Fourteen years after buying it, Hans and Annette Tromp renovated this stunning Bayshore Park penthouse and finally moved in this year, with daughter Jennifer (18). They told me their story over a cup or two of strong Dutch coffee.
They’d renovated the penthouse once before, when they first bought it – as the framed Straits Times feature article hanging on Hans’s study wall shows – and it’s been home to a succession of happy tenants over the years. During that time, Hans, Annette and Jennifer have lived in a series of East Coast houses, most recently one in Kew Crescent that they are now renting out.
How did they come to buy it? “After years of renting,” says Hans, “I’d finally got tired of wasting money on landlords. So I bought this place in 1999, and then the Kew Crescent house in 2001.”
Bayshore Park is a lovely East Coast development that has everything one could wish for in a condo. Built in an older style, it sprawls across acres of lushly landscaped grounds, with ample parking, plus all the usual swimming pools, squash courts, tennis courts and more. Best of all, a gate at the bottom of the property opens onto the underpass that takes you to the East Coast Park and its beaches.
With an unblocked aspect from the 32nd floor, the views are glorious. Even more so at night, says Hans, when the myriad lights of hundreds of ships start to twinkle. Lured out onto one of two ocean-facing patios by a refreshing sea breeze, it’s hard to imagine a pleasanter spot anywhere in Singapore.
Hans recalls that he was just 20 when he first came to Singapore on business in 1989 – “I’d already started working for this business in Europe,” he explains. “Once I got here, I never left! And after ten years as an employee, I took the business over.”
After some time, he took up Singaporean citizenship, and Annette and Jennifer (then aged 6) joined him here in 1999.
The couple still run the same garment business. Manufactured in Malaysia and Indonesia, the garments – mainly lingerie and knitwear – are exported to countries such as Denmark, Germany, Holland, Spain and France. Their clients love Singapore, says Annette, and like to stop over here to visit them.
“The house is always full; we enjoy entertaining.”
East Coast Living
“Twenty years ago there was almost nothing on the East Coast,” says Hans, “but now the malls are good and you can find just about any sort of food you fancy. The area has really improved, and is still very much up and coming. And it’s better on weekdays, less busy than on the weekends.”
Annette agrees. “I hardly go to the city anymore,” she says. “We always eat hawker fare for lunch, and I do a lot of my shopping at the Bedok market.
“Over the years, they’ve got to know me because I go to the same stalls each time. I ask them what the best they have today is, and I find that that works: I like the quality and the selection, and I get good prices.”
Hans gets around by motorbike, as he’s always done. It’s Annette who uses the car, for shopping, yoga, school-related activities and so on.
Annette’s enviably strong, slim body didn’t happen by accident. She’s in the process of qualifying to be a personal trainer – “getting a taste of every discipline”, as she puts it. After years of yoga, running and gym work, at the time of our chat she was practising hot yoga at Bikram Katong at least four or five times a week.
“Being thin is not enough,” she says: “we want to be toned and strong. As a personal trainer, my focus will be on women over 40, like myself, who can do with some specialised help. Our needs are different to those of women in their 20s and 30s; as our energy and hormone levels change, bones tend to become thinner, muscles shrink and gravity does its thing!
“Being fit comes more easily when you’re younger. It’s more of a challenge later on, so your workouts need to be targeted for effectiveness and to stimulate the metabolism.”
I ask the couple what they’re looking forward to right now, and the answer is unanimous: “A holiday break in Seminyak, Bali. We have a villa in a managed development called The Layar, and we try to get there as often as possible. It’s always such a pleasure.”
What did you do this time round?
The slate tiles on the bathroom floor and wall were still good, so we just added new white sanitary-ware. So were the wooden strip floors; we simply dyed them black for a more contemporary look.
At 3,200 square feet, this is not a small apartment; but it’s considerably smaller than the 7,200-square-foot house we were moving from. To optimise the space, we decided to go for built-in furniture.
Storage is always a problem in Singapore, so we created hidden storage areas wherever possible, such as the shoe and bike-helmet cupboard in the entrance hall. I even divided my study in half; the printer and other office paraphernalia are neatly concealed behind a door.
Who did the work for you?
Cedric from Cloud 9 Living. He’s a seriously nice guy with great taste, and he managed to finish the work in the three months allowed. There was no leeway for lateness, as the Kew Crescent house absolutely had to be vacated in time for the tenants to move in, and we refuse to live in a home that is not finished. He did a great job!
Tell us about the furnishings.
Anything free-standing came with us from our previous place, but of course we could not bring it all with us.
Some was left behind for the new tenants, but we also gave away a lot of things. Every day, the karanguni man would come along to see what we had for him, and that was fine. I prefer to give stuff away to hard-working garbage recyclers, and to people who can really use and appreciate it, rather than to dealers who give you almost nothing for it.
And the artwork?
Most of the artwork is from Bali. For many years, we’ve been going to the same gallery there – Komang.
For interior design:
Cloud 9 Living (Cedric)
#01-02 Shaw Corner
12 Boon Teck Road
For fresh produce:
16 Bedok South Road
For hot yoga:
Bikram Yoga Katong (Maria)
130 East Coast Road
For chicken rice and wonton mee:
East Coast Lagoon Food Village
Stall 7 (Mr Yeoh)
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