If you dream of living in one of the Sentosa Cove houses, here’s a lovely showcase with heaps of space and views of the golf course! This relatively new expat family tell us how they styled up their gorgeous Sentosa home and managed to make it feel like home in just a few short months with the help of The Cinammon Room.
Who lives here: Erika Franco, husband Luis Nava, five-year-old son Mateo and dog Luka
Size of home: Five bedroom landed home
Where it is: Sentosa Cove
Originally hailing from Mexico, Erika, husband Luis and son Mateo moved from Boston to Singapore in October 2020. One could assume that such an upheaval from a settled four years in the US would be stressful given the situation around the globe. However, for Erika, the move has been truly positive. “Living here has been an amazing experience for us so far; this is really one of the best places we could be at this time.”
Having lived in and loved Boston’s city life for those four years (not to mention 10 years in the metropolis of New York City before that), Erika and her family were keen for a more relaxed pace of living in Singapore. “We were looking for a spot with a laid-back vibe; somewhere for our son to enjoy riding his bike, and where we could easily head to the beach.”
Sentosa Cove fitted their requirements of beach and waterside living, as well as offering the kind of space they wanted. “We wanted something that resembled a house as much as possible. This has just the right layout for us. It’s split-level, which makes it interesting; you come through the basement and you have the kitchen and office one level below, the dining and living area one level above, and then the bedrooms and the attic above that.”
Making a home on Sentosa Cove
Erika left the majority of their key furniture pieces behind in Boston. It had taken her the four years they lived in their home there to find the perfect pieces for every space, and she didn’t want to risk them getting damaged during shipping. “I only brought some very special artworks with me. One is a commissioned watercolour painting of our eyes (Mateo, Luis and myself) made by one of my teachers from architecture school. Another is a commissioned piece by the same artist of a Frida Kahlo portrait that was shipped from Mexico once we were established here.” The Sentosa home, then, was something of a blank canvas at the beginning. With a keen eye for interior design, Erika knew to start off with some in-depth research, rather than making any rash purchasing decisions.
“I’ve always loved the design process, and I really like taking my time finding special pieces,” she says. “When I buy a piece, whether it’s a small item or large piece of furniture, I get it because I fall in love with it; it calls my name. It makes a space feel like home. No matter what part of the house you’re in, you end up loving every bit of it.”
The Tan Boon Liat Building was one of her first ports of call when Erika started her furniture hunt. “In those first few weeks, I really took time to explore different places; when I visited Tan Boon Liat, I spent two or three days visiting every shop in the building!”
On one of these visits, she met Chantal Travers, owner of Emperor’s Attic. It was Chantal who pointed Erika in the direction of The Cinnamon Room for her rugs. “I love antique rugs, but this time I was keen for a mix of contemporary with more traditional pieces.”
Erika had already visited The Cinnamon Room looking for artwork, but she headed back on Christmas Eve, where she met Visha Nelson to discuss a few rugs she had her eye on. “I saw them and fell in love with three of them; but I didn’t want to rush a decision. Visha allowed me to take them home and trial them in situ to see what really worked. This was the perfect way to make a decision because until you see them in place you really don’t know which one works the best for you.”
This spurred on the start of a professional relationship, with Visha brought on board to advise Erika on the styling of her living and dining areas, and her master bedroom; Visha helped with artwork and rug placement, soft furnishings, accessories and accent pieces throughout those spaces. “We worked very closely together,” says Erika. “She never pushed me to go in one direction or the other, but rather encouraged me to choose pieces that made me feel like I wanted to be in that room.”
The only furniture that was shipped was for Mateo’s bedroom, as Erika wanted him to feel at home straight away. The initial pieces purchased were a sofa and dining table from Knock Knock, Erika’s bedroom pieces from Soul & Tables, and a television console from China Collection. “Doug, the owner, was so helpful, and his expertise really came into its own when it came to finding me something unique.”
The large striking screen in the master bedroom is from Lee’s Antiques, as is the green sideboard in the dining area. “This was really the first piece of the puzzle in that area; the other décor items had to work around it.”
Erika was also struggling to find side tables that fitted her requirements, looking for pieces that weren’t big or bulky, but also functional. She happily found the perfect items at The Cinnamon Room as well, buying a set of nested and hexagonal side tables. The most recent purchases for the home have been outdoor furniture from OHMM, and an outdoor rug from The Cinnamon Room.
One important factor for Erika has been sticking to a budget. “It’s easy to assume that people always have a lot of money to work on their homes and with interior designers, but I think it’s good to realise you really can get some home pieces at reasonable prices. It’s possible to have a beautiful home with a smaller budget – there are always options.”
When asked which room in the house is her favourite, Erika hesitates. “That’s a really hard question to answer, because I truly do love every room in the house. But I think the living and dining room area is my favourite; it’s colourful but calm, it makes me feel good, and I love the mix of different styles, from antique to modern.”
Sentosa Cove as a location is also working out for the family. “We really love living here. It’s been easier for me to make friends and connections than any other place I’ve lived in.”
Having busied herself putting the house together, it’s now also time for Erika to focus on setting up her own business. As a makeup artist, hair stylist and image consultant, she also has past experience selling jewellery from high-end Mexican designers – this is in stark contrast to her studies at college in engineering and architecture!
Right now, she’s unsure of which career path she should go down. But, looking at her home, she may want to consider home interiors and styling as another avenue to pursue!
The Stylist’s Story – Visha Nelson from The Cinnamon Room
“Erika came to us just before Christmas 2020; she was initially looking for rugs and artwork, but this soon extended to other décor pieces. She really wanted to add warmth, character and colour to their home to make their first Christmas in Singapore a special one.
We looked at images of Erika’s home to work out which artworks and rugs would suit her space. Since she had all the functional pieces of furniture, including a sofa, dining table, bed and armchairs, she was looking for the softer touches to complete the space and turn it into a family home. The house is architecturally stunning, with great views, and they wanted to bring the space inside alive with an eclectic range of home décor.
The open-plan living and dining room needed grounding by defining each area. Rugs were an integral part of this; we used them to define each area by function, and create a focal point, while adding warmth and texture to the room. Artworks were chosen to bring colour and vibrance to the open-plan space, and finishing touches such as candle holders, runners and bowls added interesting accents around the room. In the dining area, we chose artwork and a rug that worked together with Erika’s distinctive emerald green sideboard. The black and white rug is perfect with the colourful artwork and sideboard. The master bedroom has the most breathtaking views of trees and open greenery, so styling it was a real pleasure. Erika has a beautiful gold and red antique screen; to tie that in, we placed a metallic hide rug as the focal point. We also added complementary cushions and candle holders to pick up the colours across the room, to bring the large bedroom space together and make it cosy. When the sunlight hits our metallic hide rug, it makes the whole room shimmer – it’s a stunning way to complete the room.
Side tables were something Erika was finding hard to shop for, but our range of unique nested side tables worked for her, fulfilling both functionality and aesthetics. We needed to have rugs customised to fit in the space, so we worked closely with Erika on a home visit to ensure each area had a rug of the correct proportions.
It was a very collaborative effort. The family have a real appreciation of different styles of aesthetics, and what they loved about our unique range of home décor is how eclectic it is – reflective of their own personality and style”
The Cinnamon Room | 9727 3051 | cinnamonroom.com
Emperor’s Attic | 9011 0380 | emperorsattic.com
Knock Knock | 6222 8851 | knockknock.com.sg
Soul & Tables | 9272 1545 | soulandtables.com.sg
Originals | 6471 9918 | originals.com.sg
China Collection | 9858 6889 | chinacollection.com.sg
OHMM | 6836 2747 | ohmm.sg
Island Living by Cocoon | 8028 2571 | islandliving.sg
Shang Antique | 6388 8838 | shangantique.com.sg
Just Anthony | 6283 4782 | justanthony.com
Lee’s Antiques | 9188 8866 | leesantiques.com.sg
Mykonos On The Bay | 6334 3818 | mykonosonthebay.com
Publico | 6826 5040 | publico.sg
EM by the Marina | 6271 2802 | embythemarina.business.site
Chopsuey Cafe at Dempsey | 6708 9288 | pscafe.com
Little Farms | littlefarms.com
Toni & Guy | 6835 4556 | toniandguy.sg
This article first appeared in the July 2021 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!
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