We explore this beautiful black-and-white bungalow next to the Nature Park in Bukit Batok, and find out how ZOE HAWKINS combines a love of colour with her more traditional pieces.
Who lives here: Brits Zoe and James, children Rosie (8) and Sammy (6), helper Susannah, and dogs Bingo and Monty.
Size of home: Four-bedroom bungalow, with swimming pool.
Style of home: Modern eclectic.
Zoe’s favourite room: “Our favourite family area on the weekend is outside by the pool, under our attap. But my favourite room is the guest room – it’s just lovely to sit on the bed and look out of the window.”
Coming off the Upper Bukit Timah Road and heading towards Zoe’s black and-white bungalow, you’re quickly transported from the hustle and bustle of a major artery road into the low-level buzz of the jungle. “A friend likens coming here to that feeling you get on a ski lift, when you’re suddenly transported into peace and quiet,” says Zoe. It’s a pretty accurate description!
There are only 12 houses in this part of Bukit Batok where Zoe and her family live. The size of this cluster is ideal, she says; “It’s a dead-end road, the kids can play in the area, and everyone knows each other.” The only slight downside to its seclusion is the fact you do have to drive everywhere, with the closest grocery store being a ten-minute car ride away. “I think I’ve probably only had around three taxi drivers who’ve actually known this road in the last five years – it’s quite off the beaten track.”
Zoe, husband James, and children Rosie and Sammy moved to the Bukit Batok bungalow five years ago; it’s been the longest the family has lived in a single place since moving to Singapore in May 2007. Zoe and James started their Singapore lives both working full time and living in the Balmoral area, he in advertising, and she as an interior designer for Design Intervention.
After having the two children, Zoe began working as a consultant, and the family moved first to Namly Gardens, then to Coronation Drive, the latter at the peak of the property boom in 2012. “Rents were going crazy, and our landlord wanted to increase ours by over 50 percent. We knew of this Bukit Batok area through friends, and all the houses had been renovated and were empty. I started trawling the SLA website and this place was up for rent; so, bearing in mind the guide price, we put in a bid, and got it by about $300.”
With Zoe’s background in interior design, it comes as no surprise that her home is a reflection of her skills. It also reflects her upbringing as an expat child; Zoe’s parents met and married in Hong Kong before travelling all over Southeast Asia, settling back into Hong Kong, and moving to the UK four years ago. Zoe inherited some pieces from their relocation, including an old Chinese gong, an elephant chair, lamps and cupboards, which all mix with her colourful interiors palate of pink, her favourite colour, and current preferences of greys and blues. You’ll find very little black in her Bukit Batok home, “I don’t wear it, and I don’t tend to use it in the house.”
Moving from Design Intervention to Affordable Style Files, she continues to help clients with interiors, as well as covering the Dempsey shop two days a week. “It’s a small shop selling all sorts of homewares, including cushions, pots, bedding and towels, which are quite contemporary and mostly from Australia. Our staples are the pots and rugs, including outdoor rugs; put one of those in an outdoor space, and it can transform the whole place.”
Zoe’s experiences as an expat child have seen her live across Southeast Asia, including in Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong and Papua New Guinea. She spent much of her childhood growing up in Kuala Lumpur, before heading off to the UK to boarding school. “I used to come back out to Asia and travel around the islands for my holidays; it was just brilliant,” she says. She and James met at school, and fate saw them end up going to the same University in the UK as well.
James and Zoe had already decided they wanted to live overseas, and although they had considered Hong Kong, James’ company was looking for someone to set up a Singapore hub, and so the decision was made. “For me, home is where my family are. I’m technically from England, but if you ask the children where they’re from, they say they’re Singaporean; they have no concept of being British. Home is much more about where our little family unit is, and for now that’s right here.”
Ji Mei (“for fresh flowers and plants”) 5 Joan Road 6285 0017
WINE & DINE
Baker & Cook Various locations bakerandcook.biz
E-Sarn (“for cheap delicious Thai food”) Various locations esarn.com.sg
TRAVEL & LEISURE
Holiday in Perth, Australia (“it’s under five hours flying time, and there’s no time difference”)
Willow and Huxley Various locations willowandhuxley.com
Want more home inspiration? See our home decor section!