Growing an Urban Oasis with Chika

As a self-proclaimed recovering black thumb, Chika knows creating a leafy paradise in the city can be harder than it looks. Living in an 800sqft condominium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, son, and resident cat Soya McFurry, Chika hasn’t always found it easy to find the right conditions for greenery, or balance busy city life with plant care.

Although it may have taken her a while to get there, Chika’s efforts have paid off. Her home — which she shares as The Small Nook on Instagram and YouTube — looks straight out of a fairytale, where her growing plant collection and unique interior style set the perfect scene for self-care and mindfulness at the end of a long day.

We caught up with Chika find out more about the cosy pocket of KL that she calls home and her top gardening tips for fellow city-dwellers.

Welcome to Chika's green oasis — also known as Soya's playground. Image c/o Chika.

Hi Chika! How would you describe your home style?

I would describe my home to be a cosy, neutral-boho-jungalow. My décor style usually evolves with my preference over the years. I mostly get my inspiration from other home décor accounts on Instagram, Pinterest, and some home décor websites and blogs too, especially the wonderful community of Malaysian home décor enthusiasts on Instagram.

Chika's cosy home blends lush greenery and natural textures with delicate touches like the floral wallpaper and gilt mirror in her bedroom. Image c/o Chika.

You’re a self-described recovering black thumb. (We really can’t tell!) Can you tell us more about your plant journey and how you started your amazing collection?

I am, haha! Well, the first plant I had was a beautiful Golden Pothos, also known as money plant. Pothos are generally very resilient and can tolerate even the worst of black thumbs, but sadly I managed to fail mine! After a few more unsuccessful attempts, I paused my plant endeavours for a while until I discovered LECA, or Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate, which is a growing medium, like soil. LECA worked well for me, and I’ve been using it ever since!

Living in a high-rise condominium and not getting much sunlight in most parts of the house, another thing I learnt the hard way would be to never assume a low-light plant to be tolerant to no light at all.

From there, I have grown my plant collection, but I mostly stick with the basic ones that are easy to care for, like different varieties of Pothos and Philodendrons. They are very hardy and resilient, and are the perfect plants for newbies. If you’re often busy and on-the-go, they are your go-to plants. They basically thrive under neglect!

Tell us about your home. What’s your favourite spot to relax in and why?

I love to sit by our living hall windows. I’ve created a little green oasis there, with my trailing plants growing wild on the window grilles. I love how the leaves dance and sway in the breeze. It’s the most beautiful on sunny days, when rays of sunlight filter through the bright, neon green of my Lemon Lime Philodendrons and settle into little patches of sunshine on the floor. Sitting idly on the couch, sipping on my favourite tea, and enjoying this view is one of my definitions of bliss.

Filled with all shades of green, the oasis Chika has created around her living hall windows is her favourite place to relax at home. Image c/o Chika.

"It’s important to be intentional with what we include in our space, and fill it with things that make us happy and help us fully enjoy activities that we love.

How do you create mindful little spaces for self-care and relaxation at home?

For me, the perfect space to relax in and indulge in self-care are spaces where we feel cosy and comfortable in. I think it’s important to be intentional with what we include in this space, and fill it with things that make us happy and help us fully enjoy activities that we love.

I love tea, and sometimes I like to make my teatime just a tad fun and fancy by having instant fancy teatimes! I usually have teatimes by my little green oasis. Enjoying tea this way is a great mindfulness routine, allowing me to intentional and present while prepping and enjoying my tea.

I also love to create a self-care space by splurging on cute pillows and cosy bedding to turn my bedroom into my very own little cosy cocoon. After a long day at work, I love to take a few minutes to just chill in my bed, watching beautiful hues of the sky and the sunset through our bedroom window.

Making tea time a little extra fancy helps Chika create a more mindful and intentional approach to taking her tea, and find more enjoyment in this hobby of hers. Image c/o Chika.

Chika turns her bedroom into a her own cocoon with cute pillows, cosy bedding and soft throws. Image c/o Chika.

Head over to Instagram to see more of Chika's plant, tea and mindfulness journey.

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