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Luxury homes: a bungalow designed to be a safe haven from the pandemic

The well-equipped home off Holland Road has the space and facilities to accomodate a family hunkering down at home.

When Frank and Jeanne Phuan moved from their terrace house into a bungalow off Holland Road last year, they thought they would be simply moving into a bigger home, with a few extra recreation rooms that would be nice to have, because there is now more space.

Little did they know that the entertainment room, a home gym, and an outdoor terrace would be the most treasured spaces in their residence, especially now that the family, like everyone in Singapore, is hunkering down at home.

During the design stage, their architect Kee Jing Zhi, director of Freight Architects was asked to create several private spaces as well as common areas as part of the brief.

But now that the Phuans, together with his mother and their six-year-old son, have to spend all their time together, they can do that comfortably, while retreating to their respective personal spaces when they want alone time.

Mr Phuan is CEO of a clean energy solutions provider, and his wife Jeanne, is GM of a global transport company. Their two-storey, 800 sq m house also has a basement, a mezzanine and an attic.

“It wasn’t intentional, but the spaces that we requested have since become even more appreciated,” says Mrs Phuan.

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    The living and dining rooms – which have become a natural gathering point for the family to spend time together – look out onto a 10m lap pool, which gets used more often now that everyone is to stay home.

The entertainment room in the basement is one of Mr Phuan’s three favourite spots at home, where he can enjoy his wines, whiskeys and cigars. If he’s not here, you will find him in his other two favourite spots – his bedroom and the living room.

The dark marble panelling and the Chesterfield armchairs give the entertainment room a masculine feel, a contrast to the rest of the home, which takes on a lighter and brighter mood. There is a mini bar on the side as well as tables for playing mahjong and poker.

The entertainment room has come in handy since Mr Phuan can no longer meet with business associates outside due to Covid-19 restrictions. He entertains at home but, of course, in groups that are within the current guidelines. “The home has definitely become more conducive for business meetings,” says Mr Phuan.

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With much time now spent at home, the living and dining rooms done in a slight Art Deco style have become a natural gathering point for the family. The double volume space is tastefully furnished with pieces from Minotti, and the bar counter at the dry kitchen does double duty as and when they entertain. The two areas look out onto a 10m lap pool, which gets used more often now that everyone is encouraged to stay home. And since they can’t dine out, the family have also been doing more barbecues on their outdoor deck.

Even before the pandemic, the couple envisioned the mezzanine to be a study. Now that Mrs Phuan is working from home, she spends most of her time here during the day. Overlooking theliving room, Mrs Phuan also gets a view of the greenery outside from her desk. A well-equipped small home gym next to the study allows Mr Phuan to burn some calories without the need to head outdoors.

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Outdoor terrace for yoga and wine

In the attic where the couple’s bedroom is located, a colourful painting hangs from the ceiling in the centre of the room. Mrs Phuan has specially selected the piece because “it adds vibrancy to the otherwise grey tones of the room”.

The outdoor terrace is her favourite part of the room. In the mornings, she steps out here for some yoga and, later in the day, she is back there again, with a glass of wine to relax in the evenings.

For Mr Kee, the site came with its set of challenges. For one, it is next to a busy road, which means noise is a problem. Trees planted alongside the house as well as the placing of the pool between the house and the road help to mitigate the problem. In addition, having soundproof sliding doors in the master bedroom ensures that the couple’s sleep is not disturbed.

To make the home suited for tropical living, Mr Kee created two different facades. There are vertical fins on one side and, on the other, aluminium louvres are carefully angled to allow just enough light to fill the interiors. On the outside, the facade resembles a pixelated screen.

The best place to appreciate this pixelated facade is from the foyer, where there is a constant play of shadow and light throughout the day.

For Mr Phuan, who was a frequent flier before the pandemic, home is the best place to be grounded in. “There was never time for me to enjoy being at home before, but that’s a totally different story now,” he says.

This article was originally published in The Business Times.

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