|  Student/Staff Log-in

In Crusoe’s Footsteps: Mark Phooi’s four-storey home feels very much like a huge tree house

In Crusoe’s Footsteps: Mark Phooi’s four-storey home feels very much like a huge tree house

Cheah Ui-Hoon

The Business Times

May 09, 2009



In Crusoe’s footsteps


Mark Phooi’s four-storey home feels very much like a huge tree house. BY all accounts, house-hunting is many a Singaporean’s favourite past-time – scouring through the classified advertisements, going for property launches and so on. It’s certainly one of the best ways to get a good buy. Just ask Mark Phooi, a self-confessed house-hunting junkie, who moved into his home in Binjai Park recently.


The house he bought in 2007 counts as one of his good buys, an on-the-spot decision he authorized through his son, since he was overseas at that time. ‘My eldest son was the one who viewed the house and his verdict was that it had a lot of room to play with. So since we had been house-hunting for a while, I could trust him and asked him to make a down payment for it,’ says the 46-year-old CEO of First Media, which owns several design companies and design schools.


It’s a good thing his wife and three sons – aged 20, 16 and 12 – share his enthusiasm for house-hunting, as many weekends have been spent checking out real estate. In fact, his eldest son’s ‘taste’ is better than his, says Mr Phooi.


‘House-hunting has become something of a hobby. It’s also a way to educate my sons on property prices, land size, design and so on, to inculcate this kind of knowledge in them,’ says the former swimming coach.


It took a year to find the Binjai Park house – the fifth the family has stayed in. Mrs Elisa Phooi hopes it will be the last. If not, she hopes the family will at least stay longer than five years, which is the average time they lived in previous houses. As far as a final move goes, the Phoois certainly have good reason to settle down comfortably at their Sian Tuan Avenue home.


Being in design himself, Mr Phooi totally reconfigured the layout of the house and determined the decor. ‘It had quite a straightforward kind of boring layout before,’ he explains. What he has done is as good as any architect – if not better.


He has created a tropically sensible four-storey dwelling that feels very much like a huge tree house, with the way almost every corner and wall has been converted into wood-framed windows that are kept open to capture the breeze. There are also small open balconies on different levels skirting the facade of the house, where seats or plants have been placed to create an outdoor, resort feel.


When you enter the house at street level, you go through the garage and the ‘basement’, which contains a sound room and an adjoining family entertainment room, before walking upstairs to the main living area.


The built-up area of the house is more than 5,000 sq ft, with the second level being an open concept – the kitchen and dining room lead right out to a garden-on-the-roof.


Because Mr Phooi’s house is also on slightly higher ground than the row of houses opposite, the view from the living room is of rooftops and trees.


Each of the boys has his own ‘personalised’ style, such as a loft in one room, and an outdoor attached bathroom in another. Almost all of the rooms have a balcony with a wooden deck, and on the top of the fourth storey is a ‘watch tower’ for a spot of star-gazing if anyone in the family so wishes.


Fortunately, their neighbour behind lives in a good class bungalow with thousands of square feet of green land, so even though the Phoois have neighbours on both sides, their view at the back of the house is forest-like with fruiting trees.


The house is a vast change from their previous one on Lornie Road, says Mr Phooi. ‘After they widened the road, there is just so much more traffic. And we couldn’t ever open the windows because of the dust and noise.’


Although some families would move their furniture with them to a new house, not so for Mr Phooi, who prefers to give away his old furniture and start afresh. ‘It’s an expensive affair,’ he chuckles, but adds that it’s good to rejuvenate one’s living environment every so often.


This time around he’s gone for a contemporary classic look, and the items that set the tone for it are modern classics from up-scale Baker Furniture.


The white fabric sofa set with hand-tufted buttons blends nicely into the resort-like setting, although one wouldn’t have thought so. Even accents like a pair of Queen Anne armchairs – from Baker’s Stately replica range – sit quite regally, with the garden behind.


‘It was the starburst mirror at Baker that first caught my eye,’ says Mr Phooi, although he was clearly persuaded to extend his decor to the living room set and more.


He kept a few pieces from the previous house, such as an antique Indian table. Decorative antique accents throughout the house also include knick-knacks from overseas – a pair of wooden skis from Geneva, for example, and an old saxophone mounted on the wall.


Asian elements include an old Tibetan mail holder and a Burmese opium pipe, which he has also framed.


He also has a collection of antiques and collectibles like these at his design schools on Keong Saik Road and in Jakarta, he reveals. ‘It’s good for the students . . . to give them a sense of history.’


The schools are a new addition to his company, which he started from scratch while coaching swimming for almost 10 years. Swimming was his first love in fact, ever since he was a sea scout from the age of nine or 10. After he finished national service, he took up coaching under the late national swimming coach Kee Soon Bee.


After that, he taught on his own, and at the height of his teaching life, had 200 students learning how to swim.


But knowing this wasn’t going to be a viable long-term career, Mr Phooi had concurrently studied for a diploma in graphic design at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.


‘After I graduated, I immediately began a part-time postgraduate programme in management studies, and also started Lancer Design Services, working from home,’ he recalls.


Soon, he had 12 studios specializing in different design disciplines and related markets, and First Media was incorporated in 2002 as a holding company.


The Enterprise 50 Startup Award winner (2005) and Top Entrepreneur of the Year Award winner (2006) has now come full circle and returned to his first love – coaching. ‘To me, that’s what teaching design management in the design schools is about – and many of my ‘students’ have become successful business owners in their own right,’ he says. You look around for the lap pool in the Phooi house, but only see one for the koi. ‘It’s a case of being jelak already,’ Mr Phooi says with a mental shudder, using the Malay term to indicate swimming was an activity over-done in his salad days.


These days he hardly hits the water any more, preferring instead to participate in land-based activities like golf.


Mr Phooi has sure come a long way from the days he would make his students do laps in the swimming pool, having designed his own career as successfully as this house.


Click here to view the source of article

46 thoughts on “In Crusoe’s Footsteps: Mark Phooi’s four-storey home feels very much like a huge tree house

  1. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to say that I have truly enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. Thanks and keep up the great work!

  2. Ꮋi there! Quick question that’s comрletely off topic.
    Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My blog looks weird when viewing from my appⅼe iphone.

    I’m trying to find a template or plugin that might be
    able to cօrrect this pr᧐blem. If you have any recommendations, pleaѕe share.

    Thank you!

  3. Hello! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a collection of
    volunteers and starting a neew initiative in a community in the
    same niche. Your blog provide us useful
    information to ork on. You have done a extraordinary job!

  4. I’m amazed, I have to admit. Seldom do I encounter a
    blog that’s both educative and interesting,
    and without a doubt, you’ve hit the nail on the head.
    The issue is something too few men and women are speaking intelligently about.
    Now i’m very happy that I found this in my search for something relating to this.

  5. I’ve been surfing online greater than 3 hours lately, but I by no means found
    any interesting article like yours. It is lovely price sufficient for me.
    In my opinion, if all website owners and bloggers made good content as you probably did, the net will
    be much more helpful than ever before.

  6. Good day I am so glad I found your webpage, I
    really found you by error, while I was browsing on Yahoo for
    something else, Anyhow I am here now and would just like to say
    cheers for a tremendous post and a all round interesting blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have
    time to look over itt all at the minute but I have book-marked it and also added in your RSS
    feeds, so when I have time I wiull be back to read
    a great deal more, Please do keep up the superb work.

  7. Wonderful ցoods fгom yoս, man. I havе understand үour
    stuff рrevious to and you are just too magnificent.
    Ӏ actuɑlly like wһat you have acquired heге, really
    likе what үօu’rе sayіng and thе way іn wһich you say іt.
    You maкe it entertaining and yoս stilⅼ take care of to keeρ іt smart.
    І can not wait to read far more from you. This is aϲtually a
    tremendous website.

  8. Just desire to say your article is as astonishing. The clearness in your post
    is just excellent and i could assume you are an expert on this subject.
    Well with your permission let me to grab your feed to keep updated with forthcoming post.
    Thanks a million and please continue the gratifying work.

  9. Wonderful blog! I found it while searching on Yahoo News.
    Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo News?
    I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there!
    Thank you

  10. You made some good points there. I looked on the
    web to learn more about the issue and found most individuals will go along
    with your views on this site.

  11. What’s up, every time i used to check web site posts here
    in the early hours in the daylight, as i like to gain knowledge of more and more.

  12. Hello, Neat post. There is a problem along with your web site in internet explorer, would test this?
    IE still is the marketplace leader and a huge portion of people will pass over your great writing due to this problem.

  13. Interesting blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere?
    A design like yours with a few simple adjustements would really make my blog shine.

    Please let me know where you got your design. Bless you

    1. Hi. We are in the midst of revamping our website. I will manually subscribe you to our EDMs for now for promotional updates as well as newsletters. Thanks!

  14. I absolutely love your blog and find nearly all of your post’s to be exactly what I’m looking for.
    Would you offer guest writers to write content to
    suit your needs? I wouldn’t mind producing a post or elaborating on most of the subjects you write regarding here.
    Again, awesome site!

  15. Thanks for any other excellent post. Where else could anyone get
    that kind of information in such a perfect approach of writing?
    I have a presentation subsequent week, and I am on the search for such info.

    1. Hi. We are in the midst of revamping our website. I will manually subscribe you to our EDMs for now for promotional updates as well as newsletters. Thanks!

  16. Somebody essentially help to make critically articles I’d state.
    This is the very first time I frequented your website page and
    so far? I surprised with the analysis you made to create this
    particular post incredible. Wonderful process!

  17. Hey there I am so happy I found your site, I really found you by mistake, while I was
    browsing on Digg for something else, Nonetheless I am here now and would just like
    to say thanks a lot for a remarkable post and a all
    round entertaining blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have
    time to go through it all at the moment but I have book-marked it and also added your RSS
    feeds, so when I have time I will be back to
    read a great deal more, Please do keep up the awesome b.

  18. Pretty section of content. I just stumbled upon your web
    site and in accession capital to assert that I acquire in fact enjoyed
    account your blog posts. Anyway I will be subscribing to your augment
    and even I achievement you access consistently quickly.

  19. I like the valuable info you provide in your articles.
    I’ll bookmark your weblog and check again here frequently.
    I’m quite sure I will learn many new stuff right here!

    Best of luck for the next!

  20. It’s appropriate time to make some plans for the future and it is time to
    be happy. I have read this post and if I could I wish to suggest you few interesting things or tips.
    Maybe you could write next articles referring to this article.
    I want to read even more things about it!

    1. Hi! We are currently in the midst of revamping our website. I would manually include your email in our email subscription to receive updates about our promotions and newsletters. Cheers!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *