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Open, flowing spaces punctuated with Oriental artwork create a distinctive tropical haven


Serendipity for a designer is when all of the elements of a new house, including architectural concepts, landscaping, furnishings, fabrics and the homeowners' collection of fine artwork coincide to form a harmonious and elegant design.

Several strongly contrasting styles work together to give visual intrigue and originality to the home featured here. Creating a seamless transition between these styles, and between the outdoor and indoor living areas, was the brief for interior designer Isabelle Miaja.

"There is an uninterrupted flow from the outdoor areas inside and back out again," she says. "Open walls and separate wings, with landscaping between them, contribute to this effect."

The sleek structural lines of the exterior have a modern and clean look. To balance this, ancient Oriental artwork and fittings, including six antique metal-studded wood doors, are positioned throughout the house. They provide a distinct identity for the home.

Organic materials in neutral colours give a warmth to the interior and create a peaceful, relaxing atmosphere. In the living room, situated in a pavilion on stilts above the swimming pool, the golden glow of Burmese teak on the ceiling and wall beams is emphasised with accent lighting. The same effect is repeated below the floor, with lights shining into the pool from each stilt, making the pavilion appear to be suspended above the water.


"Inside, the furnishings are comfortable yet elegant in warm beige silks, accentuated with artefacts and tribal inspired cushions for colour," says Miaja. "The owners‘ artwork collection reflects their appreciation for pieces that are beautiful and of high quality. These pieces contribute a great deal of value to the design."

Among the owners' collection is an antique silk tapestry from the Beijing Opera that hangs in the entry to the home. Nepalese rugs of wool interlaced with silk are used throughout. A reclining Burmese Buddha reposes in the living room and establishes an atmosphere of relaxation that is the theme of the home.

The dining room looks out to the living room across an open walkway of lawn bordered by Yellow China Granite. French limestone flooring is used inside in many of the rooms, while the living and dining room have hardwood floors.

In the same wing as the dining room are the kitchen and the family room, which opens onto an aviary. Tropical birds roost in three Balinese bird houses and can fly freely through the room. Landscaping beyond the aviary gives privacy to the room and adds to the tropical setting.

Also in this wing is a powder room with a feature outdoor shower, surrounded by a stone and glass enclosure. It is positioned for convenient use by swimmers after they have enjoyed a dip in the pool.

Downstairs is a private screening room with video projection and oversized reclining chairs for six. Upstairs, the master bedroom and ensuite are in natural colours with wood beams that echo the design in the main part of the home. The beams are complemented by the extra large headboards, panelled in fabric and framed in teak. Cream-coloured curtains are laced with copper wire to give them an extra sheen.

The ensuite bathroom features a picture window looking out to the pool, with slat blinds that can be closed when necessary. Etched glass panels on the shower enclosure provide privacy.

"There are many different elements that make this tropical home distinctive," says Miaja. "It has a very individual atmosphere and identity."

First published date: 14 October 2003

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Credit List

Architect Bedmar and Shi
Interior designer Isabelle Miaja, IMA Interiors (Singapore)
Builder Zenecon
Flooring Massangis Jaune Claire limestone from Polystone
Paints Nippon Paint
Lighting Project Lighting Design
Furniture J R Scott, McGuire
Outdoor furniture Brown Jordan
Wall cabinetry Yang Ah Kang and Sons
Bathroom fixtures and tub Kohler