A Scot­tish fam­ily wel­comes us into their black-and-white

Expat Living (Singapore) - - Contents -

Each in­ter­na­tional move for AN­DREA and KEVIN GIB­SON has seen their fam­ily, and in turn their liv­ing ar­range­ments, grow. They first re­lo­cated from Ed­in­burgh to Tokyo in 2002, where they lived for two years, and where their son Fraser was born. Then came Hong Kong, in 2004, where both Kirsty and Tara were born. The move to Sin­ga­pore came in 2008, the fam­ily of five ar­riv­ing here in June of that year. Res­cue cats Skye and Lewis joined the fam­ily five years later, and then res­cue dog Harry two years ago.

“We’d been to Sin­ga­pore to visit friends be­fore, but you don’t re­ally get to know a place un­til you live here,” says An­drea. One thing she was sure of was that she wanted to live in a house rather than an apart­ment. “We did condo liv­ing in Hong Kong, in the same apart­ment. We ar­rived there with one child and left with three, so we def­i­nitely wanted, and needed, more space.”

First, they chose a clus­ter house in Bukit Timah, which af­forded them the best of both worlds: a house and shared fa­cil­i­ties, in­clud­ing a pool. Af­ter liv­ing there for around six years, they then moved to an­other prop­erty in the same area, but, with prob­lems in­creas­ingly crop­ping up with the house, An­drea was keen to look around again once their lease was up.

“When we first ar­rived in Sin­ga­pore, we did put an of­fer in for a black-and-white house in Med­way Park but weren’t suc­cess­ful, and we’ve had friends liv­ing in her­itage homes in the Kheam Hock area and Woodleigh Park; I’ve al­ways had a han­ker­ing to live in one,” she says.

Find­ing out there were a few black-and­white houses avail­able in Alexan­dra Park, An­drea put an of­fer in for this prop­erty through manag­ing agent Knight Frank. “I know there’s of­ten a lot of con­fu­sion about how to rent a black-and-white, but for us it was quite straight­for­ward. As the house had been empty for around nine months, there was no bid­ding. We were told what the guide price was, so we put in our of­fer and, af­ter some ne­go­ti­a­tion, it was ac­cepted.”

For An­drea, the com­mu­nity of Alexan­dra Park is a big draw. “It’s like be­ing in a lit­tle vil­lage, and that’s what we’ve re­ally missed while liv­ing in our pre­vi­ous houses. We do a lot with our friends in the area, such as go­ing to par­ties, hav­ing din­ners and walk­ing on Kent Ridge. There’s a Face­book page for the park, and there’s al­ways some­thing go­ing on.”

Fit­tings & Fur­nish­ings

Be­fore mov­ing in, the kitchen did get a makeover, in­clud­ing adding new cup­boards and a do­ing a re­paint. “We felt that it was one room we could give our stamp to, and make the house our own. Now we have a kitchen the way we would want it in our own home.”

Mov­ing around so much, the fam­ily haven’t kept a huge amount of fur­ni­ture. “We’ve ac­cu­mu­lated a few things, but our places in Tokyo and Hong Kong were much smaller than here.” With a prop­erty in North Ber­wick, Scot­land, An­drea is al­ways mind­ful of where ev­ery­thing will go. “More Asian-style pieces look great here, but they may not look so fit­ting in Scot­land! I’m not an an­tiques col­lec­tor by any stretch, but I do like to cre­ate a com­fort­able fam­ily home. Although this is a large house, it doesn’t feel overly big; it has a nice flow to it.”

One com­mon theme around the house is the C+S Art prints, pieces of per­son­alised ty­po­graphic can­vas wall art that take their in­spi­ra­tion from vintage tram and bus scrolls. Ready to re­turn to work around three years ago, An­drea heard the pre­vi­ous owner was sell­ing the busi­ness, and, with a back­ground in graphic de­sign, she felt it was the per­fect fit. “The can­vases are re­ally the main­stay of the busi­ness and still prove pop­u­lar, but I do have a few ideas as to how to de­velop the busi­ness fur­ther.”

Week­ends are chock-a-block in the Gib­son house, with all three chil­dren fo­cused on their favoured ac­tiv­i­ties. “Kirsty rides at the Bukit Timah Sad­dle Club five times a week, Tara is a gym­nast with the school team and prac­tises four times a week, and Fraser plays gui­tar and en­joys ten­nis and golf. Our week­ends are jam-packed.” When An­drea isn’t taxi­ing chil­dren to and fro, she and Kevin en­joy walk­ing along the South­ern Ridges to Vivoc­ity for a week­end lunch. She’s qual­i­fied as a yoga in­struc­tor, too, and of­ten prac­tices with a cou­ple of friends in the grounds of the house. They’re also mem­bers of the Bri­tish Club and still go oc­ca­sion­ally, al­beit not as much as they used to, since the chil­dren have got­ten older. “We do still en­joy go­ing there oc­ca­sion­ally for a curry!”

More of­ten than not, though, An­drea likes to sit in one of the out­door ar­eas and en­joy her sur­round­ings. “Some­times I sit here and look at the rolling green­ery and feel like I’m in Down­ton Abbey,” she says. Look­ing out across the gar­dens, you can see why.

Who lives here: Scots An­drea and Kevin Gib­son, chil­dren Fraser (15), Kirsty (13) and Tara (12), helper Ma­yar, two res­cue cats, and res­cue dog Harry. Size of house: Two-storey, five bed­room blackand-white house in Alexan­dra Park. Style of home: An­drea’s love for re­laxed fam­ily liv­ing is re­flected in her home, where nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als such as tim­ber and rat­tan are mixed with Ori­en­tal in­flu­ences and the trop­i­cal green­ery out­side.

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