YOU would think the best views in the house are from the master bedroom, right? But not in this home.
Andrew Loh and his wife Sharon Seetho allocated prime space in the home for ... an attic and roof terrace. As the two-storey semi-detached home stands on slightly elevated land, the roof terrace offers unblocked views of the neighbourhood off Holland Road and its surrounding greenery. "I knew I had to buy this land when I saw the view," says Mr Loh, a director at a bank.
Ms Seetho adds: "We could have put our bedroom at the back and wake up to this view, but we rather put our entertainment area here, so that everyone can enjoy the space." In contrast, the couple's bedroom on the second floor faces their neighbour across the street.
In the attic is a cosy living area and a small, partially equipped kitchen for doing some light cooking. There is more seating on the roof terrace alongside a dining table that can seat eight. Even when the family is not entertaining friends and relatives, the roof terrace is still frequently used. "Every weekend, we come up here for dinner, sometimes for a BBQ," says Ms Seetho.
While the roof terrace has the best views, the rest of the house isn't too shabby either. On the first floor, the living and dining areas have an almost "doorless" feel. In place of walls, the design team at Wallflower Architecture + Design placed large sliding doors all around. "We usually have these doors open, and with direct access to the driveway, it feels as if there are no doors," says Mr Loh. "The house is very open."
A row of trees have been planted to give the family some privacy. "The trees do double work - not only as a privacy screen, but they help absorb dust that the wind brings in," says Mr Loh.
The couple put much thought into the design of their home. For example, instead of a lap pool, they decided to make do with a smaller one near the entrance, which also doubles as a water feature at night. "This way, we have more deck space for outdoor activities," says Mr Loh. Even though there is enough room for two kitchens, a dry and a wet one, the Lohs decided to just make do with one. A breeze constantly wafts through the kitchen so cooking fumes don't linger.
Even how the space under the stairs should be utilised was thought through. "Typically, you could build storage space there, but that would make the area look too heavy. We wanted something that is more open, so we chose a water feature instead," says Ms Seetho.
The couple and their two children, Shaun and Clare, have their bedrooms on the second floor. Apart from the usual features such as a walk-in wardrobe, and a spacious bathroom, the couple's bedroom has its own loft area, which is used as a study. The study also connects to the attic and roof terrace. There is also a family room on the second floor, where apart from the roof terrace, the Lohs spend most of their time.
On the outside, the house has a multi-layered facade: a combination of glass doors and windows, a veil of operable vertical timber louvres, horizontal aluminium sunscreen and vertically drawn blinds. "These are all different expressions of material and composition but primarily enabling the family to control the amount of sun screening, breeze, and view," says architect Robin Tan. "Sometimes it is not just what the family want to see, but what the neighbours can see of them."
To let in more light into the home, skylights have been strategically placed. The extensive use of large windows and sliding doors also help brighten up the home, while encouraging plenty of natural ventilation all around. "We used to have all the doors open, but now we only open the necessary ones," says Ms Seetho. "Can you imagine when it rains, we will all be running everywhere to close the doors?"
To give the home some warmth, the couple added their personal touch through their choice of artworks and posters that dot the walls. Most, such as the large Vietnamese, lacquered painting in the living room, were purchased during their travels overseas. "We often go into galleries, and should a piece catch our eye and the price is right, we will get it," says Mr Loh.
He also collects smaller items, such as a wooden spice box from Jaipur, and a cow bell from Chiangmai. On display in another part of the home are his father's binoculars, and an old dictograph. "Before my school moved out of its old premises, some of us went around the grounds picking items. I found this dictograph in the science lab," says the former St Joseph Institution student. "It is having these little things around that make a home feel more cosy, and gives it more soul."