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Showcase: Stylish Serangoon apartment

Katherine Lu wakes up every day in her 24th-storey Serangoon apartment to a magnificent view of the sprawling city. She is able to see across town, over the skyscrapers and all the way to the Singapore Flyer.

Little India

When Katherine transferred here from the US in 2007 as executive director of advertising and marketing for a multi-national entertainment resort, she wanted an apartment with a view, but she couldn’t find one within her budget. “I arrived at the peak of the property boom when rents were really expensive and could only afford a box in Newton. Later on a friend suggested Serangoon and when my lease was up I moved here,” she says.

Relatively cheap compared with other districts, Serangoon has seen a steady influx of expatriates over recent years, in part due to the property boom, and as a side effect of the recession.  But Katherine didn’t move here as a compromise. She moved here because she loves it. With its large Indian community, this area is the spice of Singapore: vibrant and colourful, and positively bursting at the seams with fantastic restaurants.

“I work long hours and don’t have time to cook – but living here means that I don’t need to,” she says reeling off a list of her favourite restaurants within walking distance of the City Square Residences.

Amenities inside this vast complex are plentiful, too: tennis courts, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a gym, and – something you don’t see very often at a condo – a putting green.

My Space

The two-bedroom apartment has ample room for one woman and the collection of furnishings and keepsakes that she has acquired over the years. The pieces reflect a well-travelled owner who is fascinated with other cultures – a passion that Katherine says her siblings don’t share. “I’m quite the odd-bod in my family. My younger brother didn’t even have a passport until he was 30 years old!”

Katherine has also acquired quite a few things in Singapore, including a metallic rain drum, the origins of which stem from Laos where drums were once crafted for the purpose of beckoning the rains. Beautiful reproductions like this one can now be found all over Asia; Katherine bought hers from Shang Antique in Dempsey.

Another Dempsey purchase – a four-poster bed – came from the John Erdos Gallery. “I love this piece, but the mattress is actually an airbed!” she says, holding up her hands as if admitting to having a guilty secret.

Katherine then gets animated about Taylor B, a furniture retailer whose owner, Nicole Brandon, I interviewed at her home last month. Although I’ve yet to visit Nicole’s warehouse located along Keppel Road, both Katherine and our photographer, Bud Hayman, are avid fans. “She has a vast space filled with beautiful things that are unbelievably cheap,” says Katherine, pointing out a distressed, pale green cabinet from Rajasthan that came from Nicole’s new Indian collection.

Tourists Beware

Katherine took her first overseas relocation in her stride and says that moving to Singapore was no more difficult than moving between states in the US – except that instead of putting her belongings into a regular van she put them into a shipping container. “I settled in pretty quickly,” she says, but adds that her Asian looks – owed to her Taiwanese heritage – sometimes leave people confused as to her origins. “People often assume I’m Singaporean … until I open my mouth! But this can work in my favour at places like Newton Circus, where food stall owners often try to rip off tourists,” she says.

Katherine’s Recommendations

Hillmans (Chinese)
135 Kitchener Rd
Call +65 6221 5073

Pu Tien Buffet (Chinese)
180 Kitchener Rd, #02-51 City Square Mall
Call +65 6509 6015.

Gayantri Restaurant (Indian)
122 Race Course Road
Call +65 6291 1011

Banana Leaf Apolo (Indian)
56 Race Course Road
Call +65 6293 8682

Pasta Inc (Italian)
279 Jalan Besar
Call +65 6297 7515

Zsofi’s tapas bar for drinks on the rooftop
68 Dunlop Street
Call +65 6297 5875

Epicurious (for brunch)
60 Robertson Quay, #01-02 The Quayside
Call +65 6734 7720

PS Café
28B Harding Road, Tanglin Village
Call +65 6479 3343

Marmalade Pantry (for great cupcakes)
#03-22 ION Orchard
Call +65 6734 2700

Screening Room
12 Ann Siang Road
Call +65 6221 1694

Oso Ristorante (Italian fine dining)
46 Bukit Pasoh Road
Call +65 6327 8378

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