Many of us dream of living in a colonial-era black-and-white house, but it can seem almost impossible to get one. When Lynda Talbot and her family arrived in Singapore nearly four years ago, their first home was a modern house near Turf City. But they hankered something older with character and a story, a place that would suit their eclectic collection of antiques and collectibles and satisfy their love for period architecture and style.
Although I regularly drive to the Botanic Gardens along Evans Road, I’d never noticed the wonderful old black-and-white apartments tucked behind lush vegetation just opposite the university. I arrive outside the Talbot’s front door somewhat out of breath after lugging my camera gear up three flights of stairs; perhaps lifts hadn’t yet been invented yet when the place was built!
Australian Lynda welcomes me into a beautifully decorated, single-level apartment where I meet hubby Mat, seven-year-old Rafferty and wire fox terrier Kazumi. We settle down to chat on a huge verandah that comfortably accommodates both a lounging and a dining area. I’m surprised to learn that the family just moved in a few months ago. “I’ve been collecting antiques since I left school,” says Lynda, “so we have the kind of furniture that makes a home look lived-in.”
Both Mat and Lynda are collectors and have an appreciation for older things. They’ve renovated a number of older properties in Australia and were recognised for their heritage restoration work by their local council in Sydney. So, when they moved here, they were captivated by the beauty and character of colonial black-and-white homes and it became a family activity to spend part of the weekend searching out these old properties all around Singapore.
Although many of the black-and-whites they visited were wildly expensive, the more Mat and Lynda found out about colonial-style living, the more they realised it might actually be possible to live in a period home.
“After living here for three years,” says Lynda, “I began stalking the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) website and found this unique residence, originally home to university professors. Two of the apartments in this block became available around the same time, which is very rare as there are only eight apartments. We put in a bid on the first apartment, but lost out to a higher bidder. However, that was actually quite useful as we then knew what price range to bid at and, on our second attempt, our bid was successful.”
The Talbots love their new, central location. ‘Rafferty owns the Botanic Gardens – it’s like his own private playground – and we spend many wonderful hours there as family,” says Lynda. “We often make use of the university swimming pool across the road and I really appreciate the funky, fifties vibe of the place. And just along Evans Road is the 24-hour Mr Prata, which we enjoy.”
She explains that the two lovely-looking bungalows in the garden there are the maid’s quarters. “Each apartment has a big garage, storeroom and maid’s quarters, so we have the best of both worlds. We enjoy all the advantages of a live-in helper, but we have our privacy when the working day ends.”
Want more home inspiration? See our home decor section!