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Chef’s corner: Samia Ahad’s new home in Newton

She heads up a successful culinary business that includes Coriander Leaf restaurant, a cooking school and a team-building service, so it’s unsurprising that Samia Ahad is one busy lady. She still found time to welcome us into her new home in Newton and tell us about her enduring relationship with Gallery 278 owner Felicia Koh, who so far has helped style four of Samia’s Singapore homes – and counting.

Who lives here: Samia Ahad and her husband Mahboob, originally from Pakistan.

Type and size of home: Four bedroom apartment.

Home style: Warm, welcoming and traditional.

Samia
Samia sitting on her comfy & cosy sofa with a book in-hand

As the doors open to Samia’s condo, I’m hit by the strong breeze flowing from one side of the apartment to the other. “Welcome to the gale,” she laughs, before going on to explain that the breeze here can be strong enough to knock pictures off the walls and ornaments off the shelves. Being 16 floors up and, unusually, not overlooked by high-rises on either side, this condo benefits from something that is sought-after yet sadly rare in Singapore: a fresh breeze.

After 19 years here, Samia and her husband Mahboob made the transition from long-term house-dwellers to apartment living by moving into this condo in December 2015. When they first arrived in Singapore in 1997, they stayed at the Four Seasons Park condo. From there they moved into a house in Berrima Road, followed by a 12-year stint in a shophouse on Emerald Hill; and now the Newton apartment.

Samia collects the balls you see dotted around her home, and estimates she has about 250. “My staff used to call me the lady boss with the balls!” The sofas in the living room came from New York.
Samia collects the balls you see dotted around her home, and estimates she has about 250. “My staff used to call me the lady boss with the balls!” The sofas in the living room came from New York.

Their ongoing residency in Singapore has in part been cemented by Samia’s successful culinary business, Coriander Leaf. It’s probably best known as a restaurant, but it also offers culinary courses and corporate team-building activities, all under its relatively new Chijmes roof, the third location for the business since 2001. Tag onto this its corporate catering service, provided off-site, and Samia has herself a busy business.

The contemporary console in the background is from Xtra, Samia’s other favourite store for more modern pieces.
The contemporary console in the background is from Xtra, Samia’s other favourite store for more modern pieces.

Furniture and Friends

Gallery 278’s Felicia and Samia have had a longstanding relationship that started when Samia was looking for a desk for her husband 19 years ago. “I found a desk that I loved, but it turned out to be Felicia’s own and she wouldn’t sell it to me,” she laughs. Felicia sourced another desk for Samia, which stayed with Mahboob for 18 years until they sold it just prior to moving to their current condo.

Through the years, Felicia has helped Samia furnish Coriander Leaf in both its Gallery Hotel and Clarke Quay locations, as well as the Screening Room. She has also been called on to advise on the furniture and styling of each of Samia’s homes, including this current one.

“Felicia has always helped, not only with furniture but with space-planning in every home, and here was no different. I had a real problem working with the space here, and I kept going to Felicia for advice. She drew up a floor plan for me, which was very useful.”

The contemporary console in the background is from Xtra, Samia’s other favourite store for more modern pieces.
The contemporary console in the background is from Xtra, Samia’s other favourite store for more modern pieces.

One important requirement for Samia when they were looking to move was enough space to house Mahboob’s enormous collection of books. “If we viewed somewhere without that space I would turn around and walk straight out.” Luckily, this apartment is big enough – and the couple was also keen to once again take advantage of the facilities that come with a condo.

 

The round dining table is from Gallery 278, a replacement for another table Samia has had for decades. “It’s being restored, but to be honest I’m not sure I’ll take it back.” The bookcases are from Xtra, and give the room the warm feel of a library.
The round dining table is from Gallery 278, a replacement for another table Samia has had for decades. “It’s being restored, but to be honest I’m not sure I’ll take it back.” The bookcases are from Xtra, and give the room the warm feel of a library.


Recommendations

Home Décor
Gallery 278
278 River Valley Road
6737 2322 | gallery278.com

Xtra (various locations)
xtra.com.sg

Food and Drink
Chia’s Vegetables
(“go see Victor for the best vegetables”)
#01-08 Tekka Market
665 Buffalo Road

28 Hong Kong Street
(“best cocktails”)
6533 2001 | 28hks.com

Spago
(“best views”)
Tower 2, Level 57,
Marina Bay Sands
10 Bayfront Avenue, Sands SkyPark
6688 8888 | marinabaysands.com

This is an extract of an article that first appeared in the April edition of Expat Living. To read the full story, you can buy a copy in our Shop. Don’t forget to Subscribe so you never miss an issue!

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