We go behind the doors of this gorgeous old shophouse, and talk to this expat couple about why they made it home. They chat about where they lived before, how it’s working perfectly for them a business and personal perspective and of course we get their recommendations for living in Singapore.
Who lives here: Elvina Farkas (Eurasian-Australian), fiancé Lucas Milone (Italian-Australian), and Pepe, the 14-year-old rescue dog.
Size of home: Three bedroom, two-storey conservation shophouse.
Style of home: “I think our home is a total mixed bag, although people do comment it’s very boho and loft-esque, but homely,” says Elvina.
Elvina and Lucas’s home is on busy Pasir Panjang Road, but once you walk through the heritage doors of their colonial shophouse, you leave that behind. You’re transported into what I would describe as a characterful bohovintage home, which Elvina refers to as a “mixed bag”. “The house itself is very old – complete with wonky windows and rough original wooden floors,” she adds, and there’s no doubt it has history.
In the six years they’ve lived in Singapore, this is the third place they’ve called home. They decided on a move here from Melbourne after a recce in 2012, when they stopped off before travelling on to Europe and New York. Elvina was already familiar with Singapore, having extended family living here, and they wanted to test the waters for their production company, which they’d established back home. Realising there was a gap in the industry here for quality production geared towards fashion, beauty and luxury goods, they set up in Singapore six months later.
Living in her mother’s flat in Bedok initially, their first year was an interesting experience. “We went from a four-bedroom house in Melbourne, with two dogs, to a small one-bed apartment here, complete with a hocking-up uncle next door,” laughs Elvina. A year later and they were on the move again, this time to a huge industrial shophouse space near Alexandra Road. “We had a full photography studio downstairs, and we lived upstairs. We put in a lot of interior work, including adding massive industrial revolving doors, and a fantastic three-and-a-half-metre metal table with a glass top.”
Towards the end of the lease, Elvina and Lucas didn’t see eye to eye with their landlord on many issues arising with the house. Having also experienced little of a work-life balance – “there was no cut-off point for personal time” – they were looking for more home, less studio. “We already knew the area, and this space really works for us. We have a small studio upstairs and we rent a space for bigger productions. Our office is the front, and the rest is home,” says Elvina.
Also present is Pepe, their (now deaf and blind) 14-year-old rescue dog. He’d been rescued by Purely Adoptions, however the previous home trials he went on saw him returned each time. “He’d been mistreated in the house he was in, and he had massive food and fear aggression initially; he also really doesn’t like men,” says Lucas. “I’d read about his story online and I knew I had to try with him, so I arranged it with the agency that afternoon and came home with him the next day,” adds Elvina. She told Lucas that Pepe was on a home trial, but the adoption officer was already waiting in the wings with the paperwork. The deal was done.
As we walk around the home to find out where she picked up her décor pieces, one comment crops up a few times: “I liked it and just came home with it”. Elvina’s impulsive enthusiasm about things crosses over, of course, to her work. Born and raised in Alice Springs in the Australian outback, her interest in photography began when she was 12. It was then that she started selling landscape prints of the area, and making pocket money shooting family portraits. Learning the ropes assisting some well known Australian photographers, she made the decision to forego a university degree and focus on becoming a fully-fledged photographer in her own right. “I have honestly never regretted the decision once.”
She and Lucas met while he was running a studio in Melbourne. “Elly came in for a shoot and I asked her what exactly she wanted to do, and she was like, ‘I don’t know, I’ll just wing it’,” says Lucas. “I started by assisting her, which led to us becoming close friends, and now we’re getting married.” “It did take him ten years to ask me!” laughs Elvina.
The small, intimate wedding will be held in Santorini, Greece, and the couple are currently trying to finish up numerous projects before they jet off, so they can shut off from everything for three well-earned weeks. Without taking up any more of this precious pre-wedding time, I leave them to battle the mountain of work they still have to get through before the big day.
Noah Garden Centre noahgardencentre.com.sg
Wine & Dine
Pasir Panjang Food Centre (“for our weekly staple fix!”)
Purely Adoptions purelyadoptions.com
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