MEENA HALCYON chats about her home choices in Singapore and what she loves about living in her new landed property near King Albert Park. She also shares some recommendations like the nearby Rail Corridor green space and the businesses she uses.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My husband and I moved to Singapore four years ago with our three-year-old and expecting another – who is now four years old. We moved here from Seattle, Washington but are originally from Gurgaon in India.
My husband is an entrepreneur specialising in the data sector. I’m a transformation coach who works to empower women through style and confidence and helps them achieve their goals.
Where did you first live when you came to Singapore and why?
Our first apartment was in Orchard. We had moved here from the Seattle suburbs so we wanted to live among the hustle and bustle of the city. The back door of our apartment building opened right into ION Orchard, which we enjoyed a lot for three years. Once COVID hit and we were locked in the house, our priorities changed; that’s when we moved to this landed property in King Albert Park.
What areas and types of properties did you look at?
We were looking for space and peace. The kids wanted to run around and play, my husband wanted to work from home and I didn’t want my privacy invaded when working on my laptop.
Our real estate guys Ronald and June listened, understood and showed us some properties in Orchard, Sentosa and Bukit Timah. But we fell in love with King Albert Park at first sight.
What were some of the things you loved about it?
It was very green and very zen. We still wake up and sit outside every day as a morning ritual, see our daughter taking her school bus while having our coffee. My husband does personal training in the morning but most days he just goes for a bike ride in the Rail Corridor that’s outside the back door.
Can you believe we have a back door opening right onto the Rail Corridor?
We feel like we’re living somewhere very far away from the city, right in the lap of nature – somewhere in the countryside yet so close to the city.
Also, a variety of birds shows up at our home, and the squirrel my kids have named Joey is another regular fixture. The monitor lizards are now friends, but when I saw them for the first time I stayed in bed and didn’t move! That was until the previous tenants I texted told me they were harmless and totally cool. We’re cohabiting in this bit of nature, so we make sure we’re very nice to them.
Would you believe it if I said, “I only saw this house right before moving in?” Because of pandemic restrictions, we couldn’t see the house as a couple, so only one of us could come for the inspection. We flipped a coin to figure out who; I stayed outside the gate while my husband checked it out.
When I saw the interior for the first time, I was very happy with the clean modern finish – the hard wood floors, vintage-style windows, high ceilings and beautiful clean look with huge doors on either side was so beautiful. The next thing I did was bring in all our furniture and place it in the designated rooms – and of course had to buy some new furniture!
Space was very important for us, especially as my kids were running all around the house. I wanted to do it in a minimalist way, adding a little bit of our personality without changing the character of the house and keeping in mind our needs and lifestyle. And that’s exactly what I did. This house was done and dusted in a month, exactly as you see it now.
What were the first things you bought for the house when you moved in?
I bought additional shelves for the bar, plus the dining table, a sofa and two more Kallax shelves for the kids’ room.
What have been your best furniture or home décor buys?
I love the sofa and the life-size mirrors in the house; they bring a lot of nature inside through reflection. The Himalayas painting shows snow and stupas in the background and is one of my favourites. I’ve placed a huge vase of dried flowers next to it – these are symbolic of a lively, colourful and beautiful childhood that’s freshly preserved in my memories. I enjoy seeing it every day.
Any advice for newcomers to Singapore?
There’s a wide variety of places to live in, so take time and check out different options before moving. The two places, the condo and the landed property, we’ve lived in can’t be compared to each other.
In terms of designing and styling your house, take baby steps and don’t buy everything at once. Prioritise function over design. Remember that less is more – having more will always weigh you down, in more ways than one.
What do you love most about living in Singapore?
It’s safe and beautiful, living here is easy and the people are very nice. When you meet people in the salons, wet markets and shops you visit on a regular basis, you feel like you’ve bonded with them, and they’re super nice to kids.
Name three of your favourite public holidays and why they’re special.
I like Diwali, because you can feel the positivity and see lights everywhere. There’s also a real celebration vibe at Chinese New Year – plus I love mooncakes! And my kids have a tremendous amount of fun at Halloween.
Any regional trips on your bucket list?
I’m yet to visit Japan, Korea and the Philippines.
Crate and Barrel
#04-21/22 ION Orchard | crateandbarrel.com.sg
#01-02 Boon Siew Building, 75 Bukit Timah Road | roche-bobois.com
Boulevard Outdoor Inspirations
Multiple stores | boulevardoutdoorfurniture.com
UWCSEA | uwcsea.edu.sg
Dr Ansgar C Cheng | specialistdentalgroup.com/dr-ansgar-c-cheng
Rail Corridor (“for walking or cycling”) | railcorridor.nparks.gov.sg
This article first appeared in the February 2023 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!
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