Annabelle treated house hunting with the same gusto as finding her way round Singapore, sourcing special goods such as paint sample pots and independently decorating her new home.
Annabelle and Hompe met in the KLM Headquarters in Amsterdam where they both worked. He was moved to Italy and after a period of weekend relationship, flying to and fro between Italy and Amsterdam, she joined him there.
Once in Italy, Annabelle took the ‘bull by the horns’ and had soon set up a business exporting old and trendy Vespas to Amsterdam.
Hompe was then offered this position in Singapore, so last November he flew over to look at houses. He saw 45 in four days! From those he made a shortlist and Annabelle flew over for a day to look at the shortlist. They really enjoyed staying at the Goodwood Park Hotel, and liked what they saw of Singapore.
I flew in, took one look at the house and knew that was the one. I signed the contract that day.
Once here Annabelle set out on a mission to make her house right.
Driving on the ‘wrong side’ in a new city didn’t seem to diminish her motivation. ‘I drove a lot,’ declares Annabelle. ‘A lot’ was actually 10,000km in five months!
EL: What were your prerequisites?
AD: We had decided on houses rather than apartments as we both enjoy having a garden. Among the houses in the shortlist were both black and white and other landed properties, but we just couldn’t decide.
Among our favourites was one on Turf Club Road and we loved one at Gibraltar Crescent, Sembawang. This was a huge Premas property with lovely wood floors but it was a bit far out of town. Another one was in Adam Park, which was way over our budget. We saw one in Rochester Park too. When it came time to fly home we hadn’t reached any decision.
When we got home a friend who lived here told us about a different one in Rochester Park that would be coming on the market soon. I was due to fly to Fiji for a hockey tournament and arranged it so I would have one day in Singapore to see the house. The advantages of working for an airline!
EL: What was top of your agenda?
AD: First stop was the paint shops. Although I liked the style of the house, we both wanted to include some colour. I said to Hompe, “Trust me … I’m going to paint the house orange!”. The retail outlets that sold paint didn’t offer the little colour samplers to I went to the head offices of the paint companies such as Dulux and Nippon and eventually found the right colour at Nippon Paints in Jurong.
I painted the orange parts myself and then went in search of wallpaper for some of the other walls. I looked at several outlets including Home Lovers in Kallang Bahru where I bought the wallpaper for the study. The green and white stripes in the bedroom are from Biggie Best in Tanglin Shopping Centre. Biggie Best had a really good selection and also provided the work force to put the paper up. It was safer to leave the wallpapering to specialists. (Good thinking – Ed.) Not many houses in Singapore have wallpaper but apparently it lasts just as well here.
Both Hompe and I have flats in Amsterdam so we only brought a few favourite possessions such as the sofa from Italy and a grandfather clock which had been handed down through the family – both of which I was recommended not to bring because of the humidity. Being a black and white we had to buy all the white goods. The air-con system and pool were bought off the previous tenants.
EL: How did you know which shops to go to?
AD: We were told about Rena at Shaw Centre on Scotts Road for new and second-hand washing machines and dishwashers. People say they soon start to look old anyway so you may as well buy reconditioned. Friends at work recommended Parisilk so we eventually bought both the fridge and dishwasher from there.
We were incredibly lucky in that our predecessors took us around everywhere before they left and gave us lots of tips and referrals. They recommended us a medical and dental clinic too, which is important (Arcadia Clinic on Ulu Pandan Road). I actually saw a copy of Expat Living at the RDA and in Delifrance at Jelita so that was good – it gave us a feel of other expats living happily here which was quite comforting.
For the additional furniture we needed I looked all around the Serangoon area and Dempsey Road, which had been recommended. Hompe bought the large outdoor dining table and chairs from Vintage Palace at Dempsey Road. The butler tray is also from there. I looked at their beds too, as well as Ikea. We eventually bought our beautiful four poster from Shoma Studios in Little India, best value and quality I thought. I had seen a photograph in the magazine of one, and a friend told me about Shoma. We bought the mattress from the Furniture Mall on Beach Road. We trailed the area of Lavender and Jalan Besar for lighting shops but didn’t find anything we really liked.
The house needed curtains and I found these at Tanglin Shopping Centre from Angie Daroya. We bought the outdoor lights from Lim’s and really liked everything there.
EL: So you are happy with everything?
AD: I love it and hope we are here for a long time. It’s nice having the pool although it burst at the seam after a month of having it. We had to pay $2,000 to have the liner replaced. It ran into the next door neighbour’s garden and maid’s quarters. Unbelievable. Apparently it is the frame that rusts so you have to watch them especially when buying a second hand pool. If that rusts through, the support goes and you have to replace the whole liner if you don’t catch it in time.
I’m only here on a social visit pass at the moment, as we are not married. This makes it more complicated for me to get a letter of consent than if I was on a dependant’s pass and I really want to work so I’m considering a couple of avenues at the moment.
Annabelle doesn’t seem the kind to sit back and wait so I’m sure something will present itself on the work front soon. Well done for finding your way around so soon and for doing the house on your own! Good luck and welcome to Singapore.
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