Inside a $32.8 mil mansion (UPDATE)

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/ EdgeProp Singapore
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March 24, 2018 8:00 AM SGT
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A Good Class Bungalow on Old Holland Road offers a glimpse of the lifestyle of the discreetly rich. The property is now on the market. Who are the potential buyers?

Located on Old Holland Road and partially hidden from street view is a Good Class Bungalow (GCB) with a neat picket fence. The grand proportions of the house point to a classical design. The decorative frieze running along the border of the porte cochère was in- spired by a visit to Mauritius, while the patterned granite flooring at the entrance was inspired by a visit to St Petersburg.
The car porch with a frieze inspired by a trip to Mauritius and patterned granite flooring inspired by a trip to St Petersburg (Credit: Albert Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
The entrance hall — with its 8m ceiling and painted dome, grand staircase with brass railings, textured walls and arched doorways — reflects a Mediterranean style. The textured walls and painted dome are the work of two British artists, the limestone floor tiles are from Paris and the designer bathroom tiles from Spain.
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“We love to travel,” says the home owner, a retired Singaporean lawyer who only wants to be known as Louisa. Her husband, a former CEO of a giant international retail group, travelled extensively as part of his job, and Louisa often joined him.
Entrance hall with 8m ceiling, grand staircase and floor tiles from Paris (Credit: Lily Toh)
The couple was based in Hong Kong when they purchased the GCB on Old Holland Road in the early 1990s. It was also then that Louisa’s husband’s company acquired a supermarket chain in Spain and therefore, the couple spent some time there. “I didn’t want to sit around watching television all day,” says Louisa. “So, I studied Spanish, and made use of the time purchasing things for the house.”

Backdrop for art collection

The house is a reflection of its well-travelled owner, who is also a prolific art collector and passionate about interior design. “I not only designed and decorated this house, but also our home in Hong Kong as well as the homes of friends in Hong Kong, Indonesia and Singapore,” says Louisa.
The formal living room has cathedral-like proportions and the same textured walls as the entrance hall. The adjoining lounge has a tropical theme, with the walls painted by a Cambodian artist. The formal dining room is decidedly in the French château style.
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The formal living room with cathedral-like proportions (Credit: Albert Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

European branded finish

Instead of separate wet and dry kitchens, Louisa opted for one big kitchen. The customised kitchen cabinetry system is by top German brand Allmilmö, and Louisa had it specially ordered from Europe. The kitchen appliances are all top-end German brand Gaggenau. Even the bathroom fittings and sanitaryware are manufactured by German brand Dornbracht.
On the first level of the house are a television room and two spacious en suite bedrooms. The second level contains two more bedrooms, including the master suite. One of the bedrooms on the second level, which is also en suite, has been turned into a study.
The palatial master suite, which features French furniture, has a hidden door leading to the balcony over- looking the formal living room. “During Christmas parties, we have the children’s choir up on the balcony,” says Louisa. “And during Chinese New Year, we have the lion dance troupe.”
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The massive master bathroom comes with a European cast iron clawfoot bathtub, double-sink vanity top, a separate bidet and shower compartment.
The balcony overlooking the formal living room, accessible only from the master suite on the second level (Credit: Albert Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

'Built to last’

There are not only his and hers sinks in the master bathroom but also his and hers walk-in wardrobes in the master suite. “Some couples with young children have said that my walk-in wardrobe can be turned into a nursery, while my husband’s can be turned into an adjoining bedroom for a young child or a study,” says Louisa. Within the master suite is a concealed dumb waiter that is big enough to fit four large suitcases. “It’s great, as we travelled a lot; we didn’t have to carry the suitcases upstairs or downstairs,” Louisa says. There is also a concealed storage space for linens and towels, as well as a spacious attic accessible via a pull-down staircase from the master suite. The attic has been turned into Louisa’s craft room.

The basement has been turned into an entertainment area, with a bar opening out to the swimming pool, and a bomb shelter converted into a wine cellar. It also houses the maid’s room and laundry room.
Even though the property was built 24 years ago, it is so well maintained that it hardly shows its age. “We bought the house 27 years ago, and didn’t rebuild it until three years later, and we have been living here very happily ever since,” says Louisa. She estimates that the total cost of rebuilding the house was about $1 million. Today, it is likely to cost $5 million to $6 million to build a house of a similar scale.
Master bathroom with European cast iron clawfoot bath tub (Credit: Albert Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

Lifestyle changes

The purchase of the home on Old Holland Road more than 25 years ago was the result of a change in life- style, says Louisa. “My husband was thinking of retiring, and we wanted to find a location where both of us would be happy living.”
The couple was living in Hong Kong at the time, but they short-list- ed a number of locations for their next phase of life: British Columbia in Canada, Hawaii, Italy, Singapore and Tasmania, Australia. “We awarded points for each of the places we wanted to live in,” says Louisa. “After much consideration of factors such as lifestyle, convenience in terms of travel and availability of medical facilities, Singapore emerged at the top of our list.”
Now that her husband is increasingly wheelchair-dependent, the couple felt it was time to move once again. “We decided we wanted the living area to be on one level, and where we would still have a private pool and garden,” says Louisa. After visiting many penthouses, they honed in on one in a freehold, luxury condominium on Bukit Timah Road. It comes with private lift access, a private roof terrace with swimming pool and a deck that Louisa is turning into a “hanging garden”.
The house at Old Holland Road was rebuilt 24 years ago, and sits on a land area of 25,810 sq ft (Credit: Albert Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
She is already planning how to furnish the new home. “It’s very quiet, and we’re looking forward to moving to the new place. I like the fact that we’re near Orchard Road, but still out- side the bustle of the shopping belt.”
The couple recently put the house on Old Holland Road on the market. It has a built-up area of about 12,000 sq ft and sits on a freehold 25,810 sq ft plot.
What the couple liked about the house when they first purchased it was the wide frontage and space to entertain. The space is large enough for parties of up to 250 people.
The entire main house was rebuilt. The only original structures that were retained were the standalone garage, and the maid’s quarters in the basement. “We wanted to keep some of the character of the original property, such as the original terrazzo tiles in the basement,” says Louisa.
The formal dining room (Credit: Lily Toh)

‘A piece of art’

The asking price for the GCB on Old Holland Road is $32.8 million, which translates into a land rate of $1,271 psf. “It’s a reasonable price,” says Jeffrey Sim, associate executive director of OrangeTee & Tie, one of the appointed marketing agencies for the property.
“It is like a piece of art, a home where you would be proud to invite guests," says Sim. "I would keep at least 80% of the house intact, as it’s so well maintained, and just do minor alterations to suit my lifestyle.”
Most GCB buyers today are buying for their own use. According to Sim, there have been many enquiries, as GCBs in the Old Holland Road enclave are rarely put on the market.
The last transaction in the area was for a GCB located a few doors away that was sold for $28.5 million in February 2014. The GCB sits on a freehold, land area of 20,344 sq ft.
According to the owner of the GCB on Old Holland Road, interest has picked up recently, and they have received three serious offers.