We explore this Hamptons–style meets Singapore family home and speak to Nina about her homeware and styling consultation company, and growing up with kids in Singapore as an expat
This week, we were very excited to discover yet another house to add to our dream home wish-list; take one step through the gates of this colonial black and white and it’s clear you’re in for a serious treat. To the right of the driveway – among the sprawling bamboo and palm tree-lined garden – lies the swimming pool and its Hawaiian-style thatched hut. And to the left, is the beautiful two-storey house with large white pillars that frame the downstairs alfresco living area. It’s hardly surprising that this is the home of Nina Beale; founder of well known furnishing store, Bungalow 55, and a lady who makes interior styling look so easy!
Inspired by designers such as India Hicks, Ralph Lauren, and Victoria Hagan, Nina’s home is the definition of effortless elegance and timeless style. Its white-washed walls and pops of colour from her extensive art collection and decorative accessories give it a fresh, calm, yet playful, vibe; it’s a perfect showcase for ‘bringing the outdoors in’. This is tropical living at its most glamorous, and the kind of house you’d usually only see on a Pinterest board! I spoke to Nina about how she’s achieved her style, how she’s adapted it to life in the tropics, and what we can expect from Bungalow 55’s new consultancy service.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
I’m originally from Sydney, Australia. My father worked with Qantas Airways, so travel was a big part of my life growing up. My interest in interiors and decorating developed through my mother, who has an amazing eye for stand-out pieces and textiles. I worked in finance for more than a decade, and used to find reprieve from the rigorous world of finance in the evenings with a glass of wine whilst browsing interior magazines and books. My passion evolved once I left finance, and renovated properties both in London and Sydney, each with a very different style. My friends asked me to help them with ideas for their own homes, until the styling concept evolved into my dream career.
I moved to Singapore in 2009 and opened Bungalow 55 in 2012 as an outlet for my passion. I source all the items for the store from America, Europe and Australia to provide visual inspiration from around the world. We have recently extended our service to include complimentary one-hour styling consultations where I personally discuss clients’ needs and use of space, and help find a solution to solve their concerns.
What do you love about Alexandra Park?
I love its history. The houses were built in the 1930’s and housed not only the army but also the medical staff from Alexandra hospital. The colonial Singaporean-style is extremely inspiring to me. Alexandra Park has a lovely community and we enjoy the walks through the jungle trails adjoining the park.
Who lives in your home?
David, my husband, and my lovely two daughters: India (10 years old) and Poppy (six). We recently got a new addition to our family – Raffles – a six-month old Beagle.
What do you love about your work?
I meet interesting people from around the world who all have a shared love of the home! I also enjoy working with our clients on moving their rooms around to freshen up their living spaces; adding a few new accessories can make such a huge difference in lifting an interior space. But most of all, I love the search for the items for Bungalow 55. We try to bring new ideas and products to our clients that can’t be found in Singapore.
Where do you get inspiration from?
Mostly from travel – I am so extremely fortunate to be able to travel through my work to attend trade fairs and also on holidays. I am also inspired by the work of other interior designers on Instagram, particularly in Australia and the USA, as their styles are suitable for tropical living here in Singapore.
How would you describe your style?
My style is relaxed and timeless and never tied to a trend. I favour neutral colours as a base, and I have recently started to incorporate more contemporary items into my style. I like mixing contemporary with traditional pieces – for instance, that could be a ceramic coaster set sitting on an antique console. I think the juxtaposition works well.
What is your most treasured item in your home? And best Singapore find?
I love farmed sea coral; an expensive habit, but it is so fabulous and creates beautiful texture within the home. I also adore my paintings by Ann Shrager, which were given to me as a present for the arrival of my youngest daughter, Poppy.
How has your style changed since you arrived in Singapore?
I have travelled with all my furniture for the last 13 years, and added select pieces as we have gone along. In the tropics, I have replaced curtains with bamboo blinds to incorporate the tropical feel in to the home, as well as indoor palm trees in oversized planters. I’ve embraced flameless candles which I never thought I would! I have also incorporated more bamboo furniture as it breaks up the heaviness of wood in our tropical climate. So it’s not so much changing my classic style, but more adapting my lifestyle to Singapore.
And since becoming a parent, what do you love about decorating a space for kids?
Children’s bedrooms and play areas change with the age of the child, so it’s fun that you get to update these areas on a more frequent basis than the living room! I have always opted for a neutral base of white and then incorporate pops of colour through prints or cushions, and using toys for display in bookcases. I also think buying a nice console, chest of drawers, or desk from the time they are babies is a great investment as it grows with them. My eldest daughter is now 10-and-a-half years old, so we have recently updated her room to incoporate more gold through rugs and prints and faux fur. Hanging pendant lights are also a great way to update children’s rooms.
What are your top three styling tips?
- Upholster using indoor – outdoor fabrics. They have the same feel as normal fabrics, but the added benefit of being child-friendly, UV-resistant and don’t consertina with the humidity.
- Faux candles on timers – can be resin for outdoors or wax for indoors. Nothing better than your home twinkling in the evening and then turning off themselves each day.
- Change the feel of an open plan area by separating living and dining rooms with a pendant light over the dining table – it centres the area and makes it more glamorous.
What are your go-to stores in Singapore?
Well, aside from Bungalow 55 where I wish I could bring everything into my own home (I am the poor cousin!), I love Rosalie Pompon which keeps me afloat on the fashion front. I go to At Home & Garden for potted faux plants, Mustafa Centre as my one-stop shop, and Fairprice Antiques for some good filler pieces.
Whats your favourite thing to do in Singapore ?
Singapores best – kept secret?
Hort Park at Alexandra road.
Singapores worst –kept secret?
Burnt Ends on Teck Lim Road.
Photography by Hazirah Rahim and Chen Sands Photography