SINGAPORE - Every morning, Mr Marcus Ho and his wife Cynthia enjoy breakfast on a platform by a window in their Housing Board terraced home, while looking out at the fountain in their lush garden.
The winding stone path, manicured shrubs and pine trees resembling a tranquil English garden aretucked away in a quiet part of Whampoa, where the only sounds are those of the trickling water and chirping birds.
The couple are enjoying an early retirement in their 40s, but decline to reveal their previous occupations. Having moved house six times in the last decade, they say their current home is just what they pictured.
"There are even birds bathing in the fountain every day," says Mr Ho.
They moved in at the end of last year with Mochi, their six-year-old Shih Tzu. The renovation cost $150,000, including landscaping and furnishing, and took four to five months.
HDB terraced homes are not common in the resale market. This one, which spans 1,270 sq ft, had 50 years left on the lease.
The couple worked with designer Daniel Ho of Cottage Crafts for the renovation. As the owners asked for lots of natural light and air in the home, the design team removed as many walls as possible and installed a glass front door and a large front window. This way, the garden is visible no matter where one is on the ground floor.
As the building is old, the designers also straightenedout and smoothenedthe existing walls.
Since natural materials were a priority, wood is a prominent element. A platform, shelf and television console blend seamlessly and add hidden storage. A table that is electronically raised out of the platform. A live-edge suar wood bench and table in the dining room complete the look.
The couple had initially wanted a wooden floor as well, but decided on grey tiles to keep the colour scheme simple.
As they love cooking and baking, a large, bright kitchen was vital.The previous owner had extended the back of the house with approval from the Urban Redevelopment Authority. The design team added plenty of space to prepare meals, as well as a generous island and a bar to accommodate a structural beam separating the kitchen and dining room.
A simple staircase leads to the large, airy main bedroom, which includes a bay window and a walk-in wardrobe. Instead of walls, full-height cupboards separate the bathroom from the bedroom, concealing its entrance with a wardrobe door and offering storage space that is accessible from both sides.
Every detail - such as having speakers throughout the home including the kitchen shelves, so the couple can enjoy their favourite music, as well as where the switches and electrical sockets should go - was meticulously planned.
"As we'd moved so many times, we were also familiar with things like choosing tiles and sanitary ware," Mr Ho says.
The couple had initially planned to travel and leave the renovation to the design team. With those plans cancelled because of the pandemic, they ended up working closely together instead.
"There were many modifications along the way. Overall, however, everything turned out to be much better than we expected," says Mrs Ho with a smile.
• This article first appeared in the July 2021 issue of Home & Decor, which is published by SPH Magazines.
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