MARCH 2020

MAR 2020




Vegan & Veggie EATS

FACIALS & FOUNDATIONS Prepping for Pregnancy Lingerie & Swimwear

EDITOR’SNOTE Well, I’ve had some disappointing news. My eldest was reading Shamus’s story on Dad jokes in our Kids’ Guide and she told me that my jokes were even worse... It surprised me, because I have been “cracking myself up” for years. I suppose it’s like having mascara under your eyes, or some spinach in your teeth – no one really wants to tell you. However, as I am the resilient type, I’m going to keep at it. It keeps me entertained and there’s not much else to laugh about... especially in the news. And, secretly, deep down I think my daughters like it. I guess we’ll know if that’s true when they read this! On a more serious note, as women we are made resilient. When I was living in Zimbabwe, I heard stories of how some women farmers would have their babies in the field; they’d take an hour or two off to sort themselves out, then strap the baby on their back (usually with a towel) and get back to work. So, for International Women’s Day on the 8th of March, it would be good to remind ourselves of how strong we can be – and to not let others or ourselves weaken us. Our internal dialogue is very important. Men reading this, it’s probably a good time to check in and make sure you’re being strong and supportive, too. And, of course, keep up with your Dad jokes – I’m sure they’re appreciated. Humour is good! I was trying to come up with something funny to end on, but all I can think of are my grandfather’s words if we ever complained that something was hard – he’d say, “harder still if you had none”. I guess that’s as good as any motivation to be resilient. Be strong and be safe!

REBECCA BISSET Editor-in-Chief

PS: The article on Dad jokes is also online now, so if you didn’t get a copy of the Kids’ Guide, take a look at

In this issue: The expat foremothers of Singapore, female entrepreneurs, and women on hiking and horse-riding adventures.

In light of the coronavirus situation, events promoted in this issue may be cancelled or rescheduled. Please double check online.



Editor-in-Chief REBECCA BISSET



Special Projects MELINDA MURPHY Chief Operations Officer COLIN PURCHASE Contributing Writers JUDIT GÁL | HARSHARAN KAUR | AMELIE MARAVAIN


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NEWS 16 Calendar Updates:

A reader bids farewell to her home 30

What’s on in the coming months

20 Readers’ Letters 22 EL Forum: Our online antics and upcoming events HOME & PROPERTY 26 News 29 Win a $500 Voucher... a styling masterclass! 30 Home Showcase: A departing expat reflects on her time here 36 Styling Success: The black-and-white brief 38 Hobby Help: How crafting helped with a move 42 Inside Story: Our readers’ best bed buys 44 Buying Guide: Top picks for the bedroom 50 Street Talk: What it’s like living in Bukit Timah LIFE & FAMILY 56 News 62 Noticeboard: Birth announcements and pet adoptions 64 On the Screen: An International Women’s Day special 68 Try Time: The HSBC Rugby Sevens is back! 71 People Profile: Meet the MSIS principal 72 School Digs: We explore the new Nexus campus 75 Furry Friends: Why they’ll love Dempsey 77 Behind the Wheel: Check out this new car-sharing platform 78 Women in History: A spotlight on some expat forbears

82 House Help:

Tips on finding the right helper

84 Fighting Fire:

The ongoing battle in Australia

86 Helping Hands: Our latest on volunteer opportunities 88 Get Social:

Readers recommend their clubs

90 Around Town:

Women who made a mark in Singapore 78

Photos from openings, events and more




132 Peak picks in Southeast Asia

TRAVEL 118 News 120 Destination Focus: New Zealand insights and editors’ tales 124 Mongol Derby: The world’s most challenging horse race 128 Borneo Bound: Summiting Mount Kinabalu 132 Volcanic Ventures: Exploring the peaks of East Java 134 Peace in Phuket: Thailand’s hidden gem

110 Your guide to plant-based dining in Singapore

WINE & DINE 100 News 102 Bar Tab: Keong Saik meets Little India 104 Bites & Beverages: New dining deals at Cluny Court 106 Female Foodies: Women making a mark on the food scene 110 Veggie Delights: 20 plant-based picks in Singapore 114 Recipe Corner: Favourites to add to your repertoire

Recipes to try at home! 114




STYLE & BEAUTY 138 Style News 139 What’s Trending: White Ginger’s newest collection 140 Man About Town: The latest in fashions for the gents

Hot new collections for your wardrobe 139

144 Beauty News 146 Best of Base:

We share our fave foundations

148 Fab Facials:

Four treatments reviewed 152 Fighting Gravity:

New developments in facelifts HEALTH & FITNESS 158 News 160 People Profile: Meet this skincare superstar 162 Pregnancy Prep: 5 tips for when you’re trying to conceive 164 Sticky Subject: The truth about sweat 166 Fit & Fab: Personalised programmes to hit your target REGULARS

171 Numbers & Websites 172 Horoscopes for March

174 Advertiser List 176 Parting Shot: 19 things about Singapore


We share our top foundation picks






These Little Piggies (15 MAR)

HotLotz Online Asian Ceramics and Works of Art (11-24 MAR) The auction will feature beautiful antique Chinese porcelain and stunning pieces of jade and pottery from a local collection. Register online to see the auction catalogue.

At Cluny Court’s storytelling session in March (12pm to 12.30pm), enjoy the story of These Little Piggies , based on the classic tale The Three Little Pigs . Find out if the pigs will be able to outsmart the Big Bad Wolf! For children aged three to seven. Cluny Court Level 2. SuperMom Baby Fair (20-22 MAR) This fair will feature over 200,000 products for babies and parents. Shoppers can look forward to great deals, cashbacks and freebies. Singapore Expo Geronimo Stilton Live – The Return of the Kingdom of the Fantasy (22 MAR) Geronimo Stilton embarks on a mission to find the Heart of Happiness and is reunited with Scribblehopper. This show uses multimedia effects, music and animation to bring the popular children’s book to life. The Theatre at Mediacorp. Tickets from Sistic.


Macbeth (4-7 MAR) Fresh off three seasons at Liverpool’s

Epstein Theatre, Macbeth will be showing in Singapore this March. Directed and produced by Daniel Taylor. Victoria Theatre. Tickets from Sistic. The Nuclear Family (12-22 MAR) Follow Dr Mary Yuen and her daughter Tabitha as they move from America to Malaysia. Look forward to fun characters and musical numbers by Singaporean indie-electronic duo “.gif”. Drama Centre Theatre.

Lea Salonga (19-22 MAR)

Singing star Lea Salonga will be accompanied by a full band and 11-piece string ensemble for this show, as they perform everything from Broadway musicals to Disney favourites. Tickets from the Esplanade website.

Lea Salonga




A-ha Hunting High and Low Tour (21 MAR) Norwegian band A-ha will perform live in Singapore for the first time this month. The concert will be their only stop in Southeast Asia. The day’s activities include an 80s theme party and a festive beer garden with loads of food and drinks. Singapore Turf Club. As part of their We Are Not Your Kind Tour, the long-standing American heavy metal outfit are returning to Singapore for what promises to be another impressive live show. Fort Canning Park. Tickets from Sistic. Queen of The North (29 MAR) RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 11 star Brooke Lynn Hytes will be bringing her new musical comedy to town. Shine Auditorium. Tickets from Sistic. Slipknot (24 MAR)

A-ha Hunting High and Low Tour

ARTS & CULTURE Suddenly Turning Visible: Art and Architecture in Southeast Asia (1969-1989) (UNTIL 15 MAR) The exhibition features more than 50 artworks from the Sixties to the Eighties, revealing the relationship between art and architecture in the region at the time, and how artists responded to increasing urbanisation in the 1970s. National Gallery Singapore Living with Ink: The Collection of Dr Tan Tsze Chor (UNTIL 22 MAR) Check out over 130 treasured Chinese paintings and porcelains, including ones by modern Chinese masters and artists in Singapore from the 1930s to 1980s. Asian Civilisations Museum Above and Beyond – Courage (UNTIL 30 MAR) Mishell Leong’s first solo show features her latest collection, Courage, where each painting is inspired by her childhood in Malaysia. Royal Plaza on Scotts

Queen of The North

17 MARCH2020



HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens (11-12 APR) The tournament returns in April for two days of action, with teams from 16 countries battling it out on the field. The family-friendly event will also feature rugby-themed games, live music, a splash zone and family fun zone. Tickets from National Stadium



Image credit: Yellow Claw & DJ Snake

Singapore Badminton Open 2020 (7-12 APR)

Watch top shuttlers compete for over US$400,000 in prize money, and a spot at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Popular local players Yeo Jia Min and Loh Kean Yew will also be making appearances. Tickets from APACTix. Singapore Indoor Stadium. Hydeout (10-11, 17-18 APR) Look forward to two weekends of fun at this music festival that will feature international and regional performers across a variety of genres. They include MYRNE, ASAP Rocky, Rita Ora, Bea Miller, Yellow Claw, Alison Wonderland and DJ Snake. The Meadow, Gardens by the Bay. Singapore Beach Open (15-19 APR) The FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour hits Singapore this April. Across the five days, 128 teams will be competing for the title and qualifying spots in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. There’ll also be live music acts, F&B, beach yoga and more. Palawan Green, Sentosa. The Executive Homes Black and White Tour (22 APR) Executive Homes is organising its annual black-and-white home tour for its seventh year. Visit impressive colonial homes in Mount Pleasant, Adam Park, Ridout Road and Nassim Road. Email to book a spot.

National Theatre’s War Horse (FROM 24 APR)

This award-winning play tells the story of young Albert and his mission to find his horse Joey, who is sold to the cavalry during World War One. It features amazing life-sized puppets that bring the horses to life on stage. Esplanade Theatre. Tickets from Sistic.

For even more things to do every week, go to our online calendar or sign up for our newsletter :




Buy or Lease? We’re moving to Singapore soon and we’ve been following all your useful online articles for tips and advice. We’d rather not ship our own things over – our idea was to buy furniture when we get there. But now we’re seeing that leasing is also a popular option. Would you recommend

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 divine candle from To Be Calm.

Each month, there’ll be one of their signature candles to choose from .

– Wendell and Ann Romagna

Being Prepared I urge everyone to read January’s article “The hard truth: What happens when an expat dies?” This was timely as I help a friend go through the darkest days of her life after her husband suddenly and unexpectedly died. He left no will, despite promising to do it “when I get time”. Accounts were immediately frozen, probate will take months, money had to be borrowed from family for shipping, airfares, funeral expenses. There is no time to grieve – plenty of anger though. “How could he have left me in this situation?” Days are filled with problems, solicitors, lawyers, landlords, unpaid bills, with things shutting down around her – her head is about to explode! I implore everyone: be prepared. Find the time to get your wills in order, know where and how things get paid, and I pray it never happens to you. Thank you. Ed: Thanks for this reminder. Yes, it’s so easy to put everything off – even just reading the article – to when you have time... and that’s not the way the world works! – Name withheld

Why not do both? You could buy some key pieces that reflect this region – things that you’ll hang onto forever – and then lease a bunch of furniture too. It’s good to have the flexibility! Our brand new Home & Property Guide has loads of info on both options (

Upcoming Artist Hi Expat Living, I’m based in Singapore, and I wanted to know if you feature new artists in your publication. I have an Instagram account with examples of my art: it’s @david_rodriguez_studio. Love the mag and read through it all the time. – David Rodriguez Ed: We don’t do that many, but we do have a very young artist featured this month who we thought was pretty special. We’ll check out your IG account!

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March2020 Issue212 S$6.90 BEDROOMS •VEGETARIANRESTAURANTS •PRESCHOOLS MCI (P)032/02/2020 BedroomBliss



Vegan& Veggie EATS

FACIALS&FOUNDATIONS Prepping forPregnancy Lingerie&Swimwear For the Girls Scan the QR code or visit



Our upcoming events! Visit to register.


DATE: 11 March 2020 TIME: 10am – 11.45am PLACE: Canadian International School, Lakeside Campus PRICE: $10, including light refreshments; $15 for 2 tickets, including refreshments


DATE: 25 March 2020 TIME: 7pm – 9pm PLACE: Walking On Sunshine

PRICE: $35, including food and free- flow Prosecco and hairstyling with Dyson Supersonic

23 MARCH2020


44 Buying Guide: Top picks for the bedroom

Arete Culture

30 Looking Back: A departing expat farewells her Singapore home

38 Happy Hobbies: How craft helped one woman find her feet

50 Street Talk: What it’s like living in Bukit Timah



Adding new fabrics to your home is a great way to refresh the look without ordering new furniture. Altfield Interiors has just launched a new collection so you can get your rooms and spaces ready for spring with a splash of colour and pattern. The Thread by Thread collection from luxury Italian brand Rubelli combines contemporary touches with a bright and surprising colour palette that will work with every kind of home style. So, dig out that old boring chair and give it a new lease of life! Our favourite design has to be My Fair Lady ( pictured ), a rich jacquard with a floral motif on a precious silk ground, offered in striking colourways of pink/peach and pink/lemon. 1 Magazine Road, Central Mall Office Tower, #07-10. Interiors! Brighten Your

Make Your Home Sparkle If you’re looking for a reliable cleaning service to manage your house-clean, get in touch with the highly experienced CleanClean team. They can sort everything from curtain and carpet washing, to painting your walls and ceilings – even that yucky job no one wants to think about: cleaning the mattresses. For English or Japanese language appointments, SMS 9793 1512 or email .

Special AnniversaryOffer Homeware brand Chisel & Log is celebrating the first anniversary of its opening at ArtSafe SG. And, even though it’s the store that’s having a birthday, Expat Living readers are the ones getting the presents! Be one of the first 20 readers to visit Chisel & Log and you’ll not only receive a 20 percent discount on your purchases, but also a home décor product worth up to $150. Wow! Pop along to the store (by appointment only) to find a gorgeously unique piece for your home – just contact 9107 5714 to make your appointment. The discount applies to purchases until the end of May 2020.




Artists On Show Art Porters is currently showcasing two exhibitions:

• Sharing the Moon is Taiwanese master Wu Kuan-Te’s first-ever solo exhibition in Southeast Asia, featuring incredibly detailed oil paintings reflecting the artist’s mystical inspiration from nature, infused by oriental philosophies. The artist believes no matter where we are in the universe, we share the same moonlight. • You can also view Guillaume Levy-Lambert’s solo exhibition Le Secret Sacré . Experience the multi-sensory works in an interdisciplinary and collaborative installation of medical imaging technologies, videography, sculpture, music, scent and more.

Both exhibitions run until 15 March at Art Porters Gallery, 64 Spottiswoode Park Road , open Tuesday to Sunday, 10.30am to 7pm.

5 Online Dangers for Kids (and how to prevent them) Tech Troubleshooting SARAH & BO, TEKKIE HELP

If you allow your children to spend time online, it’s important to know what threats they face. Here are some of the most common dangers and how to prevent them: #1 Inappropriate Content The internet is full of “inappropriate content”, and it’s easy for children to findwebsites containing potentiallymind-warping anddisturbing content. Prevention: Set up parental control software to block websites you don’t want kids to browse. You can also use a child-friendly browser that automatically stops unsuitable websites. #2 Chat Room “Friends” The internet is a perfect forum to meet new people, but some with malicious intent can use it to “befriend” your child. These can then turn into dangerous offline relationships. Prevention: Education is key. Emphasise the dangers to your children and tell them to only interact with people they know personally. Change the default privacy settings of social media accounts to private so strangers can’t view their profile. #3 Cyber Bullying Bullying happens in both the playground and the digital world. This is one of our most challenging threats. Prevention: Try to delay your children setting up a social media profile as long as possible – the recommended age is actually 13! You can also set up parental controls, although tech-savvy older kids may know how to change these.

#4 Online Scams Children are very vulnerable to online scams, and they can also be “trigger-happy” and may click on links they shouldn’t. Prevention: Again, education! Emphasise they should never click on a link or purchase something online without checking with you. The more they know, the better. #5 Posting Personal Information Childrenmay not yet understand social boundaries, and may post personal information online as a result – anything from images to contact details. Prevention: Talk to them about boundaries, and change the default settings on social media accounts to private. The Bottom Line While the internet can pose dangers to children, it can also open doors of wonder. The most effective way to raise a digitally responsible generation is through open communication and education. If you would like assistance with setting up parental controls, Tekkie Help can help. Just call them on 8113 8682 or visit–andquote “EXPATLIVING” for a 10 percent discount.




Love interior styling and want a chance to learn from the pros? Win a chance to learn from Caroline Chin Geyler, Founder & Creative Director of multi-award-winning interior styling firm Arete Culture. Three lucky winners will walk away with a seat to an intimate one-hour styling masterclass with Caroline and her team and a $500 Arete Culture voucher to spend at Arete Culture’s newly revamped showroom at Tan Boon Liat or their flagship showroom, Atelier by Arete Culture. Learn how to put together a show-stopping dining table and coffee table, then go shopping for new décor pieces after! Better yet: each winner also gets to bring three friends along for a fun girls’ day out. About Arete Culture Arete Culture is an interior decorating firm specialising in fast, affordable and fuss-free home makeovers. Having completed more than 850 projects in Southeast Asia, the team works closely with clients to understand their lifestyle needs and bring their dream homes to life. It’s their belief that “a beautiful, thoughtful space has the potential to positively impact and improve the life we lead”. The company also offers a full interior design service (design, build and reno) and operates three retail showrooms embodying their core philosophy of affordable luxury. You’ll find a wide range of home accessories and soft furnishings from handmade mirrors and affordable art to hand-built console tables and lighting solutions.

Win a $500 voucher and a one-hour styling masterclass with Arete Culture! interior aspiring stylists:

Entries close on 31 March. To enter, simply go to

9640 3829 |

29 MARCH2020

As they say, sometimes you appreciate thingsmoreonce they’regone–orgoing. We talk toKRISTINKEEN, whohas spent awonderful tenyears inSingapore and is about to leave. She shares her thoughts and recommendations with us.

Tell us a little about you and your family. I’m American, born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. My husband Jason was an expat in Hong Kong until he was 15. His British father grew up in Shanghai and his mum is Australian. Our three children, George (6), Sophie (3) and Annabelle (11 months), are third-generation born in Asia. They were all born in Singapore, at Mount Elizabeth Hospital Orchard. We moved here in 2010 from Chicago, though Jason had previously lived here for a few years prior to our move together.




Where did you first live when you came to Singapore and why? We started out in Robertson Quay as a couple with no kids. It’s a great place to get grounded and be right in the middle of things. We loved being on the river and all that it had to offer from a dining and entertainment perspective. We were there when Kith Café only had its one tiny location there! We visited Singapore a few years before moving here – just for fun – and I remember walking past a massive construction site for a condo with hanging plants and the largest pool I’d ever seen. So, when my husband came out to find us a home, I remember telling him, “I want to live in that condo (Rivergate) on the river – the one that was being constructed when we were last there.” And we did!

Any other moves before you ended up here? We’ve actually moved a lot. Once I found out I was pregnant with our first, I really wanted to move out of condo living and get our feet back on the ground. So, we headed to Bukit Timah and made two housing mistakes before landing where we are now. One was an old terraced house; once we moved in, we learnt very quickly that it had all sorts of problems. It was a nightmare and we ended up getting out of our lease – something you rarely hear of here, but it was that bad!

31 MARCH2020

We loved the Greenwood/Hillcrest area for its lovely neighbourhood feel and the green, shady parks that are some of the best-kept secrets in Singapore. So, we signed up for a townhouse. You know the ones – they seem like they’ve got lots of space before you move in, and then you discover your life is now about walking up and down four floors of staircases all day long. I only wish someone had said, “Don’t do it!” (Also, we think it was haunted!) What were the first home décor things you bought? Would you have done anything differently in hindsight? We bought nice outdoor furniture! With the Singapore price shock that comes when you first move here (I sometimes wonder if it ever goes away...), I remember thinking it was eye-wateringly expensive. But those pieces are still going strong 10 years on – and you quickly learn that a lot of stuff can’t stand up to the Singapore climate. I’m not overly sentimental about home furniture – probably because I’m always thinking about the next thing to add or replace. But I do live by the Marie Kondo rule of making sure it brings me joy. And my whole home brings me joy! I love my Malawi chairs from Originals as they remind me of our honeymoon in South Africa. Then there are our outdoor sofas from Affordable Style Files; we spend so many days lounging on them, drinking rosé, and I think the set is unique, which can be hard to find in Singapore. But the piece of furniture that will be the hardest to say goodbye to is the rose gold crib that my two daughters both used as babies! I’m a sucker for a beautiful nursery and I had this one shipped up from Australia because it was before the days of Deer Industries and being able to find a nice crib that wasn’t just plain old white.




Any advice for newcomers? My biggest regret was not making my house a home as soon as we arrived. So many expats (myself included for a long time) have the mentality of it only being a temporary stay: it’s just a rental property, so let’s not hang the pictures, paint the walls, or buy a piece of furniture for that funny little spot that’s specific to that home. But so often that two-year temporary move turns into 10 years, and then you’ve lost all of that time when you could have felt like you had a home – a little safe haven that you love to come home to and spend time in. It took me a while to get over this thought process, but truly, once I embraced Singapore as my home for the now and made our house a home, it was the turning point in maximising the enjoyment of this beautiful island. What do you think you’ll miss when you leave? Almost everything! I’ll miss the people who have become lifelong friends, the food, the number of fun things to do with the whole family (and the ease of doing them), and the ability to go swimming all day, every day; also, the freedom I have as a mum to pop out with no children in tow for a quick errand or a civilised lunch! And I love never having to look to see what the weather will be like for the day. I’ll also miss our house, and all the parties and fun and laughs that we’ve had there!

33 MARCH2020

Villa JOJU in Canggu, Bali is great for large groups and it’s super family friendly. I love that the villa was inspired by a Singapore black-and-white house but with a Balinese twist! Also in Indonesia, Bawah Reserve is pretty magical! It’s Maldives-like, but on Singapore’s doorstep. Are there any things you regret not doing, or places you wanted to visit but didn’t? I always thought we’d be able to make a bit of a bucket list for when the day came that we’d be leaving Singapore. But the reality is, once you know you’re leaving, thingsmove too fast and it’s too crazy tomake it happen – so, don’t wait! I regret not going to some of those perfect long-weekend destinations that we will likely not prioritise when we’re no longer in the region. Two that come to mind right away are Yogyakarta and Chiang Mai. And one that needs a bit more time, Bhutan.

Anything you won’t miss? The never-ending humid summer weather, and the fact that the customer isn’t always right here! How has the family work-life been? We moved here for a new job opportunity for my husband, with an international insurance company. And, we’re headed to London to continue his career with them as he has accepted a new role. Like many expat women, I don’t think I ever really found my stride from a career perspective. But I’ve had lots of fun working in various industries from Formula One, floral design and event planning for Fabulation, to working for SassyMama Singapore as its first official employee when it launched in 2013. For the last seven years, I’ve been busy with babies, and I’m now very excited to move on from that stage of life! Tell us a few of your favourite regional holiday spots, and why they’re special. Six Senses as a brand always makes me happy. I love the socially responsible approach to everything they do, such as bottling all of their own mineral water on site to eliminating plastic and installing water filtration systems in local communities. It’s hard to pick a favourite property, but for pure relaxation I would say Six Senses Con Dao in Vietnam.





Furniture & Art • Affordable Style Files • Originals • Chun Mee Lee Rattan Furniture (“for custom-made rattan furniture”) • (“an amazing London- and Singapore-based artist”) Schools • Dulwich College (Singapore) (“we’re so sad to be leaving!”) • Blue House International School Hair & Fashion • Baker & Cook (“especially the Hillcrest location for wandering over to the park around the corner”) • The Cheese Artisans (“for amazing dinner party cheese platters”) • Culina (“for the most consistently lovely meals”) • The American Club (“the best investment we made in Singapore”) • Sasha Fine Foods (“to fill your freezer”) • Braci restaurant and rooftop bar (“for the best date night with Michelin-star Italian food without crazy Michelin pricing”) • Our Village (“for the yummiest Indian and an amazing alfresco skyline view”) Things to Do • Bukit Batok Nature Park (“pram- and dog-friendly, and mostly shaded”) • Concert evenings in the Botanic Gardens • East Coast Park (“for recent additions like PS Cafe by the Sea, and the new play areas including the bike park”) • Singapore Polo Club (“for watching polo practice midweek over a family-friendly dinner – it’s open to the public on weekdays; check the practice schedule, but it’s usually Tuesdays and Thursdays”) Also Singapore Airlines (“we’re going to miss flying out of Changi – what a luxury!”) • Blonde Boudoir • Rosalie Pompon • Sea Apple (“for kiddies”) Wine, Dine & Social

35 MARCH2020


Breezy BY KATE MARSDEN The mission? To recreate the inviting breeziness of a black-and-white house in a ground-floor apartment. Accepting the challenge? Arete Culture! New homeowners MONILA and AMAR had previously rented a black-and-white for 12 years. One of the features they loved most about their rental was how breezy it was – one of the great hallmarks of Singapore’s colonial homes. They also love entertaining and they were worried that their new space would limit them in having guests over. So, they wanted to recreate the same airiness and welcoming feel in the new Swiss View ground floor apartment that they recently purchased. The overall design brief was to maintain a feeling of luxury, calm and brightness in a space ideal for entertaining. It was a big job where Arete Culture didn’t just handle the interior styling but the interior design of the home. They created the concept and executed the couple’s vision. They reconfigured the floor plan, gutted the whole kitchen and bathroom, changed the flooring and created extra storage for the homeowners throughout the apartment. Monila and Amar were particularly concerned about the dark spots in their new apartment, particularly in the hall and the kitchen. In order to carry over the bright vibe the couple previously enjoyed, the Arete team left the living walls white and used a pared-down colour palette of black and white, to retain the easy grandeur of the old home. They also added in some warmer colours and textures, and used gold accents to retain a warm, cosy feel. Caroline from Arete Culture says, “During our initial first few meetings, our generous hosts offered us wine and told us how much they loved to entertain friends at their sprawling black-and- white property. They were concerned their new home wouldn’t offer them the same kind of space to indulge in this.” Arete Culture rose to the occasion. In view of this penchant for entertaining, it became apparent to the team that the kitchen should remain part of the open-plan living space. So, glass and metal sliding doors were fitted to open out onto the main dining and living area. Now, the space can become an extension of the dining area whenever there are guests over. The team also selected floor tiles, countertops and cabinetry that would lightly bounce around the natural light. The result? A spacious, bright and fluid area that any guest is going to feel comfortable in. Keeping it

The overall design brief was to maintain a feeling of luxury, calm and brightness in a space ideal for entertaining.

• 315 Outram Road#06-01 Tan Boon Liat Building • 20 Depot Lane, #01-01/02 9640 3829 |





“Everybody needs to find that one thing which is just yours; not about the house, the kids, the husband,” says HARSWEEN BEDI. “Everybody needs some sense of individuality and satisfaction.” For Harsween, that one thing is decoupage, a hobby she picked up after moving to Singapore. And, in some ways, her new-found hobby saved her sanity. When she first arrived here, Harswen found life very different to back home in India where she and her husband had just bought their first home together. She’d just landed a new job in the digital marketing space, having worked in the business for 14 years. Their son was still very young and the family was close to help raise him. They were in “default mode”, as she calls it. Then her husband got a big career move that would offer him international exposure. The catch? The job was in Singapore. Adjusting to a new life “When we came here initially, I felt very odd. It was my first move out of India,” says Harsween. “Indians are used to a lot of help around the house, but a helper here seemed so expensive – in India, you could have four helpers for the same price! My husband was always travelling. Our stuff hadn’t yet arrived from home. So, for ten months, I was cooking and cleaning and marketing and cooking and cleaning and marketing, and I was alone, without my family, doing nothing but drudgery.” Relocating is always a challenge. Who are you in your new country? How do you fit in? For this Indian expat, the answer lay in a pot of glue.

39 MARCH2020

That’s not the only big change. In India, the family had two cars, but with the pricing system here in Singapore, the idea of doing the same seemed far-fetched. Instead, she took public transport, towing her three-and-a-half- year-old son Eshan. What’s more, Eshan really missed his grandfather; Harsween’s father is one of those larger- than-life people who children simply adore, and it was hard for her little one to be far from him. All to say, moving to Singapore was tough initially. Turning to art “I realised I needed to go back to something that made me happy such as music, books or art,” says Harsween. “I tried decoupage because a close friend of mine in India was doing it. And I also found it intriguing and beautiful. It revived my love of colours. It’s something anybody can learn, but you do need some imagination and technique to be good at it. And so I fell in love.” Things started improving. They hired a helper. She started selling some of her pieces through a business she dubbed Sassy Sunshine. She and her dad connected several times a day. And she realised that life in Singapore is actually pretty good. “In your mind, you often have these milestones that you must achieve. Get a good job. Get married. Start a family. Buy a house. But when you get past the hiccups and get rid of the luggage thinking that life should be a certain way, this place is really liberating. It’s safe. Nobody is judging you. Our weekends aren’t always packed with family commitments so we can focus on our marriage and our son. I’ve come to really love my life here.”

Advice to others Through it all, she keeps crafting. Harsween decoupages just about anything you can think of from bottles to plates to elaborate bangle boxes. “The first year was about discovering myself through this art form, and figuring out something that was my own. I get immense satisfaction from creating a piece for somebody. I needed this to discover myself. If I didn’t do this, I’d be really bored.” And when she’s not crafting, Harsween is often walking on the beach or doing yoga, all things she didn’t do back home. Her advice to those who are new to Singapore? Try something you’ve always wanted to do, or reconnect with something you loved in your past. You can’t have the life you had in your home country, but you can find a life here that’s just as fulfilling in other ways.

Harsween and her husband chose Mandarin Gardens on the East Coast because it had everything she wanted: fabulous facilities, a mix of people from all nationalities, access to local transport and an amazing view. And best of all? It’s a five-minute walk to the beach!





Considering we spend an average of 3,000 hours in our bed every year, itmakes sense to get a good one. But where do you start to find a bed and amattress that are just right for you?We spoke to readers about their recent dream-worthy purchases.

Sue Day, British

We love our huge four-poster master bed that I bought here in Singapore 20 years ago but our old mattress was falling apart so we decided to invest in something more comfortable. When we started looking, I quickly realised that bedding has become much more sophisticated in recent years. There are now options for firmness for each side of the bed, newmaterials such as bamboo (allowing the mattress to “breathe”) and also washable covers. I’d seen European Bedding ’s adverts and a feature in Expat Living and I thought the mattresses looked interesting. The showroom is tucked away in a Tiong Bahru shophouse, which immediately makes it feel more comforting and homely than other vast bed showrooms. We were made to feel very welcome by Hanne, who clearly explained all the options and then left us to try at our leisure. We eventually decided on the Heveya Natural Organic Latex Mattress III, and we also got two free pillows in the same material. Hanne provided care and cleaning instructions for the bed and covers, too. But it didn’t stop there – the team who delivered our mattress also showed me how the parts of the mattress went together so I could remove the covers for

cleaning. They even took away our old mattress for disposal! And the new mattress? Well, it’s wonderful – exactly the right firmness for each of us, while the topper is soft and just invites you to relax into sleep.

We would definitely buy again from European Bedding.

European Bedding 32 Eng Hoon Street, Level 2 6735 6658 |




Stacey Mann, British

It was time for our European Kingmattress in the master bedroom to be replaced. It was too hard and uncomfortable. I was waking up with aches and pains, sleeping poorly and was never feeling rested. However, my husband Jon was happy so it took quite a bit of persuading – he was quite attached to his mattress! We were specifically looking for a mattress to provide comfort and support and keep us cool, while also being eco- friendly and toxin-free. We wanted a more restful sleep from a mattress that offered minimal disturbance. Latex seemed to tick all our boxes, particularly its allergy-friendly andmould- resistant aspects. Having a mattress that doesn’t harbour mould and dust mites was top of my list, especially with Singapore’s damp and humid conditions. We chose to buy from WillowMattress as the mattresses are 100 percent natural latex, and well-priced – we loved the unique three-layer adjustable system they offer, too. We were able to choose the half-and-half king-sized mattress, which allowed us to change each half to suit our different preferences.

We went into the store and agreed on the “medium” feel, and that’s how it was set up when it was delivered. However, after three days, my husband was complaining it was too soft and that his old back pain was returning. He wanted to send the mattress back! Yet I’d had the most comfortable sleep for a long time, waking with less body pain. So, we simply changed the order of the three layers to make Jon’s firm. He never mentioned back pain again!

Chantal and the delivery team were so professional and always went above and beyond. It was a wonderful experience, from the purchasing to going to bed in comfort every night.We also loved that they took away the old mattress for recycling, which made the change so much easier. We got a set of free pillows, too! Willow Mattress #01-10 Tan Boon Liat Building, 315 Outram Road 8787 7817 |

Margarita Vasileva (age 8), Russian

I used to have a kid’s bed but it was getting too small for me so we needed to get a new one. I also wanted a bed that I could use as a sofa during the day. Wewent to Gallery278 as itwas recommended by my mum’s friend. The bed we chose is very comfortable with two big drawers underneath, whichwe use to store bed linens and other things. During the daytime, we cover it with a sheet and I use it as a sofa. I like that my room looks very cosy, not like a typical bedroom. The bed is nice and big, and I love sleeping in it. I like that it’s made from natural wood too.

Gallery 278 278 River Valley Road 6737 2322 |

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Beds, side tables, storage and more: read on for some bedroom furniture inspiration.









1 Skanor bed and Skanor bed bench, price on request, Black & Walnut 2 Benson nightstand, price on request, Black & Walnut 3 Ethnicraft teak Madra bed, $3,530, Bulan table lamp, $320, wooden pot in medium black, $120, Ethnicraft Madra bedside table, $740, Originals 4 Bulb lamp, price on request, House of AnLi 5 Handmade bone-inlay three-drawer chest in a pale blue-grey leaf pattern, $1,950, Hacienda Blue 6 Ostara bed, price on request, Gallery 278

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7 Laser-etched metallic hide rug, 1.6 x 2.3m, $2,100, 2 x 3m, $2,800, customisable to any size, The Cinnamon Room 8 19th-century Zhejiang wedding cabinet, $2,500, China Collection 9 Ethnicraft oak Madra bed, $2,580, Soul & Tables 10 Natural latex mattress, price on request, Willow Mattress





11 Stellan six-foot King-size bed frame, $1,659, Scanteak 12 Wedding cabinet, from $800, Woody Antique House 13 Blade eye mask, $80, Wink Silk 14 Lacquered bedside cabinet, price on request, Woody Antique House 15 Heveya Natural Organic Latex Mattress III, Single size, $3,588, Queen size, $5,188, King size, $5,888, European Bedding






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16 Heveya Bamboo Duvet Sheet Set, Single size, $218, Queen size, $288, King size, $328, European Bedding 17 Ethnicraft teak Burger bed, $2,930, Soul & Tables 18 Interior styling by Arete Culture; artwork, carpet, headboard and soft furnishings from Arete Culture




Directory Arete Culture #06-01 Tan Boon Liat Building, 315 Outram Road

Originals 1 Bukit Batok Street 22, #05-02/03 6471 9918 | Scanteak 60 Sungei Kadut Drive 6368 2802 | Soul & Tables #02-01/03 Tan Boon Liat Building, 315 Outram Road 9272 1545 | The China Collection 252 Joo Chiat Road 9858 6889 | The Cinnamon Room 43 Jalan Merah Saga, #02-74 Holland Village 9727 3051 | Willow Mattress #01-10 Tan Boon Liat Building, 315 Outram Road 8787 7817 | Wink Silk | Woody Antique House Atelier by Arete 20 Depot Lane, #01-01/02 Black & Walnut 43 Keppel Road, #01-01/02/03 6781 3218 | European Bedding 32 Eng Hoon Street 6735 6658 | Gallery 278 278 River Valley Road 6737 2322 | Hacienda Blue 17 Woking Road, #02-04 9866 1024 | House of AnLi 163 Tanglin Road, #03-17 6235 3851 |

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




FRANCINE MARTINDALE-SHARP From: Canada Occupation: Management consultant, branding and marketing

What’s the name of the street and neighbourhood where you live? Bukit Drive. If it’s in another language, what does it mean? “Bukit” means “hill” in Malay. We’re right by Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, at the base of the hill. Exact words you tell a taxi driver to get home? “Head to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve; yes, the big hill! At Courts, do a U-turn.”

When you walk out of your place, the first thing you see is: Monkeys! The closest store to your front door is: Unsprung Bicycle Shop. Your street would make the perfect backdrop for a remake of: Gorillas in the Mist . Your neighbours are great, but you wouldn’t mind a little less: Snakes. And people who feed monkeys; they have enough food to eat in the forest!

Closest MRT station? Beauty World station (Downtown Line).

How long have you lived here? Eight years.

Why here? We have the nature reserve on our doorstep! So we can see wildlife from our home.

5 facts about Bukit Timah #1 Bukit Timah Hill is the highest point in Singapore – not that it’s very high! (163 metres) #2 The neighbourhood is home to a number of Good Class Bungalows (GCBs), the most prestigious residential property in Singapore; to classify as a GCB, a property has to be over 15,000 square feet. #3 Bukit Timah Nature Reserve was one of the first forest reserves to open in Singapore (1992) and it includes the island’s biggest patch of primary forest. #4 The Battle of Bukit Timah was a key confrontation in World War Two that saw Japanese troops advance further south across Singapore, albeit with heavy losses. #5 Beauty World Centre turns 36 this year and is one of the island’s oldest shopping centres. There used to be an amusement park across the road from it.






North East



South West

Your hands-down favourite neighbourhood joints are: Acqua e Farina Italian Restaurant and Spruce Bukit Timah. We love meeting people at Spruce for lazy Sunday brunches – we think they have one of the best burgers in Singapore! We enjoy everything on the menu at Acqua e Farina; my husband can’t get enough of the seafood linguine.

The unofficial uniform of your street is: Hiking gear and athletic wear. When you’re in need of a dose of culture, you: Take the blue Downtown Line to Marina Bay Sands.

CONDO FACT FILE Name: The Raintree Age: 12 years Size: 315 units Supermarket: FairPrice Finest, Giant and Cold Storage Kid-friendly: Yes, perfect for young families

You won’t find better local food than at: Boon Tong Kee for the chicken rice.

The strangest thing you’ve ever seen on your street is: A rooster and his family crossing the road. We love a good bargain. The best deals in your neighbourhood are: The $1 pratas at Al-Azhar.

If you’re missing home, you: Order goodies online from home.

A mandatory stop for out-of- town guests is: Hindhede Quarry. It’s an easy walk for anyone of any age to do from the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve Visitor Centre. A common myth about your neighbourhood is: That the monkeys bother everyone. They really don’t. While they’ll take food from homes or people if they can, if you don’t leave food out or carry it in plastic bags, they won’t bother you. A massive late-night rager on your street is likely to be: It’s very quiet at night, other than night-time forest sounds. If you go out, you might see a wild boar sniffing around for dinner.

The guiltiest pleasure in your area is: Spruce Bukit Timah’s Sunday brunch.

One thing you’d never change is: Being surrounded by greenery.

But one thing you wouldn’t mind seeing go is: The snakes! The city gives you $5 million to soup up your street. You use it to:

Build underground parking for visitors to the nature reserve and donate the rest to ACRES to look after the forest animals.

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