Philanthropist PATRICIA RODRIGUES JONES is a long-term expat living in Singapore. She’s managing a full and active life, embracing it in a conscious way. In a rare spare moment, she showed us around her grand home in Kilburn Estate!
Tell us a bit about yourself and your journey to living in Singapore.
I was born and raised in Brazil, but I’ve been living abroad for over 25 years. I moved first to the UK in 1997, where I lived for 12 years and met my husband Rob. We moved to Geneva soon after our first daughter was born, in the beginning of 2009. We were happy living in Geneva, had two more children, and even bought a property there. In 2013, when I’d barely finished refurbishing the house, my husband said we were moving to Singapore. I didn’t want to come! That was almost 10 years ago (how time flies), and I love Singapore now. Our dogs Coco and Chip also love the outdoor lifestyle that this sunny country affords.
Tell us about your career and charity work.
During my London days, I owned a fashion boutique, but after moving to Geneva and having kids, I stopped working in paid employment. Since coming to Singapore, I’ve become involved with charities and non-profit organisations that support humanitarian and environmental causes – one of which, Green Bees Social, I founded a few years ago.
I love travelling and discovering new places, especially getting off the beaten track! Two of the non-profits I’m involved with, Women on a Mission and HER Planet Earth, take women on expeditions to remote locations. I’ve been fortunate to go on quite a few of the trips. I’m also writing a children’s book about climate change, written in a non-confronting, accessible tone to encourage the next generation of environmentalists.
Tell us about your experience house hunting – what was it about this place that sealed the deal for you?
When we first arrived in 2013, I was shocked by rental prices – the market was quite high at that time (as it is again now!). Luckily, we were able to find a beautiful modern house in Raffles Park. I wasn’t looking for anything specific, but I knew as soon as I saw the house that it would be ideal. It was the same for our current place in Bukit Timah; I just knew immediately that this was my family home.
With three very small children at the time, the house needed to be spacious, have a good size garden and a pool. Being Brazilian I do love a good barbecue, so a spacious outdoor area was essential. Also, it was a non-negotiable that the pool be fenced for peace of mind.
How would you define your interior style?
When it comes to decorating, I don’t have just one style, which can be problematic. I may like something very rustic, something very classic, and something with animal print at the same time. What remains a constant is my love for bling! My style depends on the moment, but I will always have golden accents in the house. Since moving to Singapore, I’ve also developed a taste for Asian furniture.
Do you have any recommendations for budding interior designers?
As hinted at above, I’m very indecisive when it comes to mixing styles, so I’ve always engaged an expert for interior design services. In my first house I used Design Intervention, but since 2017 I’ve been working with Karin Rysgaard from Cocoon Styling.
I like the idea of restoring and upcycling furniture, and I’m opposed to the culture of throwing out and buying new. Karin has helped me to realise this dream and we’ve also added selective pieces to complement the house. Her advice has saved me money, and she’s also pushed me out of my comfort zone (beyond “bling vibe”) in different design directions. For example, she encouraged me to buy palm print cushions, which I wouldn’t have done by myself, despite liking them.
The project I’m most proud of is my leather sofa, which is now 20 years old. The leather was very stained, but the base was still in excellent condition. So I had it re-upholstered with beautiful Italian leather, and it was transformed into new again. I’ve also recycled some beautiful vintage mirrors given to me by a friend.
What three décor pieces would you save in a fire?
My dining table, my four-poster bed and my blue and green Asian cabinets.
Favourite thing about Singapore and the region?
Singapore is a place that grew on me slowly. At first, I thought life here would be too limited, but then I started appreciating it more and more. Coming from Sao Paulo, safety is a big issue for me; Singapore’s a great place to bring up children without worrying that they are going to get mugged on the MRT! I also like that everything is organised, works seamlessly and is relatively clean compared to other big cities. I think Singapore is a good introduction to Asia – other places like Bangkok and Bali may be more fun, but they’re also much more chaotic!
The best thing about living here is that it gave us an opportunity to discover other countries in this region, which would have been much more difficult from Europe.
What do you do for fun?
What makes me tick is organising events and parties. There’s nothing I love more, apart from my family, of course! I adore playing tennis, which I do every single day. Cycling around Singapore is another activity I enjoy.
Home Furniture and Decoration
Island Living (“for Balinese style furniture and décor that I love”) | islandliving.sg
Emperor’s Attic | emperorsattic.com
Teak & Mahogany (“for garden furniture”) | teakandmahogany.com
Kia Meng Trading (“for upholstering your furniture”) | kmtrading.com.sg
Restaurants and Cafés
LINO (“for pizza at the Binjai park location”) | linorestaurant.com
JAAN (“for the best romantic dinner”) | jaan.sg
Caruso (“for delicious Italian food”) | caruso.sg
Blu Kouzina (“for amazing Greek food”) | blukouzina.com
Tanjong Beach Club (“for a day at the beach”) | tanjongbeachclub.com
Baker & Cook (“for breads and patisseries”) | bakerandcook.biz
Hollandse Club | hollandseclub.org.sg
1880 | 1880.com.sg
For Other Little Things
Cluny Court | clunycourt.com
This article first appeared in the March 2023 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!