After several stints of condo living in River Valley, POOJYATA KHATTAR switched things up with a move to a landed property in Singapore. Poojyata tells us how she approached the bigger space, and what she enjoys about being out of the city centre and living in her terraced house in the east.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born and raised in New Delhi and moved to Singapore 10 years ago for my MBA at INSEAD. My husband Saurabh had also moved here – from the US – to do his MBA; that’s how we met. So, Singapore is special for us.
After our MBAs, we both started working here and continue to do so. We got married in 2016 in Delhi. We have one fur-kid, Bozo, who will turn three next month. Until we moved to this landed property in Singapore two years ago, we’d been living in condos, mostly in the River Valley area. We had a preference for slightly newer condos with a fresh and modern feel – bright, less wood, marble flooring.
However, with COVID and Bozo’s entry into our life, we found ourselves wanting a bigger, better space, and a place that family could visit more often. So we started looking to the east of the island, and we decided on renting a landed house instead – and it’s been great. I work in the payments industry, but I’m strongly passionate about interiors; I jokingly say that had it not been for the payments industry, I would have been an interior designer!
What do you love about your new terraced house and the area?
I love everything about this house! The structure and layout, to begin with, and the garden – also, the space separation across the floors and even within each floor offers everyone good privacy while still being together. The biggest drawcard was the open kitchen and dining area; it’s perfect for those nights when you’re cooking on your own and chilling with family and friends at the same time.
I also grew fond of the neighbourhood sooner than I thought I would. Unlike the central part of Singapore and River Valley, this feels more homely and warm, and it provides a good break from the skyscrapers.
The east is developing so well, too! There are great cafés, restaurants, yoga places and more, all just a stone’s throw away. We quickly found our everyday coffee place – Les Mains in Jalan Tua Kong. We simply love it – great coffee, warm atmosphere and people, excellent bakes and it’s pet-friendly; just what you need from your “neighbourhood café”.
Tell us more about this terraced house.
As soon as we decided this was the one, I found myself already planning the interiors (two months before our move-in date!). Given we were moving from smaller condo living, I knew we needed to top up some furniture. My go-to place for this was mainly Gamar Furniture (formerly Second Charm). My main goal was for the house to reflect our culture and identity and be a place we could relate to and call home. You’ll see there are subtle reflections of Indian culture combined with a hint of oriental décor – to blend our birth home and our current home.
I love collecting things for the house while travelling – things that are unique and remind me of the particular place, but will also go well in our space. When we were last in Italy, for example, I picked up some antique maps from a museum shop – they’re above our wine fridge and a constant reminder of that trip. Similarly, I was enamoured by Hoi An’s charm and beauty when we first visited, and I met a local artist there and picked up two of his paintings; they’re in our living room and remind me of my love for Hoi An and Vietnam.
Speaking of art, when doing the planning I knew I wanted to have something personalised but not crazily expensive. Most of the paintings you see in the house are commissioned from budding artists in India. One was an anniversary gift to my husband reflecting our relationship – it depicts yin and yang (the much-needed balance in a relationship!), and also reflects both flora and fauna (I am into plants and flowers, and my husband loves animals). The backdrop is a quintessential Indian Mughal print. I’m a sucker for Mughal prints – I had a bunch of them made and framed with silk fabric as the backdrop of our sofa.
We also have a set of three doors that are hand painted to perfection, reflecting the three famous gates of Jaipur’s City Palace.
At the same time, I wanted the house to reflect where we live now and this region in general – so, we have an antique Zhejiang kitchen cabinet that has been refurbished and converted into a bar, from Just Anthony. I also wanted to bring a tropical feel into the house so you will see some rattan furniture, especially in the outdoor area; this reminds me of Bali, one of my favourite destinations – my “comfort zone”.
For furnishings, I like to keep a mix of traditional and modern, so you’ll see linen cushions and table runners, but also silk and more traditional things. I mostly source these from two of my favourite brands in India – Good Earth and Nicobar. I love printed fabrics, too – particularly Indian block print. So, I sourced fabrics from different places in India and refurbished some of my furniture. For example, our armchair from IKEA was upholstered with a marigold print cloth. Marigold is one of my favourite flowers and the print was love at first sight.
While I planned the house exactly to our liking, I also wanted to ensure we weren’t overspending on a rented house. Careful selection, ordering in advance and sourcing from other places such as India helped a lot. All my carpets, for example, are custom made, with designs I drew and shared with craftsmen in Rajasthan and hand-carried to Singapore.
We also picked up restored furniture from Hock Siong – it’s a lovely shop and you can really get lucky with some unique pieces at very good price points.
What have been your best buys furniture or home décor-wise?
I think everything is my favourite! I love my carpets, dining furniture, paintings and wallpaper – the latter is from Good Earth in India and reflects the tropical spirit of Singapore. And I’m a big fan of home linen, in particular, and the finer details of it. Some of it I get custom made from smaller shops in Jaipur – and again, Good Earth is my go-to brand for occasions. I also pick up a lot of stuff from my frequent visits to Bali and Vietnam, using Instagram as a source of discovery.
Another home décor item I invest in are good candles – my current favourite is the Santal 26 classic candle from Le Labo. It’s outstanding!
Anything you would have done differently with buying home décor?
I don’t think so – just that you have to remember that a home is always evolving. It’s never done and it’s never perfect, so enjoy the journey! One thing I’m looking to gradually change this year is to bring more white into the house. I’ll keep a few colourful things – cushions, for example – but bring in the warmth and calmness that white provides.
What do you love about living here?
I love the space in this terraced house. It matches my vibe. I can feel that it’s my home and my space. It’s curated, and it has privacy yet is open at the same time. I love the access to a small garden of my own. The best thing is that there is ample space for my fur baby to enjoy and run and play as he’d like. He has a small pen that I personalised with a wooden top with help from our local handyman. So, while it looks like a nice table on the top, it’s a cosy space for Bozo to seek shelter in. (Fun fact: he only goes in there when he’s angry!)
Any advice for newcomers?
Only one: there are many ways to curate your home without breaking the bank – it takes some effort, but it’s possible. Also, don’t invest in run-of-the-mill furniture but find pieces that reflect your own character.
Home Furniture & Decoration
- Gamar | gamarfurniture.com
- Hock Siong | hocksiong.com.sg
- Island Living | islandliving.sg
- Just Anthony | justanthony.com
- KnockKnock | knocknock.com.sg
Doggie Retreat (“We don’t have kids but my fur baby loves his school – it’s amazing. Highly recommended for all fur parents!”) doggie-retreat.com
Health & Wellness
- Dr Pang at Health Partners Medical Clinic getdoc.com/clinic/health-partners-medicalclinic-siglap-6
- Karen, Pilates teacher (“She has changed our lives! We enjoy her session in our garden”) IG: @kaytee4kt)
Hair & Fashion
- COVO at Keong Saik | covosg.com/en
- Massimo Dutti | massimodutti.com/sg
- Mo Maya | itsmomaya.com
- Planters Bungalow theplantersbungalow.com
Restaurants, Cafés & Bars
- Cloudstreet | cloudstreet.com.sg
- Juice | IG: @juice_sg
- Les Mains on Jalan Tua Kong | lesmains.sg
- Revolver | revolver.com.sg
- Shikar | shikar.sg
- Kazbar | kazbar.com
- Kebabsmith (“preservative-free frozen kebabs – outstanding and a saviour when hosting”)
- Singapore Airlines | singaporeair.com
- Potato Head Beach Club Bali | seminyak.potatohead.co/feast/beach-club
This article on moving from a River Valley condo to a terraced house in the East Coast first appeared in the January 2024 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe so you never miss a copy!
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