About to return to the UK after nearly ten years in Singapore, Lucy Ridgwell is beginning to tie up loose ends here and plan for the family’s future life on the Isle of Wight. We take a look around her beautifully styled home, and ask her about leaving the country that has been home for almost a decade.
Who lives here: Lucy and Struan (British), their sons Alec and Digby, and Maisie the “Westie” (West Highland White Terrier).
Size of the home: Three-bedroom, two storey house with garden.
Personal style: English country living meets tropical colonial, with plenty of colour.
Lucy’s favourite furniture and furnishings: Two lovely antique Chinese cabinets; bone inlay pieces shipped in from India and now in her bedroom; rugs and a rattan sofa found on the side of the road in Alexandra Park.
The semi-detached house where the Ridgwells live is in a much sought-after area on the outskirts of Bukit Timah – it’s within walking distance of the Botanic Gardens and Cluny Court, it benefits from many road and transport links but is set back from any main roads, and it’s wonderfully peaceful and quiet, at least when I visit.
“We’ve been in this house for four-and-a-half years, and it’s been great. It’s close to Pibo’s, which was Alec and Digby’s preschool, and the layout is perfect when you have a toddler as it’s lovely and open. We also have an eat-in kitchen, which is still fairly unusual here,” says Lucy. The family had previously started their Singapore journey in a “much bigger” shophouse near Newton Circus, but when the landlord doubled the rent they unsurprisingly decided to leave.
The only work carried out on this next home was to add decking around the edges of the external living area. “We eat outside here all the time, and without the decking you would barely get around the table. It’s also created a great scooting path for the kids around the house.”
Lucy refers to the style of her home as English farmhouse meets colonial Chinese, and you can see references to this everywhere, with plenty of pieces picked up from her travels and explorations mixed with family pictures and a variety of furniture.
Lucy clearly has an eye for patterns and colours. Each room is a vibrant combination of hues and textures, some of which you might not expect to work but in reality just do. Particular examples are the living area, with its pinks, reds and blues, and the master bedroom’s striking pink-and-white bone inlay furniture from India juxtaposed against the typically British armchairs, which have been recovered, and traditional pictures displayed on the walls. “It’s not about one colour, it’s about lots of colours!” says Lucy, and this is evident everywhere.
The floors are adorned with carpets sourced from Lucy’s own company, Ruby Slipper, which she set up in 2007 shortly after arriving in Singapore. She started out selling bed linen, and later branched out into carpets. This was prompted by the move into her current house and the realisation that she needed something to cover much of the large expanse of marble floors. Not a fan of Persian rugs and noting she was most definitely “over” IKEA, she found nothing she liked in the middle ground.
“I was going to India for my 40th birthday and planned to buy some rugs for myself. I had a chance meeting with a manufacturer and it dawned on me that if I had this issue, surely other people do too. Now I can supply made-to-order carpets; people choose the size, colour and pattern, and it takes around six weeks from order to delivery.” The business has also reaffirmed Lucy’s appreciation of her current home.
“That’s another reason why I love this house: it’s a great location for people to come over and view everything here – it just makes everything so much easier.”
Now, with the impending move back to the UK, she’s torn between having someone run the business for her, or selling it altogether. Either way, a decision needs to be made before move time in June. Lucy is clear, however, that it’s time to move back, with no regrets.
“We’ve had some great years in Singapore, but it’s just time. When the haze was here a few months ago, we went back to the UK for a visit, and it was the first time I’d seen the children wrapped up for the cold. I was worried it would be a nightmare, but we had the most awesome time.”
Michael Tan (“for upholstery”)
Ming Jiang (“for crispy duck pancakes”)
5 Rochester Park
Indi Nyah (“for amazing candles”)
Tory Lodder (“for bespoke jewellery”)
This article first appeared in the February 2016 edition of Expat Living Subscribe
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