Life’s simple pleasures

October 13, 2014 10:12 AM SGT
SINGAPORE: For nature lovers, the Good Class Bungalow located in a quiet corner of Caldecott Estate is the equivalent of a tropical paradise.
And the lifestyle of its owners, a couple in their golden years, is something to be coveted.
Early in the morning, they enjoy breakfast in the garden, watching the birds pecking seeds or taking a bath.
“We have the resident birds and migratory birds, and if you’re a bird watcher, you could sit here all day,” says the husband.
In the evenings, when it’s cool, it is time to watch the sunset with a good bottle of wine and a chorus of bullfrogs in the background.
“We had friends over one evening and one of them thought we were playing a recording of an orchestra of frogs,” recounts the wife.
“But this is all part of nature. When you have a garden, you have living things.”
The owners, who have put the property up for sale, purchased it in 1989.
At that time, their two daughters were aged 10½ and nine.
They reckon the original house was built in the early 1970s.
They gutted it, installed new electrical wiring, new plumbing, and changed the flooring, kitchen and bathrooms.
Only the main walls of the house remained intact.
Veteran architect Tay Kheng Soon of Akitek Tenggara designed the property to suit their needs.
Tay designed a light-filled home and turned the walls of the living and dining rooms into doorways leading straight to the garden.
The kitchen of the original house faced the front garden, but the owners had it moved to the back.
In its place is now a light-filled room with a bank of windows and a door leading straight to the garden.
The current owners now use it as a prayer and meditation room, although it can also be turned into a study.
Off the living room, the architect had added a drawing room, with vaulted ceiling and exposed beams.
It was the music room when the children were growing up and they had a piano there.
Today, it is the TV room.
The double-storey house has three en suite bedrooms and a family room on the second level, with a guest bedroom on the first level.
The total built-up area is 4,500 sq ft, but it feels larger because of the indoor-outdoor design of the property.
The owners have the doors and windows open all day.
“The sun comes in throughout the day, and there’s usually a cool breeze.
We hardly need to turn on the air-conditioner,” says the husband.
“Most people who visit us like the house,” he adds.
“It’s not enormous like the new homes, but it’s comfortable.” The couple initially wanted to tear down the original house to redevelop it into a bigger one.
“But Tay Kheng Soon said, ‘Why do you want such a big house for?’ He said the existing house was big enough because one day the children would leave the home, and there was no guarantee that a maid would always be there, especially if the government decides to clamp down on the hiring of foreign maids.
Now you’re beginning to see that,” says the wife.
The garden has evolved over the last 25 years.
The couple used to hold a lot of garden parties.
The tables would be covered with white tablecloths.
There would be candles, lamps, strings of lights on the trees.
They could even hold a party for up to 100 in their garden, which they did once.
Seven years ago, the house was refreshed.
New kitchen countertops and cabinets replaced the old.
The new gas cooktop and oven are top-end German brand De Dietrich.
However, the original brass cooker hood was retained, and the kitchen flooring remained unchanged, as it had been well-maintained.
The couple also removed the long baths in the bathrooms in the recent renovation.
“Because of our age, it was difficult to get in and out,” says the husband.
“And we hardly used the bathtub.” The house was repainted two years ago in preparation for a wedding.
One of their daughters is married and now lives in London; the other resides in Dallas, Texas, in the US.
However, both had flown the coop in 1996, when they went abroad for their tertiary education.
“So, they stayed in this home for just seven years,” says the mother.
Typical of empty-nesters, the couple is now looking to sell their home, with the intention of downsizing to an apartment.
“We’ve thought about selling the house since last year,” says the wife.
“I think it’s high time someone else takes over and enjoys the place.” The central location makes it convenient as it is just a 10-minute drive to Orchard Road or the CBD and Marina Bay.
MacRitchie Reservoir Park is just a few minutes’ walk from their home.
Likewise, the Caldecott MRT station is a 10- to 15-minute walk away; it will be an interchange station when the Thomson Line opens in future.
The Toa Payoh hub is also a 10- to 15-minute walk from their home through Toa Payoh Rise.
“You can get your hair and nails done, shop for groceries at FairPrice, all at a lower cost than on Orchard Road, and you can avoid the crowd,” says the wife.
Top schools nearby include Raffles Institution and Ai Tong Primary School in Bishan, and CHIJ St Nicholas’ Girls School in Ang Mo Kio.
“It’s a very charming cottage with a nice garden,” says Jeffrey Sim, DTZ’s senior sales director, the sole marketing agent for the property at Caldecott Close.
The house sits on a freehold site of around 10,000 sq ft.
The indicative asking price is $15.5 million.
It’s the sort of property that appeals to professionals, especially doctors, notes Sim.
Within the Caldecott Estate, the most recent transaction was in February, where a GCB on Andrew Road, sitting on a freehold plot of 31,108 sq ft, was sold for $27 million ($868 psf), according to a caveat lodged with URA Realis.
Last month, a GCB at Belmont Road was sold for $33.5 million.
It had a built-up area of some 11,000 sq ft, made up of a main house with 12 rooms, a separate pavilion and a 20m lap pool.
The property sits on a sprawling 26,458 sq ft freehold plot.
The property was built four years ago and belonged to the Tao family of Shing Kwan Group.
Another GCB that changed hands recently was located on Oriole Crescent in the Bukit Timah area.
The property has a land area of 10,021 sq ft and changed hands for $15.7 million ($1,566 psf).
The couple at Caldecott Close who has enjoyed the home for 25 years, says “It’s a relaxing home.
When you come home, you don’t feel like going out anymore.” What they will miss most is the garden.
“I look at it in a very practical way,” the wife says.
“You cannot hold on to anything forever, so it’s nice to let someone else enjoy the house and make it better.”
This article appeared in the City & Country section of Issue 642 (Sept 8) of The Edge Singapore.