Category Archives: Homes

Home is where the (he)art is

Built between 1924 and 1926, the Loke Villa along George Town’s sea-fronting Gurney Drive is perhaps the last of the heritage residences lining the prestigious promenade which still serves as a lived-in family bungalow.

Artist and designer Rebecca Wilkinson and her husband David, have been the loving and caring custodians of this house for the past 15 years. Loke Villa was designed by Scottish architect David McLeod Craik and built by Alan Loke.

The cool glazed tiles in the villa’s dining area (found also in the London Underground station) keep the house cool and offer visual impact.

“We are glorified caretakers of a house that we love,” says Rebecca of the lime-washed structure which is also known as the ‘Butterfly House’ or ‘Sunlight House.’

The Anglo-Indian mansion boasts Italian marble, French light fittings and wrought iron from Scotland for its materials, and virtually every corner of the home is a joy to visit and stick one’s nose in!

A peek into one of the guest rooms revealed that the bathrooms have not been changed and it’s enamel long baths are reminders of an era where gracious living, an army of household help, garden parties and sprawling bungalows were the order of the day for the well-heeled.

A stroll into the kitchen spelt nostalgia and a longing for the days when our grandparents occupied homes (not as stately as these) with kitchens like these …

Those who sign up for the ZafigoX Private House Tour this Saturday, Sept 2 at 3pm are in for a treat. The lady of the house is displaying her private textile collection, which includes the most exquisite vintage kebayas and sarongs.

Make a booking by registering at

Thank you Rebecca, for sharing an afternoon of gracious hospitality, taking us to vintage kebaya heaven and back, and reminding your guests how important it is to maintain heritage integrity.



This posting speaks for itself via the beautifully-crafted illustrations of a very talented young lady, Vanessa Ho.

The watercolour illustrator was commissioned by George Town Festival (GTF) director Joe Sidek to produce this darling little travel journal called GT80.

It lists the top 80 favourites of GTF, in terms of places to go, things to do, people to see and dishes to eat in George Town.

If there is one souvenir you should buy (RM30 each), during this edition of the GTF, it's this lil brown book which makes an invaluable guide for anyone pounding the streets of George Town or those overseas who pine for their beloved Penang.

Here's why ….

You get to rediscover childhood favourites, be they people, food or places or discover new ones and grow to love them.

Copies of the GT80 illustrated travel journal are available at the GTF office (86, Lebuh Armenian, George Town) during office hours.

(All images – but one – are courtesy of George Town Festival)

Festive retail therapy

Pam has been busy in her kitchen preparing limited stocks of Mulled Wine Extract. All you need do is to just add to a bottle of red wine and heat gently for an instant taste and smell of Christmas! 

She has also carefully shopped for and curated festive items for the picking ranging from Scandi-styled wreaths, tree ornaments and free-standing decorations including unusual lights (battery operated for maximum flexibility).

A relaxed and friendly pre-Christmas get-together takes place tomorrow (Dec 8) at Pam’s shop from 10am to 7pm where you can enjoy a glass of mulled wine, while browsing the selection of tasteful gifts, decorations and seasonal goodies including traditional fruitcake, shortbread, German stollen & cookies, Christmas flavours from Scoops Ice Cream, hand-made chocolates and more!

Grab your shopping lists, cash (and credit cards) and head for 5.4 North (24 Lorong Kinta) in George Town tomorrow.

Photos courtesy of 5.4 North

Tropical Spiced-Up Christmas

The gift ideas are endless and range from long *cinnamon sticks to scent your festive homes, kitchens and tables, masala chai packs for spiced teas and vanilla pods and pastes for holiday baking.

The Tropical Spice Garden has also curated several festive gift ideas such as their finely selected spices ranging from cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves to the harder-to-find green peppers and black cardamom. Also available are the garden’s own range of aromatherapy products like soaps, massage oils, bath and shower oils and bath salts.

Those missing the familiar colour and big stroke styles of the Owen Rebecca t-shirts which began selling at Kuala Lumpur’s Sentral Market in the 1980s are in luck. Tropical Spice Garden is the only place to pick up a Rebecca print whether in the form of her iconic t-shirt, tea towel or cards.

Tropical Spice Garden is located along Jalan Teluk Bahang  and is open from 9am-6pm with the last admission for those wishing to tour the garden set at 5.15pm.

*True Ceylon cinnamon does not contain the harmful coumarin found in the more commonly available cassia. Tropical Spice Garden’s cinnamon is sourced from a single origin farm in Sri Lanka and currently sold in special Christmas edition boxes.

Photos courtesy of Tropical Spice Garden

ID by Nala

Her impeccable attention to detail was apparent during a trade and lifestyle show, “InStyle Langkawi” three years ago. Lisette Scheers had brought prototypes of her Nala Designs merchandise for potential buyers to check out. She had pointed out to me then some of the imperfections found in one of her bags, and said she would need to address some production issues before they are launched commercially.

When I bought my blue Baise En Ville Willow Wishes bag three months later, I noticed that she had ironed out all concerns she initially had with the model.

It is this same eye for detail, style and perfection which has seen Lisette apply herself successfully to each venture she undertakes, ranging from designing stationery, tote bags, cushion covers and a whole range of other Nala items.
It seems only logical that she would now further diversify and go into the interior design business. Having designed and decorated her cafe – Dr. Inc (in Bangsar), she proceeded to do up her former home which has since been given up for rental.

The Nala-inspired home at Damansara Heights has all the clean lines, vibrant colours and stylish finish to its interiors, thanks to Lisette, who is open to taking on jobs of transforming living and working spaces in any city, including George Town, with touches of Brand Nala.





Photos courtesy of

Nicely Nala

Nala which means successful in Swahili is the name which  the multi-talented Lisette Scheers picked for her only child. She subsequently named her business – Nala Designs – after her daughter.

Nala the enterprise is a product line which draws from the wealth of inspiration of Malaysia’s melting pot of Chinese, Malay and Indian cultures.

The range of merchandise includes stationery, home decorating items, clothing, bags and other accessories.

The items pay tribute to the country’s rich heritage and reflected in some of the design lines which carry names like ‘Pretty in Peranakan’ and ‘My Kuih or Highway.’

Lisette is also the creative force of (a design and art studio) located along the leafy corner of Old Bangsar’s Jalan Kemuja in Kuala Lumpur.  The space is also home to DR.Inc (pronounced ‘drink’) a little coffee shop where    the design shop nala is located.




The design and decor of the cafe (above) carried out by Lisette and her team, has Nala merchandise littered in strategic spots and the decor even includes Nala-inspired wallpaper.

Her past collaborations with Isetan KLCC via pop-up stores, have now resulted in a full store featuring a permanent location for all things Nala (pictured below)





In Penang, a selection of Nala items is found at Bon Ton, The Shop (Armenian Street) the Eastern & Oriental Hotel’s Bombay Shop (Farqhuar Street) and the Tropical Spice Garden at Teluk Bahang on the island.

Locations of other stores around the world stocking Nala items and an online store are found at

Photos courtesy of Nala Designs

George Town

She has been a safe harbour to travellers for centuries, many of whom ended up calling her home and enjoying their days in the sun and being surrounded by water. Today she is a cosmopolitan city where travellers still fly, sail or drive in droves. While her silhouette has been altered greatly by man-made developments, she still has plenty to offer by way of experiences, panoramas and exquisite flavours. This is my George Town!img_6621