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Real Homes: Life on the East Coast

When Lavinia Thanapathy and Karsten Warnecke moved to Singapore in 2012, it wasn’t your usual expat relocation. German diplomat Karsten had been posted to the embassy here in 2003 for a five-year stint – and it was there that he met his Singapore-born wife, Lavinia. They invited us to look around their lovely, semi-detached home on the East Coast.

Family in the garden
Lavina, husband Karsten and Joshua

From its plush sofas and enormous 12-seater dining table, you can see immediately that these are people who like to entertain. This comes as no surprise when you consider that Karsten is Ambassador and Executive Director of the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF), an organisation that promotes cultural, educational, political and economic dialogue between Asia and Europe, and that Lavinia is Associate Director of Communications at NUS Law, and President of PrimeTime, a professional women’s association and the most active women’s group in Singapore.

Relaxed living

It really is a divine space, filled with art, beautiful furniture and mementos from around the world. “Whenever we move, we look for a nice shell of a house that we can fill and make our own,” Lavinia explains.

Living Room
A tapestry of influences, the living room is made for entertaining

The spacious garden, relative privacy and safety were also important, especially for Joshua. Despite Karsten working in Kent Ridge and Lavinia in Bukit Timah, living out east was a no-brainer. “This is where I grew up,” Lavinia explains. “It will always be home.”

An important network

Getting involved in PrimeTime has been a saving grace for Lavinia. “A lady I met at an art exhibition told me about this great women’s group. In those days, there weren’t that many events going on, and the first meeting I went to was huge. I walked in not knowing a single person, but some of the women I met that night are still my very good friends today. Before that meeting, I didn’t even know how much I needed something like it.”

Deck and pool area
When they first looked at the house, the spacious deck was a real draw

Lavinia quickly signed up as a volunteer and was soon made a member of the board. Today, she is the first Singapore-born president of the association, which has over 350 members. A passionate advocate for women in the community, Lavinia is also member of the board of the Singapore Council for Women’s Organisations (SCWO), a body that brings together various relevant clubs and committees in Singapore to give them a unified voice and act on their behalf in matters that affect them.

Everything comes together

Much like their family, Lavinia and Karsten’s house is an Asia-Europe blend. There’s no single style that dominates; instead it’s a montage of their lives and histories.

Master bedroom
Originally bought from The Shophouse back in 2005, this lovely four-poster has been around the world and back

Says Karsten: “Your personal identity is made up of many different components: where you grew up, where you have lived, what religion you are, what nationalities you have in your family. In a way, this home is the same thing; it’s bits and pieces of everything and everywhere we’ve been – a mosaic coming together.”

After his secondment ends in 2020, they’ll have been in this house for eight years. They’ll also be back in the German Foreign Service rotation, so who knows what, or where, the next part of their mosaic will be.

By: Aimee Fordos
Photography: Ken Tan

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This is an extract from an article that first appeared in the March 2017 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy for the full article, or Subscribe now so you never miss an issue!

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