From farmhouse to your house

Not all vintage or antique Chinese furniture was created equal! Only a few pieces are restored to a superior quality. And some reproductions are far better than others. So how do you know if you’re buying a “good” piece of vintage or antique Chinese furniture?Just about every item of vintage Chinese furniture has an amazing history, with many coming from old villages and farmhouses before ending up here in Singapore. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a real piece of history in your home – one with a story all of its own?Of course, the vintage pieces you see in shops didn’t look like that when they were first rescued from old homes in China. These structures were often being torn down to make room for new, modern buildings. Many of the handmade treasures had fallen into disrepair – only when they were rescued by craftsman did they have new life breathed back into them. CHANTAL TRAVERS, owner of Emperor’s Attic, lived in Beijing for many years before moving to Singapore, where she now runs her furniture store at the Tan Boon Liat Building, specialising in antique and vintage Chinese furniture.“When I lived there, everybody had their own place where they would go to buy antique Chinese furniture. ‘Come and see my guy – he’s the best!’ So, that person’s guy would become your guy, and you’d start to find the people you trust. I’ve now been working with the same people for more than a decade. I personally choose every single piece we have in the store and I have it all authenticated. When that shipment arrives, I know exactly what I’m getting.”And that, folks, means you know what you’re getting when you buy it, too. Your furniture will have a story you can share.Reproduction: not a dirty wordBut not everybody needs a backstory. For many, it’s more important to have a piece that is functional and fits into your home. Reproductions can be beautiful, too – just be aware that if you’re buying a reproduction, you’ll want it to be as well made as the old ones.How can you ensure a piece is well made? There are two important factors here: the materials it’s made from, and the techniques used. Wood from Northern China is exposed to a very wide range of temperatures – from around minus 25 to plus 40 degrees Celsius; subsequently, it can survive in any climate. Furniture made from wood from Southern China, on the other hand, tends to only do well in heat and humidity.Also, traditional carpentry techniques help to ensure that wood can move according to different climates and seasons; that means if you relocate to a different climate (as many of us will), your furniture won’t crack or warp. Furniture that is glued and nailed and uses southern wood just won’t stand the test of time. And who wants to buy a piece of furniture you plan to get rid of in a couple of years?Emperor’s Attic does carry reproductions, though you’d be hard-pressed to figure out which one is new versus vintage when you walk through the showroom. But no worries: it’s all clearly marked with a tag for you to see.“Most of our furniture is vintage and antique,” explains Chantal. “So, it’s important that reproductions feel like the real thing and are of the highest quality.”For the record, reproductions aren’t necessarily any cheaper than antiques. The techniques can be too labour-intensive to save costs, which means the price tag ends up being about the same. All to say, you should buy the piece that makes your heart zing! Limited suppliesIn recent times, the Chinese government has made all of the furniture factories move outside the city. These factories already had a tough time attracting young workers. Now? It’s virtually impossible for them to find new blood. The upshot is that the furniture industry – particularly vintage and antique restoration – is a dramatically changing trade.Craftsmen are retiring and few people are training to take their places. Those who do remain ask for a pay rise after every Chinese New Year period, driving prices ever higher. The coronavirus has also made not only sourcing vintage Chinese furniture very difficult, but also shipping it – for now, at least.The antique Chinese furniture itself is getting harder and harder to find, too. There simply isn’t as much stock for the craftsmen to restore. Chantal still has her special suppliers, but many others have folded shop rather than move to the country. Inventory is dropping.All of which means that there are fewer and fewer pieces available to buy. So, if in the back of your head you’re thinking, “I’ll get a beautiful Chinese furniture piece before I repatriate,” you might want to reconsider and buy sooner. The time to buy is now!“It could be as soon as five years before all this antique furniture coming out of China dries up,” says Verity Dibben, Chantal’s right-hand in the store. “We may not have access to this stuff much longer.”Emperor’s Attic#01-10 Tan Boon Liat Building, 315 Outram Road6270 2544 | emperorsattic.comThis article first appeared in the May 2020 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy or subscribe so you never miss an issue!

Kids’ furniture that’s quality, fun and cool

17th June 2020 by Rebecca Bisset 3 Min ReadKids’ furniture really needs to tick a few boxes. We’re talking firstly about the quality and safety of the materials used; we don’t want to have to worry about flaky or toxic paint, or rusty metal, whether it’s in the bedroom or play area. Then there’s longevity and flexibility – two factors that contribute to value for money. It’s best to choose high-quality products that will ‘live’ through a few children, and a good few years! We look at two places that have children’s beds in Singapore, plus other cool furniture and accessories that meet those criteria too.Best Children’s BedsKuhl Home is a destination store for parents looking for good value, high-quality, safe and beautifully crafted kids’ furniture. The store’s brands include Lifetime Kidsrooms and Oliver Furniture, with products designed to adapt to your child’s needs as they grow. Their convertible and modular kids’ bed systems allow for growth and change of use. For example, you can convert a bunk bed into two single beds if they’ve grown out of the bunk bed stage or left the nest! The careful selection of solid materials for the kids’ furniture ensures that the beds are as durable as they are gorgeous in design, even after conversions. The beds are made in Denmark and include a five-year warranty. What’s more, the kids’ furniture at Kuhl Home meets the highest safety requirements, often exceeding the legal standard. The beds are all extensively tested by TÜV, a strict testing authority in Europe for safety and quality. And no harmful chemicals or carcinogens are used in producing the pieces, so you can be assured they’re safe for your little ones.#08-01 Century Warehouse, 100e Pasir Pajang Road6270 8483 | kuhlhome.comGreat Kids’ FurnitureApart from somewhere to sleep, kids’ bedrooms should be their special place to hang out in. Make your home more kid-friendly by having furniture that fits them just right!You can create a fun, practical corner for the younger ones at home with the Fermob kids’ collection at Soul & Tables. Made from durable weather-friendly materials such as aluminium and steel, the collection is ideal for the bedroom, playroom or living room corner – even the garden. There’s a range of vibrant colours available too. Your kids will love having their own special space with stuff just for them. Adada rocking horseA classic piece of kids’ furniture! This one is designed with safety standards in mind, with a light aluminium frame coupled with protective pads to prevent scratches on the floor.Luxembourg kids’ table, chairs, armchairs and benchThis miniature version of the popular Luxembourg collection is designed for ages three to six. It features a comfortable, curved-slat seat, and also a light and easy-to-handle aluminium tubular frame. Tom Pouce folding chairThe miniature version of the versatile Bistro chair, the Tom Pouce folding chair will capture every kid’s attention! It has that nostalgic Parisian flair in its simple and classic design.#02-01 & #02-03 Tan Boon Liat Building, 315 Outram Road9272 1545 | soulandtables.com.sgGo here for more furniture ideas

Fab furniture shops at Dempsey Hill

10th June 2020 by Expat Living 3 Min ReadDid all these weeks at home make you realise you want to spruce up things a bit? The furniture shops at Dempsey Hill are the perfect place to find fab home décor pieces. There’s pretty much everything on offer, from statues, artwork, outdoor furniture and even landscape gardening. You’ll find unusual small accents or larger pieces in colonial or modern styles – rugs and lamps too. Check these out these home décor shops online for starters!Bungalow 55This go-to boutique offers a beautifully curated selection of hundreds of homewares sourced from around the globe. Their home décor collection includes lamps, pendant lighting, rugs, chairs, accent pieces, ottomans, consoles and truly stunning decorative accessories. Seriously, if you want to give a fresh face to your place, this should be one of your first stops. You can even opt for more of a décor makeover by booking a complimentary one-hour consultation in the comfort of your own home.Block 8D Dempsey Road | thebungalow55.com Hedger’s Carpet GalleryThe fastest way to change a room? Change the flooring! Rugs are a fantastic way to bring out textures, patterns and colours unique to your personal style, and Hedger’s Carpet Gallery has every kind of style imaginable. Choose from exquisite vintage silk carpets to timeless, classic rugs. Each piece will elevate your space for years to come.13 Dempsey Road | hedgerscarpetgallery.com.sg Marquis Studio / Lifestorey @ DempseyThis special furniture shop at Dempsey Hill is the hub for all things fuss-free and snazzy, for giving your home that distinct designer look. It carries a huge variety of fun, unique and eclectic items from a wide variety of European designers, bringing the best of home furnishings and accessories. Not sure how to put it all together? No worries. The shop offers complete home packages to make redecorating easy.Block 8D Dempsey Road | Lifestorey.com Maywell LifestyleIf being stuck at home all day has made you crave nature, why not bring it inside with handcrafted pieces made of natural wood? Since 1996, Maywell has been creating one-of-a-kind functional furniture as well as restoring older pieces, including antiques. The store’s artisans specialise in carpentry, fabrication, customisation and modification. So, if they don’t have what you want, they can make it for you. Along with beautiful furniture, you’ll also find special artwork and sculptures here that you won’t see anywhere else.13 Dempsey Road | maywell.com.sg PaddifieldDid the Circuit Breaker leave you with a whole new appreciation of the outdoors? Then why not give your alfresco space a fresh face? Paddifield has a wide range of outdoor furniture at Dempsey Hill. There’s also accessories to help you create an intimate gathering space or for the big bash you’ve been dreaming of for months. You can even add a touch of fun with some of the colourful accents on offer.9B Dempsey Road | facebook.com/PaddifieldInternational Woody Antique HouseOne of the oldest furniture shops at Dempsey Hill we love the mix of styles there. Colourful cabinets are an easy way to add personality to your home. Ditch the minimalist white or neutral tones in favour of an eye-catching oriental cabinet – it’ll create a fun focal point in any room. And it’s furniture you’ll keep forever. At Woody’s you’ll find a diverse range of Asian furniture and antiquities, sourced from various parts of Asia including China, Tibet, Mongolia, India, Myanmar, Thailand and Indonesia.Block 13 Dempsey Road | woodyantique.com dempseyhill.comThis article first appeared in the June 2020 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy or subscribe so you never miss an issue!

10 Online Home Décor Shops You’ll Love

Staying indoors and social distancing doesn’t mean you have to miss out on some retail therapy. You can shop for gorgeous homeware and furniture in your pyjamas, and get it delivered right to your door – all while trying to home-school the kids, of course! Online home décor shops in Singapore are now pretty easy to use and delivery is usually quick!Originals – Beautiful and sustainableNot only are the items stocked at Originals beautiful, but the store also strives to make a positive impact by caring about how each product looks, lasts and makes people feel. It doesn’t just sell furniture; it sources, makes and customises it too. Some pieces here are old, and some are new, but all are carefully sourced.The team says: “You can browse our extended collections online, save your favourites, and view the product details including dimensions, quality and materials.”originals.com.sg Grey and Sanders – Terrific tables and sofasGrey and Sanders are trying to make it a little easier for you to shop from home. You can head to the store’s website and buy the full range of natural-edge tables and custom sofas directly. High-resolution images of each piece will help you get a better idea of the product’s details and unique characteristics.The team says: “This year, we’ve added some new and exciting fabrics to our range of upholstery choices. We’re also bringing in a small selection of exotic timbers for those looking for unique statement pieces.”greyandsanders.com Scanteak – Scandi furniture fixBrowse the Scanteak website for durable teak furniture in trendy Scandinavian designs. There is price transparency between the products in-store and online, as well as a live chat function on standby for answering any queries. From time to time, you’ll also find exclusive online sales, so watch out for those!The team says: “We’re bringing in new dining chairs, beds, sideboards and dining tables, with introductory prices. We’ve also got an upgraded version of our popular functional bookshelf. And we have more products made from recycled materials or responsibly sourced material.”scanteak.com.sg Just Anthony – Antique huntingIt’s always a treat rummaging around the fascinating Just Anthony store, but now you can jump online and find a hidden treasure, too. Shop for antique and reproduction cabinets, shoe cabinets, beds, intricate door panels and home décor. The team says: “We have a heap of new table lamps, and more recently our more popular reproduction pieces are available online. We’ve expanded our antiques section, too.”justanthony.com INBALI – Tropical resort vibeWhen you can’t travel, what do you do? Get the resort feel delivered to your doorstep from INBALI. Every item is ethically made by incredible artisans on the famous Indonesian island. So, you can bring an authentic Balinese experience into your home while supporting villagers and the local economy.The team says: “We’ve had increasing requests for custommade furniture, so we’re offering affordable and highly customised products to fit any interior requirements online too. We’re able to customise anything you can dream of, regardless of dimensions, material, textile, colours and finishing.”inbali.co Living DNA – Consciously curatedYou can shop the Living DNA collections of rugs, furniture, homewares and art online – all chosen for the reliable quality and sustainable production. Owner Denise Kaur has a passion for beautifully handcrafted, soulful décor – pieces that add depth, substance and character to any home. Denise says: “We’ve just taken stock of the prettiest marbled enamelware from Turkey – it’s lightweight, easy to clean, foodsafe and stylish, to go straight from the oven to the table. I also just sourced a range of beautiful hand-painted ceramics from Vietri Sul Mare. The lemon-themed collection includes large serving plates, modular platters, dinner plates and even cutlery holders. Everything is hand-painted, dishwasher-safe and meant to be used over and over again for generations.”livingdna.sg Black & Walnut – Designer-inspiredThe range of distinctive, designer-inspired (not replica) luxury furniture from Black & Walnut won’t break the bank but it will turn your home into a unique showpiece. The team sources crafted designer furniture without the designer price tag. The team says: “Hit up our website for a first peek at the latest collections in the comfort of your own home. Plus, you’ll get to access our in-store promotions online as well.”blackandwalnut.com.sg The Cinnamon Room – Artisan-crafted décorThe award-winning contemporary rugs, carpets and unique accessories found at The Cinnamon Room are also available online. You’ll find great style inspiration and countless solutions for transforming and creating memorable spaces in your home.The team says: “Our online store offers lots of advice about rug placement to help you make the right choice. We include inspirational images of our contemporary hide rugs in situ to help you visualise the rugs in a room setting. We’ll also be adding new ranges of hand-woven dhurrie and jute rug collections.”thecinnamonroom.com European Bedding – Sleep softlyYou might be spending a bit more time at home and in bed (Netflix and chill, anyone?) so why not treat yourself to some silky soft 100 percent natural bamboo fibre sheets? Hop onto the European Bedding online store and check out their range of Heveya Bamboo sheet sets in a heap of colour varieties. They’re an excellent eco-friendly choice and they wick away moisture, keeping you dry, cool and comfortable. The team says: “Buying products from a green company like us is not just about investing in a better life for yourselves but also for others and the environment.”europeanbedding.sg Taylor B – Luxe homewareThe Taylor B online store has everything you need to create a luxurious, one-of-a-kind home. Every product has a detailed description and multiple pictures, and the site is super easy to use. From beds to dining tables, home décor and more – you can even deck out your home office.The collections include traditional to Art Deco, modern to elegant country, so you’ll be clicking “Add To Cart” in no time! taylorbdesign.com This article first appeared in the May 2020 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy or subscribe so you never miss an issue!

Working from home & need a desk?

3rd April 2020 by Rebecca Bisset 2 Min ReadIn the past few weeks, I’ve seen so many requests for desks on various WhatsApp groups, with all the working from home that’s having to be done. So, if you’re wondering where to buy a desk from, here’s a great selection. Homes in Singapore rarely have a dedicated room for a study, so we often have to get creative – one person posted how they were using their ironing board to work from!  You might have to find a corner or a space in your bedroom to create a home office that doesn’t interfere too much with the rest of the house. If so, the desk can’t be too big or bulky!Scanteak furniture is inspired by Scandinavian ideology so it focuses on simplicity and functionality. It’s fairly contemporary and light, so whether it’s large or small it doesn’t seem to take up much space. The colour and grains of teak and the simple and uncluttered designs are a perfect mix for an executive look. That means you’ll feel more like you’re in a nice calm space where you can get on with things.6 things to look for when you buy a desk – so you don’t waste money!#1 Getting the right height is key.#2 Your should be able to bend 90 degrees to reach the keyboard or desk without impacting your posture.#3 Make sure your chair is the right height for the desk – and that it’s comfortable, not just good-looking!#4 The monitor needs to be at least an arm’s length away from your face. So, if you’re having a desktop computer on the desk, make sure it’s deep enough.#5 Think about whether you need storage or drawers.#6 If you have a small space, keep the design simple and versatile in case you want to use it for something else at another time.Family-owned and run, Scanteak is a great example of a Singapore success story; the daughter took over her dad’s business to modernise it. They now have 12 furniture stores on the island, based in shopping malls, at industrial sites and in a gorgeous old converted house in Joo Chiat. The website has a really easy online shop too; if you don’t want to go out, you can shop from your sofa!If you need to buy a sofa or any other furniture for the home browse Scanteak’s collections at www.scanteak.com.sgFor more home décor inspiration, see our are Homes section.

Home Décor: Cool old Chinese style

20th February 2020 by Melinda Murphy 3 Min ReadWhen I first got to Singapore, I thought Chinese furniture was pretty, but I couldn’t really see it fitting into my own home. Then, bit by bit, it all really started to grow on me. I remember visiting a new friend’s fairly modern home and seeing her colourful, showstopping piece of antique Chinese furniture and thinking, “Wow, that looks really good!” And then I went to another friend’s home. Again, she had a gorgeous vintage piece, even though her style of decorating was more “country”. Yet another friend had really huge pieces all throughout her home. And before long, I realised that good antique and vintage Chinese furniture looked good in everybody’s home, no matter the style. And you know what? I decided I needed a piece, too! Working with Chinese furniture coloursAdding a big, bright piece of furniture might seem a bit daring for you. If chosen well, though, it can be a true centerpiece for your home – something well-decorated homes always have. A pop of colour adds interest and depth and, if the furniture has a history (and most vintage and antique Chinese furniture does), then the piece will also be a conversation starter.“There’s really no interior style that can’t handle a piece of Chinese furniture,” says CHANTAL TRAVERS, the owner of Emperor’s Attic, a store specialising in antique and vintage Chinese furniture. “Imagine a really interesting industrial loft. How cool would a big, red Chinese cabinet look? It’d be such a contrast and a true feature piece. Or adding a colourful piece to a Scandinavian home? A cosy country cottage or a Hamptons home would both look great with a piece of Chinese furniture, too. The right piece even looks ideal in a sleek, modern Singapore apartment and amongst mid-century modern styling.” How to choose?“Take your time and look around before you buy a piece,” recommends VERITY DIBBEN, Chantal’s right hand at the store. “People often make the mistake of buying a piece of Chinese furniture when they first arrive. Take your time and get your eye. Otherwise, you’ll end up with the cheap frying-pan experience. By that I mean, if you buy a cheap frying pan that you don’t really love, you don’t throw it out; you keep it and use it everyday, even though it’s not what you really want and it’s not doing the job. If you rush to buy a piece of Chinese furniture that you don’t really love, you’ll end up keeping it for years and living with it every day, even though it doesn’t really make you happy – just like the frying pan. When you find the right piece, you’ll ‘zing’, and you’ll know it’s the one for you.” Supplies are limitedIf you do happen to ‘zing’, buy the piece right then and there. Most pieces are one of a kind. And don’t wait to buy one until you repatriate. Materials are getting harder to find. Inventory is dropping. Craftsmen are retiring and fewer people are training to take their places. And, of the craftspeople who do remain, each asks for a pay raise after every Chinese New Year, driving prices ever higher. The coronavirus has also complicated supply chains. All this means that there are fewer and fewer pieces available to buy. So, if in the back of your head you think, “I’ll get a beautiful Chinese furniture piece before I repatriate,” you might want to reconsider and buy sooner. The time to buy is now!Want to start smaller?If you’re worried about adding a big piece, why not start small? You could buy a ginger jar or a beautiful lantern. There are other ways to bring Chinese beauty into your home.Learn more about Chantal, the woman behind Emperor’s Attic, in our profile story here, then check out the store’s website.Like this? Read more in our Living in Singapore section!

Home Décor: Cool Chinese style

20th February 2020 by Melinda Murphy 3 Min ReadWhen I first got to Singapore, I thought Chinese furniture was pretty, but I couldn’t really see it fitting into my own home. Then, bit by bit, it all really started to grow on me. I remember visiting a new friend’s fairly modern home and seeing her colourful, showstopping piece of antique Chinese furniture and thinking, “Wow, that looks really good!” And then I went to another friend’s home. Again, she had a gorgeous vintage piece, even though her style of decorating was more “country”. Yet another friend had really huge pieces all throughout her home. And before long, I realised that good antique and vintage Chinese furniture looked good in everybody’s home, no matter the style. And you know what? I decided I needed a piece, too! Working with Chinese furniture coloursAdding a big, bright piece of furniture might seem a bit daring for you. If chosen well, though, it can be a true centerpiece for your home – something well-decorated homes always have. A pop of colour adds interest and depth and, if the furniture has a history (and most vintage and antique Chinese furniture does), then the piece will also be a conversation starter.“There’s really no interior style that can’t handle a piece of Chinese furniture,” says CHANTAL TRAVERS, the owner of Emperor’s Attic, a store specialising in antique and vintage Chinese furniture. “Imagine a really interesting industrial loft. How cool would a big, red Chinese cabinet look? It’d be such a contrast and a true feature piece. Or adding a colourful piece to a Scandinavian home? A cosy country cottage or a Hamptons home would both look great with a piece of Chinese furniture, too. The right piece even looks ideal in a sleek, modern Singapore apartment and amongst mid-century modern styling.” How to choose?“Take your time and look around before you buy a piece,” recommends VERITY DIBBEN, Chantal’s right hand at the store. “People often make the mistake of buying a piece of Chinese furniture when they first arrive. Take your time and get your eye. Otherwise, you’ll end up with the cheap frying-pan experience. By that I mean, if you buy a cheap frying pan that you don’t really love, you don’t throw it out; you keep it and use it everyday, even though it’s not what you really want and it’s not doing the job. If you rush to buy a piece of Chinese furniture that you don’t really love, you’ll end up keeping it for years and living with it every day, even though it doesn’t really make you happy – just like the frying pan. When you find the right piece, you’ll ‘zing’, and you’ll know it’s the one for you.” Supplies are limitedIf you do happen to ‘zing’, buy the piece right then and there. Most pieces are one of a kind. And don’t wait to buy one until you repatriate. Materials are getting harder to find. Inventory is dropping. Craftsmen are retiring and fewer people are training to take their places. And, of the craftspeople who do remain, each asks for a pay raise after every Chinese New Year, driving prices ever higher. The coronavirus has also complicated supply chains. All this means that there are fewer and fewer pieces available to buy. So, if in the back of your head you think, “I’ll get a beautiful Chinese furniture piece before I repatriate,” you might want to reconsider and buy sooner. The time to buy is now!Want to start smaller?If you’re worried about adding a big piece, why not start small? You could buy a ginger jar or a beautiful lantern. There are other ways to bring Chinese beauty into your home.Learn more about Chantal, the woman behind Emperor’s Attic, in our profile story here, then check out the store’s website.Like this? Read more in our Living in Singapore section!

Give your furniture a fresh look

12th December 2019 by Expat Living 2 Min ReadFurniture painting is the way to go these days. Buying something new on a whim to replace existing, functional furniture is becoming a bit passé. Where can you go in Singapore for this kind of service?Local home-painting company Retro Dec has grown from refurbishing buildings, changing lanes into furniture restoration and interior styling seemed like a natural progression. Director, Ronnie set the company up in 1995 and has loads of experience in all areas.One of their signature services is furniture whitewashing. The great thing about this process is that it transforms your wooden furniture without smothering the grain. That way, you get to retain the detail and texture while giving it a dapper new finish. This look is also popular because of its versatility. Whitewashed pieces can be integrated into many different styles, useful for both indoor and outdoor settings. It means you can complement the tropical, alfresco feel of a lot of Singapore’s outdoor spaces, and it works as a welcome addition to any balcony, dining room or courtyard.Another popular and on-trend service offered by Retro Dec is distressing. This is when furniture is intentionally restored to give it a lived-in look and feel. (Clean lines and block colours aren’t the order of the day for everyone!) The rustic and vintage look has had legs for at least the last 10 years, and there is no sign of that changing anytime soon – so, ask how the Retro Dec restoration team can give your furniture a bit of personality and a more pre-loved vibe.It’s difficult to maintain a fresh and individual looking space when you move home (or country) frequently, especially if you can’t afford the investment of buying unique pieces every time. Because you may not have the time or know where to go, your home starts to look the same as everyone else who’s just moved here, or moved home (again!). This no longer needs to be the case. If you have any pieces that need some resuscitation, the team at Retro Dec are at the ready with a little “CPR” – colour, polish and restore!If you have a piece that’s looking tired or bland, why not check it in for a slick new makeover? Get in touch with the Retro Dec team by visiting retro-dec.com/getaquote for a quote. You can also WhatsApp them at 9823 1248.Want more home inspiration? See our home decor section!This article first appeared in the December 2019 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy or subscribe so you never miss an issue!

Business in Singapore: Chantal’s story

17th October 2019 by Michaela Bisset 3 Min ReadWe chat to CHANTAL TRAVERS from Emperor’s Attic about what it takes to run a successful business in Singapore and how she is (still!) trying to achieve work-life balance.What inspired you to want to run a furniture business?I had left advertising after 18 years and, after seeking the advice of a life coach, I decided to pursue my original passion of retail. At the same time, I found out that Emperor’s Attic (then called FairPrice Antique) was for sale. It was an established business selling high quality Chinese antique and vintage furniture to an international market. This was something I’d wanted to do when we lived in Beijing from 2008 and 2012, so the stars aligned for me. What has been your biggest challenge with the business?Staffing is a challenge for every small business. I mostly employ expats because they have such a passion for the products as well as the flexibility to work just a few days a week. I’ve had some fantastic staff over the past three years, but so many of them have transferred back home or to other countries. Training staff takes time and so it’s a real loss when someone leaves.What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt?Owning your own business doesn’t give you work-life balance – though you do have flexibility as to when you work! I have to set boundaries for myself so I have time for family and the gym (still working on the last one!). I wanted to be my own boss so I could control my hours and find balance. But my work is my life now – I love it and have never been happier. As a small business owner, you manage finance, HR, the shop, the buying, the marketing – everything. I try to get to bed earlier, force myself to take two days off (also still working on that) and hire fabulous staff to help take the pressure off. I’m really lucky with the team I have.What motivates you to get up each morning?So many things! I love being my own boss, I love my job, I love my team and I absolutely love buying beautiful products, and being in the store and meeting customers. I get such satisfaction when a customer comes in and recognises the quality in finish and construction that we strive so hard to achieve.What makes Emperor’s Attic different?Emperor’s Attic and FairPrice Antique beforehand have been selling high-quality, hand-crafted antique, vintage and reproduction Chinese furniture in Singapore for 20 years. We are “award winning” (we’re consistent winners of both the Expat Living Readers’ Choice Awards and Tatler Best of Singapore), “artisanal” (we rarely sell the same thing twice) and “actually affordable”!Our pieces are traditionally hand-crafted and restored and use the highest quality materials and workmanship. We believe you will not find this quality at these prices anywhere else.We also travel to northern China twice a year and work with a few trusted suppliers to personally select every item that arrives in the store. As we only buy from that part of China, our pieces can move when you move and can live in cold and dry climates – not just the heat and humidity. That helps them last a lifetime and more.Emperor’s Attic is open seven days a week from 11am to 5pm (6pm on weekends) at #01-10 Tan Boon Liat Building, 315 Outram Road. 9011 0380 | emperorsattic.comFor more helpful tips head to our living in Singapore section.Networking: How to find jobs and palsEnvironmental news: Getting up to date!10 top instagram spots in SingaporeThis article first appeared in the September 2019 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy or subscribe so you never miss an issue!

Seriously stylish antiques

23rd September 2019 by Expat Living 1 Antiques in Singapore come from a range of countries including India, China, Indonesia as well as Europe, and can fit into whatever your home style or colour scheme is. They can just create a focus point in the room or be used for practical reasons like storage. Whether you’re an old hand at shopping for antiques, or this is all very new for you, we’re sure you’ll love these antique shops!Cabinets, shelves, consoles and tables Refurbished and hand-painted
80-year-old antique console
from Shandong, China, $1,600,
Chai’s Classic Home Collection Indian bookshelf with old
pillars and carvings, Woody Antique House Antique Gansu Cabinet,
around 100 years old, $2,700,
Emperor’s Attic Two-door carved side table
with chest, originally used to store clothes
in the bedroom, over 120 years old, from
Shanxi, China, $1,900, Lim’s Holland Village A 50-to-70-year-old camel
cart converted into a coffee
table, from $2,350, Originals Console from Gansu, China,
70 to 80 years old, $1,000, Lim’s
Holland Village 150-year-old antique painted
sideboard from Shanxi, China, Woody
Antique House Traditional 19th-century
Damchiya wedding chest from Dhoraji Palace, Rajkot, Gujarat, India, $1,600, Originals Antique console table (centre), around
80 to 100 years old, from Zhejiang, China,
Just Anthony Two-door
kitchen cabinet for storing
plates and bowls, 70 to 80 years
old, from Shanxi, China, $1,000,
Lim’s Holland VillageFinishing touches – Mirrors,  Statues and more Vintage silver-plated French
ice bucket, $300, HotLotz Wooden sculpture of a
Chinese Earth God, from Fujian, China, Just
Anthony Antique
mirror frame
with birds,
branches
and peonies,
converted
from an
80-to-100-
year altar
frame from
Guangdong,
China, and
an antique
console
table from
Chaozhou,
approximately
100 years old,
Just AnthonyDirectoryChai’s Classic Home Collection #08-06 Tradehub 21 8 Boon Lay Way 6909 3246 | chaiscollection.com Emperor’s Attic #01-10 Tan Boon Liat Building 315 Outram Road 9011 0380 | emperorsattic.com HotLotz #01-15 Cendex Center 120 Lower Delta Road 6254 7616 | hotlotz.com Just Anthony 379 Upper Paya Lebar Road 6283 4782 | justanthony.comLim’s Holland Village #02-01 Holland Village Shopping Centre 211 Holland Avenue 6466 3188 | facebook.com/limshollandvillageOriginals 1 Bukit Batok Street 22, #05-02/03 6471 9918 | originals.com.sgWoody Antique House 13 Dempsey Road, #01-05 6471 1770 | woodyantique.com