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Sky-high living in this gorgeous penthouse

When the Akerbooms moved to Singapore from the Netherlands in 2014, they were excited to be setting up home in a new country once again. They told Aimee Fordos (photography by Michael Bernabe) how they created a modern, relaxed feel in their stunning four-bedroom penthouse apartment.

Family in living room
Karen Akerboom and children Eva and Alexander

With Hans Akerboom’s role as Deputy Head of Mission for the Dutch Embassy and his wife Karen’s work as a flight attendant, it’s clear that travel runs in the veins of this international family. They’re old hands at uprooting themselves and starting over. In fact, they thrive on it, and their children, Alexander and Eva, are great examples of how being a third-culture kid can bring extraordinary opportunities.

I met them at their Cyan apartment, a sky-high, four-bedroom penthouse overlooking the lush greenery of MacRitchie and Bukit Timah. I could immediately see why they’d fallen for it, and that’s without even seeing the fabulous rooftop.

Living and dining room
The gorgeous dining chairs were made by burning and then refinishing wood

International Outlook

Hans and Karen met in India. Hans was studying there and Karen was working full-time as a flight attendant. “I thought I’d met this beautiful Indian lady…,” says Hans, before Karen finishes the story with a smile: “… and it turned out I was only half-Indian and didn’t live in India at all!”

Contemporary Dutch artwork
Contemporary Dutch art fills the walls of the Akerboom home

Both Alexander and Eva seem very at ease with their family’s itinerant lifestyle, though it isn’t always easy to move around so much. “It’s a bit disruptive at the beginning,” says Karen, “but you know that already, and it all pans out in the end; you soon have school and work sorted out, and your days are quickly filled with the things you would normally do, whether you were in the UK, Holland, Singapore or anywhere else.”

Girls room
Eva’s room is a vibrant mix of colour

Modern Art and Memories

With its lofty height and floor-to-ceiling windows, the open-plan living area is the hub of the home. It’s dominated by twin abstract paintings by the famous Dutch artist Armando, while a collection of large wooden sculptures, vases and other artefacts on the balcony add another layer of interest to the view. A rug in the form of smooth “stones” is deceptively soft underfoot and forms an appealing centrepiece in the lounge area; it’s a cosy but modern space.

Study room penthouse
The light-filled study is perfect for working and for practising music – Karen and the kids all play instruments

Alongside the modern elements are older and ethnic pieces. A wall at the entrance is covered with antique maps of all the places where they’ve lived, and an Indonesian cabinet is topped with figurines from Angola and Cameroon. Still, they’re very selective about their purchases: “We buy things in auctions and galleries, but not ‘dust collectors’, as I call them,” explains Hans, “I study them a bit and choose them carefully.”

Rooftop pool
Watch the sun go down over the sparkling blue pool

Up in the Clouds

Finally, we head up the spiral staircase to see the pièce de résistance: the rooftop. Split across two levels, it has an unobstructed and breath-taking view. A dining and barbecue area occupies the lower part, while on the upper deck an outdoor lounge set is a comfy spot to settle in and watch the sun go down over the sparkling blue pool.



LeVeL33 (“For just $33, you get a three-course lunch and great views of Marina Bay Sands”)
#33-01 MBFC Tower 1, 8 Marina Boulevard
6834 3133 | level33.com.sg

The Rice Table Indonesian Restaurant (“for an authentic Dutch rijsttafel”)
#02-09/10 International Building, 360 Orchard Road
6835 3782 | ricetable.com.sg

Bollywood Veggies (“for organic veg and non-veg options and a walk in the gardens”)
100 Neo Tiew Road, Kranji
6898 5001 | bollywoodveggies.com

Dervish (“for Turkish and Lebanese food”)
60 Bussorah Street
6298 8986

Alba 1836 (“for great Italian food and beautiful wines”)
28 Duxton Hill
6222 2048 | alba1836.com

Indian Palace (“a favourite for delicious Indian food”)
Newton Food Centre


Tekka Wet Market (“for fresh produce and Indian spices”)
L1 Tekka Centre
665 Buffalo Road

Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle and Dragon Kiln (“for pottery”)
85 Lorong Tawas (via Clean Tech View)
6265 5808 | thowkwang.com.sg

Gillman Barracks (“for art”)
9 Lock Road


St John’s Island (“Take the boat from Marina South Pier to escape Singapore”)


This is an extract from an article that first appeared in the January 2017 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy for the full article, or Subscribe now so you never miss an issue!

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