Niche. Different. Quirky. Unique. These are terms perfect for denoting that which stands out from the crowd or surroundings. Does this private residence count? Oh it most certainly does.
Qualifying as this month’s cover feature courtesy of its status as an unexpected treasure; a quick tour reveals a home that could easily have been transplanted from the world of the classic Hanna & Barbara cartoon, The Flintstones, and this is not an exaggeration.
Inspired by an industrial approach to interior design, which makes heavy use of concrete, exposed brick and stone, thick cabling, and grey as its primary hue, the homeowners’ passion for this style is not borne out of a need to stand out, but a genuine interest for a raw form of expression.
“I absolutely love this style,” one of the homeowners begins, pointing out that many are unaware that fair-face concrete is versatile with regard to their finishes. “Some places are polished down nicely, while others are left raw and exposed with veins of cracks,” providing that rough realism. “We prefer a more maintained version of the latter.”
“When my husband and I moved into this house it was slightly smaller and resembled every other house here. So we began extending the house, and making the transformation.” Before she continues, the homeowner scrunches up her face as she describes that during this time of renovation, “We were seeing eateries opening up for business that also used this same style, and even though we were doing this project solely for us, it was a funny coincidence nonetheless.”
“It definitely is not easy maintaining this however, because a lot of the materials and supporting products are either unavailable in Brunei or much too expensive. The flooring needs coating once a year for water protection, and salt grains from the exposed brick is knocked or blown free over time as a powder. You can get sealant here at many places but not good ones. We need a sealant that can actually penetrate the porous brick to keep everything in place.” She begins giggling as she shares that both her and her husband are hardcore, hands-on, DIY people, resulting in quite a few arguments with contractors who failed to realise this.
Overall, the home embraces an open concept that has the lobby, living rooms, dining area, kitchen, courtyard, and garden/lounge space all interconnected. The courtyard and garden space have had their walls risen with steel netting and mesh added for security. Even though this works both ways, these additions were originally aimed at keeping the five massive house cats indoors while allowing them to enjoy an outdoor environment that keeps them safe from the main road and stray cats.
The front door comprises two large steel slabs on a rolling mechanism so they operate like sliding doors. Small manhole covers function as large peepholes to see who’s knocking while supporting the theme – and temporarily making anyone looking through the portholes feel like they are in a submarine. Other supporting features include the cabling, which has been covered in thicker metal tubing neatly adorning the upper walls as they crisscross the house. Accompanying the cables at their start and end points are levers straight out of the 1940s, again, perfectly at home with this décor. Similarly designed lights suspended from the ceiling over two separate seating areas are made different via their arrangement – with one assuming a spidery configuration, with the second arranged neatly into a square. Pillars, and furniture sourced from Jackhan Sdn Bhd, as well as Thompsons Furniture, are strategically placed to act as impromptu markers delineating the boundaries of the seating areas.
The indoor dining area is marked by a massive concrete slab that required 15 strong men to carry and place. The horizontal courtyard is teeming with ground based and suspended plants, as well as concrete tub, reminiscent of a glass house set-up. A corner set-up with a reading chair and side tables adjoining a section of wall that has been painted teal, adding a vibrancy that prevents the stark outlook from being overwhelming. Nearby is a pillar adorned with elegant and cultural masks from Venice and Indonesia, one of the few items throughout the home that reveals a more personal look into the owner’s persona.
With mattresses atop concrete slabs for beds, one can’t help but wonder what else the owners have in mind. While the BHC Magazine team correctly guesses that the owners would like to install a clay/brick oven via a wall insertion, we were all caught off guard by the homeowner’s exclamation, “Have you guys seen a concrete bathtub before? You should look them up, I would love to have one. They’re gorgeous!” Well then, there you go. A rock solid pursuit of an addition to an already impressive home.