A shophouse on Everton Road
I’m in a lucky position that I get to have a nose around lots of beautiful, unusual and interesting houses in Singapore. These have included some immaculately decorated shophouses. But PADDY and ROB’s home is, well, different.
Who lives here: Patrick Dalton and Rob Ioannou
Time in Singapore: 12 years, including three in this house
Size and type of home: 4-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom, 3,000-square foot shophouse
Décor style: Magically memorable museum
As I walk around the three-storey shophouse belonging to Paddy, an Aussie, and Rob, from Greece, I keep asking myself two questions: “How on earth did they find these things?” and “How does it all work so well together?” We’re talking clear perspex Phillipe Starck pieces next to mahogany armchairs from the French Revolution. But it works.
Paddy explains: “Our home is a culmination of nearly 20 years of life together. We’re avid collectors of art, sculpture and furniture.” The two have sourced pieces from all over the region and added them to the existing treasures they brought with them from London in 2007. “We purchased many of the homewares from the usual expat haunts in Singapore, most of which have sadly disappeared now, but the artworks literally span the globe!” I’m a fairly minimalist person – think “scandustrial” as my preferred style. But this house? This house talks. Every wall, every surface (including tops of tall wardrobes) have perfectly placed fragments of Paddy and Rob’s story – they are hung, sat and perched everywhere.
“To us,” Paddy tells me, “it’s an honour to live in this shophouse, and the shortcomings outweigh the joy the place gives us. It has a tremendously logical layout that makes entertaining and living really easy. This isn’t always the case with these buildings.”
As we move from room to room, there are endless mementos of their life and travels – the home acts like a museum dedicated to their adventures. Where the house may lack large windows to the outside world, it generously makes up for it with ample wall spaces, which are a perfect canvas to display their incredible and eclectic art collection.
Finding their gallery
After four relaxing years in a bright penthouse condo on Sentosa, they felt the call to return to the bustling city. “We were familiar with conservation home living, having been in a magnificent shophouse on Emerald Hill for five years. We decided to keep an eye out for a cool shophouse close to Chinatown.”
Amazingly, one actually found them, after friends of friends who were vacating the house mid-contract referred them to the agent. “We fell in love with it immediately as a fantastic backdrop for our art and furniture collection, plus the location was exactly where we wanted.”
With so many items in the house that tell their story and journey, what are their favourites? Paddy laughs, “Wow, that’s a difficult question! Maybe we need to think about what we would rescue first if the house was on fire!?”
Rob jumps in: “I would definitely grab the 19th-century Tibetan silver Buddha statue. While it’s one of the smallest Buddha images we have, it was definitely love at first sight. Paddy was travelling for work and I was browsing alone in The Renaissance Gallery when the intricate carving and delicate filigree called to me. I couldn’t pass up this most enchanting, beguiling and peaceful statue!”
Paddy’s choice would be more challenging to carry out the door: a self-portrait of the artist Aiman with pink chrysanthemums that hangs in the living room. “It was painted by a talented young Singaporean artist and we purchased it from our favourite gallery, Art Porters, just around the corner in Spottiswoode Park Road. I love staring at it and sinking into the soft flowers while unwinding with a glass of wine.”
After 12 exciting and rewarding years in Singapore, Rob and Paddy feel it’s time for another adventure somewhere that will challenge them in different ways. “I’ve spent more than 20 years as an employee for large financial institutions around the world, so I’m eager to be more entrepreneurial and work for myself,” Rob tells me.
Paddy explains they also want to spend more time on their property “ventures” outside Singapore. “We’ve decided to base ourselves in Sri Lanka while also spending time in Greece and Australia where we have homes. For now, we’re trading suits and shoes for shorts and flip-flops!” Paddy says with a smile.
When they initially moved to Asia, they sold their properties in the UK, but wanted to buy a new home somewhere else to supplement their city life in Singapore. They travelled extensively around the region and fell in love with Sri Lanka after a holiday in 2010.
“Several weeks later, we went scouting for properties in the southern area of Sri Lanka, initially looking for a something small to renovate. But we somehow became spellbound with a huge plantation! The land has a magical quality to it and it’s so fertile! We love the seclusion – our nearest neighbours are a troupe of naughty monkeys and lazy grazing buffalo!”
The plantation has nearly 50 acres and is surrounded by hundreds of acres of government-owned plantation lands that Paddy and Rob believe add to the beautiful sense of seclusion. The plot was formed during the Sri Lankan government’s contentious land reforms in the 1970s and was left derelict for decades, having been an extensive working plantation for many years.
“It was bought by the last owners in the late 1990s. They worked hard to re-establish the tea fields and introduce more diversified crops such as coconuts and cinnamon. When we purchased it, we kept the same team. Together, we’ve been working to continue land improvements, crop diversification and expansion. We’ve also built an architecturally charming bungalow and have plans to diversify the plantation further by making it an agritourism venture.”
New homes for their treasures
So, are they taking their precious collection with them? No! Instead, they are taking the opportunity during this significant life change to downsize, declutter, recycle, gift and sell items that they feel no longer “spark joy”.
“It’s a fantastic chance to evaluate everything we own, piece by piece, and decide if it’s something we want to migrate into our new lifestyle. Keeping the things that are precious increases their value to us, and finding worthy homes for things we no longer have space for is equally empowering. It’s the ultimate in sustainability to recycle our possessions, and for them to be reused and re-loved by new owners.”
But wouldn’t selling everything be stressful, especially when they travel so much? “Thankfully, we discovered HotLotz Auction House, who have made the entire process a one-stop and stress-free event. Their operation is seamless, and they arrange all the logistics, which is invaluable to us.”
HotLotz will be hosting several “open house” viewings for the items Paddy and Rob want to auction. Still, they will be taking a few things with them: “Our next home will be the backdrop for our new journey but it will also have many corners filled with objects to remind us of our Singapore life.”
“We want to rekindle the sense of adventure and risk-taking that we enjoyed when we first left our safe-haven in London to come to steamy Singapore.” Part of their new adventure will be embracing some downsizing and making space for new opportunities, new experiences, and perhaps even a few new art pieces!
Love Paddy and Rob’s style?
You can check out their home and auction items on the following days at 26 Everton Road:
• Saturday 17, 24 and 31 August from 12pm to 4pm
• Tuesday 20 and 27 August from 6pm to 8pm. The catalogue will be available online from 15 August and the auction concludes on 1 September at 8pm.
For more information and to bid, visit hotlotz.com.
Wine & Dine
Straits Clan Private Members Club: 31 Bukit Pasoh Road
(“Great cocktails, coffee and snacks”)
6320 9180 | straitsclan.com
Bakalaki Greek Taverna: 3 Seng Poh Road
6836 3688 | bakalaki.com
Kith Café Spottiswoode: 69 Spottiswoode Park Road
(“You’ll find us here on a Sunday morning attached to our regular stools!”)
6221 5569 | kith.com.sg
Art Porters Gallery: 64 Spottiswoode Park Road
6909 0468 | artporters.com
Framing Angie: #03-02 Holland Road Shopping Centre, 211 Holland Avenue
6466 0800 framingangie.com
HotLotz: #01-15 Cendex Center, 120 Lower Delta Road
6254 7616 | hotlotz.com
Want more inspiration for your interiors? See our home décor section!
This article first appeared in the August 2019 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy or subscribe so you never miss an issue!