Rare colonial-style bungalow filled with English and oriental antiques

By Felicia Tan / EdgeProp Singapore | December 17, 2021 9:48 PM SGT
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The freehold property in Siglap has a black-and-white exterior that brings to mind the colonial bungalows built in Singapore between the 19th century and the early 20th century. Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/The Edge Singapore.
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SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - In the established landed housing enclave of Frankel Estate in the east, a three-storey bungalow stands out among its neighbours within the Siglap area. Built on elevated land with a land size of 4,230 sq ft and a built-up area of 5,500 to 5,850 sq ft, the freehold property has a black-and-white exterior.
The bungalow was built in 1998 by a developer and designed by the architectural firm Kat Lawsons & Associates.
The owner of the bungalow purchased it in 2000 and has lived there with his family since. He has kept most of the original structure, including the stone portico that overlooks the house’s landscaped gardens. The black-and-white bamboo blinds were added later.
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He shares: “I purchased the house from an auction and there was stiff competition for it. I ended up paying 29% more than the reserve price, as my wife and I fell in love with the house. We were bidding for it in the auction till the other parties gave up!”
The owner loves all things English. “Before I moved to this neighbourhood, my first house — which was also in the East Coast area — was built to really resemble an English cottage,” he says. “It even had a chimney.”
The bungalow in the Siglap neighbourhood looks like a three-storey house from the outside, but it has six split levels within. On the first level is the living room with large windows and French doors that bring in plenty of natural light and breeze. Half a level down from the living room is the dining room, while the mezzanine level contains a library. In the basement is the recreation area. In keeping with the English theme, the owner built a fireplace to re-create the look and feel of English cottages. However, due to Singapore’s warm and humid tropical climate, the fireplace has never been used.
On the second floor is the spacious master bedroom with a vaulted timber ceiling, and an equally spacious master bathroom. There are two more en suite bedrooms on this level. The third level is considered the attic level and has two rooms with a view of the CBD skyline.
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A lap pool sits at the backyard, and was added after the family moved in.
It is not just the architecture that is reminiscent of the British colonial era, but also the furniture within, for the owner has an extensive collection of antique furniture dating back to the Victorian and Edwardian eras, of the 1830s to early 1900s. The antiques were mostly inherited from the owner’s maternal grandparents who had moved from British India and settled in Singapore after World War I.
However, the owner’s interest in antique furniture began in 1972 when he used to travel to the UK for work. At the time, he was the CEO of a British multinational corporation and travelled to London frequently for board meetings. He had visited some of the homes of his acquaintances in England and noticed that some of them had choice pieces of Victorian and Edwardian furniture. He bought a few at the antique shops in the UK. That was the start of his collection. “I ended up inheriting the rest of the furniture from my maternal grandmother, who passed away in 1976 in Singapore," he adds.
One of his favourite pieces in his collection is a Victorian-era cabinet in his living room; what he loves is the intricacy of its design and the elegance of its legs. “I also like the glass doors which allow me to look at the antique crockery I’ve amassed through the years,” he adds.
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The display pieces within the cabinet include figurines of King Henry VIII and three of his six wives: Katherine of Aragon, Anne of Cleves and Katherine Parr. “I got these at an auction in Knightsbridge during one of my visits to London in 1973,” relates the owner. “It was a place that sold porcelain figurines from Coalport, and I bought these at around GBP1,000 each.” Coalport is one of England’s biggest ceramic producers and was purchased by Wedgwood Group in 1967.
He wishes he could have completed his collection with all six wives of the king instead of just three. However, only 1,000 of the figurines were made and the moulds were subsequently discarded.
Apart from his collection of English antiques, the owner has also amassed a collection of oriental antiques. Within one of the two rooms on the third floor lies another library, which houses the owner’s treasured collection of unique books. These books include Great Treasures of the Kremlin by David Douglas Duncan, a large 187-page hardcover tome that features 86 coloured photographs of the ornate thrones, crowns, Faberge eggs and jewellery commissioned by Russian royalty.
Even though prices of landed homes continue to soar, the owner of the house has no intention of selling the property. “We are hoping to register the property as a mini-museum where guests can visit for high tea,” says the owner. He is keen to share his love for antiques and history with other like-minded individuals.
Within the Siglap neighbourhood, an 11,186 sq ft bungalow was sold for $12.3 million, or $1,100 psf, in August, based on caveats lodged with URA Realis. Previously, a 5,217 sq ft bungalow was sold for $9.4 million, or $1,802 psf, in July.
Check out the latest listings near Frankel Estate

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