The Home State
Large and sophisticated, this house at Binjai Park is all about providing a space conducive for growth and living well.
The Sareens' new home at Binjai Park
The design of the living room is filled with the couple's favourite colours
G.S. and Rewa Sareen
For husband and wife, G. S. Sareen and Rewa Sareen, their new home at Binjai Park brings back memories of their individual childhoods in India.
“Both our parents had the privilege of living in some of the great government houses in India. So we’ve always wanted the classic and colonial look for our home. We loved growing up in those houses, and we wanted to bring that into this place so our kids could enjoy it,” says G. S. Sareen.
Singapore has been home for two decades and, over the years, the couple and their two teenage sons have since become citizens. Their new home, which sits on 36,000 sq ft land, provides a marked change of scene from living in their penthouse in the prime Tanjong Rhu area.
Over the years, they’ve watched Singapore’s skyline change to what it is today. This house, well hidden from the road, provides a slice of heaven that is vastly different from the usual sight of skyscrapers they were used to. Here, they could engage in their favourite activities, such as working out in their gym, as a family within their own compound.
The spacious pool area adds a sense of peace and serenity to the home
The Sareens found the property after an intensive search of “probably more than a hundred bungalows” in Singapore. “This fits the bill perfectly. It has everything that we wanted, with enough room for growth. Our kids also wanted dogs. For my mother, who is wheelchair bound, we wanted her to have space as well as sit by the pool with ease,” Sareen explains.
Considering the size of the house – the floor area totals 19,500 sq ft – renovating the house was a monumental project. The Sareen family’s aim was to do it in three phases, which also allowed them to move into the home within completion of the first phase. The prudent approach of renovating in phases was also useful. The family and the designer could determine the spaces that the family would actually use.
Full-length windows fill the spaces with plenty of light; the grand chandelier meets guests on arival at the entrance foyer
The Designer’s Touch
After seeking out several interior designers, the couple found the right person to work with in Maud Ferrand. The French interior designer zeroed in on modernising the interior while retaining its grandeur where natural light illuminates the spaces. After all, areas within are spacious, and light filters in easily through the generous windows on many sides.
During the first phase, white marble slabs replaced the old flooring, the walls were repainted, and the bar and dining area and landscaping reworked.A 10-seater dining table, presided by a large painting by Indian artist Paresh Maity, anchors the dining area. Ferrand allocated space for a bar area accompanied by a lounge area next to the dining area. This, together with the other living areas, on the ground floor provides plenty of seating options whenever they entertain.
The formal dining area; the yellow room is just one of the many guest bedrooms in the house
“The biggest challenge with this home was to make it a home with ‘a soul and to subtract its austerity’. Because of its overwhelming space and layout, I decided to give it a personality through colour accents. But the presence of colour is progressive and subtle. The objective was to make the residence welcoming and intimate. In conjunction with introducing subtle colours, I worked with my client’s art collection. I thought certain pieces had a Cubist feel and designed cushions on the sofas with a distinct pattern and colour to echo the artwork,” says Ferrand. One such space is the living area, where blue patterned cushions dot the space.
While most of the furniture pieces are customised, some pieces such as the sofa and armchair are from Baker’s Thomas Pheasant collection. There are also Indonesian furniture from Bika. Fabrics are key to the look of this home, with plenty of silk from Jim Thompson.
Art collectors for a decade, the couple have amassed artworks by artists including M. F. Husain, Richard Johnson and S. H. Raza. These are found in many spaces. One main highlight of this home is its attention to colour. Guest rooms are given colour themes with a preference towards refreshing hues such as yellow, orange and blue.
The entrance foyer leads to two separate living areas located on opposite sides of the ground floor
With a spacious master bedroom to work with, Ferrand split the space into a sleeping area and a lounge area. A “colonial Indo-British bed from the existing home” was kept for the space, and Ferrand built the theme around the piece. “It could have been a room in a palace in Rajasthan. I customised a contemporary four-poster bed with fabric from India and created a lounge area. To create a contrast with the black and add a cosiness while being elegant, I added an accent colour of ‘’burnt orange’’ through the cushions, some piping and the presence of pattern on the rugs,” she says.
Ask the couple for their favourite space in the home, and the wine room came as the answer quick and fast. One of the smaller spaces in the home, it features built-in cabinetry for the TV, books and personal objects. There’s a climate-controlled storage unit for the family’s collection of wines.
Plush oversized tufted armchairs set the scene for relaxation in the wine and cigar room
“This is our favourite space, whether we are gathering in a group of three or eight. We have wine, music and television here, and food is just a short distance away in the kitchen,” says Sareen.
“We’re simple people with a down-to-earth attitude to life and living. We celebrate everybody’s birthday in the same way and have a good time with everybody’s blessings carrying us through. I like to think that this home is a reflection of our philosophy as much as it is a gathering place for our family and the things we love.”