The Chic Home: Cluster house in the heart of the forest

Every floor of the resale property has a view of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.
Every floor of the resale property has a view of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.PHOTO: STUDIO PERIPHERY

SINGAPORE - Travel can change people. For the couple who own this home, nine months of travelling through Central and South America altered their priorities.

"Before that, we were urban people. We fell in love with nature during our travels. So, we prioritised that over anything else," says Ms Deng Yingzhi, 39, who works in the creative field. Her husband Royston Tay, 38, is an entrepreneur and angel investor.

When the couple, who have a two-year-old daughter, felt it was time to move out of their Build-To-Order Housing Board flat, their search for a new property ended with this 4,800 sq ft cluster house next to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.

"We were not looking for a home of this size," Ms Deng says, "but we were so impressed by the views. They're something we didn't expect to find here and we couldn't stop thinking about that."

Every floor of the resale property, which the family moved into just before Chinese New Year last year, has a view of the lush nature reserve.

Choosing the interior designer was simple. On friends' recommendations, the couple picked The Monocot Studio, which transformed the house into a bright and cheerful abode awash with light, neutral hues over a four-month renovation which cost $250,000 without furniture.

Mr Mikael Teh, Monocot Studio's principal interior designer, says: "Our plan was to highlight that the house is right next to the nature reserve.

"We wanted to respect the original architecture and maximise the view as much as possible, so we gave the living room a symmetrical layout, ensuring that the field of vision wouldn't be obstructed.

"Similarly, we wanted the space to be child-friendly with curved surfaces throughout."

The emphasis on curved lines fulfils the couple's love of curved surfaces and arches.

Aside from the custom counter and arched doorways, some of the furniture is curved.

On the first floor, full-height sliding doors ensure the family can enjoy the surrounding greenery from the kitchen, as well as the dining and living areas.


Child-friendly curved surfaces and a light colour palette produce a soothing, spacious feel in the dining area. PHOTO: STUDIO PERIPHERY

The soothing palette of light wood surfaces, from the cabinetry to furniture to the flooring, complements the natural surroundings.

Other neutral colours such as grey, black and white highlight the spaces. A moss-green sofa takes pride of place in the living area.

Monocot Studio also reconfigured the second level to accommodate a bedroom for the family's domestic helper.


More curved lines and arched doorways soften the interior. PHOTOS: STUDIO PERIPHERY


The light, neutral colour palette continues in the kitchen and is enhanced by a mix of Kit Kat-style and mosaic tiles. PHOTO: STUDIO PERIPHERY

Mr Teh says: "The biggest challenge was in getting the solid surface supplier to fabricate the basin in the powder room. The supplier wasn't confident about being able to achieve the custom basin and rejected our design a couple of times."

However, he adds, it eventually achieved the size and shape the couple wanted.

While Ms Deng and her husband did not intend to have a home this size, it fits their young family well.


The bedroom is intentionally pared down with a custom bed frame. PHOTO: STUDIO PERIPHERY

Working from home amid the pandemic has also been easier, as the couple have a floor each to themselves to focus on work.

Ms Deng says: "Whenever it's time to hang out, we just get together with our baby girl on the first floor, surrounded by that view."

•This article first appeared in the February 2021 issue of Home & Decor, which is published by SPH Magazines. Get the March and latest issue of Home & Decor now at all newsstands or download the digital edition of Home & Decor from the App Store, Magzter or Google Play. Also, see more inspiring homes at Home & Decor's website.