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Maddy Barber reveals her completed Phuket tropical villa with pool and 'Lee Kuan Yew' plant

Maddy Barber reveals her completed Phuket tropical villa with pool and 'Lee Kuan Yew' plant
PHOTO: Maddy Barber

She wanted a place to escape to and relax. A year after putting her dreams into action, Maddy Barber's family home in Thailand is finally completed.

The 50-year-old entrepreneur and former radio DJ is married to Wez Barber and they have two daughters, Elizabeth and Alicia. She currently runs her own bespoke jewellery business Madly.

"We received the house about a month and a half ago. It was a really nice feeling, I feel very happy. It's exactly what I envisioned it to be and I'm still in the process of making it look like a home," she told AsiaOne in a recent interview.

Located somewhere in the "central to north" part of Phuket, the four-bedroom villa with a pool is what Maddy likes to call a "beach house".

"We are near the beach, we're just not on the beach which to me is the happy medium because you're away from the hustle and bustle but at the same time, the beach is just like 10 minutes down the road," she explained.

She added that there are multiple beaches about five to 10 minutes away - Nai Thon, Nai Harn, Surin and Layan beaches to name a few.

The villa, located further up the hills, is surrounded by forested area and the colour palette of its interior reflects the picturesque sceneries.

Wooden accents can be seen throughout the home, from the kitchen to the living room and even the bedrooms, which was a deliberate choice to get that "tropical villa" feel.

Maddy also shared that they used the colours of nature - green like the forested area near the home and blue like the ocean.

"The only thing I didn't want was dark wood… I didn't want the house to look very dark. It was really important that it was a bright sunny house, but the wood warms it up," said Maddy.

Her favourite space is the kitchen-to-living area, where she does her work often.

"I love doing work there. If I'm not careful, I could end up sitting there all day doing work and it doesn't feel like work," she laughed.

Forest-green cabinets line the kitchen walls, contrasting against white countertops and the wooden island.

A long teak dining table stretches across the living room, accompanied with a long bench and three grey chairs.

"My husband has always wanted one of those natural, organic tables where it's really one piece of wood. This table is really just one giant slab of teak that he's always wanted," she shared.

The villa houses two master bedrooms and two guest rooms. Maddy and Wez use one of the former as a "permanent room" while the remaining three rooms are for the guests.

"We have a designated master bedroom but for family and guests, they can all try different rooms. When Alicia was here last time, she was in one room, and then another room. She's tried all the rooms," Maddy said.

Similar to the rest of the home, the rooms are decorated with wooden furniture and floor-to-ceiling windows.

In the master bedroom, there is a pool view and a TV area where Maddy goes when she wants to "escape people".


"The master is permanent because all my things are here and the great part is now I don't actually have to take a suitcase when I come here. If I want to come here, I could come with an empty suitcase," she added.

Despite this, she still travels with a full luggage each time as she is bringing things over from Singapore.

"I always come with a full suitcase that's padded with cloth because I'm bringing pots and pans that I don't use anymore," she laughed.

"It's so nice to be able to bring it here and put them to good use rather than waste them and let them sit in the cupboard."

If you think the villa can't get fancier, the bathrooms are equally luxurious.

The guest bathroom, akin to ones you'd see in hotels, is complete with a large bathtub, separated from the shower area with tiled floors.

A tall potted plant stands in the corner behind glass walls, maintaining the tropical theme.

The master bath, though, gets a prettier view of the outdoor garden.

We asked her for the inspiration behind the design of the villa, and Maddy shared how she's always loved the Balinese- and Thai-style tropical garden she frequently sees in hotels.

The "little things" however, were inspired by her late father: "When we travelled, and when we stayed in a hotel, he would always walk in the beautiful grounds of the gardens observing the trees and plants and he would talk to me about it.

"I remember he loved heliconia - I can't remember if it was that or the bird of paradise - he always told me it grows very easily… It's one of those plants you can grow if nothing else grows so I think I have some in the garden."


A post shared by Maddy Barber (@maddybarber)

Another inspiration Maddy had behind the villa were Sri Lankan colonial houses.

"I have all these books on black-and-white houses and also on architecture such as houses in Sri Lanka, because it's one of my favourite countries in the world," she said.

According to her, a lot of the colonial houses in Sri Lanka have frangipanis: "In Sri Lanka, it's called the Araliya tree and it's very symbolic, so I think the design of the villa was influenced by that as well."

Frangipani trees were planted in the villa's garden, located next to the pool, and Maddy told us she also had "Lee Kuan Yew" plants on the rooftop that would eventually hang over the exterior of the home.

The "Lee Kuan Yew", more commonly known as a curtain creeper, looks just like its name suggests. When fully grown, the vines of the plant dangle like curtains. The nickname after Singapore's founding father came after buildings from his 1967 Garden City project were decorated with these plants.

"Locals call it the 'Lee Kuan Yew' but I think in a very nice way because he was known to love plants and greenery," she explained.

'First-world problems'

Though the home turned out to be what she envisioned it to look like, Maddy admitted that there were some mishaps during the construction process.

"It was all first-world problems," she joked, adding: "Initially for the master bedroom, the skirting was not the same colour as the flooring… They (the contractors) basically had to take out all the wood from the floor and then redo it so that they match."

She was also supposed to have an outdoor shower in the garden where she could rinse off before going in the pool, but the contractors "totally forgot about it".

We asked if she would build in the shower one day and she shrugged: "Whether it's a house, a piece of jewellery… sometimes you must allow things to be the way they are or allow fate to be the way it is. I truly am a firm believer of that."


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