“AFTER 13 long years, it’s time for a change. I’m sorry. I’ve loved you all these years but some things are increasingly getting on my nerves, like how I don’t invite friends over anymore because they’ll see the mess... How I can’t reach the back of the top shelf and can’t recall what is stored there now… How I only have a 30cm by 30cm counter space to prepare meals… .”

Though it was quite a one-sided conversation, I finally had “the talk” with my compact but cramped kitchen. In the end, I agreed to consider professional help for us and trotted off to find out how German brand Häfele could help.

Häfele Malaysia recently invited two local personalities and the media for an introduction to some of its smart living solutions, so I jumped on the interior design bandwagon for a visit to the modern and sleek Häfele Design Centre.

The centre isn’t the kind of place where you purchase a sofa, a side table or a storage box. The company specialises in furniture fittings, architectural hardware and provides kitchen and wardrobe solutions.

Häfele Malaysia general director Dominik Fruth explains its concept: “We’re like the intel of the industry, the hidden champions. You don’t see us so much in front but we make things happen. “Our CEO once said that a furniture would only be a stack of wood without the fittings. So that means the fittings are what makes it work. We put all that functionality inside the furniture. So we don’t sell furniture.”

Customers would visit the centre with their interior designers or fabricators who normally place the orders. Häfele does have end-user items like door handles, digital locks, drawer runners and sanitary fittings, however, someone is required to install them and Häfele can refer to its trade partners if needed.

TOOLS AND GUIDES

It’s recommended for customers to visit the Häfele Design Centre to first find inspiration and take home some ideas about the desired functionality in their property. Even if you walk through and still don’t have a clue, a consultant can take you through a checklist and guidelines, and you can also utilise its in-house planning tools.

Everyone has a different kitchen or wardrobe personality, so a list of questions will help to glean information about your behaviour and lifestyle, thereby identifying your daily requirements. For example, questions include: how often do you cook, how big is the household, is the kitchen more of a cooking or social place for you and so on.

There are also guidelines to help design the right configuration for a wardrobe. Walk into the reception area of the centre and check out the wall-sized diagram of a wardrobe with interesting statistics.

This planner provides a guide on the length, height and depth needed to store your tops, bottoms or shoes. For example, did you know that a one-metre wardrobe rail can accommodate 30 shirts or 20 light jackets?

With a kitchen makeover on my mind and my eye already on the Bachelorette design, the big question is where can I find an extra RM80,000? Time for another talk… with my banker!

DESIGN IDEAS

BACHELOR DESIGN

PULL-DOWN HIGH SHELF

Make use of storage space in a tall cupboard AND get to the items easily. The vertically-challenged would welcome easy access to the top shelf with help from the iMove pull-down system that brings higher shelves down and outwards.

BACHELORETTE DESIGN

HIDDEN DISPLAY

At first glance, you see an organised wall system for cooking knives, seasonings or accessories. But there’s space underneath that can be maximised at the press of a button, an electric lift raises a whole new compartment! Great for hiding your secret stash of bottles or imported chocolates.

DOOR COVER

For small homes like studio apartments where the kitchen is integrated into the living space, it’s handy to maintain aesthetics by keeping the kitchen out of sight. Glossy foldable door panels can be pulled out from side cupboards to completely cover the top half of the kitchen. Extremely useful for hiding the unwashed dishes when the potential mother-in-law decides to drop in suddenly.

PULL-OUT COUNTER

Want to grab a quick breakfast in the kitchen? This small table is integrated into the drawer units and pulls out easily to provide an ideal mini table, or if cooking space is limited, it can serve as an extra preparation area. And if you don’t want to miss your favourite show while eating or cooking, a remote control button summons a TV screen down from the back wall panel.

BIGGER KITCHENS

PULLOUT CABINET

With this tall storage system, there’s no need for an excavation mission with torchlight to find things in the cabinet. When the door opens, the entire shelving unit emerges so the items come out to you and are accessible from the front and both sides. Not only can you now spot that hidden jar of cookies at the back, but the shelves are also easily adjustable, without tools, to suit the height of your storage items.

HOOD

For anyone considering a kitchen island with a stove top, there’s another option to having a clunky chimney hood suspended above. Who knew that you can conceal a hood underneath the island! At the press of a button, a long and narrow, sleek and shiny piece of metal rises up from the counter, which even provides additional lighting.

WARDROBE

SIDE SPACE

A few centimetres may not seem like much to store anything but it’s amazing what designers can think of. In this wardrobe unit, an unassuming side panel reveals a nifty pull-out drawer that’s ideal for things like lotions and perfumes.

And with a bit more space, even a mirror can be stored sideways and pulled out.

IRONING BOARD

With this idea, the ironing board is installed inside a top drawer which means you only have to pull out the drawer, unfold the top ironing surface and adjust the angle and height according to your preference. After ironing, the board goes neatly back into the drawer.

HANDY TIPS

SURAYA YEOP JUNIOR

TV host

ONE of the two local personalities who shared their home planning experiences at the Häfele Design Centre was TV host Suraya Yeop Junior, who has been running her own interior design business for over a year.With three young children, this petite mother gave one big tip to parents. “Don’t put the TV in the living room!” she chuckles before recommending that the TV be placed in other rooms like a playroom.After moving house multiple times, she finally realised that separate playroom for her children keeps their mess confined as they watch TV and play, which will keep the home tidier.Since tidiness is very important to her, it’s no surprise that her favourite innovations at Häfele are the concealed kitchen hood and power sockets, which improve aesthetics and make a place look neater.

CAREY NG

Former Miss Malaysia

Meanwhile, former Miss Malaysia and mother-to-be Carey Ng is more inclined towards living ideas that offer flexibility and practicality so she loves Häfele’s solution to those hard-to-reach and under-utilised corner spaces.“Maximising the corner units is important to me. I want to ensure that they’re not wasted, whether in a kitchen or wardrobe.” Given her architectural background, Ng believes that it’s advisable to find solutions before the space is built.She spoke about the challenges of hosting many guests, especially during festive seasons and other social gatherings in her home. Planning extra room for such occasions will ensure more comfort for guests and more privacy for her.

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