Da Paolo home
Wooden furniture adds a resort-like feel to the outdoor space flanking the pool of a two-storey bungalow off Dunearn Road, which belongs to Mrs Judie Scarpa and her husband Paolo of the Da Paolo gourmet deli and restaurant chain.

When Mrs Judie Scarpa, 60, and her husband Paolo, 57, of the Da Paolo gourmet deli and restaurant chain, bought their two-storey bungalow off Dunearn Road about 10 years ago, it was nothing to write home about.

In fact, Mrs Scarpa describes it as a “junkyard” of sorts, where the previous owner worked on fixing broken cars, among other things.

As daughter Francesca, 29, recalls: “It wasn’t a house that you would have wanted to have or live in. But it really was a hidden beauty.”

Indeed, stepping into the 10,000 sq ft compound now feels serene and resort- like.

Huge flowering Frangipani and Chempaka trees screen the home from the main road, while stone sculptures decorate the garden.

The interior of the house has a cosy homely feel, thanks to its warm, wooden furnishings, works of art by Balinese artist Putu Sutawijaya, original Burmese alm bowls and statues of Ganesha, the Hindu deity, and Buddhas that Mrs Scarpa collects.

Da Paolo home
Artefacts such as original Burmese alm bowls on shelves in the living room of a two-storey bungalow off Dunearn Road, which belongs to Mrs Judie Scarpa and her husband Paolo of the Da Paolo gourmet deli and restaurant chain.

The dining room opens up to a lounge area and a pool at the side of the house. There is also a coffee bar in the corner of the outdoor area.

The overall look is tasteful and understated, and a far cry from Mrs Scarpa’s frenzied days of collecting antiques and furniture from around Asia.

Da Paolo home
Statues dress up a low table near the entrance

She says: “I was going through a weird phase collecting anything that I liked. It was a decorating lesson learnt. I shouldn’t be a slave to what I was collecting.”

She still keeps an eye out for pieces when she is on holiday but buys in moderation and only when something really jumps out at her. These include sacred sculptures that she has placed around the garden, and one of a mother and baby that guards her front door.

Da Paolo home
A mother-and- baby sculpture was placed at the front door.

She bought them from an antique store in Bali four years ago. “I liked how solid they are. They are really easy to look after, as compared to paintings.”

Her style now is about making her home “feel elegant, something we can all enjoy”.

She and her husband share their home with Francesca, her French husband Guillaume Pichoir, 38, and their four-month-old son, Malo. The Scarpas also have a 24-year-old son Andrea, who does not live with them.

Da Paolo home
Mrs Judie Scarpa (second from left) lives with (from left) her husband Paolo, their daughter Francesca and grandson Malo at their two-storey bungalow off Dunearn Road.

Both their children and son-in-law work in the family business, which Mr Scarpa started in 1989.

The younger Mr Scarpa is the executive chef of Bistro Bar in Rochester Park, while his sister is the company’s head of products. Mr Pichoir heads the Da Paolo Group as its chief executive.

Da Paolo home
A modular sofa from the old apartment of Mr Guillaume Pichoir now takes pride of place in this section of the home.

To make Mr Pichoir feel at home when he moved in early last year, the Scarpas moved their furniture around and let him incorporate some of his own from his old apartment in the East Coast, such as a modular sofa, an entertainment system and some dining chairs.

Mrs Scarpa says: “It’s nice to combine his style as well. After all, he lives here now, so it’s important to us that he feels that it’s his home too.”

Written by Natasha Ann Zachariah for The Straits Times. Photos: The Straits Times. This article was first published in 2013.