EDITOR’SNOTE I have been careful during this COVID-19 period to keep it out of my editor’s letter. It was everywhere else, so I thought you might need a break from it. But, now that there’s a slight turn for the better, I don’t want to gloss over it either. There’s obviously the impact on those of us who aren’t able to see children and parents, or go to weddings and funerals; others have lost their jobs. Even greater, though, is the impact on the thousands who aren’t able to feed their families. Many of them are literally across the water from us, in places where a month of food for a family costs around $50 – yet they don’t even have that little amount coming in as tourism has dried up. There are a lot of people doing some great work in helping to feed people in Singapore and further afield. This, I feel, is the basic need we should be focusing on. And I wanted to especially thank those who are doing their bit – you know who you are. Many other things will have changed over this period, so we thought it was a good time to do a short Reader Survey! We’re keen to see if rentals have gone up, for instance, and how the demographics of our readers might have changed; it’ll help us to work out what content we should introduce to match these changes. We know a lot of Singaporean expats have returned from overseas postings, for one thing, and we want to make sure we help you settle back in! So, please go online to or turn to page 18 for entry details. It’s only a short survey and, as always, you’ll get a chance to win great prizes! And let’s all start wishing and hoping for further light at the end of that tunnel.

REBECCA BISSET Editor-in-Chief

There are staycations and other great prizes to win as part of our Reader Survey. See page 18 for more details!



Editor-in-Chief REBECCA BISSET



CONTACT US Call or WhatsApp: +65 9112 0652

General Enquiries: Advertising Sales: Subscription: Production: Editorial & Media Releases: Calendar of Events: Events: Websites: | Printed by Times Printers Pte Ltd ( Published by Expat Living Publications Pte Ltd 36 Carpenter Street, #02-01 Carpenter Haus, Singapore 059915

Olivier Burlot ’ s Home by Delon Ho




NEWS 18 Enter our Reader Survey and win great prizes! 20 What’s on in Singapore, plus our upcoming EL events 22 Having your say in our Letters page HOME & PROPERTY 26 New furniture finds and store updates 28 Home Showcase: A two- storey penthouse full of pop art and antiques 36 Our buying guide for setting up your home office 42 WFH furniture recommendations from readers 44 Dipa Swaminathan’s Bukit Timah abode 50 Breathe new life into your walls with art! 52 Street Talk: A guide to living in Katong 55 Why you should switch to organic bedding

44 A home full of colour

LIFE & FAMILY 60 The latest for parents and kids in Singapore 63 Noticeboard: Furry friends up for adoption 64 Inside the Swiss Association of Singapore 65 A new face at Nexus International 66 Are you struggling with parental guilt? 70 Top TV and book recommendations 72 Walking back in time at Dempsey Hill 74 Long-term Expats: When three years turns to 30!

36 Home office finds

76 Leasing a car in Singapore

76 What our readers like about leasing a car 78 The Singapore Pages: Explore the island!




94 Need a

new view?

WINE & DINE 86 Foodie news, restaurant updates and more 90 Must-try Italian restaurants and wines 94 Venues for enjoying a cocktail in the clouds 96 Recipe Corner: Add these to your repertoire! 98 A home water dispenser with pure spring water TRAVEL 102 Travel planning inspiration and hotel news 104 A dinner with a difference at Night Safari 106 The world’s most gorgeous gardens 107 Capella Singapore gets a new look

90 Italian eats




Pretty picks for a girls’ day out 118


Jazzy jewellery

STYLE & BEAUTY 112 Fashion news and advice 114 Local designers showcase 118 Jazzy jewellery for special occasions! 122 The latest beauty trends and launches 124 We chat with beauty expert Samina Malik 126 Three treatments for fighting the frizz 128 Where to go to tackle hair loss 130 Seven anti-ageing treatments to consider 134 Tried & Tested: Reviews of wrinkle-busting creams HEALTH & FITNESS 140 Medical updates and health tips from experts 143 How to avoid common cycling injuries 144 Home workouts, from Zoom classes to in- person Pilates 148 Health symptoms you should never ignore


Yoga, Pilates and home workouts

REGULARS 156 Find out what’s in the stars in our August Horoscopes 158 Important contacts and this month’s advertisers 160 Parting Shot: A soft landing in Singapore



We want to get to know you better and understand how living in Singapore has changed for our readers over the last year. Your input will also help us provide you with the best content to make the most out of living in Singapore. By taking part in our short survey, you’ll stand a chance of winning one of these amazing prizes! * Plus , we’re giving away a complimentary six-month print or digital subscription to thank you for your time. SURVEY 2021 WIN ONE OF THESE AMAZING PRIZES!

Survey ends 31 August 2021

*Your subscription will start with the October issue. If you are already a subscriber, the free subscription will start after your current one ends.

7 fab prizes to give away!


Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa

• A luxurious 2-night staycation for two, with breakfast included • 2 sets of Weekend Brunch vouchers for two • 2 sets of Spa Day vouchers for two



• A 2-night weekend staycation in an Ocean View Room • A 2-night weekend staycation in a Marina Bay View Room Includes breakfast for two people

For more details, scan the QR code or visit:

Terms and conditions for each prize can be found on our website. Winners will be notified in September 2021. This survey is open to readers living in Singapore only.



Sundaram Tagore Summer 2021 (UNTIL 21 AUG) Sundaram Tagore at Gillman Barracks showcases selected works by acclaimed artists and photographers. Highlights include the work of Chun Kwang Young, who painstakingly wraps thousands of foam forms in hand- tinted antique mulberry paper, and the stunning waterfalls of Hiroshi Senju, made by mixing pigments from ground stone and coral using an ancient technique. Something New Must Turn Up (UNTIL 22 AUG) Featuring over 300 artworks and 100 archival materials and objects, this exhibition provides a rich visual experience of six Singaporean artists from the post-independence period. Find out how they pushed the envelope to contribute significantly to the development of the new nation’s modern art scene.

Routes: Exploration of Traditional Dance in Singapore (UNTIL 12 SEP) Routes unpacks local Chinese, Malay and Indian traditional dance practices, with visitors given the chance to hear from six anchor artists – Santha Bhaskar, Som Said, Lim Moi Kim, Cai Shiji, Raka Maitra, and Noramin Farid. There’ll also be first-person accounts on the continuity of traditional dance. Stamford Arts Centre.

“Be a Little Fashionista” Heritage Hunt (UNTIL 19 NOV)

This great game for kids involves scanning a QR code in the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall to join Xiao Qing on an exciting heritage hunt. Play the role of the little fashionista as you navigate digital activities and discover Chinese fashion from the past. This complimentary activity includes an exclusive prize for completing the hunt. Modern Women of The Republic (UNTIL 12 DEC) Featured in our Singapore Pages last month, this exhibition displays over 90 artefacts and archival photographs from China and Singapore from the late 1800s to 1970s, a period when women’s roles and lifestyles saw the most drastic changes. Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall. Virtual Realms: Videogames Transformed (UNTIL 9 JAN 2022) This multi-sensorial exhibition at the ArtScience Museum reimagines video games as a 21st-century artform. Visitors are invited to venture into six virtual realms – Synthesia, Unity, Connection, Play, Narrative, Everything – for a journey


of light, music and play in a series of large-scale immersive installations

Virtual Realms

Something New Must Turn Up

Photo: Marina Bay Sands




Don’tmissourmonthly events! Register at

5 AUG 5.30pm 13 AUG 10am 24 AUG 9am 25 AUG 6.30pm

Virtual Gin & Cocktail-making Masterclass


Hormone Replacement Therapy 101 with Dr June Tan Sheren

Sungei Buloh Wetland ReserveWalk in partnership with MDIS

FA S H I O N • J E W E L L E R Y • I N T E R I O R SecretGardenParty

More from our partners...

24 AUG 10am

How tobe aLinkedInRockstar

Masterclass with American Association and Chris J. Reed

21 AUGUST2021


BEST LETTER We want to hear from you! Send us your thoughts on the magazine, or on any subject

under the sun. The writer of our best letter receives a Bamboo Candle and Diffuser set, worth $168 from Temple Candles ( ).

Helpful Talk Thank you to Susan from EL for organising the talk on menopause. I learnt a lot, and the fact that a big group of women joined the Zoom talk says a great deal! Also, a big thank you to Dr Daly, who explained everything there is

Amazing World Record Dear Expat Living, I’m writing to say a massive thanks! After being featured in EL in January 2021 (“Breaking a World Record in Singapore”), I have the pleasure to let you know that I’m now a new world record holder. On 8 May, I finished a distance of 7519.67km, claiming the record for the Longest Triathlon! I can’t thank Expat Living and the EL community enough for the support and faith you had in me. Most people didn’t believe me when I spoke about what I was attempting. I mean, who would? There aren’t many people who run 1450km in a month, and it certainly takes a passionate, active cyclist to cycle 5850km over a year. So you can imagine how people were sceptical when I said I did it in two months. EL helped me all the way – how great to have faith in one another in this troubled world! If anyone wants to follow the aftermath of the Longest Triathlon, please visit my socials @gwrlongesttriathlon. All the best.

to know about the topic. Keep up with the good work you’re doing!

Sofie Huysmans

Ed: Thanks for the feedback. We’ve got lots more interesting talks coming up too!

Cover Query Hello, just one little word to tell you that I love your magazine! I do prefer the online version, though, as it’s more eco-friendly. Can I suggest for the print magazine that you get rid of the plastic wrap? It’s really bad for the environment; even here in Singapore, plastic isn’t completely recycled.

Fabienne Jautard

Adrian Bennett

Ed: Hi Fabienne; unfortunately, we have to use the recycled plastic covers on the subscription copies otherwise they get wet and damaged in mailboxes. But thank you for your lovely comments!

Ed: We are in awe – I probably don’t walk that much in a whole year! A huge congratulations from us.

Email us at




36 Buying Guide: Desks and other

pieces for sprucing your work-from- home area


28 Home Showcase: We go inside a two-storey penthouse

50 Wall Candy: Breathe new life into your space with art!

52 Street Talk: What it’s like living in Tanjong Katong


WHAT’S NEW If you have an eye for beautiful Italian designer furniture, W. Atelier’s 300-square-metre flagship showroomon Henderson Road is a great place to fuel that interest. The store has partnered with high-end Italian design company Cassina to create The Cassina Perspective, an area which takes up the entire ground floor and showcases the brand’s range of living, dining and outdoor furniture in a variety of home settings. Visit the showroom at 201 Henderson Road, #01-01 & #03-01 . ItalianDesigns

Alfresco Rugs If you’ve been hankering after a gorgeously designed outdoor rug, The Cinnamon Room has just what you need. The store recently added a collection of soft PET yarn sustainable outdoor rugs and bathmats, made from 100 percent recycled plastic. These gorgeous eco-friendly pieces are loom-woven and hand-finished by skilled artisans using traditional techniques. They are practical, sustainable and come in a variety of colours and sizes. See them in person at 43 Jalan Merah Saga, #02-74 , or online at .

Helping Hands Moving from one property to another is stressful enough without having to worry about a post-move clean to keep the landlord happy. Helpling provides cleaning for moves in and out, post-renovation, and spring cleaning. Their cleaners will help make your property look as good as new, taking some of the anxiety out of the handover. (They’re not four-time winners of Best Home Cleaning Services in the Expat Living Readers’ Choice Awards for nothing!) Head to to book a session.




AWARD-WINNING DESIGNS Elliot James Interiors has won the award for Best Luxury Architect and Luxury Interior Design Studio in the Luxury Lifestyle Awards. The Singapore and London-based interior design firm was founded by Elliot James Barratt in 2012 and has spearheaded some iconic local and regional projects. These include Cuscaden One and Cuscaden Two, as well as residential homes in the luxurious South Beach Residences. Go to to check out the full portfolio of work.

Managing Memories Are you feeling overwhelmed by all your digital photos? If so, check out Sort Your Photos, a new brand set up by Sarah and Bo from Tekkie Help. This is a comprehensive “self-serve” online training course aimed at bringing order to your digital photos using a seven-step framework. The course aims to take you from chaos to organised – and they promise you won’t get overwhelmed by the tech! While the current focus of the course is on Mac computers, theyre working to launch one for Windows users as well. Special offer: Expat Living readers can grab a discount by s i gn i ng up us i ng the coupon code “earlybird”. Visit for more information.

Furniture Finds Visitors are always spoi lt for choice at antiques and reproduction furniture store Just Anthony. Now, with a recent shipment arriving, there are even more products to choose f rom. Owner Danielle Lee promises even more interesting antique furniture, on top of a wide variety of stone and ceramic accessories. Pay a visit to 379 Upper Payar Lebar Road .

Online Offering Robinsons’ online department store launched recently, with more than 200 brands available to shoppers. Products available at a click of a mouse include the luxury home fragrance Baobab Collection from Belgium, plus high- quality Canningvale bed linen and towels, and scented candles fromAustralia. Start browsing at .

27 AUGUST2021

After growing up in North Africa and studying in Paris, French expat Olivier moved to Hong Kong in the 1990s for work. He then came to Singapore in 2013 to set up the headquarters of his company, Heart Media. Today, his extensive publications and websites include WOW, L’Officiel, Men’s Folio, LUXUO, Palace and Yacht Style. Overall, he has spent 27 years in the region and his collection of artefacts and artwork are testimony to this; they reflect his experiences of living in Asia. His home décor is full of opposites: modern and antique, red and white, and pop art pieces on love and war. All against the backdrop of a modern penthouse at Robertson Quay. You bought your apartment here at Watermark. Tell us about that decision-making process. I looked at close to 25 apartments. I was keen on a penthouse, and the two-level concept – one level for socialising and parties, and a higher one for private moments – really suited me. The size – this one is 2,100 square feet including the balconies – plus the height of the ceilings atWatermark and the private lift were big selling points too. I loved the large terraces off the living areas and bedrooms. They allow for lots of greenery and nature and an indoor/outdoor living theme, even though we’re on the 10th and 11th floors. Finally, the river neighbourhood was a decisive factor. And I’ve seen how amazing and well thought out the transformation of Robertson Quay has been over the past eight years. We talk to fellow publisher OLIVIER BURLOT about his property, his home décor choices and recommendations for living in Singapore.





29 AUGUST2021

Mary, who moved here with me from Hong Kong (so knows me very well), has done a great job in creating and nurturing this little outdoor oasis. The greenery across the condo adds a touch of freshness and nature that is highly appreciated when evening comes and it’s time for drinks and tapas al fresco! Is there one artwork that you particularly love? The painting by Chok Yue Zan in the dining space. He’s a young contemporary artist living in Sabah, Malaysia, who is depicting personal memories of a vanishing rainforest. (Sabah is a victim of over-logging.) I also like the painting by Naufal Abshar in the friends’ bedroom (downstairs). He’s a fast-rising artist who uses plenty of wit and humour when depicting social issues in modern Indonesia. To finish, a special mention should go to the Shi Li Feng painting hanging above the bed in the master bedroom; it’s the exact painting that was used by Guns & Roses on the cover of their album Chinese Democracy (2008). A rather strong reminder that people will rebel when crushed too hard. What about a favourite antique? Yes, the 12th-century standing Buddha in the living room. I purchased it in 1998 in a small village north of Beijing. It was lying on the floor of the shop, covered in dust, with one of its hands broken. The price tag was close to nothing. The imperfections of the statue and its naive features (the size of the feet don’t match the overall size of the statue, for instance) make it a highly personal piece.

What changes or renovations did you make? I took down many of the built-in cabinets to give the apartment more of a lofty feel. The curtains were removed to open it all up to the natural “blinds” of the foliage. The front door leading to the private lift was removed, as was the wall and door to the second bedroom upstairs; this is now an open-plan home-office area. I also replaced the wall behind the bar counter with Perspex to allow more light and visibility. The glassed dining room was initially part of the L-shaped outdoor terrace; it’s now perfect for entertaining – rain or shine! Your mix of antique and contemporary is key to your home décor; what is it about this mix that you love? Plenty of the artworks are related to Asia. And I like the idea of art as a perpetual reinvention; I love the antique pieces – many of which are Buddhist-related – for the inner peace they project, and the more modern paintings and artworks for their wit and the appropriation of pop culture by contemporary Asian artists. Another key focus of the apartment to me is the light and openness, and the greenery. With the bamboo and plants, it doesn’t feel like a condo. That was the point – avoiding a “box” feel, and transforming a rather conventional penthouse into a more vibrant and fun place. Every room provides visual surprises and inviting perspectives. My helper

Above: Painting by Chok Yue Zan; a Chinese mandarin’s head from the Tang Dynasty; chairs by Kartell. Next page: Large artwork by Liu Chunghai; “Marguerite” sofa chairs by Roche Bobois; a 14th-century Chinese stele. A Sumo sculpture by Bangkok-based French artist Arnaud Nazare- Aga displayed on an Ora-ïto- designed table by Christofle. religious wooden totems from the Chin minority lead to the terrace. A pair of Burmese




The large terraces allow for lots of greenery and an indoor/outdoor

living theme, even though we’re on the 10th and 11th floors.

31 AUGUST2021

Top Left: A large painting

by Chinese artist Shi Li Feng hangs over the bed; bedding by European Bedding. Left: The built-in jacuzzi in the master bedroom.




There are plenty of opposites in colour and style in the home accents and ornaments; talk us through some of your choices. Red is a colour very present in the Chinese world, with all its values and mystique attached. There are many patches of red here, which bring back plenty of special memories of travels and enlightenment when visiting temples and palaces across Asia. I also like silver as a material and have been collecting artefacts by French silversmith Christofle for the past 20 years. Red, white, silver and also blond wood – these are some of the main features and colours you’ll find throughout the apartment. Where’s the first place you’re going to travel to when we can? Aside from Brittany in France where my parents reside, I’m a huge lover of Bali as well as Koh Samui. So let’s see which flights resume first!

Left: Burmese Buddha head dating back to the 19th century displayed on an antique Chinese cabinet bought in Macau. Below: The large painting in the guest room is by Indonesian contemporary artist Naufal Abshar.

33 AUGUST2021


Olivier’s Recommendations

Furniture & Tableware XTRA | 6336 0688 |

SPACE | 6415 0000 | Christofle | 6733 7257 | Daum | 6100 2312 | Baccarat | 6835 1252 | Plants Far East Flora | 555 Thomson Road Hawaii Landscape | 559 Thomson Road Art Galleries Art Porters Gallery | REDSEA Gallery | Opera Gallery | Restaurants Limoncello (“great for casual evenings”) 95 Robertson Quay, #01-19/20 Merci Marcel (“weekday evenings”) 56 Eng Hoon Street, Tiong Bahru Bar-Roque Grill (“great for lunch”) 165 Tanjong Pagar Road, #01-00 OSO Ristorante (“lunch and dinner, always perfect!”) Oasia Hotel, 100 Peck Seah Street Chinoiserie by Justin Quek #B-15 The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands JAAN by Kirk Westaway (“for more formal dining”) Level 70, Hotel Swissôtel The Stamford Bars The Lantern | The Fullerton Bay Hotel The Cooperage Whisky Bar 42 Hong Kong Street Maison Ikkoku (“for cocktails”) 20 Kandahar Street Bar Rouge (“for the view”) Fairmont Singapore

Perfume Maison 21G | 77 Duxton Road

Aesthetics & Wellness Dr Rohan Mendis | Mandarin Gallery Dr Calvin Chan | Wheelock Place




Home office space feeling a little lacklustre? It could be time to mix up your décor to boost efficiency and creativity during your 9-to-5. From sleek desks to cool wallpaper and snazzy lighting, we round up the latest finds to add oomph to your work environment.







4 5


1 Interior Styling and Accessories by Arete Culture 2 Dupont wallcoverings by Innovations, Altfield Interiors 3 Ben armchair, $1,861, WTP The Furniture Company 4 Bodhi wallcoverings by Innovations, Altfield Interiors 5 Simplicity ladder desk in teak, $995, Soul & Tables 6 Steg bookcase, $1,733, Gallery 278 7 Bayquest writing desk in walnut wood and synthetic leather worktop, $909, Black & Walnut

37 AUGUST2021







8 Fatboy wireless, touch-activated table lamp with 3 light settings, $185, House of AnLi 9 River City canvas print by Deborah McKellar of Talking Textiles, $1,800, The Cinnamon Room 10 Nuez desk in oak, $1,680, and Merel table lamp, $260, Originals 11 Hattan peelable patchwork wallpaper, $48 (6 sheets, 45x45cm each), Honpo 12 Lowanu desk in sustainable mango wood, $595, Island Living 13 Floating shelf, price on request, Gallery 278









14 Blackbird desk in oak, $1,470, Soul & Tables 15 Late 19th-century black lacquer book cabinet in elm wood from Shanxi Province, $1,900, China Collection 16 Zigzag bookshelf in teak, price on request, Woody Antique 17 Bayview writing desk in walnut wood and synthetic leather worktop, $2,099, Black & Walnut 18 Sellergren chair in teak, available in two finishes, $820, Nestify 19 Stenson floor lamp in Gmelina wood, $1,395, House of AnLi


39 AUGUST2021



22 23


20 Early 20th-century Shanxi Province artist table and late 19th-century chair, both in elm wood, price on request, China Collection 21 Chenille cotton dhurrie rug (1.8m x 2.75m), $1,350, and cowhide cushion covers, $120 each, The Cinnamon Room 22 Lowanu filling cabinet in sustainable mango wood, $459, Island Living 23 Writing desk and chair in jichimu (commonly known as chicken-wing wood) with marble detailing, price on request, Just Anthony 24 Bamboo and loft window wallpaper by Koziel, 210cm x 65cm, $137, Honpo 25 Hikaru bookshelf in teak, price on request, WTP The Furniture Company 26 Study desk in teak, price on request, Woody Antique House 27 Marcello chair, $1,500, Nestify 28 Rack Z shelves in oak, $2,420, Originals 29 Dojo wallcovering by Innovations, price on request, Honpo








Altfield Interiors 1 Magazine Road Central Mall Office Tower #07-10 6909 2768 | Arete Culture #06-01 Tan Boon Liat Building, 315 Outram Road Black & Walnut

43 Keppel Road, #W1-01/02/03 6781 3201 | China Collection 252 Joo Chiat Road 9858 6889 | The Cinnamon Room #02-74 Jalan Merah Saga 9727 3051 | Gallery 278



203A Henderson Road, #11-01 6737 2322 | Honpo #09-14 Proxima @ Gambas, 50 Gambas Crescent 9089 3266 | House of AnLi #02-21/22, #03-17 Tanglin Mall, 163 Tanglin Road 6235 5193 | Island Living #02-05 Henry Design Centre, 5 Eunos Ave 8A 8780 5139 | Just Anthony 2 Woking Road, #01-01 8261 4138 | Originals 1 Bukit Batok Street 22, Level 5 6471 9918 | Soul & Tables #02-03 Tan Boon Liat Building, 315 Outram Road 9272 1545 | Woody Antique House 379 Upper Paya Lebar Road 6283 4782 | Nestify

Dempsey Road, #01-05 Block 13 6471 1770 | WTP The Furniture Company 3 Kung Chong Road 6235 2760 |

41 AUGUST2021


Have you embraced the new work-from-home norm and elevated your home office with some gorgeous furniture?Maybenow is the time! These readers explain what drove them to buy their favourite office pieces. StyleYourWFH


Jason Dsouza, Singaporean

We wanted to give the office of our pet relocation company a new facelift and were on the hunt for some work tables to fill the space. While we were searching online for decent suppliers, we came across a range of good reviews of Woody Antique House at Dempsey, and these reviews turned out to correspond well with the quality of their products. We ended up purchasing an elm wood work table in brown and black. The design is perfect, as it’s sleek and not bulky. We’re very happy with our new purchase and wouldn’t hesitate to buy more furniture from Woody Antique House, if and when the time comes.

Tanya and Geoff Alcock, Canadian We were looking for some home office furniture that was functional and well made, that looked good and fitted with our new home. Initially, I didn’t expect to be working from home as much as I am now. When we originally bought the furniture, it was really intended for use in an occasional workspace that my wife would use during the day, and I would use when home during the evenings and weekends. Our relocation advisor recommended a number of different furniture companies, and Gallery 278 was one of them. We liked the fact that their furniture was made from local solid teak wood and that it would be ready and waiting upon moving into our new apartment. Also, for anything that was not ready in time, a loaner would be provided for us to use until the purchased furniture arrived. We ended up buying a teakwood desk, as well as some bookshelves and a day bed that can be turned into a queen bed, if we have guests. We wanted something functional but that would also be non-intrusive and practical if we needed to use the room for visitors. We’re very happy with our purchases and we enjoyed working with Felicia from Gallery 278. She worked with us to furnish the condo in a way that we wanted but also allowed us to scale up or down as we got settled in and figured out what we needed and what we didn’t.

Gallery278 203 Henderson Road, #11-01/02 (Wing A) 6737 2322 | | 9232 1285 |

Woody Antique House Dempsey Road, #01-05 Block 13 6471 1770 |







Dipa Swaminathan has come a long way since moving to Singapore from India and renting the spare room of a house in Jurong. Not just the proud owner of a gorgeously eclectic home in Bukit Timah, the Harvard-educated lawyer is an assistant general counsel for SingTel and the founder of ItsRainingRaincoats (, an organisation created in 2015 to support and champion migrant workers in Singapore. Oh, and did we mention that she’s also a wife, mother of two teenage boys, and adopter of a rescue dog? With this in mind, you could forgive Dipa for not having the time to scratch her own head, let alone dedicate a nanosecond to her living space. But this is not someone who sits still for long. Greeting me with a warm and welcoming smile after her early morning walk, the 49-year-old explains how interior décor and home design has always been a personal passion, yet her skills only truly came to the fore in the past year. “Travel used to be my way to de-stress and unwind,” Dipa explains. “When the borders were closed last year, I found a new way to feel peace and relaxation through updating my home. Given the chance, I’d happily take on someone else’s home as a project for free, in return for a donation to ItsRainingRaincoats.” Multi-talented Dipa first indulged in her love of interiors in the mid- noughties, when she and husband Vish bought apartments at The Arcadia condominium to renovate. Once the hard work was completed and they’d spent some time living in the last apartment they renovated, they moved into a black-and-white house near Turf City and kept the apartment for rental. In 2016, they moved back into it and made it their home. Today, Dipa and Vish share their house with sons Vihaan (16) and Kairav (13), Dipa’s mother Janaki, helper Yati, and, of course, Ditto, the dog and official “boss” who is mostly found running away from the shower. Before the pandemic, DIPA SWAMINATHAN would travel to de-stress, but staying home has helped her to discover peace and calm through interior design.

45 AUGUST2021

You’ve owned a few apartments in The Arcadia over the years. What attracted you to this condo? In the mid-90s, I visited my then boss who lived at The Arcadia. When I first turned onto Arcadia Road (which is now a designated Heritage Road), I felt like I was in some kind of paradise – it was so peaceful, green and tranquil. We loved the feel so much that ten years later we bought an apartment next door at Hillcrest Arcadia, then eventually moved to The Arcadia. We bought, renovated and sold a couple of apartments but kept one and rented it out while we lived in a black-and-white. In 2016, we moved in ourselves and made it the home it is today. What did you like about this apartment? Aside from the beautiful location, the unique design of the condo is very intriguing. It was inspired by the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and every apartment has a lot of exposure to light and ventilation. Our apartment is on the ground floor, facing lush vegetation; it has a stunning front porch that I use as an extra living space. I love the three large balconies that surround it; we keep the windows open so we rarely use aircon. How would you describe your home style? It’s very eclectic! It’s ethnic in that it has roots in India, but it’s also filled with pieces I’ve collected on my travels. The décor is colourful and cosy and has developed over the years to showcase a space that reflects our roots but also highlights the places we have been to. It’s not a cluttered home, but it’s definitely not minimalist either!




Staying in due to pandemic restrictions has given you a chance to update your home. How have you done this? I’ve really gotten into wallpaper, and I found a wonderful shop called Craft Axis ( that stocks fabulous designs. I spent about two months choosing wallpaper for the foyer wall as you enter the apartment, and for one wall in my dining room. The dining room paper had to be very specific as I wanted to hang art on top of it. Thankfully, it worked out exactly how I wanted it. Which rooms have you focused on? My boys’ bedroom was a priority. They share a space, and while they didn’t care what it looked like, it was getting on my nerves! I promised to leave them an area to play handball, got rid of a shelf that had been there forever, repainted the room blue, swapped out the old beds, and framed up some photos from our holidays. I knew it was a hit when I spotted my sons giving their friends a video tour on their phones! I was working out of the master bedroom next to a huge ugly massage chair with peeling synthetic leather. I replaced it with a lovely armchair I found for a steal on Facebook Marketplace that has made the room a lot lighter. The guest bedroom was converted into my husband’s office. He believes in feng shui, so it was a bit tricky to convince him to go there at first – thankfully, his feng shui master shared some practical tips, like using a strategically positioned divider to help with energy flow. My art collections come from my travels. The first pieces I bought were the large paintings hanging in the living room – they were from Hanoi, Vietnam, before the children were born. I have a sculpture from Santorini, Greece, which is really interesting. One of my favourite art pieces is from Devon in the UK that the artist created out of driftwood. Other artworks are from India, France and Bali. Where do you buy your furniture? I like heavy teak and Balinese-style furniture and I go for quality and longevity rather than following faddy trends. Back in the late 90s, there used to be a shop called The Cannery in Clarke Quay. I’d get a little tugboat down the river from my office at Raffles Place and spend my lunch break perusing the store; 25 years later, I still have many big-ticket numbers from there such as the TV console that now serves as our bar. When we moved to The Arcadia, I bought new items like my bed and bookshelves from John Erdos (now closed). They’re such solid items and come steeped in memories. What changes were made to make your space comfortable for working from home? You have some lovely art. Where do you source your pieces from?

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What’s your favourite room in the house, andwhy? The balcony that opens off from the living room. Not only is it a relaxing outdoor space, but I love the feature wall of tiles there. I’m obsessed with tiles, so much so that I once travelled to Lisbon, Portugal to visit a particular tile shop I’d read about! I bought 16 tiles back to Singapore – it was quite a task hand-carrying them! The master bedroom is where we all come together as a family as the big TV is there. Last year, migrant workers were caught in the eye of the COVID-19 storm in Singapore. ItsRainingRaincoats was forced to rise to the occasion with tremendous speed and a clarity of purpose to help the nearly one million migrant workers who were hardest hit. It was very stressful, and my usual outlet of travel wasn’t available. That is when I discovered that I get a sense of peace and satisfaction from reworking a space. Updating my home provides me with calm, and it “sparks joy”. You’re clearly very busy; where do you get your motivation to renovate? How do you fit your home interior work into your packed schedule? I tend to potter around in the evenings after my evening shower and sometimes late at night when I can’t sleep. Often the planning happens in my head when I’m working out. What tips would you give to readers looking to update their own houses? Enjoy it! Visualise the space youwant to change and think about what you’d like the outcome to be. Given that we can’t travel, it’s nice to change up the space that you’re in. Whether you own or rent your property, small tweaks can be done to provide a refresh. Let your imagination go!




Furniture WTP The Furniture Company 3 Kung Chong Road Singapore Recommendations

Restaurants Pita Bakery 29 Bali Lane

Madd Pizza 19, 20 & 21 Haji Lane

Outdoor space “Walking in Bukit Brown Cemetery, or walking the Lornie trail through the back of the SICC golf course all the way to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.” Cultural experience “I love going out walking and taking photos of murals in places like Little India and Arab Street.” Staycations Hotel Vagabond 39 Syed Alwi Road

Villa Samadhi 20 Labrador Villa Road

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Where To Start With


Fed up of your own four walls? We hear you! Breathe new life into your home environment with eye-catching, keep-forever pieces from LivingwithArt Singapore. I f you’re starting to feel a little tired of the familiarity of your home environment, you’re not alone. The pandemic has made our house our safe haven, makeshift office, part-time gym and favourite (and least favourite!) restaurant. A change of scenery is always good, but while travel from Singapore is restricted, one of the best ways to shake things up is by refreshing your living space with some showstopping artwork. A new piece of art in your apartment or house may be all you need to turn a familiar spot into an elevated new sanctuary. A wall painting can transform a drab area into a hip modern enclave. A decorative centrepiece can direct your attention to creativity and craftsmanship instead of the growing pile of clothes you need to give to charity. Thankfully, LivingwithArt hasn’t let a little thing like a virus stop it from sourcing gorgeous artworks and creations from around the world. It was set up by ZAK LO, a practicing artist himself; he launched the business in 2003 with the belief that affordable art could and should be brought into all homes.

Art for all “We have a wide range of art mediums represented: 2D and 3D art paintings, watercolours from Vietnam, Marimekko prints from Finland, DeRosa ceramics from Uruguay, Murano vases from Italy, and bronze sculptures from Asia,” says Zak. The store also proudly presents a portfolio of artists from Singapore’s art and photography scene, with names including Tan Tui Gee, Pua Ann Chi, Amanda Lim, Wang Miao, Jaime Teo, Samantha Redfern, Nathalie Lauoe, Chen Yi Xi and Linda Preece. There’s clearly a lot on offer here, and it’s this volume of pieces that Zak says provides a fantastic choice for homeowners, with no limitations in terms of style, design or size. What’s more, there’s a bespoke service on offer, which sees LivingwithArt take commissions for unique one- of-a-kind art projects for residential houses and commercial offices. The vast variety of options at the flagship gallery in the Tan Boon Liat Building means you have more than 3,000 ways to inject colour, texture, a dinner party talking point and new life into any interior through art. The best part? Prices start from just $50, going up to around $5,000. Adding an artistic touch We asked Zak to talk us through a few ways to effortlessly add an exciting artistic vibe to your living spaces, both indoors and outside. (And no moving house needed!)




#1 Customised art clocks Aside from getting you to Zoom meetings on time and preventing the burning of banana bread, Zak says that a customised art clock will make a design statement in any room, from your kitchen to your squashy office corner. Choose a sculpture, painting or an art piece with a unique frame, and what is usually a practical object will be transformed into a work of wonder. It’s ideal for injecting fun into your home, while also giving you something other than your smartphone to stare at. Sizes are customisable to suit your needs. #2 Wall mural paintings From a local landscape to Renaissance frescoes to modern graffiti, a floor-to- ceiling mural is a bold and beautiful way to revamp a wall washed with plain magnolia paint. “A wall mural is meant to be a showstopper, letting you make a major statement with a large-scale design, so don’t be shy!” says Zak. “Choose a material, design, pattern and texture that suits the climate of your room and the size of your space, and ensure that the lighting and accompanying décor are in sync.” For those who are renting, LivingwithArt’s selection of “removable wall murals” are the way to go.

#3 Ziptrak blinds Not only do they provide shade from Singapore’s unforgiving heat, but Ziptrak blinds are an excellent way to add artistic scenery and a new spirit to a space. Choose from a selection of prints and colours and look beyond using them over windows and doors – they’re great for balconies and outdoor spaces, too. Zak recommends those with a technology known as “theBreath”, which consists of special fibres that repel pollution and help to purify the air. (In other words, art that’s good for your health!) #4 Outdoor art sculptures “People can feel afraid of incorporating sculptures in their public spaces, but art has the power to make people stop in their tracks and connect with their surroundings,” says Zak. Of course, you don’t have to go for a six-foot marble torso in the middle of your balcony; you can opt for something small and intriguing instead. “Our sculptures can be kinetic or static, and made of metal, wood, stone or recycled materials. We can create customised designs, or you can commission us to find your dream piece. With art, anything is possible.”

LivingwithArt is located at 315 OutramRoad, #02-05 Tan Boon Liat Building. For more information, call 6917 6503 or visit

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TANIA PAVASKAR (pictured with husband Gopal Nayak and daughter Swara) From: Born in India, raised in New Zealand Occupation: Lawyer

The Specifics What’s the name of your street? Amber Gardens.

What’s a common myth or misconception about your neighbourhood? That it’s next to the airport. If you take a bus, Suntec is the first stop. By car, it takes no more than ten minutes to get into Marina Bay Financial Centre. It takes a lot longer to get to the airport from here. Closest MRT station? Dakota (yellow Circle Line, between Mountbatten and Paya Lebar). How long have you lived here? Why here? For about five years now. Prior to this, we lived in Novena for two years, and before that at Reflections in Keppel Bay for three. This is our favourite location. We love that you can walk or cycle everywhere. The neighbourhood is walking distance to all the cafés and food places on Joo Chiat Road and Upper East Coast Road. The neighbourhood is culturally diverse. For food, you can find everything from the most authentic laksa to gluten-free pizza. There’s always somewhere to dine out, or somewhere to get a takeout from. The neighbourhood is vibrant and has a spirit of its own.

Why Dakota? Along with an MRT station, the word “Dakota” appears in the names of two roads in this area – Dakota Crescent and Dakota Close. Dakota Crescent is also the name of one of Singapore’s oldest housing estates, built in this neighbourhood in the 1950s, just prior to the establishment of the Housing and Development Board (HDB). Fifteen blocks of the original estate are still occupied today. Dakota Crescent was formerly located just east of Kallang Airport (operational from 1937 to 1955), which is also why you’ll find Old Airport Road in the vicinity. The name came from the Douglas DC-3 aircraft – nicknamed “Dakota” – which could frequently be seen taking off and landing at the airport. As for the nickname, it presumably relates to the US state of Dakota, but likely had its origins in the acronym DACoTA, from Douglas Aircraft Company Transport Aircraft.





North East




South West

CONDO FACTS Name of condo: One Amber Gardens Facilities: Pool, tennis court, gym Size: Approximately 500 units Built: 2010 Vibe: Mix of expat and local families

The Scene When you walk out of your place, what’s the first thing you see? I see the bus stop, landed houses, the Canadian International School, a Shaws Preschool and a yellow-coloured dilapidated mall. What’s the closest store to your front door? The closest useful store is TheWholeKitchen. Theyhave everything gluten-free – it makes healthy hosting easy. If your street was chosen for a remake of a film, which would it be? Any involving a trendy neighbourhood that gets gentrified! We’re sure your neighbours are great, but is there anything you wouldn’t mind a little less of? Our neighbourhood is full of chatter and people in the pool or in restaurants and bars when they’re open. It would be nice if the restaurants and bars were not as busy on Mondays when some of us have work to do.

What’s the unofficial uniform of your street? Lululemon yoga pants and a latte in hand.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen on your street? The Ghostbuster store (specialising in feng shui, luck enhancement and more). It does good business.

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What are your three favourite places to eat or drink in the neighbourhood?

King’s Cart Coffee Factory – I love the coffee, and their soufflés are terrific. The Whole Kitchen is handy for all gluten-free needs – the Mumbai Sandwich is great. There’s also Kinnari Thai on Joo Chiat Road; try the steamed fish! What are the best places to shop at in the neighbourhood? Little Farms for groceries, Cat Socrates for last-minute quirky gifts, Wyld Shop for fashion, and La Tienda and TheAC Boutique for homeware. What are some fun or interesting things to do in the neighbourhood? The neighbourhood is steeped in Peranakan culture, so it’s a great place to try authentic Peranakan food. The heritage houses in the neighbourhood are a fantastic backdrop for photos. You can walk the whole stretch of Joo Chiat Road and try brunch along the way at one of the many cafés here, or along East Coast Road. If you fancy something local, we have Katong laksa too. Or you could go for a walk and buy some high-quality bread or croissants at Petite Pain, followed by picking up some cheese at The Cheese Shop. The neighbourhood has lots of options – you can never get bored! What’s one thing you’d never change? The “realness” of some parts of the neighbourhood. We have some very old- looking hardware shops in the area. While it goes through its gentrification journey, I hope we don’t lose these little gems that are part of the neighbourhood. Howabout one thingyou would change? The yellow mall above the Ghostbuster store. If the city gave you a million dollars to soup up your street, how would you use it? I would create a fund for some of the older local shops in the neighbourhood that might get driven out by the gentrification drive. The fund would take care of their rent.

Above: Two favourite spots for Tania Marina Bay Sands and Gardens By The Bay to take visitors:

Beyond the ’ Hood What are your favourite Singapore spots for taking out-of- town guests? We would take them carpet shopping on Arab Street, then for bespoke cocktails at Maison Ikkoku bar, followed by an authentic Malaysian- Indian meal at Zam Zam. It may sound clichéd but Marina Bay Sands and Gardens By The Bay have to be done! Then chilli crab at Jumbo Seafood, Din Tai Fung or Mott 32. When you’re in need of a dose of culture, where do you go? I go to Little India or Chinatown near People’s Park Complex and walk around.

If you’re missing home, what do you do? Barbecue our favourite meats to perfection and invite our friends over.

DO YOU LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOURHOOD? Share it with others – just email us at with “Street Talk” in the subject line. Include your name and street, and we’ll be in touch.



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