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Showcase: Tour this new Bukit Timah house for chic, modern decorating tips

By: Amy Greenburg; photography by Michael Bernabe

Considering how swimmingly she’s already settled into her Bukit Timah home, you’d never know Mayte Neary arrived from Dublin just 10 months ago. The mother of two and Spanish tutor shares with us how she turned the newly built, five-bedroom house on Oriole Crescent into a stylish yet homey haven for her family. We take a tour...


Even from the outside, the Neary family’s contemporary style shines through. The  architecture incorporates smooth wood panelling, travertine bathrooms and geometric stone pillars for a modern, sleek look. So sleek, in fact, that it takes me a good second or two to find the ultra-minimalist front door – it’s knob-free, so as to blend into the façade. Once I’ve found my way, I’m greeted by the family’s friendly Yorkshire terrier, Leo, who’s been the baby of the bunch from the time the Nearys lived in Hampshire, UK.

As we sit on one of the living room’s two long sofas, Leo makes himself comfortable on my lap while Mayte – who’s originally from Madrid, Spain – tells me about her family’s time in the UK, followed by their most recent two-year stint in Dublin, her husband Joe’s hometown. It was just last August that Mayte and Joe picked up and moved to Singapore with their children, Nico (16) and Stephanie (13), for Joe’s IT executive job. Although they miss Dublin dearly – so much that they’re planning on purchasing a beach home there – they’ve managed to settle in gradually but nicely to their new surroundings.

“Moving to the other side of the world has its challenges,” Mayte confides. “But moving teenagers to the other side of the world is the most challenging thing of all.” She adds: “It’s definitely been an adjustment, but less than a year later, they’re more established and enjoying their time here.”

Mayte’s been able to make a life here for herself as well, keeping busy with up to five private tutoring sessions a week. Having run her own Spanish club in the UK for primary school students, and later opening her own preschool nursery there, she was very interested in resuming her passion.

“I absolutely love teaching and wanted to continue once I got here,” Mayte says. “Once I was settled, I began to spread the word and, now, I’m lucky enough to teach multiple students per week from my home, while still having time to do some of the other things I love.”

When she’s not tutoring, Mayte’s taking Zumba classes (her favourite), catching Nico’s soccer games and, of course, putting the final touches to her home – something she’s clearly got a flair for. As for Joe, he enjoys spending time on the patio both after work and on weekends, which is why a proper patio was an absolute must for the Nearys’ Singapore dwelling.

Right from the start, Mayte and Joe were set on finding a landed house with a nice outdoor space, and looked at a variety of homes before finding one to suit their needs. They loved the Bukit Timah neighbourhood because of its quiet, residential feel, and the quick ride from the city centre; it’s also a stone’s throw away from the shops and eateries at Greenwood Avenue. “The majority of homes we saw were too massive,” recalls Mayte. “Coming from a large house in Ireland, we wanted something more cosy here. This house felt really comfortable and we knew immediately that it was just right for us.”

Once their decision was settled, Mayte called on Gallery 278 by ESCO Leasing. They arrived with very few belongings, and almost all of their furnishings are rented, with the exception of several accessories that she’s purchased in Singapore and throughout her travels.

“This house was so perfect because it was brand new, and a completely blank canvas to work with,” she says. “ESCO really understood what I wanted and worked with me to achieve the exact look I was going for.”

What she was going for was contemporary, with a slightly minimalist aesthetic – a look that she was able to execute quite perfectly. Using limited but consistent colours, and decorative, often Asian-influenced, accents that meld into the colour scheme, Mayte was able to give each room a simple, clean and modern appearance while still keeping things comfy, and infused with her own personal touches – from an antique chess board and Indian beaded table runner to sculptures and lacquer art pieces.

The living room is a perfect example of this contemporary, laid-back manifestation. Its vast, airy space – which appears even larger, thanks to the high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the yard and a long, sleek swimming pool – incorporates browns and neutral tones with shades of blue throughout, from throw pillows to an antique Chinese jewellery cabinet. The centrepiece is a circular stone lamp atop a low console table – both from Gallery 278 – that manages to somehow be both a statement piece and blend in with the rest of the room at the same time. Full of natural light, the open-plan living space is bright and inviting, and the perfect place to lounge around and look out the windows – in fact, it’s Mayte’s favourite place in the house to hang out.

“You just sit here and you’ll see a lot of different kinds of birds in the garden, from woodpeckers to white parrots to hornbills,” she says. “And everywhere you look, there’s greenery around us. I love the vegetation here, it’s just beautiful.”

The only thing Mayte doesn’t like? The neighbourhood’s pesky monkeys. “Sometimes they just sit in our back garden and stare at us through the windows,” she laughs. “That, I can do without!”

Hi, Mayte! And Leo!
Hi, Mayte! And Leo!


Mayte’s recommendations for life in Singapore

Home and Furniture
Boulevard Outdoor Furniture
200 Turf Club Road, #01-18 Grandstand, 6763 1886

Dilip Textiles
74 Arab Street
6293 3633

Gallery 278 by ESCO Leasing
278 River Valley Road, 6737 2322

Khim’s Collections
13 Bussorah Street, 6299 1192

Lee’s Antiques & Interiors
102E Pasir Panjang Road, #06-08 and #06-09, 8100 0428

Woody Antique House
Block 13 Dempsey Road, #01-05 and Block 15 Dempsey Road, #01-12, 6471 1770


Donna Carmela
2 Greenwood Avenue, Hillcrest Park, 6463 4206

Esmirada at Orchard
442 Orchard Road,
#01-29 Orchard Hotel
, 6735 3476

The Curry Culture
31 Cuppage Road, 6235 6133

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