John and Ghani live at the Waterside on the East Coast. Their apartment is on the 20th floor with wonderful views from every window. Inside you find an eclectic mix of pieces bought whilst living in Asia for the past 9 years, as well as on John’s business trips further afield.
Collecting as they travel, John and Ghani have a knock of sourcing in true Singaporean style: good prices for good quality.
Starting in the living room, you can see Ghani’s passion for good Chinese furniture. The focal point is a lovely television cabinet from Cherry Blossom at Binjai Park. “We really like the cabinet and thought it would be nice to have a new T.V. and Bose sound system. ‘The T.V. is the new digital Nova, bought at Atlas Electronics in Plaza Singapura. It is the only digital T.V. model available in Singapore and although digital transmission is not available here yet we bought it because we are moving back to London at the end of the year. Atlas come and set everything for you. John added some in-built lighting in it to the cupboard to shed some light on changing CD’s and Channels!’
Many of the carpets in the apartment were bought in Pakistan on John’s various business trips there. They fold up in to his suitcase! He advises, as with shopping in all unfamiliar places, you do have to be careful – you don’t always know what you’re buying.
Around the living room are John’s ‘cabin crew nightmares’. A huge marble dish, now filled with a world-wide decorative egg collection, came back from Malaysia on the plane. John could hardly carry it on board! A slate clock from France came on as hand luggage and was so heavy it nearly broke his arm. Another time, bored at Islamabad airport, he started bargaining on a little cupboard. The price came down so ridiculously low he was embarrassed not to buy it – so that came on board too! Masks from Bangkok, plates from Morocco and mirrors from Indonesia all sneaked home in the overhead locker.
The living room is large with lots of light from the room length windows so they have the space for some impressive plants. “The trick to keeping such healthy plants? We hire them for $15.00 per plant/per month. Every two weeks the company, Eco Flora, come to feed and water them, and change them if need be”. When they are away, Eco take the plants away too, and look after them. So if you too don’t have green fingers, give them a call.
The pots the plants sit in are fantastic. Made in China, John and Ghani found them in Malaysia. One hour North of the Tuas crossing is a sign saying Ayer Hitam and a place with “the most wonderful selection of pots” is three minutes from the turning.
John has a large extended family in London and there are photographs all around the home. A console made from two Indonesian carved wood stands and a glass sheet makes an excellent shelf for many of the photographs.
Among all the multicultural reminders is a wonderful old map of the East Coast as it was in the 1930’s. How Singapore has changed! There was no ECP or even land on the other side, where there’s now the East Coast Park. The map came from Antiques of the Orient at Tanglin Shopping Centre – “a lovely shop with lots of old maps, drawings and architectural sketches”.
Another nationality stands out in the comfortable Italian leather living room suite. The settees are made up of individual recliners that could quickly turn anyone in to a full-time couch potato! The suite was from Melandas at Marina Square, reduced by 60%, so excellent value for a full-leather set. There are six Melandas outlets in Singapore, including one at the Paragon.
Throughout the apartment you can see that John and Ghani have had great fun with lamps, which look decorative and add atmosphere with different lighting levels. There is a unique Tiffany-style lamp in the living room made from glass and stone by friends now supplying to Harrods. In one bedroom are two matching statues from China that have been made in to lamps by Far East Lamps in Tampines, and in the second bedroom, two Chinese style bird cages have been made in to bedside lamps.
“We are also having some fused glasswork art created for our house in London by Wong Ken Fuan,” says Ghani. “He’s a Singaporean with an outlet at Raffles. He recently created the artwork for the communal rooms at the Shangri-La in Kuala Lumpur. His work is just amazing.”
In the main bedroom you can see John’s latest acquisition: the Dunlopillo electronic bed. He spent months researching this after seeing it at a fair at the Expo. Eventually he phoned direct and got an incredible deal. It really is comfortable and adjusts remotely to lift both the back rest and leg section independently.
Beside the bed are two Chinese style bedside tables also bought from Just Anthony to maintain the theme. The bedspreads are in Jim Thomson silk from Bangkok, made up by a friend.
Above the bedside tables we spotted a great present idea: Idham Kaas Khairon scans in your photograph to his computer and creates an Andy Warhol-like effect on posters or cards. Good for family members or spouses as presents – it is not expensive and can be created in colours of your choice.
The bed in the other bedroom is an old metal one bought in Malacca for S$400.00. Ghani found some sari material in Little India to hang over the frame of the four poster and the effect is really pretty. A Balinese steamer chair gives this bedroom the mix of cultures felt throughout the apartment.
Ghani has actually created some of his own furnishing products. He made curtains for a friend; one side is dark velvet the other light raw silk, so whatever the weather (or your mood) you can adjust the curtains to suit! He has made his own pillow covers for some of the large floor cushions. “There are fantastic bargains on lovely materials around Arab Street and Little India. I bought some fabric for a chair that needed reupholstering and it was only $5.00 per metre.’
East Coast living? John and Ghani both love it. It’s 12 minutes by car to both John’s Office at Newton and to Changi Airport. John walks four miles every morning along the coast and they both use the Park for cycling. They were one of the first to occupy the Waterside nine years ago, and have always been impressed with the facilities and the management. The views from their apartment are spectacular especially at night when the lights of the city create a stunning panorama.
There are some great shops around Katong – lots of local food as well as all the new restaurants on the Bay at the Stadium. The area lacks a supermarket as the only Cold Storage is at Katong. Carrefour is close but parking is difficult. The Waterside has a good mini-market.
Ghani uses the Spa at Capital Towers which houses a gym, spa, huge pool and Balinese style massage and beauty rooms. “It’s really excellent and the Balinese look therapy rooms are beautiful.”
And finally, some favourite destinations from these travelling experts. Tanjong Jara, north of Kuantan is hard to beat. It’s about five hours drive from Singapore and one of the few places in the world where the turtles still come on to the beach. Close rivals are Boracay in the Philippines – voted second best beach in the world by AsiaTravel.com’s survey – and the Whitsunday Islands off Australia.
And watching the sun rise from Mount Bromo in Java – horse riding and seeing Borobodur. Fantastic.
379 Upper Paya Lebar Road Singapore 534972
(+65) 6283 4782 / 6283 4722
Antiques of the Orient
19 Tanglin Road #02-40, Tanglin Shopping Centre, Singapore 247909
(+65) 6734 9351
Cherry Blossom (+65) 6463 4454
Melandas (+65) 6363 3000
Eco Flora (+65) 6793 5480
Idham Kaas Khairon (+65) 6883 2426
The Ming Clinic (+65) 6235 8166
Camden Medical Centre