British expat Emma Femminile applies the signature laid-back aesthetic of her resort-wear brand, White Ginger, to her stylish abode in Clementi’s Faber Hills neighbourhood. Amy Greenburg gets a look at the fashionista’s beautiful family home.
It was love at first sight for Emma, who fell head over heels with Singapore while en route to Bali for a friend’s 40th birthday over four years ago. By 2010, she and her husband, Philip, had relocated from London with their two sons, Harry (13) and George (11). After a stint in Bukit Timah’s Sixth Avenue area, they moved to their current home in 2012; now, comfortably settled in Clementi, they couldn’t be more content.
When choosing this home, the Femminiles first and foremost took into account its location, and its closeness to Malaysia, where George and Harry attend day school. “One of the main reasons for moving here was the close proximity to the AYE, which is on the boys’ school bus route to Malaysia,” Emma explains. “We wanted to be as far west as possible, in order to lessen the commute for them. It also makes for a quick commute to the CBD in the other direction, for Philip’s job.”
Emma says that, in addition to the convenience factor, she and her family fell in love with the neighbourhood. “It’s a sweet neighbourhood, like a giant cul-de-sac,” she says. “We love the leafy feel of the area, and the village spirit we share with our neighbours. There’s also a really cute street of restaurants that we enjoy going to.”
When she’s not eating out with her family, or at Turf City taking in her son’s rugby games, Emma’s busy running the White Ginger label. She says she has always had a passion for style and design, and the brand is known for classical, easy-to-wear wardrobe staples that can be dressed up or down – from day-to-night jersey dresses and stretch cotton separates to versatile maxi-dresses and batik-print kaftans.
From the moment I step into her home, Emma’s warm personality shines through, and we chat endlessly about everything from fashion to travel to restaurants. For our meeting, she’s chosen a simple, solid midnight blue, body-conscious dress from the White Ginger collection, complemented by perfectly natural makeup and bare feet – she’s the epitome of “classical and simple”, which is how she describes her personal style.
Reflecting White Ginger’s “wear it anywhere” philosophy, Emma’s family home has a practical-chic liveability and elegance; it’s not surprising that Emma, too, radiates a casually polished and put-together look that seems effortless. She’s a girl whose taste shows through in every aspect of her life, from how she dresses to every last detail in her two-storey, four-bedroom home.
“I’ve always loved interiors, design and aesthetics,” she tells me. “In fact, I used to work in property development and interiors in London.”
It’s clear that she has an eye for interiors. As we sit on her plush, velvety sofa, Emma explains that she likes to incorporate both old and new pieces, and mix casual with dressy – “like jeans with elegant heels,” she says – in her home décor scheme. Featuring a mix of contemporary furnishings, vintage accents and European antiques – a hand-gilded mirror from Florence and French antique armchairs from a shop in Chelsea, London are among her favourites – the Femminile home is cosy and casual with ultra-elegant pieces scattered throughout, tying it all together into one super-chic package.
As for colour, Emma keeps things fairly neutral. “I’ve never been very brave with colours,” she confides. Still, her home’s hues are anything but drab; the living room, for example, has a beautiful, creamy scheme that’s elegant, yet cosy and inviting. She has also injected pops of colour throughout other rooms in the house, particularly in the boys’ rooms – navy blue and deep reds rule there; while a stop-light-red, Chinese cabinet gives a burst of brightness to the sleek, open kitchen area. For the master bedroom, she chose a soft pastel palette to pair with antique accents, for a vintage-Parisian look.
“I don’t like a lot of clutter, just like I don’t like to over-accessorise outfits,” Emma says, pointing to accessories such as a vintage chest-turned-telly-stand flanked by mirrored antique cabinets. Leave it to this fashionista to break it down for us in fashion terms!
So what’s her secret to keeping things clutter-free? “I try to include lots of storage pieces – trunks, cases and drawers,” Emma says. “My desk is overloaded with fabric samples, cuttings, paperwork and magazines by day; then, at night, everything is scooped into an empty drawer. I also have an aversion to remote controls and I find nothing more satisfying than closing them away in a neat, enamelled box – infuriating my Xbox-obsessed 11-year-old. I’m definitely like Monica from the TV show, Friends!”
Located in the west of Singapore, between Jurong and Dover, Clementi consists of nine sub-zones including Faber, the neighbourhood in which Emma’s home is situated.
It is named after Sir Cecil Clementi Smith, a British colonial governor who served as High Commissioner and Governor of the Straits Settlements from 1887 to 1893.
Emma’s recommendations for life in Singapore
501 Bukit Timah Road,
#01-05A Cluny Court
211 Henderson Road
43 Keppel Road, Levels 1 to 4
Bistro du Vin
1 Scotts Road, #02-12 Shaw Centre
27 Bukit Manis Road,
Sentosa Golf Club
15 Duxton Hill
The Red Pepper
108 Faber Drive
Tiong Bahru Bakery
56 Eng Hoon Street, #01-07
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