She may have had a successful career in finance, but when Australian Nina Beale landed on our shores, she decided to focus her attention on another passion of hers – home decorating. Nina and her husband David moved to Singapore six years ago, and to spend a bit more time with her two daughters, she decided to pursue her interest in interiors by taking on ad hoc projects, but “indulged my passion and opened Bungalow 55 in 2012”.
Some would say the career change is a bit of a stretch, but not so Nina. She reveals, “Extensive travel has always been part of my family life due to my dad flying with Qantas. And my mother used to take me with her to every interior and home decor store around the world, so the passion for interiors was ingrained in me at a very early age.”
With her great eye for timeless yet statement-making style, Nina personally curates the best of products – be it lighting, Chinois ceramics to rugs and furniture – from family-run businesses round the world. And what’s special about her store’s pieces (think effortless Hamptons elegance) are that they are sourced for their longevity – they won’t grow out of style.
Whether it’s to add the final touches or a brand new look to rooms, interior designers and home owners love scouring her Cluny Court store for decor gems. We caught up with the Australian to share what gems she’s discovered in Singapore…
Where Do You Entertain Friends or Clients?
I live a very busy life and my husband travels extensively, which entails a lot of entertaining. We prefer to entertain our friends and clients at our home as it makes everyone more relaxed. They can take their shoes off, soak up the music and unwind. Our helper, Gina, is a fantastic cook, so we feel we have a five-star experience at home.
If we do make the leap to go out, then my favourites are Kinki, Luke’s Oyster Bar & Chop House, Lucha Loca, Culina and Bistrot du Sommelier. All have a great atmosphere, good service and fantastic food.
Lucha Loca’s Garden Terrace
Which Family-Friendly Restaurants Do You Like?
My daughters and I love going to Takumi Robata & Teppanyaki Grill at Keppel Bay Marina – that’s hands down our favourite haunt. We also like Min Jiang at Goodwood Park Hotel, and Rakuichi Japanese Restaurant at Dempsey Hill.
Min Jiang’s Min Pavillion
What About Local Food? Do You Have a Favourite?
I am partial to chilli crab, and the salt and pepper crab at Long Beach Restaurant at Dempsey Hill.
Where Do You Shop For That Fresh-Yet-Classic Style You Own?
I rarely have time to shop, but my go-to stores would be Rosalie Pompon, White Ginger, Seafolly, Michael Kors, Agnes B and Massimo Dutti.
Where Do You Shop For Things For Your Daughters?
I tend to custom make all the furniture for their bedrooms. As for their clothes, I usually shop for them at Seed Heritage (at Parkway Parade), Zara and Twelve by Elly.
What’s Your Perfect Weekend?
Weekends are special as my husband usually tries to ensure he is home for Saturdays and Sundays. We have a beautiful bottle of champagne as he cooks a 100-day rib eye on the BBQ – it doesn’t get much better than that!
We also enjoy the Tanjong Beach Club for swims and lunch, but tend to depart early before the young crowd descends!
Where Do You Go To Get Away From It All?
Exercise is my release. I walk along Alexandra Canal and around the surrounding area of my home in Mt Echo. I also love going to the Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands when there is a show on.
Is Singapore a Boring Place?
Definitely not. Singapore is clean, safe, aesthetically gorgeous and dynamic. It is ever changing. It is a fantastic platform to explore other parts of Asia and is just a civilised plane trip to Europe. To me, wherever you live, you must create a home there. The government is very supportive of new, small businesses and so they look after those with innovative ideas – there’s so much opportunity!
NINA’S DECOR TIPS:
- Due to Singapore’s humidity, life in the tropics is not apt for formal dining rooms or leather furniture. People here tend to be more casual, especially when entertaining friends.
- Invest in good rugs that are suitable for this climate and lifestyle (read water marks and wet costumes if you have children).
- Lighting is important and many landlords won’t let you put dimmers on the overhead lights – so, invest in lamps to create the perfect ambience
Bungalow 55 is at #01-05A Cluny Court, 501 Bukit Timah Road, Tel: 6463 3831
For more Favourite Finds from some of Singapore’s coolest expats, click here!
By Priyanka Ellhence, The Finder, August 2015