In my experience, most American expats excel at creating stylish and beautiful homes here in Singapore. From whichever state they may hail, I’ve seldom walked into the home of an American and found anything less than well-chosen furniture, harmonious colour-ways and exquisite attention to detail. Businesswoman Jennifer B. Evans’ apartment in highly desirable Arcadia has all that, plus more: the authentic stamp of her personality.
Where are you from?
I’m from New York, Vermont and Connecticut, and Tom is from Maine; but we’ve lived away from the US for the past 18 years. Through his career in advertising, we went to London, to Sao Paolo in Brazil, to Paris and then back to London for three years before coming to Singapore eight years ago.
Our daughter Lily (10) was born in France, and our son Sam (8) was born in London. They’re both at Tanglin Trust.
How did you enjoy Paris?
It was a good time for us as a young couple – but for various reasons I’m glad I didn’t have to raise my children there. It was great to give birth to Lily in France, but then go back to my “girl posse” in London.
How did you acquire this apartment?
Our first Singapore home was in Shelford Road. Having had a friend who lived in Arcadia, however, I’d always wanted to buy a place here, and the stars aligned in 2010 when this one became available.
What did you need to do to it?
Though we didn’t want to change the original structure too much – we loved the high ceilings and the flow of the rooms – we needed to have the bathrooms and the kitchen redone. Also, I converted the fourth bedroom into an office.
Tell us about your furnishings
We have a mix of belongings from wherever we’ve lived, and I’ve made a number of purchases here in Singapore, too.
Most of my better Chinese pieces, such as the bamboo cupboard behind the sofa, came from Ann Lockett’s China Collection, as did many of the screens. And while the Chinese daybed came from FairPrice Antique, the gold-painted rattan chairs flanking it were made for me by The Orchard in Bali.
The glass-topped coffee table base once served as an Indian elephant howdah (carriage). Also from India is the bone-inlaid table that separates the two zebra-print upholstered chairs; it’s from my friend at Ruby Slipper, who imports a range of this furniture together with beautiful dhurrie rugs like the blue-and-white one in our bedroom.
I’m a bit obsessed with the teal, pink and lime green fabrics from Designer Guild; for the plain pillows in the living room, I bought the fabric from Arab Street.
Your home is full of gleaming silver and natural shells – your personal trademark?
Some of the silver-and-shell pieces are my own design; I had them made for me in Bali. We collected most of the shells, and also the whale teeth, during our wonderful trips on a beautiful wooden sailing boat called Silolona, which we do every year. We’ve sailed with her up through Thailand, explored the Mergui Archipelago in Burma and found ourselves in remote parts of Indonesia that I’d never even heard of.
Your art collection includes some lovely pieces.
Again, it’s grown over many years and largely reflects our personal histories. I have two scenes from the Bahamas, where I spent a lot of time in my childhood as my grandparents had a home there. The others include English artists like Jeffrey Pratt, famous for his paintings of South African and Gambian people; Vietnamese artists like Bui Huu Hung (the two “Royal Ladies”, one hanging in the dining room, the other in the TV room) and Nguyen Trung, whose Gauguin-esque figures are utterly beautiful. Another of my favourites is Garrick Yrondi’s painting of a woman playing a flute.
How did you get into the field of education?
I majored in education in university, and grew up with one of the first US independent educational consultants – my mother, Virginia Bush, who is a pioneer in the industry. She truly believes children can maximise their potential academically, socially and emotionally when placed in the most appropriate school environment. I grew up with this motto. Working with her on and off for years in New York and London, I saw many of the lives she helped transform for the better.
So in 2008, on the back of her 40-year-old business in New York, I opened Virginia J. Bush & Associates Asia Pacific to service this region, with the head office in Singapore. It happened in a whirlwind; we took it from a two-person office to an eight-person office in a matter of three years.
What does your business entail?
I work with Asian-based families – both local Asians and expats, throughout the region – to place their children (from the age of five and up) into US boarding schools, New York day schools and universities.
To assess the child’s needs, I interview both the child and the parents and review their transcripts and any tests they’ve had done – I might recommend further testing, if I think it necessary.
On the basis of that assessment, we put together a list of schools that best fit the student’s profile and needs, and get the family out on the road to visit and be interviewed at the schools, having made sure the schools know they’re coming. Then we work through the application process with them, including critiquing their application essays, and we assist parents with their parent statements to ensure the student is reflected in the best way.
All this takes a lot of time and effort. It’s process-driven and it’s intense, but the beauty of it is that you get to know the child and his or her family very well, and it’s so rewarding to get the fit right. We have a great success rate that we work very hard for.
What do you love about Singapore?
Asia is where it’s all happening, and Singapore is an amazing place that’s full of opportunity. Everything seems interconnected, and you feel that anything can happen – the high energy levels here are perfect for a New Yorker like me. On the other hand, you can be quiet if you want to. Being able to choose your own pace and your own agenda is best of all worlds.
China Collection (Ann and Doug Lockett)
Heidi & Home (Heidi Martin) for fabulously elegant homeware
Home Etcetera (Eugene Ong) for carpentry, soft furnishings, restoration and handyman services
MDS Interiors (Susan Soh) for great renovations
Priya Sen Skin & Laser Centre
Ruby Slipper (Lucy Ridgwell) for fabulous linens and custom-made rugs
Sealy Brandt Photography
Silolona Sojourns (for private travel)
Tory Lodder Designs (for bespoke jewellery)
Virginia J. Bush & Associates Asia Pacific (education consultants)
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