By no means a comprehensive list but hopefully a few options to get you started when it comes to feathering your nest…
45 Arab Street
T: (+65) 8260 5050
The 1st time you visit this place is quite confusing because these guys own about 4 shops on Arab Street and you are looking for one man: Ebrahim. He is brilliant and their stores are the best places to buy rugs and anything to do with them – not only price-wise (you still need to bargain) but they know their stuff and pride themselves on repeat business. Good place for reasonably priced underlay too.
Ask for: Ebrahim
Opening Times: 10am-9pm daily
Hotel Miramar (#02-22)
401 Havelock Road
T: (+65) 6235 7800
Joann’s mobile: (+65) 9677 4566
Joann is brilliant and gives practical advice regardless of your budget. She is the most reasonably priced upholsterer we have found. And the finish is excellent. Call her to arrange a time for her to come to your home and evaluate what you need and how much it will be. Give her a steer before the appointment so that she can bring all the appropriate samples to show you. She also makes curtains and is happy for you to provide your own fabric if needs be – whether for curtains or upholstering. To give you an idea on price, one Louis VXI armchair – which needed a whopping 12m of fabric to fully upholster (including a large piped cushion) – cost $400 inclusive of fabric. They will collect and return all your furniture, so that you don’t have to move from your chair. Unless of course you want it covered.
Ask for: Joann
Opening Times: 10am-6pm Mon-Fri. Closed Sat & Sun
T: (+65) 9238 8600
Edy is listed under 3 capacities – firstly as a very competent electrician who takes electrical safety pretty seriously (something we noticed was rather lacking in his competitors). He is also happy to be called up out of the blue to do any odd jobs (he will even work Sundays) and is very practical whether he’s hanging pictures, thinking up creative ways to child-proof windows in a multi-storey building or making an Early Learning Centre kitchen (he can do in hours, what would have taken days). Thirdly, and even more usefully as we’ve failed to find anyone else who can, he also does basic carpentry.
93 Arab Street
T: (+65) 6392 0253
A great place to take visitors to and brilliant if you are after tasteful (as well as not so tasteful) printed Indian cotton tablecloths and napkins. Everything in the shop slightly reminds me of the wall hangings I used to have at university but some designs are really quite OK and work well on an outside table. Avoid the blue elephant design on a white background (just too predictably expat but totally allowed if you are visiting Singapore and live in England). They also sell lovely hand painted papier mache eggs that are great to hang on gnarled hazel branches at Easter time. Go and stock up before they run out. They had one woman come in the day before I did and buy 100.
Opening Times: 9.30am-6pm Mon-Sat, 2pm-6pm Sun
MUTTS & MITTENS
T: (+65) 6583 7371 or 7372
A necessity in that if you have a pet, at some point you are likely to have to put it in kennels. Never feel guilty about putting your pet in to ‘storage’ again. This place is really well run and they love animals (not necessarily true with some of them out there). They take in a host of stays which they keep on as pets and all the dogs and cats are happy and well walked and cared for. They are miles out of town but will collect and deliver for $60, regardless of where you live. Charges don’t come cheap (but what good boarding kennel is a bargain?) and start from around $15 a day for a small breed of dog. This is for a run with no air con which is lovely and shaded with fans running constantly. A kennel with air con will cost you $25 a day. Walks are $3 for 15 minutes and there is a onetime compulsory charge upon check-in for tick prevention ($20) as well as a compulsory grooming session ($15). Slightly annoying, but then again you don’t want your dog to pick something up from a mangy mutt, so I see why they insist upon this.
Opening Times: 9am-5pm daily
Citilink Warehouse Complex
102F Pasir Panjang Road
T: (+65) 6278 0511
A great place to pick up good quality second hand furniture and home necessities. TVs, beds, cupboards, dining sets and much much more. They are held roughly every other week on a saturday and can be great fun. Go and view online or check out the weekends offerings on the friday at their warehouse in Pasir Panjang. When you can’ t get what you need from here…there’s always Ikea…….
Opening Times: Office is manned from 9.30am-4.30pm Mon-Fri; however note that the warehouse is only open for viewings on Fridays and Saturdays of an auction week. Provided there is an auction happening, they are open for furniture viewings from 10am-6pm (Fri) and 10am-4pm (Sat). Auctions start at 11am sharp on selected Saturdays – check website for more details.
317 Alexandra Road
T: (+65) 6786 6868
Needs no introduction. Ikea is, in the context of Singapore (rather than Asia), quite good value and a great starting point for basics including linen and bedding which can be $$$, and also not very nice, if it’s bought from somewhere like Robinsons. Also a great source of good value glass kilner jars which you need plenty of if you want to keep anything, from flour to biscuits, fresh. Ikea is made thoroughly bearable by the fact that for 6% of the purchase price, they will send people to your home to build whatever you’ve bought. BTW: This is only possible if you have opted for home delivery which comes in at $50 – cheap at the price. Alexandra Road is the more central of the 2 branches; Tampines is the larger of the two (the number, for both stores, is shared – see above). Oh, and while you are at it, Ikea is the unlikely winner of the cheapest, half-decent smoked salmon/gravadlax/lox around. Also check out their cheese, cheese biscuits and, when they’re in, fill your freezer with meat balls for the kids.
Opening Times: Alexandra 10am-10pm daily; Tampines 10am-11pm daily
LIMS ARTS & LIVING
Holland Road Shopping Centre (#02-01)
211 Holland Avenue
T: (+65) 6467 1300
Really worth going out of your way to get to during the Great Singapore Sale, Lims has a reputation of being quite overpriced. Some things do actually represent value for money and their furniture is quite reasonable when compared with the alleged antiques in Demsey. Take a trip around the antique shops at Dempsey for a point of comparison and generally speaking, Dempsey’s offerings will be a lot more. They also do a great, if not slightly predictable, selection of lamps (death by blue and white china). Good pashminas (you can be sure of their quality) and good photo frames and birthday cards, which are surprisingly hard to find in Singapore. They have branches in Parkway Parade (T: (+65) 6348 0686) as well as VivoCity (T: (+65) 6376 9468), but Holland V is Lim’s spiritual home.
Opening Times: 10am-8.30pm daily
Plaza Singapura (L5)
68 Orchard Road
T: (+65) 733 9808
Singapore’s answer to the sadly demised Woolworths, this is actually a little closer to Peter Jones without the sales assistants and vested interest. Recently revamped, the place is heaving with buttons and bows, curtains for windows and showers and screeds of material for all sorts of craft projects or home decoration. You will have to hunt unassisted but it is often worth the trouble. Great for picking up afternoon activities for small children (paint a wooden letter, decorate a treasure box, design your own t-shirt etc) but unfortunately consistency of stock is bad. They have a limited range of Martha Stewart stuff if you are a scrapbooking queen, but also good for home essentials such as soap dispensers, Tupperware and cheap mugs. If you spot something you like though, buy it. It probably won’t be there next week. Also great twill cotton sofa covers as well as fabulous fabrics and a good, cheap place for made to measure curtains. Be sure to park on level 5 as you will be laden upon leaving. The tailor there is great value and besides curtains and cushions, I’ve used her to copy cheapo, easy day dresses that I just want run up vs properly tailored. Be sure to bargain with her. You can buy the dress material at Spotlight, or bring your own, she doesn’t mind.
Opening Times: 10am-10pm daily
T: (+65) 9116 4471
Luscious linens, with Euro quality and often Asian inspired themes. We love their old ginger jar hand embroidered cushions ($60 each). Not cheap but beautiful and available at most expat fairs (predominately Shophouse, on the last Thursday of each month). Also featured in the Luxe Guide…
#01-03 High Street Centre
1 North Bridge Road
T: (+65) 63387577
It might not be at the top of everyones shopping list, but recently we needed a good office chair. We went to the ubiquitous Ikea and were horrified at the prices – $350 for a remotely half decent one! We stumbled across Solos by accident – it is in a bit of no mans land by the bridge on North Bridge Road opposite the parliament buidings. Park inside the High Street Centre and this store is street facing on the ground floor. They have about 50 different office chairs to try out and choose form, starting at about $75. There is no miniumum order and you can pay them cash when they deliver, which they will for free for any spend over $100. You can also choose from a raft of different colours to make your grotty office chair slightly more bearable and change the arms to whatever shape you prefer. We are going to order one that costs less than $150, in a lovely teal colour with funky arms that will be delivered to my door within three days.
Opening Times: 9am-7.30pm Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm Sat. Closed Sun
716 Geylang Road
T: (+65) 6846 9796
If you want a bog standard office chair, this is where to come. Heaps of choice and nice, low wholesale prices. They claim to have 50-300 pieces of each design in stock, so – providing you find something you like – you won’t leave empty handed. The quality is pretty good so do not go expecting cheap, cheap prices. A basic but good quality chair starts at around $98.
Opening Times: 11am-7pm Mon-Sat; 12pm-7pm Sun
290 Orchard Road
T: (+65 ) 6735 0123
Often overlooked or forgotten about but this is a great place to pick up moderately priced home necessities and even occasionally clothing. Fantastic for small items of furniture (set of drawers for kids crafts, boxes to tidy toys away) and also for everyday boring items…towels, flannels, soap dispensers etc. Often quite a good source of presents too – they have quite quirky gift options and are great for mid priced, good quality, bathroom stuff. Just for a change, the assistants seem to be vaguely helpful too!
Opening Times: 10am-9.30pm daily
85 Lorong Tawas (Off Jalan Bahar)
T: (+65) 6265 5808/6268 6121
Better known as Pottery Jungle, this place is a must for great val blue and white expat essentials, as well as seriously grown up, hand thrown pots at a snip of what they’d cost in a gallery…and some are actually good enough to be in a gallery. Great for urns, ‘feature’ pots, teapots, plates, plant holder and, in fact, anything ceramic. Go, but only if you can sift good from bad and be sure to take your time…there are some repro monstrocities to wade through first – take someone with you so you don’t lose your head. If the artist commune thing gets to you, you can sign up for pottery classes – call for more details.
Opening Times: 9am-5pm daily
75E Lowen Gardens
T: (+65) 6506 0920
Owned by expat interior designer Nikki Hunt, Design Intervention dispatches great home makeovers whether they are tweaks or full-on structural overhauls. Their staff are accomplished and efficient and often have a great eye for things you may not have thought of yourself. Often engaged by clients before they have even arrived in Singapore – be prepared to pay…a lot…for their services. For monthly updates on latest work see Expat Living magazine.
Opening Times: 9am-5.30pm Mon-Fri; 10am-4pm Sat. Closed Sun
68 Thompson Road
T: (+65) 6255 1911
THIS IS ABOUT TO CLOSE. BIG DISCOUNTS ON OFFER! May has owned and run this shop for 25 years and is the lady to come to if you want anything made of wicker. It’s all imported from Malaysia and the showroom is a jumble. If you can’t see what you are looking for (in our case, a pair of planter’s chairs) just ask her and things can be made and, crucially, stained to order – that orange lacquer must be avoided at all costs. Check out their adorable wicker rocking horses.
Opening Times: 10.30am-7pm Mon-Sat; 2pm-6pm Sun
353 Tanglin Road
Singapore 2473 4698
T: (+65) 6473 4698 or call Patrick on (+65) 9633 2440
An amazing find! Rather randomly included under the Household Necessities section, but with good reason…..where else could you go to get the tyres on your Bugaboo pumped up in two seconds flat…or to get a new bulb fitted if your tail light’s broken? They will also check your car’s tyre pressure as well as undertake minor car repairs and spray jobs. They are great value, friendly and amazingly useful. BTW: They are actually within the Esso petrol station on Tanglin Road, on the left hand side of the road as you drive down towards Alexandra)
Opening Times: 8am-5pm Mon-Sat; Closed Sun
SKILLS & RESOURCES CONSULTANCY
Peninsula Plaza (#03-30)
111 North Bridge Road
T: (+65) 6336 3351
A maid most certainly constitutes a household necessity, so this seemed the best place for this listing….Skills and Resources Consultancy is a really good, non-expat maid agency that are able to suggest appropriate direct hires from the Philippines. They are also a good one-stop-shop if you want someone to help out with paperwork, regardless whether or not your maid came through them. Sadly Rina, who was brilliant, has left them, but ask for whoever is currently in charge.
Opening Times: 11am-9pm daily
Midview Building (#07-13)
50 Bukit Batok Street 23
T: (+65) 6269 6060
Just moved a cooker over from the UK and found out that natural gas is nothing like the same pressure as the bottled gas which we use here? Don’t panic. Call these guys who know everything about gas and ovens. They will supply you with a regulator and change all the nozzles within each gas burner. This is essential as without changing these, your oven will explode. Good to know! They have branches all over town so can usually reach you within 30 mins max.
Opening Times: 9am-7pm daily
293 Holland Road
T: (+65) 9320 7802 / 8113 9158
We’ve been hunting for something like this for ages after failing to satisfactorily sharpen our own knives at home, having bought every available gadget and gizmo that purports to guarantee a razor sharp edge. None seem to work. These guys are the real deal. Prices vary according to knife size. PS: They are not a shop, but a little stall just opposite HomeFix on level 2 of JCS.
Opening Times: 10am-7pm daily, except Wed when they are closed.
Far East Plaza (#03-05)
14 Scotts Road
T: (+65) 6733 3597
If you need a really good cobbler who can be bothered to do work that Mr Minute sayshe can’t/won’t do (as there’s not enough money in it to make it worth his while), then these guys are for you. They are so neat at mending and sticking and making good that we are forever loyal. Go and see Regina the tailor (under BUY ME FOR HER/Her Tailor) while you are here and it makes it feel like a more worthwhile trip. As their rather corny name implies, they do keys as well as shoes.
Opening Times: 11am-9pm Mon-Sat. Closed Sun
Also see Home Accessories Boutiques