Through the looking glass

PHOTO: Through the looking glass

When it comes to designing a home, some parents put their children's safety as a top priority. But for businessman Henry The and his wife Vanessa Liok, aesthetics mattered more. But of course, not at the expense of safety.

The couple have three kids: Evan, nine, Gillian, five and Asher who is two and a half years old. Evan and Gillian are old enough to know the danger spots at home but for little Asher, safety gates have been put in place at the staircase and on a deck leading to the pool.

But apart from that, there are hardly any other child safety features. "We assume the kids will be careful, and they have been taught what is safe and what's not," says Ms Liok, a director at kindergarten Wee Care @ The Polliwogs.

The family home is a two-storey plus attic semi-detached home in Tanjong Katong, which the couple had initially bought as an investment but decided to live there when they moved in last September.

It is more spacious compared to their previous three-bedroom apartment in River Valley. Architecture firm RT+Q designed the new home.

"I requested a design that is unique for a semi-detached home, and also a home that would be practical," says Mr The.

Jonathan Quek from RT+Q designed the U-shaped home. On the ground floor, a mini pool deck separates the living and dining rooms from a bedroom at the back.

Upstairs, past a perforated metal gate are the bedrooms. The couple's bedroom is at the front, because it has a better view of the neighbourhood.

There are two more bedrooms, one for Gillian and the other for Evan and Asher, but for now, all three kids sleep in the same room.

The couple like having their home bright, so up went full-height glass windows all around.

Thankfully, the home is not in the sun's direct path, so it is generally shady during the day. They have also done away with blinds for most of the windows, since they're not necessary.

The glass windows serve another purpose - making it easy to spot all family members - which the couple did not request, but fully appreciate now.

For instance, from the living room, the couple can look into the bedroom at the back, which has been turned into the kids' playroom.

From their bathroom upstairs, they can look into the children's study just across, or down onto the pool deck. And from the study, the children have no trouble knowing that their parents could be entertaining in the dining room.

The family spend most of their time on the ground floor, either watching television, or with the kids in their playroom. The pool that runs along the length of the home is also another popular spot for active growing kids.

The pool even comes in different depths to cater to everyone.

The 40cm deep wading pool is for Asher, his sister Gillian swims in the 90cm deep section, while elder brother Evan, goes into the 1.2m deep section. The children also have their weekly swimming lessons here.

The adults can sit back with cocktails on specially constructed seats in the pool. "We got the idea after a visit to the pool at the Fullerton Bay hotel," says Mr The.

To give an illusion of detaching the home from its neighbour, Mr Quek placed the staircase on the side. The long flight of steps, which tapers towards the top, leads to the attic where there is another bedroom, which can be used as a guest room.

There is also a roof terrace up here, which has its own access.

"When we entertain friends out here, they will not disturb our guests in the room," says Mr The.

That is the intention, but the couple admit, that they hardly go up to the terrace.

"Even when we had our housewarming party, no one wanted to come out," quips Ms Liok. To make the house look bigger, the couple picked furniture from Ligne Roset with clean lines and are fuss-free.

A bigger home means that now the couple can display more of their personal curios, such as a jade horse sculpture from Ms Liok's grandfather, a set of nesting tables from her mother, and silverware which they received as wedding gifts 10 years ago.

Whereas they were kept in boxes before, these are now displayed in their own cabinet in the living room. "We use them when we have guests over," adds Ms Liok.

As new residents in the estate, Ms Liok makes it a point to get to know her neighbours.

"There are several neighbours with young kids here too, so it would be nice to organise play dates for everyone," she says. Her home would be the right spot for it.

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