Arriving in Singapore from New York City, Louise Alverson and her family moved into a Novena condo. Here she explains what drew them to this spot, and why they rented much of their furniture to fill up their home space.
Living the expatriate life is nothing new for Louise; she moved to Hong Kong when she was 21, and stayed for six years before moving to Shanghai for three years, where she met her husband Harry. They then left Asia for New Hampshire in the US while Harry gained his MBA, before moving to New York suburbia with Harry’s post-grad tech industry job. Both of their daughters were born in the US.
So, when a move to Singapore reared its head, Louise wasn’t daunted. “I had worked in business events and conferences when I was based in Hong Kong, and had visited Singapore before. I didn’t need to be convinced about the move; the only difficult part was leaving friends behind and the fact that my little girls had become established where we were.”
Although familiar with Singapore, Louise was not so certain about specific locations to live in. Not wanting to start off in a serviced apartment, the race was on to find a suitable area and condo for the family. During their “look-see” trip, they pinpointed the Novena area due to its proximity to Stamford American International School, and although they decided against the school for their daughters in the end, the location still suits them perfectly. “This particular place is so convenient; it’s close to the MRT, there’s United Square and Velocity malls, and we’re also close to Orchard.” Harry’s work was originally based out of Changi Business Park, so the East Coast was another option, however his company opened a downtown office and Novena became an even better fit.
Who lives here: Brit Louise and American husband Harry, and daughters Emmeline (almost seven) and Mirabelle (four). Size of home: Four-bed apartment, with one room converted into an office.
How long have they lived here: Since the beginning of January 2016.
Style of home: Modern, muted colours mixed with warm natural tones.
During their recce, they also visited Gallery 278, recommended to them by their relocation agent. “We considered shipping our furniture, but we knew we were coming from a much larger place and we also weren’t sure how the climate would affect our furniture.” Air freighting some basics, including their mattresses, Louise decided that renting key pieces would be the most sensible option. “The furniture we’ve rented is completely different in terms of style to the pieces we have in the US. My husband’s mother is a naturally gifted interior designer, and we’ve inherited family furniture pieces over the years; it’s a darker, more traditional ‘Shaker’ style. Here, with the bright modern condo setting, we decided to go with some very different pieces.” This includes the light wood modern dining table and geometric chairs, the neutral sofas and the coffee table in the living room.
Arriving in Singapore late at night, they stayed in a hotel before picking up the keys the next day. “Gallery 278 had agreed to deliver beds for us, and the neighbours gave us some plastic bowls to borrow. I remember being in our stark white empty apartment, waking up at 4am because of the jetlag, and having breakfast with the girls on the floor of the balcony, by the light of the city at night.”
Louise spent her first six months in Singapore settling the family into their daily routines. Both girls started at EtonHouse initially, before Emmeline moved to UWC Dover. It was through UWC that Louise has since become involved with the Tabitha Foundation, a non-profit organisation that focuses on lifting Cambodians out of poverty through a number of initiatives. “It’s a great opportunity for me to be part of something worthwhile; recently, I even left the girls behind (very unusual for me) for five days to help with a house-building programme in a rural village in Prey Veng Province near Phnom Penh.”
Since the trip, Louise has joined the Tabitha Singapore committee focused on the sale of silk products, which are handmade by Cambodian women, providing them with a dignified trade. She is considering another house-building trip next year, too. Louise is also class parent for both girls’ classes, which has been a great way to meet new people, and with other parents is currently working on an inaugural black tie gala event on 11 November at Marina Bay Sands. Proceeds will go towards funding scholarships, refugee scholarships and sustainable development programmes. “Volunteering for something so impactful, alongside a group of talented and inspirational UWC parent volunteers has been the perfect way to push me out of my comfort zone and refresh some rusty event-planning skills! We’re all excited about bringing this beyond the UWC community, so look out for tickets.”
With the family potentially only here for a couple of years, it’s clear Louise is keen to immerse herself in worthwhile activities during their stint. When they eventually leave, they also plan to take up the option to buy some of their furniture. “Solid wood was important in our furniture selection because of the plan to keep select pieces; I definitely think we’ll take the dining table and sofas. Having said that, hopefully we won’t be leaving for a while yet!”
Gallery 278 278 River Valley Road 6737 2322 | gallery278.com
The Grey House (“where I bought my living room cushions and the grey rug that I love”) thegreyhouseonline.com
LIFE & FAMILY
Tabitha Foundation tabithasingapore.com
UWCSEA Foundation www.uwcsea.edu.sg/
WINE & DINE
The Clueless Goat 189 Thomson Road 8283 0885
Ju Hao (“as a quicker cheaper alternative to Din Tai Fung”) #01-02 United Square, 101 Thomson Road
Ah Chew Desserts (“black sesame and mango sago are firm favourites”)181 Thomson Road Goldhill Centre 6254 8198
Super Loco (“for weekend casual brunch”) 60 Robertson Quay 6235 8900 | super-loco.com
Blu Kouzina 10 Dempsey Road, #01-21 6875 0872 | blukouzina.com
The Library (“for outstanding craft cocktails”) 47 Keong Saik Road 6221 8338
Want to see more homes? See this beautiful Nassim Hill home
This article first appeared in the August 2017 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy or subscribe so you never miss an issue!