It’s harder to imagine anywhere more different from urban Holland than downtown Singapore – but that’s exactly where Dutch-born interior designer Nicolette de Waart, her husband Joost Dop and their four kids found themselves. ‘When Joost was asked to relocate here for work, I had mixed feelings – it’s so far away from friends and family back in the Netherlands, the climate and culture here are so different – and, above all, I was worried that the place was going to be almost too clear, too polished for our tastes. But when it turned out that the kids were up for it, we decided to tackle our Singapore experience as a Big Adventure – and that’s exactly what it’s turned out to be’. Nicolette has certainly been no slouch since the move. Her first task was to find a home for her large and lively family. ‘Estate agents kept showing me places that were, to my tastes, a little soulless. Eventually, though, I found a Dutch agent who understood that I was after somewhere I could make my mark on’. Instead of showing Nicolette another new-build, she took her to a dilapidated 1970s house that had been unoccupied for seven months. The interior was certainly unloved, and the kitchen was grotty – but it had light, space – and original 70s features: floors of parquet and marble, for instance, and a groovy security grid that’s a feature in its own right. This was somewhere I knew we could feel at home in. Because the house is rented, Nicolette has been limited in what she can do to the place, but the landlord agreed to replace the kitchen with a simple white wooden one, built to her own design and complete with hard stone surfaces.