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Living in Singapore: Dutch expat Nienke Nauta-Kuipers shows off her home in Sunset Way

By: Amy Brook-Partridge; photography by Michael Bernabe

As President of the Hollandse Club and mother of three young children, Dutch expat Nienke Nauta-Kuipers has her hands full, but she still finds time to welcome us to her light-filled Sunset Way home in Singapore.

Sunset Way Apartments
Nienke with her kids Tom (10), Cato (short for Catherine, 8), and Nout (now 4)

Nienke’s four-bedroom family abode in the Sunset Way estate area of Clementi is a wonderful example of the individual style and design of many Singapore homes. The exterior may look familiar, with its high gates and iron gridwork, but inside it’s a fun, split-level mix of open and airy living spaces enhanced with Nienke’s own clean, natural and rustic style. Standing on the top-floor landing, off of which are three bedrooms, you can see almost all of the inside of the house, from the first-floor living room and kids’ play area to the dining room on the lower ground floor, where there’s also a fourth bedroom.

The hide rugs and ottomans are from South Africa, the coffee table from Holland, the white three-seater from Bungalow 55, and the television console from Originals
The hide rugs and ottomans are from South Africa, the coffee table from Holland, the white three-seater from Bungalow 55, and the television console from Originals

Making the move

The Sunset Way area is a popular residential choice among both locals and expats. It’s conveniently close to the PIE and other arterial roads, yet set back enough to have a rural, community feel. “I love this area,” confirms Nienke.

“In 2010, we moved to Singapore from a huge property in Johannesburg, initially to a smaller cluster house near Sixth Avenue, and it drove me crazy. Our next place was a bungalow; it was small with a big garden, but it was such a relief to be in a house again. Then finally we moved in here.” Location is an important factor in where they live, as Nienke’s husband Martijn works in Clementi and cycles there and back every day.

homes and furniture in Singapore
The dining table and end chairs were custom-made in China.

Making the move from Johannesburg to Singapore were Nienke, Martijn, Tom (10), Cato (short for Catherine, 8), and Donald the dog (11). Nienke was also pregnant with Nout (now 4), adding an extra element of stress to the relocation. But after seven years in Johannesburg, the move to Singapore was a welcome one.

“Our first thoughts about being here were regarding safety. I remember seeing a lady walking on the street here on her own at 10pm, and I was shocked. In South Africa you just wouldn’t do that. I remember trying not to do groceries there with the kids in case something happened, and although we did live very safely, in a gated community, as soon as I went outside I had to be alert.”

Cato is a girly girl, says Nienke, and there’s plenty of pink in her room
Cato is a girly girl, says Nienke, and there’s plenty of pink in her room

Fitting in
Moving from a sizeable property in Johannesburg to their initial smaller place near Sixth Avenue naturally created issues regarding what home furniture and furnishings to keep. “I had to get rid of some of my pieces, including some large L-shaped couches, as they would never have fitted into the property here.”

Furniture such as the dining chairs did make the journey, and have been with Nienke since she lived in Holland. “I’m not going to replace them until the kids are older, because they always spill stuff over everything!”

The two brothers share a room, but according to Nienke they all often end up sleeping in the same bed
The two brothers share a room, but according to Nienke they all often end up sleeping in the same bed

For Nienke this isn’t a negative, however, as she says that her style is quite personal. “I like items with a story, things that are natural and rustic.” The family have picked up much of their furniture along the way, and Nienke still misses the bargains she found in South Africa. “There were also so many fabrics and antiques. I can’t seem to find that here.”

Nienke doesn’t see her family returning to Holland anytime soon. “I don’t hanker for home, and our next move will probably be to another continent,” she says. But for now, she and the family are happily ensconced in their Sunset Way home.


This story first appeared in Expat Living’s June 2015 issue.

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