When we pitch up at the 8 Draycott apartment, the photographer and I are expecting only Dean, but it’s our lucky day. We find a full house, including husband Andrew and domestic helper Myrna. Ten-month-old baby India Grace joins us after her nap, sleep-fogged but wreathed in smiles.
It’s a full house in more ways than one. In the few short months that have passed since Dean arrived in Singapore with the baby at the end of August, she has furnished the place from scratch.
Andrew murmurs something to the effect that the huge and expensive task of buying everything from teaspoons to artworks might have been better tackled as a six-month project – if only to give the cheque-signing hand a bit of respite, one would think – but Dean declares that she wanted her home to be ready as soon as possible.
“How did she do it?” I marvel, and get the most gratifying answer from Dean: “Expat Living was my bible.” She adds that personal recommendations from friends helped too, as did information on the internet.
In short, Andrew’s work. After fifteen years at sea, the Derbyshire-born Englishman came ashore in 1991 to manage BP’s commercial shipping. He met Australian Dean later while they were both working for BP in London. Andrew recently set up his own shipping company.
“The business environment for shipping is much easier out here than it is in London,” he says, and foresees they will be here for five to seven years. But Dean says she’s so happy in Singapore that she can’t imagine why they would ever want to leave.
For a few minutes, the three of us coo in unison (as you do) about the sheer comfort and convenience of living in this island state; how magnificent the inaugural Singapore F1 Grand Prix was, and how brilliantly staged; how comparatively difficult, fraught and expensive it is to live in London.
“I was quite happy to leave Sydney to live and work in London for seven years,” says Dean, “and I’m thrilled to be here, too. I don’t feel any strong pull back to Australia.”
“Well, it’s not really a proper country, is it?” remarks Andrew, and adds a few Aussie-baiting comments about convicts, in that charming way that some Englishmen have. Dean just smiles (she must be used to it) and reflects on how much easier it is for her to visit friends and family in her home country from Singapore, compared with the long, exhausting trip between London and Sydney.
Why 8 Draycott?
“We looked at so many places, and both of us agreed that this was the one,” says Dean.
“8 Draycott is just fabulous. We love the light, so Ardmore Park – which was recommended to us – was not suitable. And I had to have a balcony. I’m an Aussie, and we have to be outside.
“I also wanted space for the baby to play, and that pool downstairs is super. After school, it’s full of kids, which is lovely. And with a baby, it’s fantastic to be able to just walk to Orchard Road.”
She points at a gracious, two-storey colonial building just beyond the pool; an imposing structure in its day, it is now dwarfed by the three gigantic towers of 8 Draycott. “I think it used to be a French school. Now, it’s our amazing clubhouse.”
The list of facilities is enviable: 50-metre lap pool and children’s pool, a spa whirlpool bath, tennis court, function rooms, a gym, steam, sauna and massage room, a Japanese onsen bath, a yoga and Pilates room, a games room for cards and mahjong, a huge billiard room, a wine cellar, a cigar lounge, a verandah and more.
Of the three blocks, two are privately owned. This one, though, is owned and leased out by Morgan Stanley.
Kitchen from Heaven
Sometime, somewhere, I want to have a kitchen like this one. Glass walls shield it from the living area, but don’t cut you off from the family. One half is the “dry” kitchen, with a delightful central island and all-Miele fittings, including an electric conduction hob and a built-in espresso machine. “We have cappuccino every day!” says Dean.
Through another glass door is the “wet” kitchen, with a gas-range for wok cooking and such, and a full-sized Vintec wine-fridge, one of three fridges that came with the lease.
Having a baby – and capable Myrna to do the cooking – means that they have done very little eating out, says Dean. They have enjoyed some great Thai food at Kha at HortPark, though, and Italian at Bukit Nero.
Shop, Shop, Shop
Dean resigned from BP only a month ago, having been on maternity leave until then, when it was confirmed that there wasn’t a role for her at the company here. So she was free to pour her considerable energy into the shopping extravaganza of kitting out a home from scratch.
She says she has thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The Lockies’ house in the ancient town of Saffron Walden, near Cambridge in England, was furnished by Andrew with the help of a designer, after his first wife passed away. When they moved out here, they brought absolutely nothing from that house, as it is still the home of Andrew’s daughter (a biochemistry student) and his 17-year-old schoolboy son.
“While we were house-hunting, we stayed in a serviced apartment at Great World City while I found the basics such as beds and sofas. As I couldn’t afford the usual six-month wait for a sofa, I was more than happy to get ours from Harvey Norman, which supplied it in 10 days. Anyway, with a baby, you don’t want something expensive that will only get ruined.”
The black lacquered furniture is from Renaissance on Dempsey Road. “We love it,” says Dean, “but if you have too much of the stuff it looks heavy.”
So they opted for a more European look in the dining room, which features a French-style dining suite. “It’s difficult to find French furniture here,” she notes, “but I did an internet search and found ours at Xtra at Park Mall.”
The furniture sits on a perfectly matched contemporary carpet from The Orientalist. “It cost more than we’d planned to spend, but it was exactly right for the room and I love it.” The pale cabinet in the corner is from Biggie Best. Dean found the retro-style sun-shaped mirror from Molecule in Great World City, and the living-room’s three clocks showing London, Singapore and Sydney time – “I got the idea from a study that was featured in Expat Living,” says Dean – were also bought from Molecule.
The stunning Parisian, La Cage aux Folles-inspired painting by Italian artist Armonia is not to everyone’s taste, according to Dean, but she adores it. She found it at Ode to Art.
In fact, most of their artwork is from this popular art gallery on the ground level of Raffles City. “Andrew is a member of the Willow Stream Spa at The Fairmont,” explains Dean, “and when he was taking tennis lessons there – they have two great tennis courts on the sixth level of the hotel – I’d meet him afterwards and we’d go down to the basement for a meal at Din Tai Fung.
“Each time, we’d pass Ode to Art, and I kept seeing paintings I loved. Peggy Stephens is great. I would tell her I fancied something, and she’d hijack Andrew on his way past to the spa and gym, and work on him for me!”
A huge floral work by Fan Shao Hua, a Chinese artist now resident in Singapore, complements the muted tones of the living-room furniture. “Friends persuaded me to add a couple of colourful cushions, too,” muses Dean, “but I’m not quite sure about them. I think the painting might have been enough.” In the master bedroom is a smaller and equally exquisite work by the same artist.
A lacquer painting by Vietnamese artist Dinh Quan, one of his well-known series of ethereal maidens with impossibly slim necks, brings the guest room to life. And a calligraphic work, also from Ode to Art, does the same job in the study, which “still needs some furnishing”, according to Dean.
She must have a thing for animal hides, as they’re everywhere. The zebra-print one in the living room is from Molecule, as is the series of little ones (veal skins, we wince together) in the corridor. The other two, one in the master bedroom and one in the guest room, were purchased from her friends Catherine and Oli Hall, who have brought in a lot of hides from Brazil.
Sadly, the big, black hide in the master bedroom has to be rolled away most of the time, because baby India conceived a terror of the thing and has a conniption whenever she sees it. Strangely, she has no problem with the other skins!
The huge sectionalised collage of family photographs in the hall was conceptualised and framed by Framing Angie. Pictures of baby India Grace taken by top Sydney photographers Morfew are juxtaposed with ones from Dean and Andrew’s gorgeous wedding at Bovey Castle in the English county of Devon.
Time for Bed
A silver-painted wooden screen from Just Anthony makes a striking headboard. It is complemented by a grand mirror from British India, where Dean found many of the lamps and knick-knacks that bring her décor together so well.
To overcome the potential unsightliness of the backs of bedside tables being exposed on either side of the centralised bed, Just Anthony’s circular Chinese drums were an inspired choice. Dean is waiting for another green one to make a matching pair; but it seems I’m not the first to admire the quirky effect of having one green and one cream.
Dean looked everywhere for the capiz-shell lamps that grace her bedside drums, and was delighted to find them at Design Intervention.
In the guest room, the butterfly-painted Chinese bedside cabinets are from Renaissance, topped with lamps from Piece of Mine on Mohamed Sultan Road. The teak carving of nine lucky goldfish was a find from Just Anthony.
“I still have a few cabinets to get,” Dean notes, “and a chair or perhaps a chaise longue for the bedroom. We inherited the curtains, too, and I’m looking at some alternatives. The study needs finishing off, and …”
Not quite a full house yet, it seems.
|Brazilian hides: The Halls
Buko Nero (Tanjong Pagar Road)
Din Tai Fung, (various locations, no bookings)
Kha, Hort Park
Ode To Art
Renaissance Willow Stream Spa, The Fairmont
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