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Showcase: Tour this beautifully restored Tanjong Pagar Shophouse

Tucked away in historical Tanjong Pagar is Blair Road, a charming row of shophouses, each with its own unique character. American Rosilyn Young, lives in a beautifully restored, four-bedroom conservation house with her husband Gil and their 16-year old son, Duncan.

How long have you lived in Singapore?
Actually, this is our second stint here. We first lived in Singapore from 1996 to 2000. Since then we’ve lived in London and then back in San Francisco. We really enjoyed our stay here the first time around so, when an opportunity arose for Gil to be transferred here in 2005, we jumped at the chance. Duncan goes to United World College (UWC), which is an excellent school.

What drew you to this conservation home?
We’d previously stayed in the expat areas around Tanglin and Holland Road, so it was quite a change for us to live somewhere more local. My husband spotted the advertisement in the Straits Times and we discovered Isabel Redrup, an agency that specialises in shophouses and  conservation homes.

This house has been beautifully renovated, the interior with high-end fixtures and fittings in a fresh, contemporary style, but the exterior retaining all the character and charm of its shophouse heritage. We’ve got our own pool, and all the rooms are spacious with high ceilings and lots of light.

Where did you find all this beautiful furniture and these lovely home accessories?
We’ve been collecting it over the years, and some of these pieces have been all around the world with us. One of my favourites is the antique Chinese console table in the living room. I love its crackly texture and the elegant curve of the legs. We bought it, along with a number of other pieces, from Apsara, a wonderful source of Asian furniture and interesting accessories.

Other favourites are the glass-fronted vitrine in the master bedroom where I showcase some of our blue and white porcelain, and the Chinese partners’ desk and latticed panel in my study. These antique pieces are from House of Huanghuali. We’ve also bought a number of pieces from Taylor B, which has a huge warehouse full of treasures from all over Asia; you name it, they’ve got it, and their prices are really good. And we also like China Collection for its more rustic selection of Chinese furniture and bronze rain-drums.

 

How do you like to spend time together as a family?
We like to play tennis, and we take a family lesson at the American Club every weekend. I’m not as good as the boys, but I’m slowly catching up. And every Sunday, we take our two dogs to Dog Run Corner at West Coast Park.

We love to travel, so whenever Duncan has time off from his hectic study schedule, we’ll explore more of the region. Through my role as a docent at the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM), I’ve gained an in-depth knowledge of many of the cultures and traditions in Asia; it makes it so much more meaningful to travel when you know more about what you’re looking at.

How does one become a docent and what does it involve?
I became a docent, or museum tour guide, when we first lived in Singapore. Since then the ACM has expanded a lot so, when I returned, I went through the training again.

You have to apply through Friends of the Museums (FOM) to become a docent and, if accepted, you’ll attend a six-month training programme covering the cultures, history and religions of China, India, the Arab world and Southeast Asia as they relate to the artefacts and exhibits in the various Singapore museums. On completion of the programme, you write your own tour, which you must commit to giving four times a month for one year. The training is of a very high standard, given by top lecturers and specialists in their field.

As a trailing spouse, it’s easy to get caught up in parenting and household chores. My role as a docent has taught me so much and has been one of the most interesting aspects of living here.

Recommendations

Home and décor

Apsara Antiques & Arts
#02-29 Tanglin Shopping Centre
+65 6735 5018

China Collection
20 Malcolm Road
+65 6235 1905

Esmé Parish Silver
545 Orchard Road, #03-36 Far East Shopping Centre
+65 6735 1180

Hor Cane (ask for Erik)
4002 Ang Mo Kio Industrial Park 1 #01-10
+65 6459 0340

House Of Huanghuali
60 Alexandra Terrace #01-07, The Comtech Lobby D
+65 6733 5843

Taylor B Fine Design Group
43 Keppel Road #04-01
+65 6225 7090

Wood Farm
14A Dempsey Road
+65 6472 3398

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