THEY say one man's meat is another man's poison, and this applies even to buying property.
Located off Upper Serangoon Road is a plot of land that is long and narrow, faces West where sun is hottest, and lies a metre below a public road - all factors which do not make this an ideal plot. But for Wan Suhaila and her husband, who works in the finance industry, these so-called minuses do not bother them, as they bought the land for the spacious 3,950 sq ft size. "A land area of this size is not easy to find, and we wanted a corner plot too, so we knew we had to buy this," says Ms Suhaila, a homemaker.
What was formerly a single-storey corner terrace is now a three-storey one, that can fit the couple and their three children, aged five to eight, comfortably. The couple had several requests for the design team at Wallflower Architecture + Design. They wanted a home that was airy, of a linear design but yet still allows them to see the back of the home from the front and vice versa. Architect Robin Tan designed the first floor to be a continuous linear space, where the living and dining areas and the kitchen are serially arranged, but there is little physical demarcation between the spaces.
A long and narrow plot of land is ideal to put in a pool, but with a tight plot, the family had to do away with this feature. But there is still plenty of outdoor space for the children to play in.
Mr Tan says there are advantages to a narrow plot as it "naturally restricts the depth of rooms. The resulting spaces receive more natural light and are better ventilated due to the shallower proportions."
The family's favourite gathering space is the dry kitchen which comes with a smaller dining table. "We have our meals here, and the kids use this space to do homework too," says Ms Suhaila. She loves baking, and the dry kitchen is the ideal spot for this.
The wet kitchen is spacious and has long windows which look out onto the garden. "Some kitchens feel like small boxes, but with the windows, I can look out while cooking," says Ms Suhaila.
The bedrooms are all on the second storey for a reason. "My husband insisted that all the bedrooms had to be on the same floor," says Ms Suhaila. According to her, her husband's childhood home had bedrooms on different floors. "He didn't get to see much of his parents this way. So now, by having all the bedrooms together, there is more interaction within the family."
The master bedroom overlooks the neighbourhood. Daughters Hana Rania and Eva Marissa have their own bedrooms but with an interconnecting bathroom. "The girls are close and they play together, so this layout works well for them," says Ms Suhaila.
At the back is her son Harith Mikail's bedroom, with his own bathroom that has a small outdoor garden. There is lots of wood used in the bedrooms and bathrooms, which Ms Suhaila favours because of its warm feel.
When they bought the land, the couple did not realise that their home would face the afternoon sun. Mr Tan, however, saw that the alignment would be an eventual problem.
To keep the bedrooms cool, the entire second storey is shielded from the sun through the use of moveable, vertical Balau wooden screens. "The screens are not meant to fully block out the sun, but rather to filter harsh light and heat," says Mr Tan. When tilted at a certain angle, they let in some light and direct breeze into the bedrooms, while at times, providing privacy too. The topmost floor is the family's other gathering space, where the entertainment room takes up almost half the floor space.
The couple invested in three cinema-like armchairs, and two sofa beds to make movie-watching even more comfortable. There is also a foosball table and a pantry, and this place buzzes with activity when the extended family members come over. Also on this floor is another guest room, which doubles as a bedroom for Ms Suhaila's parents-in-law, when they come over to stay every month.
To save the elderly couple from having to climb three flights of steps, a lift has been installed, but hidden from view behind feature walls. "We don't want the lift to mar the look of the house, and as it is hidden away, the kids don't get to use it," says Ms Suhaila.
Despite moving in over six months ago, the home still looks very pristine, with nary an item or designer-looking chair out of place. "I'm fussy about dust and tidiness, and the kids know they cannot bring their toys out of the bedrooms. But we all help to keep things neat," says Ms Suhaila.
The family used to live in an apartment, and now their home is three times as big. The children naturally love their new home as they now have more space to grow, which explains why the family moved to a bigger home. "A bigger home is more difficult to maintain, but I can't imagine us living in a smaller space again," says Ms Suhaila.