American expat makes Peranakan shophouse on Emerald Hill her home

You're in for a stunning display of old meets new when you enter Neima Sitawi's home through the pintu pagar (fence doors).

The three-storey shophouse along Emerald Hill Road has Peranakan roots.

Built at the turn of the 20th century, the historic building has been given a modern spin with whitewashed walls and wood flooring, while retaining features such as a water feature in the airwell as well as wood carved windows.

Tucked in a quaint neighbourhood, it's hard to imagine that the shophouse is only a few minutes' walk away from the hustle and bustle of Orchard Road.

Photo: AsiaOne

It is both home and showroom for Neima, an American-born fashion designer who has lived in seven countries and 14 cities.

"When I'm in a new country, I like to respect and adapt and assimilate some of the local customs," she told AsiaOne in an interview.

And this shows in the way that Neima furnishes the 576 sqm home that she shares with her husband Giacomo and their two children Neren and Nila.

Photo: AsiaOne

An intricate Peranakan wardrobe that sits in the master bedroom is one of the pieces of antiques that her family has collected from different parts of the world.

She respects the Peranakan philosophy of living, saying, "I keep the work at the front of the home and family life in the back."

Photo: AsiaOne

The natural light and flowing water in the atrium also help keep the creative juices flowing, Neima added.

When asked which is her favourite part of the house, she said, "The salon. It is wide and open and I can see outside. It is also a place where I am surrounded by my art, my travels, I find that very peaceful."

Photo: AsiaOne

See more of this unique home in the video.

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THIS IS HOME is an original AsiaOne series featuring unique homes in Singapore.

minlee@sph.com.sg

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