THE saying "out with the old and in with the new" is not one that applies to the Lee family who believe in the sentimental value of all their personal possessions.
Over the years, Lawrence and Melanie Lee have amassed a huge collection of well-loved knick knacks that take pride of place in their Yio Chu Kang home.
The couple's bedroom, for one, is filled with everything from wedding and family photos to four pieces of cross-stitch which Mrs Lee did back in the 1990s.
In their daughter Leshane's room is a framed pair of children's slippers.
"It was her first pair of slippers when she was 18 months old. I kept it because I was surprised that she could grip them at such a young age," says Mrs Lee, who reveals that she also keeps her children's crafts and uniforms over the years. Leshane is now 11, while her son, Leshon is 17.
Over on a console in the dining room is a toy tanker, which has seen better days. "That was from my husband's childhood days," says Mrs Lee.
Her collection of Garfield figurines, also from her childhood, are also on display, never mind that she hasn't played with them in years, and her two kids have no interest in them either.
Clearly the Lees, who have known each other since 1987, are a sentimental couple. They still have their love letters, which Leshon once brought out to read to his friends, but that no longer happens.
"Since then, I've kept the letters under lock and key," quips a blushing Mrs Lee.
"We treasure old things more. Often, it is the newer stuff that we throw out."
The collecting bug has bitten everyone in the family. For the record, Mrs Lee has a soft spot for cups and mugs, and fine bone china.
"I love coffee and tea, and will buy them when overseas too. I like a variety of them, especially tea, not just for the pretty containers but also for the tea itself. I can fill half a suitcase of them."
Mr Lee collects cars, both luxury and small scale ones, while Leshon is an avid collector of stamps, old currency notes and coins. Leshane collects soft toys, "every country we visit, she has to come back with one", says her mum.
Yet, despite the many things that the family has around the home, their semi-detached home has no clutter.
As the owners of building company Builders Hub, they know exactly all the tricks of home design and storage.
They've built many private homes, so when it came to their own, it had to meet an important criteria - "we want something that is easy to maintain", says Mrs Lee.
Her husband did most of the design. The layout of their home - the second one they've built themselves - is simple. A lap pool runs along the length of the home, which the children as well as the family's three dogs actively use.
Besides the living and dining areas on the ground floor, there is a guest room for either of the couple's parents to use when they come over. Instead of a concrete wall to separate the dry and wet kitchens, Mr Lee opted for a glass wall, so that he could still have his preferred open-concept kitchen.
An airwell in the home helps bring in natural light and improves ventilation. Besides an outdoor terrace on the second floor, there is also a roof terrace, which the family uses as a dining space on special occasions. "We celebrated the Mid Autumn Festival up on the roof," says Mrs Lee.
The bedrooms are all on the second floor, and what makes them unusual are the automatic doors. Mr Lee had them installed for convenience.
The couple's spacious bedroom comes with its own sitting area, which incidentally is the family's favourite spot. "Sometimes we even have dinner here, and this is the only place where we can watch cable TV," says Mrs Lee.
Nature lover Leshon is a volunteer with the National Parks Board, and even has two bird nests hanging in his bedroom to prove it. He loves taking photographs of birds, and some of his photos are on display around the home.
His parents are very supportive of his hobby, buying a professional camera for him, and even going on bird photography trips. "We are going to Bhutan, so Leshon can photograph birds. He has planned the entire trip," says his proud mum.
Sister Leshane is into art, as seen from her artworks which hang in her bedroom.
With his years of experience as a builder, Mr Lee says building this home is no different from building a client's.
"The only difference would be the time taken to plan and design is quicker, since I am both the client and builder," says Mr Lee.
The family moved in two months ago, and have no plans to move out yet. But if they do, it is no surprise which items they will pack first. "Definitely all our old stuff. We always take them with us," says Mrs Lee.
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