MAY 2020

MAY 2020









EDITOR’SNOTE Well, for the first time in over 18 years I nearly didn’t have an Editor’s Note to write! (Luckily, the printers got permission to print – phew!) And it felt quite strange. But then, it is a strange time… we are all learning new ways of doing things, and trying to learn new things. My first batch of lettuce and bok choy drowned in the first big storm. I thought I had the drainage sorted, but obviously not enough. But I’ve had successes too: I’m feeling more comfortable with a mop, and I eradicated a whole planet of termites! And the coriander and eggplant are growing daily, so that’s exciting! (Our online article on how to grow herbs has now been updated to include veggies, so take a look and have a go.) I have also learnt to limit news and message feeds in order to stay as calm as possible. And walking has been very important. I’ve loved working from home as a semi-empty nester, but I know it’s been difficult for many – especially those with children at home, or partners who they’re not used to being with 24/7. But it will be lovely to see everyone again. My nest has been filled with my mum who came over from the UK for a family wedding (that’s sadly been cancelled) and now can’t go back for a while. It’s the longest we’ve spent together since I was about ten. So, that’s been interesting! She’s great at washing up and not too fussy about food – which has been very useful. We’ve had some great food deliveries and have “eaten out” more than I normally do, and we’ve really enjoyed it! Lastly, looking at silver linings, the dogs have been very happy to have me at home and I am followed everywhere… Not sure what stage we will be in when this gets to you. But it’s worth keeping in mind some words of wisdom from Franklin D Roosevelt: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Fast forward a few decades and the words of Chumbawamba seem equally significant: “I get knocked down, but I get up again!” Let’s get back up again and do it fearlessly!

REBECCA BISSET Editor-in-Chief

This morning I saw these really pretty mushrooms growing out of the compost, and I thought, “Well, there’s a sign”!



Editor-in-Chief REBECCA BISSET




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Published by Expat Living Publications Pte Ltd 37 Jalan Pemimpin, #07-06 Mapex Building, Singapore 577177

The Logan family’s Seletar home (pg. 42)




NEWS 16 Things To Do:

Inside some of Singapore’s treasured black- and-whites 32

How to keep busy at home

18 EL Forum:

Our online antics and upcoming events


22 News 26 WIN!

A home décor set worth $1,500

28 Online Shopping: No better time for a home makeover!

BLACK-AND-WHITE SPECIAL 32 Mapping Singapore’s black-and-whites 34 An iconic home on Adam Drive 42 Seletar’s rustic colonial vibe 48 A black-and-white with a twist

54 One-stop Shop:

Unique home gifts and storage solution

56 Expert Advice:

How to spot quality antiques

58 Buying Guide:

Consoles, cabinets and sideboards

LIFE & FAMILY 72 News 80 Noticeboard: Birth announcements and pet adoptions 83 Screen & Page: Top TV, film and book recommendations 88 Staying Positive: COVID-19’s silver lining 92 Marriage Insights: Let’s talk lovebows! 94 Final Farewell: Saying goodbye from afar

62 WIN!

One of five smart water heaters!

96 Coronavirus & Kids: Strategies for talking about it 97 Home Learning: Successfully harnessing technology 98 People Profile: SJII’s new Head of Early Years 100 Plan Ahead: Great camps for kids! 103 Making Memories: The perfect keepsake 104 Helping Hands: Our latest on volunteer opportunities

64 Inside Story:

Mover recommendations fromreaders

66 Street Talk:

What it’s like living in Paya Lebar

Consoles and sideboards we love 58




A menu to whisk you to the Spanish seaside 126

One woman’s passion for conservation 140

WINE & DINE 114 News 120 Dempsey Delivers:

Your favourite restaurants on call

122 Chef’s Hat:

We try a Moroccan cooking class

124 Recipe Corner:

Favourites to add to your repertoire

126 Tapas Talk:

A Spanish spot you’ll love

TRAVEL 130 News 132 Destination Focus:

Maldives tips for the bucket list

136 Wishful Thinking:

Our editor revisits Mauritius

140 Wildlife Diaries:

Saving Malaysia’s gibbons




Get your wardrobe wanderlust- ready! 152

Beauty news, tips and giveaways! 162

STYLE & BEAUTY 146 Style News 148 Sustainable Sunnies: A chat with the founder of Truth&All 150 Arm Candy: How to care for your bags 152 Resort Ready: Prep your wardrobe for brighter days! 158 Beauty News 160 Smooth Operator: Two hair removal treatments to try 162 Tried & Tested: We review hydrating serums and creams HEALTH & FITNESS 168 News 173 Feeling Tender? Why your breasts hurt 174 Diet Diaries: Discover your food allergies 176 Home Workouts: Fun fitness regimes REGULARS 182 Horoscopes for May 184 Puzzle Pages 186 Numbers & Websites

187 Advertiser List 188 Parting Shot:

What I learnt from growing things




Our luggage may be condemned to storage for the foreseeable future, but thank goodness the 20th century gifted us with virtual escapism!We not only have the likes of Instagram, FaceTime and Zoom to keep our social and professional lives going, but our free time can still be just as rewarding from the comfort of our own homes. Here are our sanity solutions to keep you going. Odds are you’ve already downloaded this app and caught up with pals from all over, but for those late to the party (pun intended), the Houseparty app is a must! Allowing up to eight people to join a virtual hangout complete with games, this is all you need to keep the family reunions going and your social life afloat. For other great games, we suggest Scrabble Go!, UNO, Mario Kart Tour – all free to download in your app store. THROW A HOUSE PARTY OR HOST GAMES NIGHT

CATCH A CONCERT OR CABARET The Social Distancing Festival (socialdistancingfestival. com) features a calendar of upcoming arts events to stream online from comedies, cabarets, concerts, art exhibitions and more. Theatre fans can also visit, a streaming service that brings hit productions from Broadway to the West End straight into your living room. From 2 April onwards, the National Theatre in London ( will also be releasing a new play every Thursday. It’ll be free to watch for one week along with bonus content including cast and creative Q&As and post-stream talks. TOUR A MUSEUM From the Louvre ( in Paris to New York’s Guggenheim (, hundreds of galleries and museums are offering virtual tours from the comfort of your couch. We particularly enjoyed revisiting the diplodocus and other childhood favourites at the Natural History Museum (


GO TO THE ZOO San Diego Zoo ( and Melbourne Zoo ( are among many that are bringing the wild and wacky to us. Watch pandas play and lions laze from the 24/7 live feeds in the animal enclosures. If seaside scenes are more your vibe, the Vancouver Aquarium ( has jellyfish and otter cams ready for the big screen.




GET FIT! From yoga to CrossFit, the online workout options are endless. Here are a few that come tried and tested and with a badge of approval from the EL team! • UFIT has launched virtual daily classes via Zoom, as well as UFIT Online Coaching, matching you with one of their 60 personal trainers to help you meet your goals. • Les Mills ( on demand offers fav classes like Body Combat, Sh’Bam and Body Attack for full- body workouts. • In light of COVID-19, Chris Hemsworth has granted a six-week free trial to Centr (, a personalised health and fitness app that gives you access to an extensive range of high-intensity workouts and personalised meal plans. • American boxing studio, Rumble (@doyourumble) is hosting classes on Instagram live (and will be saved for 24 hours). The workouts feature cardio and bodyweight workouts every morning. • Lululemon is offering yoga, meditation, anywhere workouts, and self-care tips that are free and available on its IGTV and YouTube channel. HANG WITH THE CELEBS Bored of watching your friends do push-ups in their living room? Follow the likes of Chrissy Teigen, Miley Cyrus, John Krasinski and Ryan Reynolds on Instagram for some comical and uplifting content. Likewise, Hollywood’s keeping the wheels turning with a line- up of virtual shows and star-studded interviews. You can still catch Jimmy Kimmel ( kimmel-live), Conan ( and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon ( as they link up with celebrity guests from home.

Les Mills On Demand

BECOME A MASTER CHEF You’ve been gifted the luxury of time, so forget microwave meals and store- bought bread. Why not learn to bake a sourdough loaf or grow your own herb garden? On YouTube, eHowGarden and Rachel Talbott are great starting points with the green thumb basics. If you’re a novice in the kitchen, Tasty ( and Yummly ( are popular favourites with easy to follow videos; their apps can also be customised to your personal preferences. Jamie Oliver’s Recipes and BigOven are also free apps with endless recipes to try. For those looking to really impress, why not learn from a Michelin-starred chef? Massimo Bottura (@MassimoBottura)

Jimmy Fallon

is in lockdown at home with his family and has taken this opportunity to transform his home kitchen into a live cooking studio for Kitchen Quarantine, where viewers can join him on Instagram Live as he prepares mouth-watering meals for his family. TRAVEL FROM HOME You may not pick up a tan, but there’s plenty to keep feeding your wanderlust ways for now. Tick off your bucket list with Google Earth ( or Google Street View (, a virtual representation of interactive panoramas from positions along many streets in the world. Keen for the outdoors? has up to 100 livestream webcams set up in national parks and wildlife sanctuaries around the world that you can view at any given moment – including the spellbinding Northern Lights! Meanwhile, for those who were eagerly awaiting spring break or who miss a good night out, Ushuaïa Ibiza has launched #StayAtHomeSessions on Facebook – a re-stream of some of 2019’s best DJ sets from Ibiza, to bring the party atmosphere into your homes!

17 MAY2020


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May2020 Issue214 S$6.90 BLACK&WHITES •TAKEAWAYS •SCHOOLS MCI (P)032/02/2020







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Reviewing some of the best bites in town!

19 MAY2020


58 Buying Guide: Consoles, cabinets and sideboards


28 Online Shopping: Furniture stores that are open for business

32 Home Showcases: We peek inside three black-and-white beauties

64 Inside Story: Our readers rate their recent relocation services



Trim & Terrific Did you know that trimmings are one of an interior designers’ favourite tools for updating home décor? They’re an easy and effective way to refresh your space and make it appear more polished. Trimmings can be added to the edges of upholstered furniture or the borders of cushions and curtains. We love the newest Bali collection ( pictured ) fromAmerican brand Samuel & Sons, featuring dreamy and nature-inspired borders, fringes, tiebacks and more. Visit Altfield Interiors on Instagram ( @altfieldin eriorssng ) to get some more decorative inspiration.

Eco Cleaning Ecological Ole Hyvä detergents from Finland clean both your home and your laundry gently but effectively. All the ingredients are 100 percent plant- based, biodegradable, environmentally friendly and vegan – yippee! The signature product is the Laundry Vinegar, a handy replacement for your usual fabric softener. It softens but also stops your whites from becoming yellow, and it brightens colours. Also, it doubles up as a cleaner for your washing machine by preventing sediment from gathering. Jump on to order and see more products for the home and body.

Retail Therapy The Spring/Summer edition of Boutique Fairs may have been cancelled, but we can still do our shopping as the fair has gone online! Head to the Boutique Fairs website and explore a wide variety of brands selling everything from women’s and men’s fashion and home and décor to art and children’s apparel. Just click on your favourite store and you’ll be directed to their website where you can browse collections and get them delivered to your doorstep.




Photo Management Mistakes You’re Making TECH TROUBLESHOOTING SARAH & BO, TEKKIE HELP

#1 You don’t have a centralised digital photo hub A digital photo hub is the one place where all your photos can live safely together. This centralised hub can be backed up to protect your precious memories. A digital photo hub is generally a computer with a big enough hard drive capacity to store all of your photos on – we recommend at least 1TB of storage for an average-sized photo library. SOLUTION: Check the storage space on your computer; if you don’t have enough space, you may wish to consider upgrading the hard drive (we can do this for you), buying a refurbished computer with a large hard drive ( or buying a new computer. #2 You have photos scattered all over the place When you have photos all over the place, it makes it incredibly difficult to manage and easily access the photos you want, let alone ensuring they are safely backed up. SOLUTION: Make an appointment with yourself to transfer your photos off your phone, camera and social media on a regular basis. You can even scan any printed photos into your photo library using apps such as Google Scan. #3 You’re not deleting the rubbish We all have hundreds, even thousands of photos that aren’t worthy of printing or even keeping. These can clog up and clutter our digital photo libraries. SOLUTION: Take the time to delete photos you don’t want as you import them, or even better still, as you take them. (...and how to fix them!) 5 Organising your photos can be a chore, but there are plenty of mistakes you can avoid to maintain a neat and ordered collection. We’ve come upwith this list of the topmistakes peoplemake with their photos. Some are easy fixes, and some require a bit more work, but they’re all worth rectifying.

#4 You don’t label your file Adding any information to the metadata of photos can help identify and organise photos, for ease of searching at a later date. SOLUTION: Immediately after you transfer your photos, either rename the files or add labels to the metadata. We recommend bulk tagging photos from a particular holiday and labelling the ones that are your favourite or you know you will need to access easily in the future. For example, scans of your passport or “Bali 2020”. #5 You don’t have a robust backup What if your computer crashes? What if you lose your phone? Do you have a backup strategy for your photos? Not many people do. Natural disasters, tech crashes and theft can jeopardise your photos. Be cautious about the Cloud. iCloud is not a robust backup solution; it’s a synchronising software. If you accidentally delete photos off a device, it will delete on all devices if set to synchronise. Many customers fall into this trap and the results can be devastating. SOLUTION: We recommend implementing a 3-2-1 backup strategy whereby you have three copies of your data, in at least two different formats with one in a different “offsite” location (for example, in the Cloud or in another physical location).

If you need help implementing a good photomanagement strategy or need guidance on how to get the most out of your photo management software, Tekkie Help runs workshops on just this! For more information and to book, visit or call Sarah on 8113 8682.





... a glamorous home décor set FROM THE CINNAMON ROOM

The Grand Prize includes: • A glamorous 1.5m round metallic hide rug in a neutral ox-hide grey-silver mermaid design, worth $975. This is the perfect accent piece to bring an area alive with some chic flair! • Add a pop of colour to your design scheme with a sumptuous vibrant hued hide cushion cover, worth $120 to complement your round hide rug. • A stylish set of two aluminium enamel geometric design bowls, worth $270. Style these around the home decoratively or entertain in style and use them as serving bowls. • A nested set of two white netted pillar lanterns worth $135, giving soft ambient candle lighting to any cosy design scheme.

The Cinnamon Room’s range of hide rugs and artisan-crafted home décor provides effortless solutions to transform any space in a refreshingly eclectic style. The brand’s award-winning contemporary hide rug collection is handmade using high-grade, ethically sourced hides – it’s stylish and durable. This is a low-pile collection, too, which means maintenance is simple: red wine or coffee stains just wipe away. For busy households, it’s a stylish and practical solution. To stand a chance to win one of The Cinnamon Room’s signature hide rugs and more, join our competition! There’s a selection of gorgeous home décor items up for grabs, hand curated by The Cinnamon Room’s founder Visha Nelson to create a stylish pocket in your home, to the total value of $1500.

Visit The Cinnamon Room’s vibrant Holland Village showroom at 43 Jalan Merah Saga, #02-74 or shop online at

worth $1,500!

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




Staying indoors and social distancing doesn’t mean you have tomiss out on some retail therapy. For example, you can shop for gorgeous homeware in your pyjamas and get it delivered right to your door – all while trying to home-school the kids!

Beautiful and sustainable Not only are the items stocked at Originals beautiful, but the store also strives to make a positive impact by caring about how each product looks, lasts and makes people feel. It doesn’t just sell furniture; it sources, makes and customises it too. Some pieces here are old, and some are new, but all are carefully sourced. The team says: “You can browse our extended collections online, save your favourites, and view the product details including dimensions, quality and materials.”

Terrific tables and sofas Grey and Sanders are trying to make it a little easier for you to shop from home. You can head to the store’s website and buy the full range of natural-edge tables and custom sofas directly. High-resolution images of each piece will help you get a better idea of the product’s details and unique characteristics. The team says: “This year, we’ve added some new and exciting fabrics to our range of upholstery choices. We’re also bringing in a small selection of exotic timbers for those looking for unique statement pieces.”




Antique hunting It’s always a treat rummaging around the fascinating Just Anthony store, but now you can jump online and find a hidden treasure, too. Shop for antique and reproduction cabinets, shoe cabinets, beds, intricate door panels and home décor. The team says: “We have a heap of new table lamps, and more recently our more popular reproduction pieces are available online. We’ve expanded our antiques section, too.”

Designer-inspired The range of distinctive, designer-inspired (not replica) luxury furniture from Black & Walnut won’t break the bank but it will turn your home into a unique showpiece. The team sources crafted designer furniture without the designer price tag. The team says: “Hit up our website for a first peek at the latest collections in the comfort of your own home. Plus, you’ll get to access our in-store promotions online as well.” Sleep softly You might be spending a bit more time at home and in bed (Netflix and chill, anyone?) so why not treat yourself to some silky soft 100 percent natural bamboo fibre sheets? Hop onto the European Bedding online store and check out their range of Heveya Bamboo sheet sets in a heap of colour varieties. They’re an excellent eco-friendly choice and they wick away moisture, keeping you dry, cool and comfortable. The team says: “Buying products from a green company like us is not just about investing in a better life for yourselves but also for others and the environment.”

Consciously curated Y o u c a n s h o p t h e L i v i n g D N A collections of rugs, furniture, homewares and art online – all chosen for the reliable quality and sustainable production. Owner Denise Kaur has a passion for beautifully handcrafted, soulful décor – pieces that add depth, substance and character to any home.

Denise says: “We’ve just taken stock of the prettiest marbled enamelware from Turkey – it’s lightweight, easy to clean, food- safe and stylish, to go straight from the oven to the table. I also just sourced a range of beautiful hand-painted ceramics from Vietri Sul Mare. The lemon-themed collection includes large serving plates, modular platters, dinner plates and even cutlery holders. Everything is hand-painted, dishwasher-safe and meant to be used over and over again for generations.”

29 MAY2020


Scandi furniture fix Browse the Scanteak website for durable teak furniture in trendy Scandinavian designs. There is price transparency between the products in-store and online, as well as a live chat function on standby for answering any queries. From time to time, you’ll also find exclusive online sales, so watch out for those! The team says: “We’re bringing in new dining chairs, beds, sideboards and dining tables, with introductory prices. We’ve also got an upgraded version of our popular functional bookshelf. And we have more products made from recycled materials or responsibly-sourced material.”

Tropical resort vibe When you can’t travel, what do you do? Get the resort feel delivered to your doorstep from INBALI . Every item is ethically made by incredible artisans on the famous Indonesian island. So, you can bring an authentic Balinese experience into your home while supporting villagers and the local economy. The team says: “We’ve had increasing requests for custom- made furniture, so we’re offering affordable and highly customised products to fit any interior requirements online too. We’re able to customise anything you can dream of, regardless of dimensions, material, textile, colours and finishing.”

Artisan-crafted décor The award-winning contemporary rugs, carpets and unique accessories found at The Cinnamon Room are also available online. You’ll find great style inspiration and countless solutions for transforming and creating memorable spaces in your home. The team says: “Our online store offers lots of advice about rug placement to help you make the right choice. We include inspirational images of our contemporary hide rugs in situ to help you visualise the rugs in a room setting. We’ll be adding new ranges of hand-woven dhurrie and jute rug collections, too.”

Luxe homeware The Taylor B online store has everything you need to create a luxurious, one-of-a- kind home. Every product has a detailed description and multiple pictures, and the site is super easy to use. From beds to dining tables, home décor and more – you can even deck out your home office. The collections include traditional to Art Deco, modern to elegant country, so you’ll be clicking “Add To Cart” in no time!




ADAM PARK The 19 black-and-white houses of Adam Park were built in the late 1920s for municipal purposes. They played witness to a fierce three-day battle during World War II (leading to one area being known as “Hellfire Corner”), and then served as a prisoner- of-war camp for defeated Australian and British troops. Over a thousand artefacts have been found in the area to document that period. Did you know? One of the houses in Adam Park was established by POWs as a chapel.

Goodwood Hill’s bungalows were built by the Public Works Department in 1910. Over time, the houses here have regularly been used for administrative purposes – firstly by the British, then in the second half of the 20th century as a study centre for Singapore’s political and civil service leaders. Did you know? GoodwoodHill boasts some of Singapore’s oldest black- and-whites. DEMPSEY When the outbreak of World War II sparked a need for more military accommodation in Singapore, Ridley Park and Ridout Roadwere two enclaves close to the existing Tanglin Barracks that were developed as married quarters for officers and their families. Did you know? Ridley Park is named for Henry Nicholas Ridley, an English botanist who developed the rubber industry in the Malay Peninsula.

On the following pages, you’ll get a look inside a few of the island’s black-and-whites houses – the renowned colonial bungalows that were built by the British in the period before World War II. There are around 500 of these buildings still standing in Singapore; this map shows some of the key areas where they can be found today. Singapore’s Black-and-Whites


Just off Portsdown Road is a big group of black-and-whites built in the 1930s and 40s. The 70 or so semi-detached houses and walk-up apartments housed British servicemen working at military sites in Alexandra and Pasir Panjang. Today, the estate is known for its collection of art studios and galleries. Did you know? Roads here are named for English towns and all start with a “W” –Woking, Westbourne, Whitchurch, Weyhill and Wilton. ROCHESTER PARK There are around 40 black-and-white bungalows in Rochester Park, which were used in the 1940s primarily by British military soldiers stationed at Pasir Panjang Military Complex and their families. Today, several of the buildings operate as bars and restaurants. Did you know? This area is home to the only Starbucks- occupied black-and-white! NEPAL HILL A dozen or so black-and-whites can be found at Nepal Hill, a small area just to the southeast of Rochester Park. They were built in the late 1930s for the same purpose, to house British officers and their families. Did you know? The famous Gurkha regiment of Nepalese recruits led by British officers was stationed at the foot of the hill, hence the name of the area.

MOUNT PLEASANT The cluster of black-and-whites on the north slope of Mount Pleasant are among the grandest in Singapore. Built in the 1930s, they were used as accommodation by high-ranking officers, including senior police from the nearby Police Depot (later Singapore’s Police Academy, until 2005). Did you know? During the war, the estate was a work camp for POWs building the Shinto shrine that’s hidden away in MacRitchie Reservoir even to this day.





From 1938, the far north of Singapore was home to a massive British naval base – at the time, the world’s largest dry dock. The sizeable collection of black-and-white houses here were built for the use of senior officers; many sat on elevated land, with balconies to allow for a vantage point back to the base. Did you know? The roads here take their names from former British colonies and territories: Bermuda, Pakistan, Canberra, Delhi, Sudan and so on.

SELETAR CAMP The military camp at Seletar was built in the 1920s and 1930s to housemilitary personnel from the nearby Seletar Airbase. As this was formerly the largest British Royal Air Force (RAF) base in the Far East, the area has Singapore’s biggest black-and-white count, with around 200 bungalows still standing. Did you know? There used to be many more than that! 174 were demolished to make way for the Seletar Aerospace Park in the 2000s. The roads here are named after London Underground stations: Edgeware, Piccadilly, Maida Vale and so on.

Black-and-whites take their name from the contrast between the dark timbers used in the beams of the houses and their bright whitewashed walls. The dark tone of the wood is a result of it being treated for termites with an oil called creosote.


In 1927, the British general Webb Gillman surveyed Ch a ng i a s a po t e n t i a l defensive fortress. The area he assessed was a swampy forest, previously used for growing coconuts. Black-and-white houses were built here in the late 1920s and early 1930s as residences for senior British officers – in particular, for the Royal Engineers. Did you know: In the 1920s, the only way to get to Changi from the city centre was along an unpaved track to Changi Village.



The small cluster of surviving black-and-whites on the southern slope of Mount Faber were inspired by the Art Deco movement in the 1920s. This was a popular spot for colonial houses as it was quiet, while still being central. Did you know? Following a recent $1 million refurb of black-and-whites here by the Singapore Land Authority, there are plans to make the area a heritage trail. ALEXANDRA PARK The earliest black-and-whites were built on this spot to complement the Alexandra Barracks. While some date as far back as 1906, most were erected in the 1930s for senior medical staff of the Royal Army Medical Corps who worked in the Alexandra Military Hospital. Did you know: The area takes its name from Princess Alexandra, wife of then Prince of Wales and later King Edward VII.

Located just east of the Alexandra Park enclave, and known today as one of Singapore’s most prominent art centres, the small collection of colonial buildings at Gillman Barracks was built in 1936 for the British infantry. Aside from the barracks, there were black-and-whites that served as married quarters for officers. Did you know: Gillman was one of the final outposts to fall to the Japanese in World War II.

WHERE ELSE? While we’ve listed some of the bigger collections of black-and-whites in Singapore, there are other pockets on the island where you’ll find colonial buildings of this kind – Evans Road, Monks Hill Terrace, Hooper Road, MalcolmRoad and Nassim Road, to name a few .

33 MAY2020


Home on Adam Drive

When a fashion maven turned furniture designer adds her style to an iconic black-and-white, magic happens.


“As I see it, black-and-white houses are the soul of Singapore and living in one is a real privilege,” says CLAIRE WARREN. “For us, it’s been a highlight of our eleven years living here”. Truth is, Claire’s husband Digby was a bit obsessed with the idea of living in a black-and- white, plus the family was sick of moving and always chasing a bigger house. They’d already lived in a condo in Holland Village and a duplex on Kheam Hock and they were hungering for a big garden. Boy, did they get it. With three bedrooms and one and a half bathrooms, the house isn’t all that large, but the yard is simply massive, which means the couple’s three children – Mia (10), Sebastian (8) and Lucian (3) – can run around outside from the moment they walk in the door after school. Battling screen time isn’t a problem in the Warren house. Their weeknights are all about freedom and fresh air.




35 MAY2020

A strong community “What’s great about Adam Drive is the community,” says Claire. “A lot of the families on the street have kids and many are even in the same school. The children get an element of independence because they can roam around together and have instant playdates. We tend to either have no children here or six or more children all at one time, as they roam between the houses swimming, jumping on the trampoline, rollerblading, riding their bikes and walking the dogs. For us, it feels like you’re living in a little village and it’s fabulous to be able to rely on your neighbours. “Halloween on the Drive is always lots of fun, too, and there are plenty of barbecues between the neighbours. We love our location because we are set back off the road so we do have quite a bit of privacy.”

In the end, the house is about our lifestyle as much as anything else

Fixing it up The Warrens have made the most of their yard, really taking the term “outdoor living” to heart. The pool is just a few steps from the front door, so they redid and expanded the decking, adding an outdoor dining area for entertaining. They also added overhead fans to make the outdoor sitting area a usable extension of their indoor living room. The indoor dining space was repurposed into an office. And – like with many black-and-whites – they had to install all the blinds and curtains themselves, as well as the air-conditioning. “We don’t turn the air-cons on except at night. Because we’re on a hill, we get a nice breeze. When the doors are open, we have to be mindful of all the wildlife,” laughs Claire.




Wildlife indeed! Adam Drive has lots of monkeys. Lots. In fact, Claire’s husband once had a steak thawing on the kitchen counter and a monkey came in and stole it, leaving only the Tupperware container behind. What smarties!Wild boars, who are losingmore andmore of their natural habitat (the Singapore Island Country Club’s golf course backs up to their land), wander into the yard looking for food, and recently attacked their dog, Biscuit. On the upside, there are beautiful oriole birds and, not long ago, they had a nest of three kingfisher babies. They really are living in a jungle. “I was born and brought up in London, but my Indian parents are expats and they’ve done jungle living in Sarawak, Malaysia,” explains Claire. “Andmy husband grewup in Jakarta for 25 years, lived in Banda Aceh and has been camping in the jungle. So it wasn’t a massive leap for either one of us. It’s not like we stepped off the streets of London into a completely foreign world.” The area of Adam Drive has a remarkable history, too, as a former Second World War headquarters and camp. It was originally used by British troops, before being taken over by the Japanese military and used as a camp for prisoners of war, primarily women and children. (You can find more about the area’s history on our website,

37 MAY2020

Making a house a home Claire’s background is in fashion, having worked for the likes of Chanel and Club 21. Now, she’s the owner of The Grey House, an interior lifestyle brand that has a focus on rugs and furniture, much of it with the flexibility to customise to the client. She applies her brand philosophy to her own home with beautiful results. “The way I look at it, expats move all the time. It’s so much easier if you have a neutral canvas to start with as it gives you more adaptability and versatility. I believe in buying good-quality products that give you the longevity you want.” Claire is all about textures and fabrics, and creating the feel of a place. She has also commissioned a few bespoke pieces for their home. Her husband Digby, on the other hand, likes to arrange the furniture and figure out the best layout. “He has very good spatial awareness,” Claire explains. “He’s constantly moving furniture around and rearranging things; it’s as though we get a new home all the time. But it has been an essential part of living in our black-and-white. With only three bedrooms, we have had to be creative in how we used the space as we needed to maximise the living area to be a place to relax, a TV area (without




the TV taking over the room) and also a dining area. With careful space planning and layouts, and creating clearly defined zones with furniture and textiles (aka rugs!), we were able to turn our L-shape room into a multifunctional zone. We have separation and definition, but also continuity throughout the room.” The home is dotted with furniture items from The Grey House, such as some iconic leather woven chairs; but the couple also have bits and bobs from across the globe. There are temple weavings from Indonesia, and traditional English button-back chairs passed down from Claire’s mum, mixed with sleek marble table-tops. A special piece of art was a gift from all her friends for her 40th birthday. And there’s a round bespoke table that gets used for indoor dining. Claire loves round tables as they’re multifunctional; they also take up less room while still being able to fit lots of people. And, while the home has been fun to decorate with her style, living in a black-and-white for them is more than just about being in a house rather than a condo. “In the end, the house is about our lifestyle as much as anything else. Our kids are growing up free and outside. It simply doesn’t get better than that.”

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Soho Home (“they don’t deliver everything internationally but they have beautiful homeware”) Jimmy Textiles (“Noel helped me make all the roman blinds without breaking the bank!”) Parisilk (“for all your white goods and air-cons”) Home Fashions, Wendy (“for making new or recovering old lampshades”)

Recommendations (“gorgeous, new Singapore-based website by blogger Charlie Cameron, showcasing a stunning curation of furniture and homeware”) Cuckoo Little Lifestyle (“for gorgeous children’s furniture and accessories”) Merci Marcel (“quirky gifts in Palais Renaissance”) Soul & Tables (“quality and stylish furniture”) Bode (“the best selection of fabrics and cushions”)

Pinterest (“for loads of inspiration”)

The Grey House (“furniture, rugs and homewares, and we work with clients to customise the perfect

pieces for their homes”)






“Living in a black-and-white is a bit like having a boat,” says MATTHEW LOGAN. “It’s a lifestyle. You’ve always got to be fixing things. Something always needs to be looked after and you have to be innovative and a bit creative about how you handle things, too. But it’s all worth it because it’s a way of life you just can’t get in a condo.” First impressions Matthew, his wife Jenni, and their two daughters Bella and Jesse moved to their three-bedroom home in Seletar four years ago from a condo near the Botanic Gardens. They hadn’t really planned to move to a black-and-white, even though their condo lease was up. But seeing was believing! “Friends of ours we knew through our kids’ football club kept telling us about Seletar. So we came up for a dinner party and, within a half an hour, we were walking around with a glass of champagne looking at all the empty places. It was love at first sight.” Seletar was the first British Royal Air Force (RAF) base east of India and it also served as a civilian airport until 1937, when Kallang Airport was opened to the public. Many of the surrounding black-and-whites were a part of that early beginning, a history Matthew is fascinated in. Matthew and Jenni put in a high bid to make sure they got the place they wanted. Even so, the rent is only around a half or so of what they were paying for the condo, but the place did take quite a bit of fixing up to make it the way they wanted it. People generally think of Singapore as urban living, but life in a Seletar black- and-white house is anything but urban. BY MELINDA MURPHY PHOTOGRAPHY MICHAEL BERNABE

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Doing the refurbs Inside, they installed aircons and redid all the bathrooms, and they added a sliding door to one of the downstairs rooms to create a guest room. The bedrooms are quite large, and each has a smaller space within it, which makes the rooms really versatile. The kitchen has a passthrough to the back patio, but it’s small and hasn’t been updated (though one neighbour apparently just redid theirs using IKEA and it looks fabulous). The family’s helper also has a large area. But the real transformation took place outside. They added a pool and a Balinese-style alang alang thatched shelter that covers the entire back area. They loved their neighbours’ so much that they had one built just like it. It’s beautiful and it never leaks, but it will have to be replaced every five years or so as they don’t wear well. They also added a portable bar they bought at Woody’s Antique House in Dempsey, some furniture from neighbourhood garage sales, and pieces they brought with them from Sydney. They now spend a lot of their time at home outside, admiring their

We can’t imagine living anywhere else in Singapore now

lovely, large yard, which has also undergone quite the makeover. “I’ve designed a lot of the garden myself,” says Matthew. “We planted all around the perimeter to make the space more private and we cleared away a lot of the brush and bamboo, too, to keep snakes away. We found this great gardener who really looks out for us. I bought about 50 plants for $10 each, and the jasmine hedges were $2.50 a plant, plus transportation. Everything grows so fast here that it takes no time for the yard to look completely different. That makes gardening here fun!”




Stress-free environment Matthew grew up in a bushland area bordering one of Sydney’s national parks, and Jenni grew up overlooking a Sydney Harbour reserve. They love the openness of Seletar and that kids can have a childhood like theirs, roaming around the neighbourhood, riding skateboards or their bikes without worry. Both Matthew and Jenni work in demanding roles: Matthew is a registered psychologist at Alliance Counselling and Jenni is Google’s general counsel for Asia Pacific. They agree that they feel the stress of work disappear as soon as they drive through the old RAF gates into their neighbourhood. They also love the beautiful birdlife in the area, such as colourful kingfishers and orioles, and even the occasional bird of prey. A few hornbills nest in their front garden trees and divebomb their neighbour’s fishpond (and are remarkably noisy!). And yes, they have seen a couple of snakes in the garden; critters come with black-and-white living. There are also wild boars in the neighbourhood, but Matthew and Jenni purposefully chose plants that don’t attract boars. And, because the yard is now so open, they can see any snakes that come by, and they haven’t really had any problems.

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Community vibe One of the best parts of Seletar living is the community. Years ago, there was a big playgroup in the neighbourhood that has kept going, even though the kids are all grown up. Now, it’s expanded to include pretty much everybody. People take turns hosting Friday night parties which can involve outdoor movie nights, baseball matches or even local kids’ talent shows. They even have a resident band that jams at some of the parties, with Matthew on blues harmonica. The families, including the children and the helpers, all get together for big meals that everyone contributes to, making Seletar feel like a big family home. So, while it might seem far (in Singapore terms) from the “happening” part of the country, it turns out there is a lot to do on the weekends here. In fact, if there’s a downside to Seletar living from Matthew’s point of view, it’s the loud amplified music that’s played some evenings at The Oval, a nearby renovated area filled with restaurants and bars. But that’s only a small trade-off for the country-living feel. “We thought about living on Sentosa when we first got here, but we have beaches back in Australia. The black-and-white life is something uniquely Singaporean and the lifestyle really does suit us. We can’t imagine living anywhere else in Singapore now.”





Furniture “The myriad of furniture shops in the Tan Boon Liat Building on Outram Road – Emperor’s Attic, Journey East, Singapore Trading Post, The Shophouse and so on. Also, Woody’s Antique House in Dempsey.” Neighbourhood garage sales “These can be a great furnishing source as expats can have an entire house of items to sell when they relocate.” (Matthew and Jenni even did an old-school letter-drop in black-and-white neighbourhoods asking about upcoming sales.) Singapore living, so we burn them in nearly every room of our house.” The Art Faculty “This platform showcases beautiful Singaporean artwork and products by people with autism and related challenges, and provides royalties to the artists for each sale.” Gardeners Urban Garden Landscaping, Matthew Quek 9226 2268 To Be Calm candles “They have beautiful fragrances to reflect

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Putting Down Roots Wemeet a family keen to embrace their role as custodians of an historic Singapore home.

C harlie Cameron, her husband Jim and their two children Finn and Pippa moved three years ago into one of the stunning black-and- white homes in Ridley Park. The homes in this cluster were where the British officers lived who commanded the men in the barracks that are now Dempsey Hill. When the British handed Singapore back, the government let the British maintain a property in the area on permanent lease. Now, half of Ridley Park is occupied by British consulate staff, the other half is not. Charlie’s home is one of the latter. “I feel like I’m just the next custodian of this beautiful home,” says Charlie. “For me, it’s a joy to make a home for us to live in. But I also want to respect everything that’s gone before and respect what this house means to Singapore’s heritage. I feel there’s a responsibility for anybody who lives in a black-and-white.” An Art Deco twist This black-and-white is a bit different to many of the colonial homes built in the area in the 1920s. Most were originally one-storey homes on stilts that have now had the stilts enclosed to make the structure a two-storey building. Charlie’s home, however, was built a few years later – in 1935 – and was a two-storey home from the start. Unlike the colonial style, this one is Art Deco in design. The doorways are squared, not rounded; the roof is flat and there are other Art Deco touches throughout that define the house. It’s a very special home to all who have lived here. “Twice, we’ve had families come by with elderly grandparents from overseas,” explains Charlie. “They just rang the doorbell wanting to see the home because they had lived here as children. Both were children of British officers and were intrigued to see where they grew up. I tried to leave them be to enjoy the trip down memory lane for themselves.”


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