This could easily pass as one of Singapore’s colonial black and white houses at first glance. The house on Holland Road however, is still heritage-inspired, full of travel memories and utterly charming. When British lawyer Fergus Evans found this new home earlier this year, he didn’t have to think twice about who he’d enlist to oversee the style and design aesthetics of the property. Having worked with Singaporean styling and interiors company Arete Culture in 2018 on the renovation of his heritage shophouse in Blair Road (actually featured on the cover of Expat Living magazine in October 2018), he contacted the award-winning team once more!
As an avid collector of artwork, sculptures and antique furniture, Fergus wanted to showcase his collection while ensuring that his home felt bright, fresh and comfortable. Much of his furniture was transferred from his old place, while Arete Culture arranged for some eclectic custom-made additions, not least because the new house – which boasts four ensuite bedrooms, a gym, study, living room, dining room and outdoor space – is twice as large as Fergus’s previous bachelor pad.
The outcome is a delicious global style that reflects who Fergus truly is. As the interiors project collided with the start of Circuit Breaker, he officially moved in July – in fact, Expat Living was one of his first house guests!
What brought you to Singapore, Fergus?
My mother’s family are from Kuala Lumpur; they’ve been in the region for over a hundred years. I was born at Gleneagles Hospital and grew up in Singapore in a beautiful old black-and-white house on Kay Siang Road, just off of Tanglin Road. I loved growing up here: I went to the original Tanglin School, which was located where the Brunei Embassy is today, and I have very fond memories of riding my bike around what used to be a cul-de-sac, but is now part of a dual carriageway.
So, you have lived here all of your life?
My parents and I left Singapore when I was 19, and after university in the UK I spent many years working in Vietnam, Hong Kong and Bangkok. Returning to Singapore to work was always a possibility; when it happened in 2017, I found myself searching for a black-and-white heritage property so I could relive my childhood memories. Instead, I ended up living in a gorgeous shophouse on Blair Road, but sadly had to vacate the premises earlier this year as it became structurally unsafe.
What made you choose this house?
When I discovered I had to move, I approached property agent Isabel Redrup (isabelredrup.com) who helped me find the shophouse. She knew I loved colonial style, but that I also wanted modern amenities, so she alerted me to this house – it’s essentially a pastiche of a black-and-white home. It has four ensuite bedrooms upstairs and wonderful high ceilings and fans, but it also comes with all the conveniences. It’s a great compromise on a heritage home. There isn’t a large garden, but the veranda is lovely, and I have a single length pool.
How would you describe your home style?
Overstuffed! I adore art and my collection comprises items from my parents, carvings from my travels, antique Chinese furniture, Japanese pottery, plus paintings and photographs from Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore. I could never do “minimalist”!
Your art collection is fabulous. What are your favourite pieces?
My quirkiest piece is my colourful sumo wrestler statue, who I had commissioned from Art Porters Gallery. At over five-feet tall he stands as my doorman and he’s a great talking point. I also like my picture of Alfred Hitchcock in 1972, which I bought from Paris, and my black and white prints of Ernest Hemingway and Fidel Castro that I picked up on my travels to Cuba in February. My picture of the ex-King of Thailand, with its bright pink background, is the showstopper, and it takes pride of place on my staircase.
What would you miss if you were to leave Singapore?
Like most people, I adore the cosmopolitan food scene here. My dream meal is Hainanese chicken rice followed by sago gula melaka. It can be quite hard to find the two dishes on the same menu: Tanglin Club and Singapore Cricket Club do them both.
Tell us about your favourite holiday spot in the region …
I love Bhutan. The scenery is amazing, and I stayed at the COMO properties, which were beautiful and served incredible food. Reaching the top of Tiger’s Nest was a challenge and I needed a few cups of sugary tea to get me there! When I return, I hope to be a bit fitter, so I perhaps need to do more lengths of my pool!
A word from the designer
CAROLINE CHIN GEYLER from Arete Culture talks us through her designs and inspiration.
• We sectioned the lounge space into two separate seating areas: one formal (far end with the blue sofas) and one informal (grey seating area in front of the TV)
• We built a new bar cabinet and introduced a new round coffee table set; both are from Arete Culture
• New rugs in the living room softened the look of the graphic black and white geometric floor
• Since the informal seating area used a subdued colour palette, we chose a patterned rug for visual contrast
• New pieces either have a metallic finish, a reflective sheen, or are made of glass for a luxurious and more balanced look
• Fergus’s existing dining table was too small for the dining room (behind the sliding doors in the lounge), so the Jasmine sideboard and dining table (a whopping 2.6 metres) and chairs were custom made by Arete Culture
• Blue accents run throughout the home – in the dining room, a darker shade for a touch of drama and glam; in the living room, pops of orange, grey and taupe for a fresher feel
• The second floor doesn’t get much natural light, so we didn’t want to overwhelm the space with colour; instead, we decorated the common corridor in the style of an art gallery
• This room is huge, sectioned off with a cosy seating area and splashes of Fergus’s favourite colour, blue
• We wanted to highlight the art pieces against the darker walls; we also used the modern, geometric rug as a contrast to the pared-back and tranquil feel
• The guest bedrooms are feature pieces we styled for his previous home
• The veranda is the perfect place for Fergus to sit amongst the memories of his travels after a dip in the pool
Art Porters Gallery 64 Spottiswoode Park Road artporters.com
Huber’s Butchery, 22 Dempsey Road hubers.com.sg
For late-night prata Al-Jailani 89 Kampong Bahru Road 6222 2754
For a blow-out treat Yen Yakiniku 15 Ann Siang Road theyengroup.com.sg
Want more home inspiration? See our home decor section!