Villa Rockstar, Caribbean

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Villa Rockstar is home to David Matthews and his wife Jane, on the island of St. Barthélemy. The villa's breezy sailing style is inspired by the couple's love for the ocean and their home's proximity to the pristine white beaches along the coasts of the isle. Somewhat of a fairy-tale, Matthews remembers seeing the location of the home for the first time in the evening light, "We enquired about it. It was owned by a famous explorer who'd spent his life diving to treasure sites and landing on islands no one has set foot on before."

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The airy, open abode consists of four suites finished in a contemporary style, featuring luxurious accoutrements and ornate detailing beneath its wood-beamed ceilings. While the bedroom suites evoke a million-dollar yacht-like feel with its opulent dressing and nautical appeal, the ensuite bathrooms have been decorated uniquely with glittering tiles in various shades. Of particular mention, is a circular bathroom laid with tiles of pure white gold, complemented by a gold-hued round tub.

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Connected by annexes that open to a central courtyard with French Creole style architecture, this villa also boasts of a music studio fitted with sound equipment previously owned by music legends such as John Lennon. Demonstrating the pleasures of waterfront living, these thoughtful touches, along with the captivating views of a crystalline ocean make Villa Rockstar a beach lover's dream come true.  

 

Hanazono House, Japan 

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Situated on the snowy slopes of Mount Yotei in Hokkaido, this immaculate abode is home to designer Shouya Grigg. The former music deejay and photographer had been living in Australia before moving to Japan, "I realised that the climate suited me much better than Australia, and I also liked the challenge of living in a totally different culture and society." Planned by architect Nakayama Makoto, the five-hectare built-up area is surrounded by walls coated in Corten steel and overlooks the snow-capped mountains nearby. "The house is surrounded by incredible nature, we do not see any other houses or electric wires, just pure nature," says Grigg, "In Springtime, the oversized windows in the house offer generous views of the rolling green plains and cows grazing in the distance."

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Within the simple, linear exterior structure, long stone clad corridors lead into a sunken living room with dramatic 10-metre high ceilings and glass walls. The industrial style steel beams and unpolished wood elements create a cool and calm atmosphere, paired with the smooth stone floors and raw brickwork. Decadent additions like a smoky fur throw on the bed and glass pendant lights add a feel of luxury to the minimalist Zen-like approach. 

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Come nightfall, the home is transformed into an intimate cavern with indirect lighting casting amber-hued glow over Grigg's art collections. Hanazono house proudly displays how a simple interior can blend harmoniously with breathtaking backdrops that change with the seasons.

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Blissful Union, Singapore

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A collaboration between homeowner Jenny Siaw and architect Greg Shand, this 10,629 sq ft home on Sentosa Cove is a combination of modern and traditional influences. In line with its tropical location, the corner-plot three-storey bungalow features an exterior wood cladding surrounded by coconut trees. The use of glass opens up the interiors, allowing the beachfront views to merge seamlessly with the décor within. At the same time, the amount of light filtering through creates the illusion of a wider space and expansive feel. The cement screed staircase base, brushed aluminium ceiling fans and rails provide the home with a subtle industrial atmosphere, a nice contrast to the earthy tones running throughout the rest of the house.

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The eco-conscious homeowners utilised recycled wood for the construction of their abode, sourced from a factory in Thailand. The Siaws also purchased unfinished wood pieces with unusual forms, converting them into functional bespoke furniture. These, like the coffee table base and dining table, are featured prominently within the house. Shand also designed each space to accommodate a wide range of uses, creating fluid areas within the 14,500 sq ft of built-up area to include a variety of dining, living, bed, guest and spa rooms.

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The unique spa area includes a massage and treatment room overlooking the pool and waterway, as well as an outdoor Jacuzzi and steam room clad in Bisazza tiles. The family's entertainment room is treated with a masculine den-like theme, with dark shades, black walls, a bar and projector screen. The space is appointed with a large, cream-coloured Minotti sofa providing ample resting areas for family gatherings. Rooftop gardens in the home act as a natural insulation against the heat during the day while beautifying the balconies and roofs. According to Shand, "These passive eco-friendly design measures are often forgotten or pushed aside in pursuit of the aesthetic fashion of the day, but such uses for cross ventilation and vertical shading to the east and west are the most effective means to reduce heat gain rather than relying excessively on air-conditioning."  

 

Elegant Living, Singapore

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This plantation-style bungalow project on Sentosa Cove was created by architect-designer Ramon R. Antonio, for the homeowners who desired something with a touch of old-world charm, "They wanted me to design a home that was practical, cosy and elegant in an understated manner." Antonio drew inspiration from his admiration for black and white colonial houses in the island-state, hill-station homes as well as Raffles Hotel. This resulted in a three-storey house on the 1,508 sq ft plot of land, with white louvered swing-out windows. A balcony walkway that surrounds the perimeter of the second floor, typical of 19th century British colonial housing, adds vintage appeal to the design.

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Complementing the black and white colonial inspired exterior, the interiors have been meticulously decorated to reflect a similar style, with botanical prints, maps and bolted border detailing on the doors, indicative of the pre-war era. "I use a lot of tropical features, such as lattice wood dividers, shutters and roll-up blinds," says Antonio, "I specifically sourced for Jim Thompson fabrics from Thailand as they truly have an Asian element; as well as oil paintings of tropical flora by a Spanish, Philippines-based artist."

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Yet more than just replicating a colonial formula, the intrepid designer added modern style and convenience within the 1,000 sq ft built up area. In blending the old Singapore with strokes of modernity, Antonio thoughtfully fitted the home with a temperature and humidity controlled wine cellar and cigar room. These exclusive lounge spaces are luxuriously decked out with warm wooden flooring, regal chairs and overlook beautiful views of Serapong Golf Course through floor-to-ceiling glass windows. "I mixed modern-contemporary Italian furniture from Minotti, with period pieces and also lighting from Barovier & Tosso of Venice," explains Antonio, "All these elements, together with a few Asian pieces dotting the rooms help to create the warm, lived-in effect."  

 

Lush Oasis, Singapore

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Sitting on some dramatic terrain, the steep slopes and irregular contours of the site where The Gohs' family home was to be built could've presented some major challenges. But thanks to the ingenuity of Aamer Architects, these challenges were instead turned into opportunities. Carefully layered and segmented into several components interspersed with greenery, the Gohs' ended up with a modern, tropical resort home rich in texture, with cross ventilation features that link different parts of the house while giving it an airy feel.

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As the house faces west due to fengshui requirements, and thus prone to absorbing heat, much thought was given to tackling heat absorption. This included laying timber cladding on one of the exterior walls of the house in a herringbone style, which helps to trap air pockets and reduce concrete heat absorption, as well as features like generous overhangs, deep courtyards, lush landscaping, a central breezeway with timber louvres and by including low-emissivity glass where needed.

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And as the Gohs frequently entertain, there are many areas within the compound to suit this, from generous sprawling lawns to outdoor decks and pockets of informal mingling spaces. Enhancing the mood in the circular formal dining area is a surrounding koi pond outside, which provides a relaxing view for guests, illustrating a perfect vision of contemporary tropical living.

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Spanish Revolution, Spain

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Set against the stunning greenery of the Spanish island of Mallorca, Cosmopolitan Estate's Casa Son Vida 1 is a world-class modern private residence located near Palma in the exclusive Son Vida community. It is the first of six planned villas by Cosmopolitan Estate, and the somewhat futuristic-looking abode is the work of Los Angeles and Switzerland-based tecARCHITECTURE. Says Cosmopolitan president Michael Rimbeck, "Most real estate on the island is predictable or invariably Mediterranean. We wanted to offer the increasing number of young, progressive and adventurous buyers who are attracted to the island a more daring and evocative alternative."

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Explaining further, Sebastian Knorr, co-founder and design director, says "The project pushes the envelope in every direction and every sense; it is highly sustainable, basically off-the-grid, gives an unheard of sense of space and place, explores new construction technologies and enters into a critical dialogue with the decorated box buildings in its vicinity. Casa Son Vida 1 is unavoidably exuberant and unabashedly outrageous."

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Indeed, with such radical architecture in place, it was only fitting that its interiors be filled with designs equally spectacular - enter Amsterdam-based Marcel Wanders Studio. The result is a space filled with surprises, while blending historical and contemporary elements. From the oversized Tree of Life at the main entrance and living room filled with eye-catching custom furniture, to Bisazza mosaic in the relaxation areas, Casa Son Vida 1 is truly an inspiration.

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Chic Modernity, Singapore

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In the words of homeowner Francis Choy, "it was sheer serendipity" that he came across an empty plot of land in District 10 near the Botanic Gardens while searching for his ideal home. With a challenging plot to work with - there is a drop of almost three metres in the middle of the site - Yeo Siew Haip, managing director of SAA Architects recalls, "The challenge was to design and create a 10,000 square foot home on a slope based on the existing site conditions. So we designed a split-level house with a basement for recreation and a total height of almost three full storeys."

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While it took more than two and a half years to construct, their work more than paid off. Today, the house cuts a striking figure, its façade trumped only by its sumptuous interior created by renowned designer Peter Tay. Art forms the heart of Choy's home, and it is filled with pieces ranging from the exquisite to the whimsical. Luxurious furniture is placed throughout the house, from Antonio Citterio for B&B Italia in the living room, to dramatic baroque-style Smoke chairs by Maarten Baas for Moooi in the dining room.

But above all, it is a family home where the Choys can come home to and comfortably soak in its warmth.

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A Stylish Retreat, Hong Kong

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The brief from the owners of this spacious 7,500-sq-ft, three-storey house in Hong Kong was: Transform the house into a retreat, a haven for quiet respite away from city life. "It should have a lived-in ambience, while furnishings should reflect a relaxed lifestyle," recalls Christina Chew, a partner in LCL Architects Ltd, which she shares with her partner and co-founder Rudolph Leong.

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This was ultimately translated into a impeccably sophisticated abode based on a palette of neutrals and luxurious materials - creamy marble flooring, silver-grey travertine and timber walls. With that foundation in place, the selection of furniture and accessories was especially important to make every space stand out. Creating a focal point in each room was key. For example, the dining area and games room featured custom-designed crystal chandeliers fashioned out of clear and amber spheres, while floor-to-ceiling headboards in the bedrooms formed the centre of attention.

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Commanding instant attention is the formal living room, which features double-storey floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides. Flanking both sides of the room are two three-metre long sofas upholstered in luxurious taupe velveteen, two Macassar ebony cabinets, and two chocolate brown leather armchairs - all strategically placed to create a mirror image of one another. The icing on this cake is a stunning ox-horn chandelier, an impressive 24kg piece dangling from the gold-leafed ceiling.

 

 

Green and Chic, Singapore

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A picture of breezy luxury on Sentosa Island's Ocean Drive, the home of husband-and-wife Gerry Harvey and Katie Page is the creation of Singapore-based, Argentine architect Ernesto Bedmar. The idea was to create a contemporary Asian house that brimmed with environmentally sound features, not be dependent on air-conditioning, and with lots of space and light with privacy features.

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Page wanted a functional and sensible living space, and similarly, part of Bedmar's vision was to create a home with lifestyle spaces to yield joy through family interaction, eventually manifested in a 20-metre lap pool and a well-manicured garden. The home is essentially a glass box encased in timber - specifically recycled teak, a tropical hardwood resistant to termites, the punishing heat and humidity. The roof also has a traditional pitch that can perfectly tackle the intensity of rain during the monsoon months. 

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Another notable element of the home's design is how areas of common facilities - living room, dining room, library - are kept to the upper levels and the mezzanine, thereby allowing its residents to enjoy the stunning views and appreciate the sun-lit space.

 

Understated luxury comes into play via high-end furniture from brands such as Flexform, Poliform, Zanotta, B&B Italia, Moooi, all in iconic forms to cater to Page's demand for low-key elegance.

 

Contemporary Colonial, Singapore

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This three-storey conservation terrace house is home to Edouard and Louise Merette, and the century-old piece of Singaporean heritage is infused with unique Asian character thanks to the couple's impeccable taste. Working with Richard Ho of Richard Ho Architects, the Merettes envisioned a living space that incorporated a blend of old and new, with the criteria of including enough room to display their extensive collection of art and furniture.

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In the 16 months that it took to complete work on the house, a number of changes were applied to its former structure, including installing a wall fountain with a Buddha statue. A new three-storey extension and another courtyard was added at the rear, together with a lap pool and sun deck on the roof terrace.

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Says the Merettes, "We love to feel the traditional Peranakan influence with a little contemporary twist. No doubt we live in a shop house in Singapore, but we have all the modern comforts." It's so comfortable in fact, that every part of the house is well-loved. "We enjoy the outside front patio in the early mornings for coffee, and the family room and the various areas around the air well during the day, because of the light and the air circulation. For evening dinners and receptions, it would be the main floor as it has a jazzy style. Finally, it would be our bedroom, but not before a swim at the roof terrace!"

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