Like all good parents, Christina and Ricci Fausto are more than happy to field questions from their young daughters. One of these queries, however, led them to buy a four-bedroom house in Namly Avenue.
Christina’s girls came to her one day one day and asked why they had to share their home with so many other people. Martina (10) and Julia (5) were referring to the residents of the other apartments at Ardmore Point.
The couple had moved to Singapore (from Manila) in 2000 when Martina was just six months old. It was during her birth (literally) that Ricci received a phone call from his then employers, Hewlett Packard, offering him a position in Singapore. “I was a bit too preoccupied at that time to give a definitive answer,” laughs Ricci, who later accepted the posting.
Until 2007 they lived in rental apartments, and the decision to buy a house was one that would make them feel more at home here. “In the Philippines, we always lived in a house,” says Ricci.
The couple did warn their daughters that living in a house would mean they would no longer have condo facilities. “The girls miss the swimming pool, but there is a park very close by where they can play,” says Christina, a private banker with Citibank.
They bought the house in 2006, but it wasn’t until May 2007, after extensive renovations, that they were able to move in. The façade was once identical to the adjoining house, but with the help of an architect it was given a modern makeover – now the two look worlds apart. The interior also received a makeover under the meticulous instruction of Filipino interior designer Kem Reyes, who has assembled an eclectic mix of modern and antique Chinese furnishings.
“Kem has a very strong eye for detail. She spent a lot of time arranging everything, right down to the positioning of the pictures on the walls,” says Ricci.
Pictures from Home
The couple has a large collection of artworks, and I recognise one of them as being by Filipino artist Mark Justiniani – not that I am an authority on Filipino art, but I happened to see other works by him in Rico Hizon’s apartment when I interviewed him a few months ago. Justiniani’s work is very distinctive; his often cartoon-style paintings portray a satirical view of Western colonisation in the Philippines.
It turns out that the Faustos are good friends with Rico, an art investor and television presenter for the BBC. In fact, most of their paintings were purchased from him and his wife Melannie. “They are doing a lot of good work to promote Filipino artists in Singapore,” says Christina.
There are more reminders of their homeland in the study, which was originally positioned on the opposite side of the room, but was moved in order to open up the downstairs area. Glass panes were fitted to let in the light, but also to give the children a clear view of Dad while he works. On the wall, above the desk, hangs a gorgeous collection of antique prints taken from old Filipino newspapers.
Fur, Family and Fixtures
A tiny bundle of white fur – the family’s miniature Maltese poodle, Paris – wants in on the action and comes bounding from the kitchen with an energy disproportionate to her size. I scoop up her up in my arms, but as predicted by Martina she doesn’t want to stay still. I plop her back down and she races off.
On the first-floor stairwell are yet more vibrant artworks. I ask Christina if she has a favourite. “I like them all, but the one closest to my heart is Banana Farm by Anita Magsaysay-Ho, as it reminds me of my two daughters. I also love our glass sculptures by Ramon Orlina,” she says, pointing out five beautifully fluid works by the Filipino artist.
Martina leads the way up the stairs and into her bedroom, which she shares with her younger sister. “I can’t decide which is my favourite room in the house,” muses Martina. After careful consideration, however, she declares: “My bedroom!”
I agree that it is indeed a very nice room, but I’m surprised that two young girls manage to keep it looking so immaculate. I ask her if the room is usually this tidy. “No,” she giggles.
Just then a very groggy-looking Julia emerges from her afternoon nap. Clinging shyly to her mother, she joins Bud and me on our tour of the house, and into the luxurious but cosy master bedroom.
The flat roof outside the bedroom served no functional purpose prior to the renovation, but has since been transformed into sun terrace with a modern glass railing and a view of the pretty, tree-lined street below.
Storage appears to be a key element in the design of the house, from the immaculate kitchen with its wall-to-wall, built-in cupboards, to the large built-in closet in the master bedroom. “I really wanted a walk-in-wardrobe,” says Christina. “It’s every woman’s dream.” So true! Unfortunately, she was unable to incorporate one into the design, but her vast closet is a very decent compromise.
The en-suite bathroom is very hotel-esque, with a glass wall that allows you to watch television from the bath. “We haven’t actually done that yet, but I suppose we really should, considering the effort that has gone into it,” Christina says.
Up another staircase is the third level, which houses the family room (also used as a spare bedroom). Here the family enjoys movie nights, and for convenience they have installed a fridge and a microwave for making popcorn.
As with many parents, safety is key for Christina and Ricci.
“Living in a house might not be as safe as a condo, where you get the benefit of security guards and card access,” she says. “But security in our area is pretty high because a senior minister lives just a few houses away.”
They have no plan to move back to the Philippines anytime soon, especially since Martina is enjoying going to United World College, and little Julia is on the waiting list. “Besides,” says Christina, “home is only a three-hour flight from Singapore. It is easy for us to go to see our families, and for them to visit us here.”
Pepperoni, 6 Greenwood Avenue. (+65) 6465 6556
Il Lido, Sentosa Golf Club, 27 Bukit Manis. (+65) 6866 1977
Crystal Jade, various locations. www.crystaljade.com
Margarita’s Mexican Restaurant, Block 11 Dempsey Road. (+65) 6471 3228
Ben & Jerry’s, Block 8 Dempsey Road. (+65) 6473 3231
Boon Tong Kee Chicken Rice, 425 River Valley Road. (+65) 6736 3213
Space, Millenia Walk, 9 Raffles Boulevard. www.spacefurniture.com.sg
The Link Home, 1 Nassim Road. www.thelink.com.sg
China Collection, 20 Malcolm Road. www.chinacollection.com.sg
Kem Reyes, interior designer. firstname.lastname@example.org
Red House Carved Furniture, Tan Boon Liat Building, 315 Outram Road #03-03. www.redhouseantiques.com.sg
Artworks, Melannie Hizon, (+65) 9628 9268. www.artsentralasia.com
Birthday cakes and cupcakes, Elvie Yee. (+65) 9171 7391
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