Cavenagh Court is a centrally located, older apartment block that has a timeless quality. I have met a few tyrannical guards in my years of condo-visiting, but the friendly, helpful one here made me feel welcome. So did the great cup of coffee my hosts made for me when I arrived – using one of those Nespresso machines where you can choose from a variety of capsules – so we were off to a good start.
Margaret Dillon and Greg Woolstencroft bought their apartment a year ago when they moved to Singapore. Margaret is a vice-president at global executive search firm DHR International, while Greg is a senior technology executive with VIVA Media, which is based in Jakarta. Work and travel demands keep them apart a lot of the time, but this move allows Greg to commute on a weekly basis.
Having rented for such a long time in Hong Kong, the couple decided to buy a home in Singapore. They bought this apartment when the market was relatively high, but low interest rates meant that it would still cost them less to pay off a mortgage than to rent a similar property. They went to HSBC and were very happy with their choice
The apartment had been recently renovated, so all Greg and Margaret have done so far, they say, is to make cosmetic changes to the living area that reflect their taste and make it warmer and more welcoming. They were fortunate to be recommended a contractor who turned out to be innovative, reliable and fair. They admit that they splurged on some of the electronics, installing soft lighting panels beside the TV area, dimmer switches, electrical roller-blinds on the balcony and even a biometric fingerprint-activated front door lock. Technology comes at a price, though, and in more than one way – returning from a business trip, Margaret was once locked out for nearly four hours. That lock has since been replaced!
The centrepiece of the living room is a made-to-order silk carpet. Though it looks as if the other furnishings have been bought to link in with and complement the carpet, in fact the key item that drove the colour scheme was an an Indonesian painting purchased from Ovas Gallery in Park Mall. Greg and Margaret met with several interior designers, but could not get excited about their suggestions. “In the end, we chose a wall colour and cushions to draw colours through the room from the painting, and then went in search of a carpet,” Margaret explains.
“At Jehan Carpet Gallery we saw some beautiful antique carpets, but given our preference for more contemporary furnishings and our colour requirements, we felt it would be best to get something made to our specifications.
“Hadi from Jehan was very accommodating, and came to our home to ensure the carpet worked with the room,” she says.
He showed them plugs of real carpet that they could choose from (as opposed to computer-generated images), which made it easier to see the true colours. They decided on silk (as opposed to wool or a wool/silk mix) for its clarity and brightness, and say they also love the way the colours shift and change depending on the time of day and the angle of view. They have three Burmese cats, and the density of the silk makes it more resilient to any wear and tear caused by the cats.
“We chose a range of colours that worked with the painting, and already had an idea of the pattern we wanted. It was inspirational to deal with someone who understands carpets and knows his stuff so well. Hadi has a patient way about him, and provided excellent suggestions about which colours would work together and which colours we should avoid.
“The whole process took eight weeks from start to finish, and the carpet turned out even better than we had anticipated. It was exactly what we wanted, and at the right price.”
Cats and Giraffes
The cats, along with much of the couple’s furniture, came with them from Hong Kong, but they have bought a few items here. Greg was very keen on having a Lazy-boy-style chair; he found a burgundy leather one from Castilla that, he says, “is so comfortable it just hugs me”. A tropical fish tank that they installed in the living area provides hours of amusement for the cats.
A large print on canvas of a photograph of giraffes, taken by Greg in the African bush, is another feature of the living area. Giraffes are his favourite animals, says Greg, and South Africa is a favourite destination for both of them. The three of us spend some time raving about how great the food, climate and people of South Africa are and how wonderful it is to go on safari, and chatting about the various places they have visited in South Africa. These include Phinda Lodge and Ngala, both of which are run by CC Africa.
It is heart-warming for me to meet Australians who appreciate what those of us who grew up in South Africa have always loved. I hope their enthusiasm will encourage our readers to discover the amazing African veld for themselves.
|Aquarium Artist Vincent Ler |
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Phinda Game Reserve
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