Shophouses-the funky, the zen and the ugly

There has been a revival of interest in vernacular and colonial architecture, shophouses being a prime example of the former. Today, as a result of this new interest, we see many sophisticated works of Modernism, translating ancient vernaculars into strikingly fresh statements.

There are lots of shophouses with funky interiors on Kim Yam, a lot of them with the water features that have come to be associated with the area. The smaller units's decor range from funky boutiqe hotel interiors(with uncomfortable-looking but impossibly hip,sunken limestone bathtubs. Then there are the classy zen pieces on Emerald Hill (photos are shown here) and the eclectic design-incorporating everything from waterfalls, funky toilet designs and the traditional patios in one single house on Cairnhill.

Diverging from the well-trodden paths of the KimYam/Emerald/Cainrhill triumvirate yields surprising finds. Everton and Blair are popular choices as well, but with none of the swanky interiors typical of the aforementioned areas. Area however has a more Bohemian feel about it and is where the expat literati  tend to congregate. The Petain Road area( around Serangoon road) is a well-kept secret amongst the expats. It has a small expat community residing in the row of shophouses, with an antique furniture gallery a la John Erdos along the street. The Geylang area brings you a shophouse with an interior design comparable to the ones on Emerald and Cairnhill but at a much lower rent of $6.5k.



 Urn serves as a focal point to the house. Lighting in the house provides a beautiful backdrop. 4000sqft, over 2 1/2 floors.

    Asking rental of $12k nett. Also for sale.



Rentals vary from $11-17k for shophouses with 4,000-5,000sqft of built up and swanky interiors in the Emerald/Cairnhill areas to $2.3k for a small studio type shophouse. Minimal renovation shophouses cost between $5.5k to $8k to rent in the popular Emerald/Cairnhill areas as well. Kim Yam shophouses are normally very funky and will please those who need modern spaces and appreciate exclusive designs over the cookie cutter interiors of apartments. The Blair and Everton road shophouses are a motley bunch-I've seen those with baroque interiors, those with minimal renovations, but neighbourhood is typically bohemian. Rentals range from $2.7k-$8k.

  For viewing, please call 67288614


Pictures of the Schrager-inspired shophouse. Had to take the photos in the dark(during the brief period when electricity was cut off due to poor communication between PUB and occupant). With automated skylights that lets in just the right amount of ventilation; a necessary feature wherever there is a water feature in enclosed spaces considering the humidity factor. Pictures taken over three visits( explains why the jacuzzi is running in one picture and empty in the next).

With a display cupboard upon entry to the house with storage space below and a powder room to your left. Water feature cum jacuzzi makes up the central focus of the house- sound of running water and the soothing sight of water flowing adds to the viewing ambience although the water feature results in a compromise in the space available for living and dining.

Access to master bedroom via a separate staircase. Interesting sunken bathtub and outdoor shower. Windows of master bedroom overlook into the jacuzzi and opens into a 'balcony' where a bougainvillea plant currently stands.

The other two smaller loft bedrooms showcases an illuminated console as a design feature (not shown in photos) that slides out to reveal hidden storage space.

Typical of many shophouses, the disjointed layout of the shophouse makes a clear delineation between the master bedroom and the two smaller bedrooms (convertible to guest room, study area or storage space).

   2,000sqft of built-up, both for rent as well as for sale-

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Luxury Travel Company


Thought I'd pigeonhole townhouses together with shophouses as well for easier classification- though the two are never to be confused. Townhouses are basically cluster houses in a row; sometimes as part of a mixed condo development, thereby enjoying a wider range of facilities (though the case does not ring true every time), or strictly a townhouse development. What distinguishes townhouses from semi-ds or terraces are that townhouses usually share communal facilities-be it security, swimming pool, or carpark.

  The Colonial

Colonial townhouses near my house- really charming enclave. Situated on a quiet neighbourhood (a little too quiet for me at night). Very accessible to town-5 mins drive to Suntec city and presents an affordable option for those seeking some of that rustic charm. Lots of character in the neighbourhood, used to be a few independent boutique outfits which have since closed down. Units facing the HDB blocks are less popular, rentals start from $1,800 per month for a two bedroom house. Places which have been rented for quite a while might look very run down especially if little maintenance has been done. Walking distance to MRT.

  The Modern

Teneriffe. My favourite townhouse development( I do love modern outfits).Possibly the largest townhouse development. Consists purely of townhouses, with almost full facilities. Along Sixth Avenue- with lots of greenery surrounding it- open concept kitchen, the funkiest bomb shelter I've encountered- one walks down a short passageway to enter the bomb shelter, directly opposite which is the toilet. Usually over 3 storeys, with the requisite dark wood that makes up the house, beautiful non-slip concrete flooring of a warm colour making up the toilet. Consistent elements of glass, wood, some steel and warm concrete. Facilities include a jacuzzi, pool, playground, water features, sauna room and gym. Landscaping around the facilities is simply gorgeous- bar by the poolside made of a black, graphite like material. Also the best communal, poolside toilets I've seen in a development bar none. Great value for money- a townhouse with about 3,000sqft up (there is little variance in square footage) goes for $7k partially furnished. Be careful which facing you decide to go for though- the construction for the viaduct leading to Holland Road is starting. 

Not the best photo to sum up the development- red slab of wall that separates the pool from the general   water features actually look a tad modernistic. Colour does not contrast well against the pool's blue though. 


Somerset area. Lower density and more exclusive townhouses. 2,800 sq ft with private garden. incredible to look at at night with the lighting surrounding the development. $8k . Not as 'modern' as Teneriffe but definitely pleasant and very charming. A welcoming feel to the place.

Oxley road. Mediterranean townhouses. Generous square footage. Gorgeous place. Complaints of tenants have been the noise from the next door neighbours... $12k



Townhouse (apartments)

A really unique development in that all the apartments in the vicinity characterised by split levels a la townhouses. Amidst lush greenery. Insist on a renovated unit- have seen some of the renovated units there, which are just amazing- from the English country manor style to a fresh modern outlook with a balcony that incorporates water features. Rental of a 2,500sq ft apartments goes for $3k. Right in the centre of town.