from the greens of the surrounding hills for its colour palette.

“The owner had a simple request for the space to be comfortable and practical. That aligns with my design philosophy as well because, for me, beauty and functionality go hand in hand,” says Sean, who was given full reign for the redesign of the home.

Independent designer Sean Heah

While the 2,335 sq ft five-bedroom penthouse provided lots of room to work with, the original layout was, according to Sean, a mess. “The ceiling had different heights throughout the house, it was high in some places and low in another, so there’s a lot of brainstorming and work done to correct the structure,” he explains. 

To begin, he extended the wall of the existing kitchen space. The extension not only makes the layout neater but also creates more storage space and acts as a support for a new kitchen island.

Forest green carpentry is used in the kitchen to echo the beautiful view outside. The island is topped with a cement grey porcelain surface that is heat resistant and scratch-proof. Similarly, marble-like porcelain is used as the backsplash, which provides a delicate contrast to the dark and moody cabinets. 

Next to the dry kitchen is the wet kitchen and laundry room, which is converted from an existing bedroom. Sean also switched the position of the entrance so that it provides the homeowners with easy access from the dry to the wet kitchen.

Inside, the laundry room is kept minimalistic, with a hint of quirkiness from the honeycomb tiles. “I feel like the room is quite squarish, so I just round it out with the shape of these tiles,” adds Sean.

The new corner beside the laundry room then became the perfect spot for the dining area, which features cushy velvet chairs in a matching forest green shade and a marble table that ties the space to the elements used in the dry kitchen, forming a sense of cohesiveness. 

The main living room was decked out in shades of grey, with the highlight being the ombre cowhide rug. “I think this rug is one of my favourite pieces,” says Sean. “It’s stitched out of different patches of cows with varying shades to form the ombre effect of this one carpet.”

A white brick wall separates the living room from another living room, which was revamped into a home office. “There’s really no need for two day rooms, especially when they are so close to each other,” says Sean, who chose to use the same wood laminate in the flooring for the desk and shelves so that the whole office looks like one seamless space.

The design for the bedrooms is an extension from the design in the common areas. In the daughter’s bedroom, the walnut table is convertible so that it functions as both a study desk and a vanity. Above the table, two line art drawings that portray the gentle curves of a female body stands out amongst the neutral furnishings. “It’s quite hard to find pieces of art in Penang because the island is so small, so I hired a freelance artist to draw these to fulfil the vision of what I had in mind,” Sean reveals.


The snake print cushions covers and tissue box were Sean's own, which he acquired in the UK. He sold them to the family when they saw how much they fit in their home.

The uneven ceiling is evident in the master bedroom, which cannot be modified due to the structural beams it hides. The walk-in wardrobe area is extended with a smart extension of the walls to maximise the awkward layout. The black and white photographs were given to Sean from a photographer in China, fits perfectly with the aesthetic of the space. 

To adorn the home with meaningful art, Sean scoured the island for unique pieces, like this nostalgic portrait of an island girl sourced from a local antique store in the other bedroom.

The freedom and privileged to source for art his favourite part of designing the home. “I was lucky that the owner trusted my level of taste in art and design," quips Sean. "As we all know, art plays such an important role in a space. Every artwork and sculpture has a unique story and history behind them, and could make or break the interior."

Tags: homedesigninteriorminimalistnaturalcontemporarymoderngreenPenangMalaysia
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