Upon entering the Tjhung family residence, you are immediately greeted by a majestic yet homey feeling. Two grand staircases, one on each side of the building, and three Mother Theresa crystal chandeliers welcome you when you walk inside.
The house is dominated by neutral colours, such as white, beige and grey, with brush gold accents. Two ceiling-to-floor windows overlook the swimming pool at the back. The right wing takes us to the pantry, a beautiful tea room and a grand dining room. As for the property’s left wing, that’s where the master bedroom resides. The Art-Deco style house is filled with sculptures of Greek goddesses that add to the style of the house.
Situated in North Jakarta, the property was designed and built by the youngest of six siblings, Lio Tjhung. While he has never received any formal training in interior architecture, Lio honed his space design experience by previously completing several of his own apartments’ interior projects before putting them on lease. Lio feels like art and design are his true passion.
“Being a visual person, any form of design really interests me, from graphic design to fashion as well as interior design,” he says. “My daytime job in the garment business also requires me to do a great deal of fashion designing, so that may contribute to my creativity.” Lio earned a degree in Business Computer Information Systems from Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. Soon after graduation, Lio spent two years gaining experience as a graphic designer and web developer for a US based tech company. He came back to Jakarta in the year 2000 when his parents summoned him for a more active role in managing the family’s growing garment business. He has been managing the company, largely responsible for design and production for the last 18 years since his return from New York.
“The idea behind this house was to build a comfortable space for my parents to retire in whilst having adequate room to entertain their friends and family in,” says Lio. “The house was commissioned by them six years go and we have been living here for over two years. My parents had always envisioned a house with a big, open hall and ample dining space large enough to host their big family. “We have a rather big family, I must say, which includes my parents’ six children, as well as great-grandchildren to accommodate during family events!”
“I tried to follow my parents’ wishes and vision for of this house whilst incorporating my own ideas. After listening very carefully to their wishes, we decided to go for a clean and classic timeless design, with an Art Deco feel. I am very much fascinated by the roaring twenties, the ‘Great Gatsby’ period.”
Putting comfort above everything for the family, the 2,000 sq m house has its own basement – specially built for entertaining the family members. A long corridor leads to the entertainment room, a spa room complete with salon and massage room, an office, another living room for guests, as well as a dedicated library and a service area for the help staff.
“I designed the house from scratch. It’s inspired by all the grand homes and cozy hotels I’ve had the opportunity to stay in during my travels. A great deal of inspiration also came from images on social media, such as on Instagram and Pinterest, and from watching period dramas and even some modern-day movies. And yes, I do spend a lot of time on social media and watching movies – all in the name of research,” he explains with a grin as we walk around an area that feels nothing like any ordinary basement.
The second level of the house is dedicated for visiting family members’ bedrooms and one formal guest bedroom. Then we move on to the third level. This is occupied by a penthouse and a rooftop garden where guests can enjoy a green scenery and the city’s skyline. The second master bedroom is on this level, complete with walk-in-closet and master bathroom. Lio has a soft spot for dogs – he has a 5 and growing stable of Shelties, to be exact – and he has put his furry babies in their own room on the third level. Again, with the functional theme of the house, this level completed by a kitchen, pantry, living room and children’s room.
“I love spending time in the living room of the master bedroom on the third floor,” says Lio. “It opens up to a rooftop garden view wiith its own relaxing water fountain. Being in this garden gives me a feeling of seclusion from the rest of the world, and it’s such a sanctuary to have amid the bustling city life. My guests, on the other hand, love the grand dining room. It’s a favourite room where most guests usually end up spending most of their time at. This is quite a fascinating feedback for me, and I’m glad that I have designed a space for more people to enjoy.”
The house took three years to build, and Lio admits that his lack of formal training in interior architecture proved to be a challenge in the beginning. “Building a project of this magnitude was not an easy task for me. Another hurdle was to integrate my parent’s idea of a beautiful home, which belongs to an entirely different generation, with my own personal sense of aesthetics.”
What are his favorite pieces in the house? “I love most of the decorative pieces that are scattered around the property,” says Lio. “I value things for their sentimental values as opposed to their actual purchase value and I acquired most of them during my travels. From vintage porcelains to leather trunks to other antiquities I found at some random flea- market. Sometimes, purchasing them took a great deal of effort. I remember carrying a heavy decorative statue all around the cobble-stoned street of York after purchasing it at a specialty store that I found by chance at some random alley. Now when I see that piece handsomely displayed in my walk-in-closet, it always bring back beautiful memories of those trips, and they are unique as you can’t just repurchase them at any store. After all there are still things that money can’t buy!”
“The perfect home for me is one that is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also functional. It needs to flow naturally with the rhytym of the owners’ day-to-day living habits. It needs to feel easy, it needs to be comfortable – not just for the owners but also for the help staff. That’s when a harmony is created.”