Moving to Singapore or already living here and always dreamt of living in a black-and-white house? Amy Brook-Partridge visits one of her friends who owns one of those lovely colonial homes in the Wessex Estate.
I’m at an advantage when I arrive to “interview” my friend Justine Hazlett in her black-and-white house near Portsdown Road, as I’ve been here before – quite a few times, in fact. Since we first met a couple of years ago, she and her husband Nick have gone from married couple living in a black-and-white apartment, to parents of Nash, whom they adopted from Ethiopia in 2015, now living in this beachy-chic house. I find out how she created the cool, boho-vibe that permeates her home, and the journey they went on to find their son.
While living in Sydney for ten years before moving here in 2011, Justine met Nick at a mutual friend’s 30th birthday party. That was in 2004, and two years later they tied the knot at Justine’s parents farm in Pukekohe, New Zealand.
After Nick expressed an interest in moving to Singapore, his company relocated him to open an office here in early 2011 (he’s since become a partner at banking and financial services recruitment firm Symmetry). Justine, however, was still more than happy living and working in Sydney, and hung back for three months before joining him here. Their first home was a black-and-white apartment, close to their current home. It wasn’t long before Justine was snapped up by a television production company, and what was meant to be a three-month contract ended up being a year. Working long hours and during the weekends, there was very little spare time to focus on much else.
One important thing that remained on her mind, however, was starting a family. After a year or so of trying for a baby while they were still in Sydney, she and Nick were advised to consider IVF. Not keen on heading down this route immediately, Justine consulted a doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and followed a very strict programme that saw her lose a whopping 18kg in weight. Trying IUI first, then IVF through her “amazing doctor Mary” in New Zealand, they undertook two rounds, and Justine got pregnant but unfortunately miscarried early on. After trying egg donation without success, Justine thought enough was enough. They had already started the paperwork for adoption; and so when one door closed, another began to open.
The Perfect Outcome
Justine started her adoption research online. “You’re put in touch with a counsellor who can advise you, and we were told to pick three countries we were keen to adopt from – we chose Cambodia, Thailand and Ethiopia. The paperwork takes a while, says Justine, and includes plenty of online tests and checks, including (reassuringly) police checks for every country you’ve lived in. “But I’ll never forget the email that said we’d been matched with a five-month-old baby boy from Ethiopia. It stated he had no known parents and asked us how we would like to proceed.” The couple flew out to meet Nash – then called Yosef – when he was eight months old. The family hit a stumbling block, however, when the courts closed for what was expected to be a month. Justine and Nick went back to Singapore to prepare their home and wait for the call. However, the call never came, and they found out that all adoptions had been put on hold. After eight extremely stressful months, Justine went back to Ethiopia to find out what exactly was going on. Finally, there was movement in the courts, and being there on the ground making herself visible put Justine in a good position. The court date came, and they got to pick up Nash on 22 April 2014 and take him home. Justine’s advice for anyone considering adoption is to start as soon as you can. “Looking back, I would have started sooner so I could have adopted a couple more children. The paperwork has now expired, and I feel that, at my age, it’s too late to start from scratch again.”
House and Home
Realising they needed more outdoor space than their apartment afforded, they moved into this black-and-white house just over a year ago, and Justine has given it her own sprinkle of tropical island boho-style. After bringing more than a container-load of furniture during the move from Sydney, she has since been collecting from here and there, including hunting down pieces through classified ads and auctions, or exploring shops such as Originals and FairPrice Antique.
The house has a natural and cosy flow, and Justine says she calls on Lucy Richardson’s feng shui expertise at least once a year. “Each time I decorate, I feng shui, and Lucy is familiar with all of my things. Sometimes, if I’m not feeling right, she’ll come over for a coffee and tell me to tweak something here or there.” Fortunately, this success has spilled over into her family life; Nash has been the perfect addition to their family. “I couldn’t have wished for a better outcome; he’s an amazing match with our personalities – cheeky and fun, and just right for us.”
By Amy Brook-Patridge
Living & Leisure
Common Man Coffee Roasters commonmancoffeeroasters.com
This is an extract from an article that first appeared in the May 2017 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy for the full article, or Subscribe now so you never miss an issue! Where should you live in Singapore? Look at our neighbourhood guides Get more design ideas at our Homes section.