Lockdowns throw our homes into relief. Just ask Greg Farrell and Naomi Healy, who left Hong Kong last year to begin a new chapter in Singapore with their two children. From a Mid-Levels flat that had been home for eight years, the Antipodean family moved into a 120-year-old, four-bedroom reconstructed terrace house minutes from buzzy Orchard Road. The grand dame building – whose interiors were redesigned in 2007 by Chan Soo Khian, founding principal of SCDA Architects – has been accommodating. With pandemic measures in the Lion City confining people to their homes until recently , the family has made the most of its 6,000 sq ft rental space, spread generously over two floors in the front half, three at the back and a middle section that acts as a fulcrum around which life revolves. “This was plug and play,” says Farrell, Radisson Hotel Group’s vice-president of design and technical services, Asia-Pacific. “We could drop everything we had into this beautiful old building, which, because it was white and modern on the inside, really suited. All the rest of the places we looked at would have been quite forced, but this was the one place we walked into and we both said, ‘Yes’.” Set back and elevated, the house is nestled in a conservation row where building facades are preserved and protected. Gate posts and a bamboo-lined forecourt formalise entry at ground level, overlooked by pilasters and arches that lend the house a genteel, old-world feel. Goodbye open-plan spaces? How interior design could change But step over its quaint threshold and pre-war antiquity is lost to contemporary minimalism, the two styles mashing up in a foyer with a twist. With acres of white walls illuminated by spotlights, it still recalls the gallery that once occupied the space. Now, the house reveals itself behind a custom-built bookcase, where a formal living and dining area segues into a bright, open passage between front and back blocks. Glass covering this liminal space allows natural light to flood into what would have been a courtyard or air well in a past life. And although now protected from the elements, the area retains an airiness born of its loftiness and simplicity: a lone bench sits opposite a pond thick with plants. Overlooking this void is Farrell’s temporary workspace, in the second lounge, destined to become a media room after he returns to the office. “I started at the dining table and ended up on the platform in the centre of the house,” he says. “The problem with that is there’s no privacy in the living areas and wherever I am I tend to dominate the space.” But although a constant soundtrack during the family’s confinement has been, as freelance editor Healy says, “millions of phone calls” and “Greg’s voice echoing through the house”, the rooms front and back are generous retreats. That includes 16-year-old daughter Holly’s room, attached to a deep veranda with a parapet overlooking the front of the house. “It’s a long walk to her room from ours,” says Farrell, adding that the guest attic above it is 52 steps from the kitchen. The distance became apparent when his parents stayed early this year. What a Singapore house lacks in mod cons it makes up for in atmosphere At the opposite end of the house, the back block includes the kitchen, 11-year-old Spencer’s room and his parents’ sizeable refuge, complete with a dressing area and a stand-alone tub positioned outside the glassed-off en suite. Above their room is the rooftop and swimming pool. From this enviable roost, the tiled roofs and internal voids of neighbouring terrace houses are visible. Only a few are blessed with swimming pools, Healy’s prerequisite when the couple were house hunting. Apart from the luxury of privacy, the pool removed the tedium of life in confinement, especially for their son, when Singapore’s public pools and beaches were closed. Besides which, Healy says, “He wasn’t allowed outside because you were only allowed out one at a time – and he was too young to go alone.” But he could swim to his heart’s content. The rooftop has been a winner for other reasons. “At the end of the day, we find ourselves up by the pool, having cocktails made by Holly and watching the birds,” says Farrell. “The house has been a blessing.” Living area (ground floor) Between two graphic works – on the left, a framed piece of Florence Broadhurst fabric; on the right, a King of Kowloon calligraphic print from Hong Kong – is a Cassina sofa from Space Furniture in Singapore. The coffee table was from Minotti in Singapore and the walnut side table came from a Hong Kong shop since closed. The entertainment units were designed by hotel-design specialist Greg Farrell years ago and made by Channels . The pouffe was from Castle in Australia. Living area Between two Barcelona chairs, purchased in Australia a long time ago, is a Kartell Ghost Buster side table, bought in Hong Kong. The Chinese stool came from G.O.D . Lounge Family photos have moved from Hong Kong to Singapore, where they line the wall of a passage leading to the casual lounge on the first-floor “platform”. Lounge Farrell’s office during the lockdown, it is furnished with a television console that came with the house, and items from the family’s Mid-Levels home, including the coffee tables, sofa and floor lamp, from BoConcept . The black rug came from Singapore’s Lifestorey @ Dempsey. Behind the TV is a green and red painting by Aboriginal artist Mitjili Napurrula, bought years ago in Australia’s Northern Territory, and block artwork by Farrell. Dining area The teak dining table, from TREE ; Petite Friture Vertigo pendant lamp, from SeventhirtyAM ; and Panton chairs were all brought from Hong Kong. On the wall is a photo by Denice Hough . Pond area Although covered, the central zone is light-filled and airy, thanks in part to a pond filled with alocasia plants and a thicket of rhapis palms. The walnut Bent Bench, by Hyfen, was acquired through 1stdibs . The yellow statuette and yellow painting were gifts. Rooftop A treat during the lockdown was the 10.5-metre-long pool on the rooftop, furnished simply with an outdoor umbrella from Ikea and loungers from Homes65 in Singapore. The acrylic side table was from Kartell in Hong Kong and the pink flamingos were a gift. Main bedroom The bed was from King Furniture in Singapore and the artwork behind it from Dafen art village, in Shenzhen. The Louis Poulsen bedside light was from Manks in Hong Kong. The full-length mirror was from Ikea. The Sori Yanagi-inspired Butterfly stool came from Decor8 in Hong Kong. En-suite bathroom The Hay side table came from Homeless in Hong Kong and the towel rack from Taobao . Above the Ikea storage cubicles is a Hay tray from Lane Crawford . Tried + tested Opening statement Simple but effective, a mirror-backed stand-alone bookcase near the main doors creates a foyer and enhances privacy from the street. “When you look into the house from outside it reflects greenery in the garden,” Greg Farrell says. “So it creates this amazing sense of space as you walk in.” In keeping with the house, which combines old-world heritage with 21st century trimmings, is an antique table passed down to Farrell by his mother. On it is a Jones & Co hand vase, which was a gift. The dot painting, Body Paint , by Betty Club Mbitjana, was bought at auction from Art Yarramunua in Melbourne. The artwork on the opposite wall is by Australian artist David Bromley . The bookcase, which measures 2.2 metres x 1.8 metres, was made by hotel interior fit-out specialists Sunray .