MAY 2018


MAY 2018







EDITOR’SNOTE On April Fool’s Day, it was my 20th anniversary of arriving in Singapore, and it is a bit of a laugh as we were only coming for two years! I bet you’ve heard that one before…but how easy it is to forget how things have changed in that time. In 1998, if we wanted to go to Orchard or the CBD we had to buy a “ticket” at the petrol station to stick on the front windscreen. These changed colour daily so you couldn’t put yesterday’s one on again. There were little “ rondavels ” dotted about town (there was one in front of where the Marriott is now), and in each one sat several inspectors. They made a note of anyone who didn’t have the right certificate, and you got sent a fine in the post. Can you imagine that happening now?! Going to Sentosa was a real mission; you had to take the ferry or the cable car. There were a couple of large attap umbrellas on the beach for shelter, but you had to take pretty much everything with you unless you could afford to go to one of the two or three hotels there. Trying to get on the last ferry was a bun-fight – great fun when you had a double buggy and tired sandy toddlers… Most good restaurants were in hotels and they were inside and in air-con; it was really difficult to find anything alfresco. Robinsons at Centrepoint was the main shopping hub. There was a temporary playground/carnival that was set up around Christmas, on a grassy area where ION is now. And, of course, there was no MBS and no road linking the Suntec area to it. We watched the building edge up with no idea what it was going to be or that it would become such an icon of Singapore. Back then it was all still about the Merlion! May is our favourite issue because it features lovely black-and-white homes, and the message from one of the residents we interviewed emphasises the importance of making a home for yourself wherever you are physically, not just biding time before the next move. In the context of how many expats end up staying here way longer than they initially thought, it’s a very relevant message. We wanted to see how the demographics of our readers had changed over the past decade, so we are revealing the results of our 2008 Reader Survey again in conjunction with our new survey, to do a direct comparison. We do hope you’ll help because we think the results will be very interesting! We’ll be sharing them in June. You could win a couple of great Banyan Tree stays too (see page 30).

REBECCA BISSET Editor-in-Chief

Enjoy the issue!



Editor-in-Chief REBECCA BISSET



Partnerships & Events SUSAN KNUDSEN-PICKLES

Video Content MELINDA MURPHY Chief Operations Officer COLIN PURCHASE Contributing Writers HARSHARAN KAUR | JENNY TRENGOVE


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Nina & David Beale’s Alexandra Park home




NEWS 18 Calendar Updates: 26 Readers’ Letters 28 EL Forum:

What’s on in the months ahead

What we’re up to online, plus our upcoming events

30 Reader Survey:

Join in and stand a chance to win a holiday escape! HOME&PROPERTY 34 News 36 WIN! Tatinis Art Show puts a piece up for grabs BLACK-AND-WHITE HOMES Nina and David's Alexandra Park home Visiting heritage houses with Jane’s Singapore Tours A Scottish family welcomes us into their black-and-white

38 48 50 58 60

The history of Alexandra Estate Finding the right furniture and accessories

LIFE & FAMILY 86 News 94 Noticeboard: New births and pet adoptions 96 Celebrating Mother’s Day 99 Best of British is Back 100 Culture Corner:

38 Life in one of

Singapore’s colonial homes

Exploring a museum with a nautical theme

102 Expert Voice:

Tips on chartering the right yacht

104 People Profile:

Selina Boyd on business and change

107 Education Update:

Meet the new head of UWCSEA’s East Campus

109 Learning Curves:

Innovative drum therapy for kids

62 Product News:

110 School’s Out:

Outdoor pieces with a resort-living vibe

Fun camps for the kids this summer

65 Buying Guide:

118 Volunteering:

Benches, consoles and sideboards

Helping with horse-riding for the disabled

72 Street Talk:

120 The Environment:

Living in Bedok North

Could Singapore run out of water?

75 Inside Story:

122 Around Town:

Readers recommend moving companies

Photos from openings, parties, festivals and more




WINE & DINE 140 News 145 Six-in-One: A dining destination with eating options galore 146 Bar Tab: New and notable spots for a tipple 148 Aussie Eats: We try some of the best across town 152 Spanish Cuisine: Four restaurants with top tapas and more 156 Recipe Corner: Fail-safe favourites to add to your repertoire 158 Chef Talk: Marco Manocchio on the perfect pasta TRAVEL 164 News 167 Destination Focus: Japan tips and travel highlights 172 Beach Breaks: EL staff recommendations and more 178 Country of Contrasts: A fab family holiday in the UAE

152 Some terrific tastes of Spain


of the Magic

spotted lotsofArabianoryx (a typeof antelope), stopped at an oasis,and thenwanderedon foot forabit.Mykids loved feeling the silky sandbetween their toes and learning about thedesert from ourkind andknowledgeable guide. Whenwe returned,wewatcheda falconry show then feasted on Bedouin-style food includingwarm camelmilk and camel stew. “Come on,Mom. Itmight be your favourite food.”Why is it that things you tell your kids always come back to haunt you? I took adeepbreath and tasted it.Guesswhat?Bothwere shockinglygood!Afterdinner, somemendid a traditionalYola dance, followed by drum playing and singing, encouraging everybody to join in.My daughter and I got henna on our hands andmy son got ahenna scorpion onhis arm beforewe all climbed on camels for a short ride through the dark desert under a fullmoon. Itwasmagical. TheSurf Dubai sits on the ArabianGulf so there is plenty of room for fun in the water. JBR is Dubai’s version of Sentosa, with an incredible boardwalk that includes dozens of restaurants and thousands of sunbathers. Just off the coast is AquaFun , the world’s largest floating obstacle course (it spells “Dubai” from theair).Wedidn’thaveenough time to try it,and thekidswere happyenoughplaying in thebigwaves,but it’sdefinitelya spot for families to visit.

camelwassportinganorangeneck. I foundout later thatcamels whocome in the top threespotsarerubbedwithprecioussaffron as a reward.By theway, gambling is illegal in theUnitedArab Emirates,but there isprizemoney tobewon. And sowent our firstmorning inDubai. We finished that sameday standingbelow the BurjKhalifa , the tallestbuilding in theworld.Wide-eyed,wewatchedwith crooked necks an incredible light show that lit up the entire side of the 163-floor building, choreographed to Adele’s “Skyfall” in unisonwith the Dubai Fountains which danced rhythmically below. Itwas quite simply amazing, unlike any light show I’ve seen. (Check out to see a video of the show andmore.) Thatsingledayperfectlydemonstrates thecontrastsofDubai, a countrydeeply steeped in tradition,which also embraces the newest andmostmodern of everything. TheSand No trip toDubai is completewithout adesert safari.We chose PlatinumHeritageLuxuryToursandSafaris as it’soneof the only tour operators allowed in theDubaiDesertConservation Reserve.Wemet our guide in the city and he drove us about an hour out into the desert. Feeling like real adventurerswith scarves tiedaroundourheads,weclimbed intoavintageopen- air LandRover, taking off across the sand into the reserve.We

178 Exploring Dubai and beyond with kids in tow

Middle East

MELINDAMURPHYandher familywent toDubai simply to visit friends, but it turned into one of themostdiverseand fun trips they’veever taken.

T hirty camels pressed their noses to themetal gate, their knobby-knees dancing with expectation. Hundredsofotherswaited their turn in theparking lot at the AlMarmoom racetrack inDubai.When the gate lifted, the camels took off in a dusty cloud, loping around the track wearing electronic jockeys that resembledmonkeys on their humps. The jockeys were controlled remotely bymen in giant SUVs, also racing along paved roadson theoutsideof the incredibly long track; so long, in fact, the onlyway to seewhatwashappening at the far end was to watch a giant television screen. As one race finished, thenextbegan. Wewere theonlyWesterners around,withnootherwomen insight. In fact, therewerevery fewspectatorsatall.Becausewe were ina traditionalplace, Iwasdressed respectfullywithknees and shoulders covered, and felt totallywelcome.Wewatched from a glassbridge that spanned thewidedirt track above the startinggate.Men in traditionalclothesofferedus freemint tea. Iknew Iwasgetting aglimpseof apartofEmirati culturemost touristsdon’t see,aheritagedatingbackmore than1,000years. Some feel that camel racing is cruel to the animals – or,worse yet, to the childrenwho are often forced towork as jockeys. TheUAE, however,was the first country to ban child jockeys (in2002) and camels are revered there. Afterwe tiredofwatching,wewalked around to get a close- up look at the animals.Everybody gaveus abig smile andwas happy to show us their camels, especially our children.One










Klarity products

worth $257!

STYLE & BEAUTY 186 Style News 188 Style Hunter: Fashion on Singapore’s streets 191 Buying Guide: Beach-bound must-haves this summer 198 Beauty News 202 Smooth Operators: Where to go for fuss-free hair removal 206 Getting a Glow: Mobile tanning in Singapore HEALTH & FITNESS 216 News 220 Good Gut Health: How probiotics can make a difference 224 Alfresco Activities: Ten ways to get fit in the great outdoors 226 Fitness Focus: An athlete and mum on her workout motivation 228 Sun Safe: The right way to protect your skin REGULARS

191 What will you be wearing this summer?

235 Numbers & Websites 236 Horoscopes for May

238 Advertiser List 240 Parting Shot: A business trip for two






Singapore Kindness Run 2018 (13 MAY)

Singapore Cocktail Festival

With the aim of promoting good running etiquette and graciousness, this race is held in partnership with the Singapore Kindness Movement. You can take part in the 10km Ambassador Run, 3.5km fun run or sign the kids up for the 800m Kids’ Dash. Angsana Green, East Coast Parkway. FitnessFest (19 MAY) FitnessFest returns this May with more fun and healthy activities. Catch the Fitness Concert featuring renowned Aussie personal trainer Kayla Itsines, and the marketplace and food village, which offers products from over 100 fitness, health and wellness brands. Also, head to one of the arenas and try out boxing, parkour, bouldering and more. Marina Bay Sands.


Kevin Hart What Now? Teacher Association returns with more fun for the whole family. Enjoy great food, entertainment, games, auctions and inflatables, and browse a variety of vendors, from an enormous book and toy stall to a traditional cake stall. Tanglin Trust School. Singapore Cocktail Festival (4-13 MAY) Along with events across the city over the duration of the event, from 4 to 6 May you can head to the Festival Village, featuring over 30 of the best cocktail bars in Singapore and the region. And don’t miss the Artisanal Spirits Tasting Room for handcrafted spirits and exciting competitions between bartending teams. There’ll also be a Food Street, live DJ sets and mixes by CÉ LA VI. Tanglin Trust School Summer Fete (12 MAY) This annual fair by the TTS Parent


BonANZA (12 MAY)

Dress up and enjoy a night out at ANZA’s annual black-tie ball this May. This year, the event will be supporting Melrose Children’s Home and Babes Pregnancy Crisis Support. Shangri-La Hotel Singapore.





Shakespeare in the Park – Julius Caesar (2-27 MAY) Shakespeare in the Park returns with a production of Julius Caesar , directed by Guy Unsworth, and set against a backdrop of modern-day international relations and global current affairs. Fort Canning Green, Fort Canning Park. Tickets from Sistic. Squeeze Live in Singapore (4 MAY) British new wave band Squeeze is performing in Singapore this month, playing tracks from its 70s and 80s heyday including “Cool For Cats”, “Up The Junction” and “Tempted”. Singapore Indoor Stadium. Tickets from Sistic. Stereophonics (8 MAY) There’s more British rock in store for fans, with Stereophonics touring Singapore on the back of their latest album Scream Above The Sounds , released in October 2017. Zepp@Big Box Singapore. Tickets from Sistic. The St Petersburg Ballet – Swan Lake (8-13 MAY) After sold-out seasons in 2015 and 2016, the St Petersburg Ballet returns with arguably the most famous ballet of all time, Swan Lake , telling the love story of Prince Siegfried and the beautiful Swan Princess Odette. The MES Theatre at Mediacorp. Tickets from Sistic. Legally Blonde (10-20 MAY) Direct from New York, this internationally-acclaimed play follows fashionista Elle as she defies expectations with the help of new friends Paulette, Emmett and chihuahua Bruiser. Grand Theatre, Mastercard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands. Tickets from the MBS website.


La Voix Humaine (12-13 MAY)

This moving one-act opera touches on themes of rejection and loss of love. Directed by Ivan Heng, it revolves around a conversation between a woman and her soon to be ex-lover. Victoria Concert Hall. Tickets from Sistic. Underclass (16 MAY – 3 JUN) Exploring poverty, inequality and human dignity in Singapore, Underclass tells the story of Xinyi, who finds herself in a downward spiral after losing her job and her flat. The Necessary Stage Black Box. Tickets from Sistic. The Consultant (17-27 MAY) Heidi Schreck’s play follows a group of unlikely colleagues who are drawing paychecks at Sutton, Feingold and McGrath, a small pharmaceutical advertising agency in New York. It’s an exploration of what we owe to others when everything around us is falling apart. Drama Centre Black Box. Tickets from Sistic. Dragonflies (18 MAY – 3 JUN) This play tells the story of a family fighting for survival, and looking for a place to call home. Written by Stephanie Street and directed by Tracie Pang, it has a stellar cast including Adrian Pang, Tan Kheng Hua, Fanny Kee and more. Victoria Theatre. Tickets from Sistic.

Legally Blonde




FAMILY Tanglin Trust School Open Morning (17 MAY) Learn more about life at Tanglin Trust School at their Open Morning, where you’ll enjoy student presentations and performances, followed by a Q&A with the school leadership team. Speak with staff, students and members of the PTA, and end the morning with a tour. Register on the school website. Tanglin Trust School. TORUK – The First Flight (24 MAY – 3 JUN) Be transported to the world of Pandora from Avatar in this spectacular Cirque du Soleil event. Expect typically cutting-edge visuals, puppetry, stagecraft and an amazing cinematic score. Singapore Indoor Stadium. Tickets from the Sports Hub website. Peter & Blue’s Forest Adventure (31 MAY – 3 JUN) Enjoy the magic of a fairy-tale and learn about morals in this production by the Singapore Dance Theatre, which tells the story of Peter, his dog Blue, and Calico the cat. Great for kids aged three years and above. SOTA Studio Theatre. Tickets from Sistic.

ARTS Singapore International Festival of Arts 2018 (UNTIL 12 MAY) Look forward to a three-week line-up of world-class works from India, Palestine, Israel, Germany, France, the US, Singapore and more at this year’s instalment of SIFA. You can also take part in artist talks, music salons, masterclasses, workshops and a book club. Multiple venues. Tickets from Sistic. Art from the Streets (UNTIL 3 JUN) Featuring nearly 200 works by 50 well-known street artists – from on-site projects and paintings, to installations, videos, archives and sketches – this exhibition is the first major retrospective of street art ever shown in Southeast Asia. ArtScience Museum. Amek Gambar: Peranakans and Photography (5 MAY – 3 FEB 2019) This photography exhibition traces the history and evolution of photography in the region, with a focus on the Peranakan community. It features early photos, including some dating back to as early as the 1850s. Peranakan Museum. Anna Berezovskaya: Voyages (12 MAY – 10 JUN) This solo exhibition by acclaimed Russian artist Anna Berezovskaya explores the symbolism, metaphors and processes behind her canvases, with a focus on themes associated with the sea, food and home.

Singapore International Festival of Arts 2018




The Lion King

Tatinis Art Show – A Love Affair with Art (1-3 JUN)

Tatinis Art Show – A Love Affair with Art

Showcasing local and international artists, this edition will feature over 400 pieces of art spanning a variety of styles and mediums. All pieces displayed will be available for purchase in person as well as via the Tatinis website. F1 Pit Building. On The Hills 10k (2 JUN) As the name suggests, this race takes on a variety of terrain, with a route centred around the Zhenghua Park Connector and Dairy Farm Nature Park. Registration closes on 19 May. Tabby McTat (8-10 JUN) Meet Tabby McTat, Fred the guitar-playing busker’s cat. Look forward to a fun rhyming story of music, friendship and loyalty. KC Arts Centre Home of SRT. Tickets from Sistic. Colorful Mosaics for Violin andPiano (10 JUN) Don’t miss musical duo Miroslav Hristov (violin) and Chih-Long Hu (piano) as they visit Singapore as part of their East Asian tour. Performances will include Five Melodies for Violin and Piano by Sergei Prokofiev. Esplanade Recital Studio. Tickets from Sistic. Niall Horan Flicker World Tour 2018 (12 JUN) You won’t want to miss ex-One Directioner Niall Horan in Singapore this June, so you can sing along to global hits such as “This Town” and “Slow Hands”. The Star Theatre. Tickets from Apactix.

Tatinis Art Show

Tatinis Art Show

Suzhou Symphony Orchestra 2018 Asia Tour (18 JUN) Maestro Chen Xieyang leads China’s Suzhou Symphony Orchestra on their Asian tour, with a concert line-up featuring the three Prokofiev suites of Romeo and Juliet . Esplanade Concert Hall.

The Lion King (27 JUN – 5 AUG) Returning to Singapore for a limited season this June to August, this spectacular production features some of the world’s most recognisable music, composed by multi award-winning artists Sir Elton John and Tim Rice. MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands. Tickets from Sistic.

The Performance Series Singapore 2018 (Race 2) (24 JUN)

With this event moving from Punggol to Pasir Ris for its second race, participants can choose to go competitive or non- competitive in the 5km or 10km routes.


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





Best Letter We want to hear from you! Send us your thoughts on the magazine, or on any subject under the sun. We’ll be sending Shannen a bottle of

I t wa s l o v e l y meeting Susan and the Expat Living team at the event with S w a p a h o l i c . Thank you for organising it – I really enjoyed

champagne for her feedback on our recipes and restaurant

it! There was a great ambience and I met some really lovely people. It was my first Expat Living event, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for the next one. – Marielle (Mickey) Ed: Great to hear! We have many more events planned in the coming months – turn to page 29 to read about some of them, or find out more info on our website, at

EXPATS & EXPERTS My son saw a copy of your magazine and said “Mama, are you reading Expert Living?” I corrected him and said, “It’s Expat Living”. After which, I pondered and decided it truly is “expert living” in your magazine, with so much information from cooking and travelling to beautifully decorated houses. I do look forward to opening my mailbox each month to receive my favourite mag. Keep up the good work! Shannen Quek Ed: What a lovely letter – thank you to you and your son!


I would like to say thank you to the editor-in-chief and the team for this magazine. I look forward to reading every issue. I find it informative – like a pocket guide for everything from food and shopping to anything that’s new and happening in Singapore; not to mention that your magazine helped me find a suitable school for my son. Thank you Expat Living, and wishing you more success! – Rominia Sarte-Leonard Ed: You have no idea how happy your email made us! We really do try to help peoplemake themost of living in Singapore, nomatter where they’re from, so we appreciate this feedback.

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Don’tmissour upcoming events! Visit to register.

29 MAY2018

Wewant toget toknowyoubetter, andwealsowant toseehow living in Singapore has changed over the past 10 years! We’re going to do a direct comparison toour 2008 survey and let you knowwhatwe find. Please help us by completing our survey and you will go into a draw towin one of two fantastic holidays by Banyan TreeHotels &Resorts! ESCAPES ! HOLIDAY ONE OF THESE FANTASTIC

as a special thank you for your time, you’ll get a digital subscription to Expat Living absolutely FREE*.

Enter now at

Survey ends 31 May 2018!


Three-night stay in a two-bedroom Hill Pool Villa for four people at Banyan Tree Lang Cô in Vietnam, worth S$5,377! Nestled close to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites and untouched nature with spectacular ocean views, you’ll get to immerse yourself in the local culture and intimate luxury.

Runner-up Prize!

Two-night stay for two people at Cassia Bintan . Just 50 minutes away fromour shore, this vibrant beachfront apartment-living resort makes a great short vacay. A round of golf is also included in your stay!

*Free digital subscription is valid for one year. Terms and conditions for each prize can be found on the survey. This survey is open to all readers living in Singapore only.


38 Black-and- Whites:

From living in a heritage house to shopping for the best décor for one

Andrea Gibson’s black-and-white home

36 Competition: Enter and win a piece of art valued at $2,500!

65 Buyer’s Guide: Our roundup of consoles and sideboards in store

75 Readers’ Picks: Tips on c hoosing the right removal company


There’s yet another reason to visit the Tan Boon Liat Building, as it’s now home to Prestige Furniture. Prestige is the exclusive retailer for a wide variety of brands including Lago from Italy, Belgian mirror specialists Deknudt, and Eforma, best known for its dining chair collections. Go to #08-02, 315 Outram Road to view the pieces for yourself, or call 6816 0808 for more information. New Store Alert!

Gautier’s two new collections, Intense (for grown-ups) and Nuance (for tween to teen girls), have arrived in Singapore. Intense has a Scandinavian edge to it, while Nuance ( pictured ) focuses on fun décor and original features to appeal to its target market. This includes the bed’s screen headboard, which can be bent to create added privacy, and to which you can also attach photos. Find out more at #01-15 Space@Tampines, or . FrenchFinesse

Cleaning Up British home a p p l i a n c e brand Gtech is now available in Singapore. Products such as the cordless, bagless AirRam upright vacuum ($750), cordless handheld 1.6kg

Tanglin Treasures

White Ginger has doubled in size and i s n ow s t o c k i n g a c o l l e c t i o n o f homeware from both Bali and London, including tableware a n d d é c o r. G e t yourself to #03-04 Tanglin Mall and pick up a gift for a friend, or yourself.

Multi vacuum ($450) and the K9 series (to clean up after your furry friends) can now be purchased via . With plenty of consumer-friendly elements such as LED lighting and a host of attachments to get to those hard to see or reach places, these products make cleaning almost fun. Almost.




Tatinis Art Show Opening Times Friday 1 June to Saturday 2 June: 11am to 9pm Sunday 3 June: 11am to 5pm Free Admission To be in with a chance to take home one of these artworks, go to to enter. The winner will be informed, and will get to choose between these two pieces, each valued at $2,500. Tatinis Art Show returns this June to the F1 Pit Building. Showcasing both local and international artists, the latest edition will feature over 400 pieces of art at affordable prices. Answering the ever-growing call for original art, this specially curated exhibition aims to ensure that everyone, from first-time art novices to art lovers and seasoned collectors, will be able to pick out something perfect for their walls. Fancy owning a striking contemporary artwork? Here’s your chance to enter and win, and then pick your favourite piece. aWork of Art!

Singapour (2017, ink and acrylic on canvas, 78cm by 58cm) Chris Campoy is a painter, ceramicist, sculptor, plastic artist, photographer and writer who uses varying techniques and matters including wood, clay, ink, acrylic and spray. One of Chris’s key focuses is to create and share without boundaries. What also matters to him is to respect the one who watches by letting them decide on their involvement and the limits of their imagination, reference and culture. He aims to propose and suggest, rather than impose a vision of his creation.

Magical Touch of Nature (2017, mixed media on canvas, 122cm by 91cm) Jaleela Niaz is a Singapore-based contemporary artist known for her signature style of creating three-dimensional effects in her paintings, dominated by bold strokes and metallic colours. With 51 group shows and three solos to her credit, she exhibits her work around the world. Jaleela also has a designer collection of scarves available through VIDA (






OUR SPACE Originally from Sydney, NINA and DAVID BEALE have lived in Singapore for nine years after a five- year stint in London. The family moved into this beautiful Alexandra Park black-and-white in 2015, with their two daughters, India (now 12) and Poppy (8). We explore the home and talk to Nina about the move and life in general.


39 MAY2018


as the girls’ “hangout”. And then there’s the master bedroom with a study where I work from. There are three bedrooms all containing bespoke bookcases and wardrobes, plus a second set of stairs at the back of the bedrooms that leads to the kitchen and a spare bedroom. Are you happy with Singapore? We live a very safe and convenient life here in Singapore, with lots of opportunity to travel. The children attend Dulwich College, which is a wonderful school environment. Everyone is happy, so we feel lucky to be here. The children are at an age when many people leave, but we feel “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. My philosophy is that home is wherever the family is together; it doesn’t matter if you’re here for one year or ten, your home is a very important space, and a reflection of your family dynamics and style, so make it your space. Whatever country you’re in, let that be your home, and don’t sit and wait for the next move.

Where was your first home in Singapore?

We were initially off Jervois Road, in a Spanish-style bungalow. It had a great outdoor area, and it was perfect for entertaining with young children. Why the move to Alexandra Park? We spent a lot of time here at Evolve Arts Studio and our friends also live in the park. One day we discovered that the family living here were leaving and had to break their corporate lease. We put an offer in and got it; luckily there was no tender. We had always wanted to have a quintessential colonial living experience in Singapore and it happened to coincide with the girls getting older, and so the dynamics of the household were also evolving. We entertain at home a lot and we work from here too, so making sure it was the right space for us was key. There’s a large open-plan living room downstairs, along with a kitchen and outdoor patio. Upstairs is an open living area that is primarily used

41 MAY2018

Where do you like to travel on holidays? I don’t feel we have to travel in the region, because with this home we have everything here; but we often do a local trip in the Easter break. For 15 years, we’ve been spending summer holidays in Mykonos, Greece, but this year we are changing to the nearby islands of Paros and Antiparos – I understand that they’re like Mykonos was five years ago. I lived in Mykonos for three months when I was six, and when we were living in London we started the tradition of vacationing there in the summer each year – we just love the simplicity of their way of life, the beauty of the country and the fresh food that’s full of flavour. In Asia, we like The Surin in Phuket and the Alila Seminyak in Bali. Regionally, I think Tokyo, Bangkok and Hong Kong are exciting places and great for a city break. Amanpulo is a private island hideaway in the Philippines; they ask you to remove your shoes the moment you step on the island, and then it’s just star gazing, swimming with turtles and exploring vibrant coral reefs. We have family in Sydney, so we spend every Christmas at our beach house about an hour out of the city.



Tell us about the launch of your business. In May 2012, I started my company, Bungalow 55. Interior design has always been a passion of mine, even when working in Finance. I thought Singapore was short on interior stores offering decorative accessories – items to add to your existing collection of furniture. I saw it as an opportunity to bring a curated collection of one-off pieces to Singapore. Then we saw that the ground-floor shop at Cluny Court was up for lease. Maybe naively, I thought, “it can’t be that hard to start a shop”. We had no massive game plan; we said, “we’ll just work out the rest as we go along”. I know Joe Malone started like that too. And, it has worked. I would like a bigger retail space, but our clients tell us they feel like it’s coming into someone’s home, so we don’t want to lose that customer experience; also, I don’t want to move out of where we are – it’s a great space that I love styling. We started an online store two years ago, so that’s an added dimension. People do research online, but they still want to communicate with us about their home and the suitability of the pieces in their living space. And they still want the shopping experience – whether it’s something for your home or a present, you do want to physically see and touch it.

What’s the most satisfying aspect of the business?

Nina’s shopping advice: “Buy pieces that you can take with you, and add to your collection as you go. It’s very difficult to sell anything second-hand now.”

Everything inmy home getsmoved around regularly – David never knows what he’ll come home to! So, helping other people make the most of their space is something I love. I do two or three consultations a week; it’s a complimentary service that we provide, but helping make rentals feel like a home is very satisfying. Most of the time it’s just about working with what they’ve got. There are different tricks when you’re renting; you can’t change much – can’t start knocking out walls – so you have to be creative with what you’ve got. Also, seeing how people live, and seeing the common themes of what they’re looking for, helps me when I’m buying. We try and find new suppliers all the time, and we’re constantly juggling the mix of products being offered so that every time customers come to the shop it’s a new experience. I go to trade fairs in the US, Australia, Hong Kong and Europe; they’re great because they have up to 10,000 suppliers all in one place – so much easier! What would you say are the keys to your success?




We always try to deal with family-run businesses because they’re passionate about what they’re doing, they design their products in-house and have good after-care. We’re also constantly trying to make improvements by tweaking our customer service, packaging, website and so on, and looking at trends overseas. By listening to our client feedback and the challenges they find in decorating their homes, we become better at what we do – our clients are the most valuable resource for our business. We find that helping with a room’s layout and lighting are usually the things most people need. In the beginning, it was influenced by a more European style, but now it has evolved to incorporate more metallics and marble accessories to add a touch of glamour – and I use a lot more brass. The overall look hasn’t really changed, I just adapt it, and try to find pieces that will fit in with everyone’s style. Often space is limited, so whatever you buy needs to be versatile. Has the style of Bungalow 55 changed over time?

45 MAY2018

It doesn’t matter if you’re here for one year or ten years, your home is a reflection of your family dynamics and style – so make it your own space.

Recommendations: School “The culture of Dulwich College is unique; it focuses on bringing the best out in each child and producing well-rounded, innovative children, and the facilities are state of the art. It’s just on a different level.” Restaurants “The new family favourite is the Bayswater Kitchen at Keppel Bay Marina – it’s great for children, has lovely indoor- outdoor flow and is right on the jetty with excellent seafood.” Fashion “I usually only shop when I travel, as I’m relaxed. I look for boutiques rather than high- street brands – Rosalie Pompon is my go-to in Singapore.”

Hair “For the cut, I go to Kim Robinson.”

Décor Bungalow 55

Activities “Dance and theatre at Evolve, and SCC touch rugby for the girls – it’s really good.” Hospital “My youngest was born at Thomson Medical.”




Are your black-and-white tours still popular? They’re extremely well supported, and it’s not only the tours that prove popular – we ran five sold-out events in black-and- white houses last year, and we’re already on to our second this year. Want to find out more about cultural tours in Singapore, and delve deeper into the background of black-and-white homes? We put tour leader JANE IYER in the hot seat. Aren’t you tempted to live in a black-and-white yourself? Yes, I’d love to, and my husband and I have talked about it; but I just don’t have the time or the energy to think about moving right now! If our current

landlords decided to take the house back we would definitely look into moving to a black-and-white. Which black-and-white enclaves do you like in particular? I think Alexandra Park is wonderful; I love the community spirit the residents have there. The area used to be an old pepper plantation, and it has this enclosed feel that makes it particularly special. Goodwood Hill is so convenient – you’re right in the thick of everything; and I like Adam Park as well – it’s just a shame it’s been split up by the roads. Medway Park is charming; the houses are smaller but the community spirit is strong there. At the end of our black-and-white tours I often ask people which of the houses they liked best and, interestingly, people often opt for the smaller houses. People can identify with living in them more, although they are clearly also impressed with the larger ones.

Photo of Jane by Jacqueline Boudville




Tell us a fascinating fact about black-and-whites. Atbara House is the oldest black-and-white in Singapore, and is named after a river in the Sudan. It was designed by architect John Bidwell and built in 1898. Located on Gallop Road, Atbara House was the French embassy for many years until it relocated to Cluny Road, and it’s now set to house the Interpretive Centre for the Learning Forest in the Botanic Gardens next year. It’s not just a house that’s painted black andwhite, that’s for sure! Black-and-white colonial heritage homes are predominantly those built by the British colonial administration. Although the colours are not the important factors in these houses, the majority are black andwhite, and this harks back to their design influences. The “father” of black-and-whites, John Bidwell, had many influences, among them the Neo-Tudor and Jacobean styles, and Malay and Indian designs. He took the idea for a black-and-white and adapted it for tropical usage, for example adding verandahs or Moorish features. We have a wide variety, from art to World War II, but all with a focus on history, heritage and culture. Those on minority groups, such as the Jewish and Armenian communities, off-the-beaten-track neighbourhoods like our recent Commonwealth and forthcoming Serangoon North Village walks, and new topics such as modern architecture and literary walks, are proving very popular. Exploring “hidden Singapore” is also a big hit, and then there are our Foodie Adventures, which showcase a variety of different cuisines: Indian, Thai, Singaporean, Malay, Peranakan and Chinese. We’re working on a veggie one next. We also work closely with associations such as ANZA, AWA and the French Association, running private and corporate tours. Importantly, we have guides who can speak many different languages, from Korean and French to Russian and Czech. I had always thought there was a gap in the market for these more interesting tours, and I do feel that I’m achieving what I set out to do. One of my main objectives has been to show people both here and abroad that Singapore is an interesting place, and I like to think that, along with my wonderful team of 16 guides, I’m accomplishing that mission. When is a black-and-white house a black-and- white house? Tell us about some of the other tours you’re running to help promote Singapore. Looking back, is this what you envisaged when you started doing tours?

Above: Enjoying The Story of Singapore Film tour. Below: The Armenian church is a highlight of one of Jane’s tours.

To find out more about Jane’s Singapore Tours, email or visit

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Find out how this family fromEdinburgh ended up living in a colonial heritage home in tropical Singapore .





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E ach international move for ANDREA and KEVIN GIBSON has seen their family, and in turn their living arrangements, grow. They first relocated from Edinburgh to Tokyo in 2002, where they lived for two years, and where their son Fraser was born. Then came Hong Kong, in 2004, where both Kirsty and Tara were born. The move to Singapore came in 2008, the family of five arriving here in June of that year. Rescue cats Skye and Lewis joined the family five years later, and then rescue dog Harry two years ago. “We’d been to Singapore to visit friends before, but you don’t really get to know a place until you live here,” says Andrea. One thing she was sure of was that she wanted to live in a house rather than an apartment. “We did condo living in Hong Kong, in the same apartment. We arrived there with one child and left with three, so we definitely wanted, and needed, more space.” First, they chose a cluster house in Bukit Timah, which afforded them the best of both worlds: a house and shared facilities, including a pool. After living there for around six years, they then moved to another property in the same area, but, with problems increasingly cropping up with the house, Andrea was keen to look around again once their lease was up. “When we first arrived in Singapore, we did put an offer in for a black-and-white house in Medway Park but weren’t successful, and we’ve had friends living in heritage homes in the Kheam Hock area and Woodleigh Park; I’ve always had a hankering to live in one,” she says.

Who lives here: Scots Andrea and Kevin Gibson, children Fraser (15), Kirsty (13) and Tara (12), helper Mayar, two rescue cats, and rescue dog Harry. Size of house: Two-storey, five bedroom black- and-white house in Alexandra Park. Style of home: Andrea’s love for relaxed where natural materials such as timber and rattan are mixed with Oriental influences and the tropical greenery outside. family living is reflected in her home,

Next page: The black Japanese cabinet under the stairs is called a Tansu, originally used as mobile storage, hence the handles. This piece also has hidden drawers, used for storing secret documents and valuables. The snug and cosy room is home to Kevin’s recliner, his favourite spot to sit and watch sport. “This is where we tend to sit in the evenings, particularly when friends come over.” The rug is from Affordable Style Files.




Finding out there were a few black-and- white houses available in Alexandra Park, Andrea put an offer in for this property through managing agent Knight Frank. “I know there’s often a lot of confusion about how to rent a black-and-white, but for us it was quite straightforward. As the house had been empty for around nine months, there was no bidding. We were told what the guide price was, so we put in our offer and, after some negotiation, it was accepted.” For Andrea, the community of Alexandra Park is a big draw. “It’s like being in a little village, and that’s what we’ve really missed while living in our previous houses. We do a lot with our friends in the area, such as going to parties, having dinners and walking on Kent Ridge. There’s a Facebook page for the park, and there’s always something going on.”

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Fittings & Furnishings Before moving in, the kitchen did get a makeover, including adding new cupboards and a doing a repaint. “We felt that it was one room we could give our stamp to, and make the house our own. Now we have a kitchen the way we would want it in our own home.” Moving around so much, the family haven’t kept a huge amount of furniture. “We’ve accumulated a few things, but our places in Tokyo and Hong Kong were much smaller than here.” With a property in North Berwick, Scotland, Andrea is always mindful of where everything will go. “More Asian-style pieces look great here, but they may not look so fitting in Scotland! I’m not an antiques collector by any stretch, but I do like to create a comfortable family home. Although this is a large house, it doesn’t feel overly big; it has a nice flow to it.” One common theme around the house is the C+S Art prints, pieces of personalised typographic canvas wall art that take their inspiration from vintage tram and bus scrolls. Ready to return to work around three years ago, Andrea heard the previous owner was selling the business, and, with a background in graphic design, she felt it was the perfect fit. “The

canvases are really the mainstay of the business and still prove popular, but I do have a few ideas as to how to develop the business further.” Weekends are chock-a-block in the Gibson house, with all three children focused on their favoured activities. “Kirsty rides at the Bukit Timah Saddle Club five times a week, Tara is a gymnast with the school team and practises four times a week, and Fraser plays guitar and enjoys tennis and golf. Our weekends are jam-packed.” When Andrea isn’t taxiing children to and fro, she and Kevin enjoy walking along the Southern Ridges to VivoCity for a weekend lunch. She’s qualified as a yoga instructor, too, and often practices with a couple of friends in the grounds of the house. They’re also members of the British Club and still go occasionally, albeit not as much as they used to, since the children have gotten older. “We do still enjoy going there occasionally for a curry!” More often than not, though, Andrea likes to sit in one of the outdoor areas and enjoy her surroundings. “Sometimes I sit here and look at the rolling greenery and feel like I’m in Downton Abbey,” she says. Looking out across the gardens, you can see why.




Opposite page: The dining set is from Crate & Barrel, the rug from Ruby Slipper, and the black cupboards from FairPrice Antique (now known as Emperor’s Attic). From top: To reach the upstairs, there are two sets of stairs, front and back. The family area at the top is where they sit on a Sunday night, having pizza and watching a movie. Another hobby of Andrea’s is painting; you can see her artwork upstairs in the living area and in her office. The kitchen was the only room to get a makeover, and now the family have this space exactly as they would have it if they owned the house.

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HOME C+S Art Prints | Julia Wallace Design Consultant (“she’s a friend who helped me pull together the style of our house when we moved in”) 9144 7504 Singapore Trading Post (“their look perfectly matches the style I like to create in our black-and-white home”) Tatty Marsh #02-07 Tanglin Mall, 163 Tanglin Road 6887 4225 | WINE & DINE Master Prata (“the kids love to walk down here on the weekend”) #01-02 Alexandra Central 321 Alexandra Road 8268 8210 Plank Pizza (“for Sunday’s movie and pizza at home”) Rider’s Café 51 Fairways Drive 6466 9819 | LEISURE Bukit Timah Saddle Club (“for riding and for a different side to the Singapore countryside”) 51 Fairways Drive 6466 2264 | Burnside Organic Farm (“we love to holiday in Margaret River, Western Australia, and this is where we stay every time; there are four bungalows on the farm, and Lara and Jamie are great hosts”) Champions Golf (“my husband and son have weekly golf lessons here”) 60 Fairways Drive 6463 0332 | Kent Ridge Park and the Southern Ridges (“for great walks with fabulous views”) RECOMMENDATIONS

Right: Eldest daughter Kirsty’s room. Below: The family’s rescue dog Harry is featured as “Mr November” in the dog shelter’s calendar, which takes pride of place on Tara’s desk. This room, now the kids’ den, also featured in Tenko , the 1980s BBC drama about a women’s internment camp after the Japanese invasion of Singapore in 1942. In fact, the opening sequence to the show also includes the downstairs of the house.



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