This beautiful concrete and steel home has its living spaces filled with décor the owners collected from their travels around the world.
It is a habit that when we travel, we usually end up buying souvenirs. Whether cheap or pricey, we collect them as a memento of the places we visit. Most of us will buy the obligatory fridge magnet, a trinket to hang on the wall or a little token to be placed on the desk — small, light and items easy to carry.
Not for Terry Smagh and his wife though. They have hand-carried light fixtures, old weighing scales and even oar. They have also shipped back many side tables, dining tables and even a boat; which is now repurposed to become the base for their dining table.
Smagh unabashedly tells Haven he is known to walk into stores or cafes in Sweden, India, Australia or New Zealand and ask if an item he fancies is up for sale. But he is far from compulsive, he and his wife of 13 years know exactly where an item goes and whether it fits with the look and feel of their house in the Eastern part of Singapore.
Home, which he shares with his wife, primary-school son, mother-in-law and an adorable chocolate Labrador, has an industrial vibe to it. It is filled with concrete and steel, yet it exudes warmth. Smagh even ripped out the expensive Clinker tiles from Germany that covered the entire house and replaced it with concrete.
The couple bought the 2,300 sq ft home with a built-up area of 5,500 sq ft in 2015 and made some changes to the interior and basically left the curvy structure of the house that was designed by award-winning architect, Ling Hao. Smagh was attracted to the avant-garde feel of the house and at the same time, he saw so much potential in terms of decorating the house.
Prior to the rebuild by the architect, this house was known as House with Two Mango Trees. Smagh points out that each huge mango tree was located at the front and at the end of the house. Unfortunately due to rotting and disease, the trees had to be removed. But Smagh kept a coconut tree and he even built a curved wall to accommodate the tree.
Smagh who is the senior vice-president of Asia Pacific and Japan at BlackLine, had more of such home nuggets for us as he takes us through his home, which he now says he can enjoy.
“Last year, I counted that I was away for 200 days when I’m back on the weekends or every other weekends, I spend it on entertaining at home. With the border closures, I got to really live in this house. I hunkered down and did a lot more to this house,” he explains.
As we enter the house, two vintage Porsches sit on the front porch. There is no living room. Instead, there is an area for guests waiting for a taxi or a ride home. On the other side is another area with a sideboard made of tamarind and lychee wood from Sulawesi.
When you look up, the house feels like it has been carved to form a circular design with an airwell that goes all the way up to the top floor, adding light. As the sun was about to set, it cast a lovely orange sunlight throughout the house. Thanks to the airwell, the house is well-ventilated and felt cool on a warm October evening.
On reaching towards the back of the house, a circular bar made of concrete greets us. This is Smagh’s favourite place in the house as this is where he holds court mixing drinks and regaling his friends with stories of his travels, home and family. Indeed, the many storage spaces at the bar house his extensive collection of whiskeys from Scotland to Taiwan.
Moving further to the back is the dining room with his boat dining table (it even has a pair of oars inside). To hold the glass top, his contractor had to build a solid steel frame. The table comfortably seats 12 for a proper sit-down dinner. Beyond that are the wet and dry kitchens. Smagh, however, reveals that he is already planning to do more renovations to the kitchen.
Up the steel stairs reveal a huge living room that is outfitted with designer Scandinavian furniture. He points to the lights he had bought from an actual ship. With some modifications, they fit nicely, with wires exposed to keep with the industrial theme of the house.
The living room leads to a spacious balcony which Smagh says is his father’s favourite spot. Who can blame the old man? Sitting on a comfy outdoor sofa with a drink in hand, watching the sunset and the goings-on on the street below.
The house has 3½ storeys and this comes in the form of a mezzanine level between the second and third floor that looks suspended in mid-air. The level is designed to look as if it is floating in mid-air and the space that has two bedrooms — for his mother-in-law and son.
Above that is the master bedroom that has an outdoor feel as the airwell features wall plants. When the rain beats down, the bedroom gives off a tropical vibe although you are given the privacy you need when you shut the door,.
A self-taught cook, Smagh loves the top floor that functions as a barbecue area, laundry room, gaming room and a quiet area to share a drink with his wife. Smagh says he has had many parties here and he will comb Tekka market to hunt down the freshest ingredients, with the same exact determination he shows when he hunts down décor items for the house.
Like all the other rooms, this room has a lot to take in. There is a basin with a tap that is fashioned out of an old petrol pump; a gift from his mechanic. Every corner stands a piece of décor that begs to tell a story. The only thing that is missing and for good reason too are paintings. That is because it is very difficult to find a spot on a curved wall to hang a painting. Another reason offered by his wife is that paintings are the only thing they seem to have a difference of opinion.
Perhaps, when the borders reopen and this couple restarts their holiday adventures, they will be able to pick up more souvenirs and, this time, maybe find a painting or two.