Home inspiration: Design principles to learn from Penang’s Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion

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If you are traveling to Penang for a getaway from the city, do not miss the chance to visit the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion. Built in 1880 as a private home for famed Chinese merchant Cheong Fatt Tze, the building now serves as a museum-cum-hotel. The mansion is not only perfect for history lovers. Being a heritage site, it is also a great reference for design enthusiasts. If you are one, take note! We walk you through some of the best design principles to learn from the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion.

Your city can be your best decor inspiration.

The entirety of the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion displays visual odes to Penang's peranakan culture.

Penang is very big on preserving its peranakan culture. Evidently, the Baba and Nnonya touch is a theme consistent with the designs of many UNESCO-listed heritage buildings here, including the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion. This shows that the environment we live in is always the best source of home inspiration. Where our city’s identity is personally interpreted, what we ultimately reflect is our peaceful relationship with our cultural history.

 Blue is the warmest colour.

The colour blue associates with peace and order—perfect for a heritage building.

What makes the mansion recognisable is its distinctive blue colour. Sitting somewhere between indigo and dove blue, the colour was assigned to the mansion’s walls to replace their original white colour which, according to the Chinese, represents death. The choice isn’t surprising, since blue associates with calmness, trust, peace and order. It is thus always a good idea to incorporate this colour into your home’s most intimate areas such as the bedroom, bathroom or home office.

Feng Shui is always a good idea.

The art of Feng Shui is greatly honoured in the mansion.

Though some changes have been made to its design over the years, the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion was originally built to strictly adhere to Feng Shui principles. Feng Shui, literally translating into the “wind and water”, refers to the art of placement; it examines energy flow and promotes balance throughout the home. If you are not too keen on superstitions, you can interpret Feng Shui into your space through the play of proportions. Either that or you can balance colours and textures when you attempt redecoration.

Geometric patterns exude finesse.

The Oriental geometric patterns are evident in the mansion's iron pillars.

A good look around this blue mansion and you’ll realise the presence of many geometric motifs and patterns everywhere. They can be found on wooden doors, staircases and walls. Want to inject a bit of the Asian take on geometry into your home? Why not look to these Oriental patterns as inspiration. Think cushion covers, dinnerware sets and lush curtains.

A little visual surprise goes a long way.

The bathrooms at Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion are as modern as can be.

Nothing conjures design awe more than the cross between tradition and modernity. While most of the rooms in the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion promotes old-school aesthetics, its bathrooms are quite the opposite (as pictured above). This visual play proves that when it comes to design, there’s no such thing as limitations—only inspirations.

Photo source: Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion

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