We find out how this Casabella cluster house in Bukit Timah was transformed from a beige beast to this family’s dream home.
Who lives here: Anne Bresman (American), husband Henrik (Swedish), their two children, Elsa (10) and Max (5), and helper Lina.
Size of home: Four-storey, four bedroom (plus helper room) cluster townhouse off Bukit Timah Road.
Style of home: Clean and contemporary mixed with warmth and personality; a stylish family friendly house.
For most of us, buying a property here in Singapore is neither a consideration nor an option. Yet one of the most common gripes amongst many is not having our own “home” – particularly those of us who are here for the long term. The Bresman family bucked against the trend just over a year ago, and purchased this four-bed cluster house to create their sanctuary. You can tell, as soon as you walk in, that it’s a true home, with the practicalities one can demand when you own a property (think open-plan workable kitchen-dining area, zero wires, plenty of cupboard space and décor to die for).
Anne Bresman, husband Henrik and children Elsa and Max have lived in Singapore for just under ten years. First in a modern but small flat in Mount Sinai, then an old, larger space close by, in Clementi Park. Both Anne and Henrik hold established jobs at INSEAD, the global business school. “We couldn’t think of a better place to live than Singapore,” says Anne, explaining the thinking behind purchasing a property. “We’re super picky, and our real estate agent is hands-down amazing. This was one of the last places we looked at, and we felt it could work, with some renovations.”
Anne called Chlöe from E&A Interiors to preemptively take a look at the house, in early 2017. “It was built in 2006,” says Anne, “so not old in any sense, but the floors had that almost fake cherry colour, the kitchen was tired and dated, and everything just felt a bit beige.”
Chlöe and Anne worked closely together on the renovation plans. “I’ve always been interested in design, and took a certification course at NAFA (Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts) during the early years in Singapore, and I felt that Chlöe demonstrated a great range in terms of what she could do. She also pushed us to interject some more pattern and textures, which we appreciated, as initially we were keen for a more clean-lined look.”
Scope and Style
The existing living space had the usual wet and dry kitchen configuration, as well as a powder room, which ate into the overall living space. Anne was happy to have one open kitchen as well as removing the powder room, allowing Chlöe to create a more open space.
The living room area had old casement windows that looked out onto the terrace, which made the interior feel small. After much wrangling with the management, Chlöe was able to replace these casements with bi-fold doors to create flow and more of an indoor-outdoor feel, so the family could enjoy the tropical outlook.
The customised wall-to-wall bookcase in the living room houses the Bresman’s huge collection of books, as well as a television. Tekkie Help came in at both the beginning and end of the project to assist with all tech issues. “Sarah and Bo, the owners of Tekkie Help, are amazing; they made sure everything was planned out properly, and all our hardware is now really well organised and hidden.”
For the furnishings, Chlöe mostly installed customised pieces throughout the house, mixed with a few important pieces that Anne wanted to incorporate. This included the ottomans and main living-room sofa, which were upholstered, and the existing “smile” chair, re-covered in a Jennifer Shorto Japanese-inspired textile.
Home and Heart
The house is clearly what Anne and the rest of the family wanted; somewhere that was modern and fresh, as well as a comfortable family-friendly home. “My favourite space in the house would be the living area, and, for us as a family, probably the guest room with the television. On the weekends, we just love to open up the doors and hang out downstairs, watching the people go by in the early evening.”
The location also fits perfectly for them. “We’re creatures of habit to be honest, which was part of the reason we wanted to stay in this area. We already had our paediatrician, knew the shops at Jelita, and were in close proximity to the kids’ school. We wanted to keep it simple!”
When they aren’t at work, or hanging out in their beautiful home, the family also love to travel, and they spend time regularly in Sweden, the US and Japan (they visit the latter to ski each December). They also have plenty of family visiting, with Anne’s parents coming out at least once a year for six weeks at a time, and Henrik’s mother staying twice a year. “Being in this house makes it so much easier to have guests – the levels give you that privacy that you just don’t get in a condo.”
Having not lived in the US for over 16 years, Anne resonates with Singapore more as her family’s home. “I love the fact my kids are growing up here, as well-rounded, globally minded people.”
Chlöe Elkerton, E&A Interiors owner and lead designer Both Anne and Henrik were extremely involved in the renovation, but Anne was my direct contact. She made the whole process really straightforward as they would discuss issues and ideas at home first, so our meetings were concise and productive. They were realistic and quick to make decisions, and understood how to focus their budget on the important areas.
They both had a similar vision – given Henrik’s Swedish background, he wanted a clean and contemporary home but with warmth and personality incorporating key pieces of art and furniture. Anne liked elements of interesting textiles, bold statement lighting and layers of whites, neutral and greys combined with natural elements and black and brass metal finishes. Overall, she wanted a modern, fresh feel but comfort too, and, importantly, a family-friendly stylish home.
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