This is Expat Living’s second visit to the home of VICTORIA CURRIE. The first was in early 2011 when the family had been in Singapore for just 18 months, and Victoria’s home décor store Tatty Marsh was up and running in Tanglin Mall. Fast forward six years, and the family are about to move, both out and away, while the store is staying put. We find out from Victoria what the future holds, while having a snoop around her gorgeous home.
Who lives here: Victoria Currie and her husband David, sons Charlie (12) and George (11), and dogs Delilah and Tealy.
Size of home: Two-storey, three-bedroom house off Stevens Road.
Style of home: Calming, with plenty of blues, greys and washed wood.
Victoria’s favourite things: “My hunter wellies, my paint-splattered Levi’s and my waterproof fleece – all for when I’m standing in the middle of a field or building site when I’m back in the UK for property development.
My visit to Victoria’s home begins as most of my showcase visits seem to nowadays: with an enthusiastic canine welcome. First up is nine-month-old puppy Delilah who scampers towards me, and then there’s 15-year-old Tealy who greets me from afar with a woof. Victoria is on the terrace, which is where we spend the morning, as she brings me up to speed with the past six years.
The house is by no means new, and the family have had to endure many issues on account of its age – most recently a power surge that shorted all of their electrical equipment. They’re thousands of dollars down as a result, with little likelihood of recouping their money. Still, Victoria is pragmatic, and it’s not long before we’re discussing her business instead: she has just signed another four-year lease at Tanglin Mall.
This is coupled with the family decision to downsize, as Charlie and George will be starting boarding school in the UK after the summer. “The plan is that the kids move to school while we get shot of the house in August, and we then move to a two-bedder in the Tanglin Park area, paying no more than $3,500 a month. David (who works in shipping) will stay here, and I’ll go back and forth between here and the UK, as Tatty Marsh goes on.”
Tatty Marsh has continued to turn a profit, says Victoria, despite some difficult times in the home décor industry of late. “It’s a lot more work than it was at the beginning, but although customers are no longer buying quantity, they’re buying quality.”
She has also come up with a new service for customers, putting together certain pieces from the shop as a package, plus giving them advice on placement and design. “It’s like a quick makeover service, using a rug, cushions, a mirror or table lamps. I also help with advice on framers or decorators, to put some colour on the walls. Though these are simple things, sometimes people really do need help.”
In fact, helping people, especially newcomers, is something Victoria feels particularly strongly about. She emphasises how easy it is to find people to reupholster furniture, frame pictures, make prints, spray paint furniture, even make wallpaper, and how cost-effective this can be. At the same time, she points out that some of these things can just as well be DIY.
“I’ve made my own prints; I painted my bed white the other day, and I painted the wall. I’m of the mind-set you might as well do it yourself and do it properly!”
When it comes to buying home furniture and décor, she admits that things do cost more in Singapore. “If you’re here for two years or less, then maybe don’t invest, but if you’re here for longer you just have to learn to shop wisely. You can’t live here like a student forever. So yes, buy from IKEA; there’s nothing wrong with that – just mix it in with other pieces.”
Bits on the side
Clearly a grafter, Victoria was living on her own by the age of 16, studied architecture and furniture design in East London, and then enrolled in a pub management course. “I loved every second of it, even though it was hard work and long, long hours. You really learn about people’s behaviour and how to look after yourself.”
Then followed a career as an estate agent. She purchased her first house at the age of 23, married David at 25, and owned three UK properties at 26. Now she has turned her hand to property development in the Cotswolds. “I really love it; I get great joy from turning a lump of coal into a diamond!” Speaking of diamonds, there’s also her “hobby”: purchasing second-hand gems and having them reset by Mr Koh, in Far East Plaza. “The stones are good; it’s just the settings that are out of date. I don’t spend more than around $1,000 to get something remade.”
As we finish up our chat, Victoria starts musing about plans to end up in one of her Cotswolds properties and take it easy for a while. Then she looks at me and laughs – which tells me she knows this just isn’t true
Cold Storage Jelita (“it’s open 24 hours – this is where I ended up when I had a cupcake emergency the night before one of my son’s birthdays!”) 293 Holland Road
House of AnLi (“for good coffee”) #03-17 Tanglin Mall 163 Tanglin Road 6235 3851 | houseofanli.com
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