Seven lamps adorn the large living and dining area of Abbey and Nick Tobin’s spacious Meyer Road apartment, and they all shone brightly the evening Katie Roberts called in to chat to the friendly British couple.
You’ve been in Singapore for two years; what’s the attraction?
The climate, the clean air, the ease of travelling around Asia and our dog, Skila, having lots of space to run around. Those are just a few of the reasons why we have no immediate plans to leave. We both work here; I am a banking lawyer and Nick is in telecommunications.
There’s a big difference from Hong Kong where we spent three years before moving here. There’s not much greenery in Hong Kong so, now that we’re here, we really notice what we were missing. Singapore is a very easy city to live and move around in and we’re very lucky to have a good lifestyle outside of work.
What do you like about living on the East Coast?
We chose this spacious apartment in The Seafront complex for its proximity to East Coast Park. The park is a great place to take the dog for walks, and being able to ride our bikes all the way from Gardens by the Bay to Changi Village is a luxury. We lived very centrally in Hong Kong, so it is good to be removed from the city’s hustle and bustle, and settled in a more relaxed location.
Where did Skila come from?
We brought her in from the UK almost two years ago as a puppy, which was actually a very straightforward process. We’ll readily admit that she is spoilt rotten. Our favourite spots to take her are Tanjong Beach on Sentosa, where she can swim, and East Coast Park, which is just over the road – it’s very convenient.
Most people have a story behind every piece of art they own. Tell me about your favourite pieces.
Our most recent purchase was the Luang Prabang streetscape; we picked it up during a trip to Laos over Christmas. Laos is a great country with good food and friendly people, and it’s an enjoyable alternative to a beach holiday. We love picking through the markets when we go travelling to find one-off souvenirs. I think this painting sums up the relaxed vibe of Luang Prabang really well.
We’ve visited the annual Singapore Affordable Art Fair for the past two years. It’s a great concept, the same as the one in London but on a smaller scale, I think. Each time, I purchased one black-and-white hippopotamus sketch by Adam Oliver. The little zebra on the sideboard is by the same artist. I like them because they’re fun but also beautifully made. It’s not often you see a hippo on a tightrope!
Above the sideboard is a very abstract painting from Brazil that I bought whilst travelling there years ago. I rolled it up, and carried in my backpack all the way back to the UK; I’m amazed it survived!
Your furniture is a mix from the UK, Hong Kong and now Singapore. What have you have purchased here?
Nearly every room has something purchased in Singapore. The unpainted wooden sideboard in the living room is from The Shophouse. I got the large red Chinese sideboard by the dining table from a woman called Jane who had a shop on Hillcrest Road with good reproduction pieces, but I think she has moved on now. I also got a Chinese desk from her, had it painted white and put a glass top on it– that’s in my study.
I’ve accumulated my cushions from all over; some I had made by The Shophouse and some by Korla. The throws are from Cambodia. Taylor B is also fantastic for reasonably priced furniture and accessories. The mirrored table in the hallway is from there.
I’ve picked up a few secondhand pieces from Hock Siong in Macpherson. The two metal-edged side tables were $30 each. I like to rummage around for things. They have an eclectic mix that comes from hotels and show flats, but it is hit and miss. I also purchased two old armchairs very cheaply there, and had them reupholstered in Korla fabric. Korla has a great range of patterns and colours and also does lampshades, curtains and cushions – quite a few are dotted around the flat.
In the master bedroom, the lamps are from The Shophouse. The bed and bedside tables have the same look as Originals’ teak, but I got them in Hong Kong. Tatty Marsh in Tanglin Mall has good lamps and I got the standing lamp in the fourth bedroom, Nick’s room, from there. There are some bits from IKEA here too – it’s great for basics like shelving.
There are seven very impressive lamps in the living area; can you tell me the provenance of each?
The pair of red lamps on the Chinese dresser came from family in the UK. The unusual pineapple lamp in the corner is an off beat memento from Chiang Mai. The generous people in the shop safely packed it into a box bigger than Nick, who is six foot five, and we somehow carried it back here safely. The other four came from London. Together, they all fit in this large space nicely.
You have the luxury of a spacious apartment. What do you use the space for?
Aside from the master bedroom, we keep one bedroom for guests, and another is the study which is full of Nick’s photographs, my desk, bookshelves and anything else office-related. The fourth room is Nick’s; that’s where he tinkers with his bikes and edits photos. There are lots of photos on the wall in there too, plus a framed map which is a souvenir from Florence; Italy is one of our favourite countries.
Lots of families make Singapore home because of schools and safety.As a young couple, what will keep you here?
Singapore is getting hip. There are great bars popping up, like Jigger & Pony on Amoy Street. Plus I really like Haji Lane for quirky boutiques– it’s very different to the malls on Orchard Road, which I don’t find very inspiring. There’s a lot of fun stuff popping up in areas like Tiong Bahru and Tanjong Pagar as well. Travel is a big reason to stay; we’re so lucky to have places like Bali on our doorstep. We’re planning our next trip to Sri Lanka very soon, and are looking forward to that.
All you need to know about Meyer Road…
In good traffic, it’s barely a 10-minute drive from Meyer Road to the city along the ECP or Mountbatten Road and Nicoll Highway. With such accessibility, it’s no wonder the road is lined with condos, many of which have expansive sea views. For shopping, there’s Kallang Leisure Park and Parkway Parade; both are more than a walk away so a bike or car is required. At the end of the street is historic Katong Park.There are recreation choices galore at East Coast Park, the new Gardens by the Bay East and the nearby Singapore Swimming Club.
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