Image: Rebecca Toh

Irene Hoofs lives in Singapore with her husband, Rik, and two children, Lode, 10, and Kiet, 6…

My husband and I have always wanted to live in different places around the world. So far we’ve been fortunate enough to have lived in Amsterdam, New York, Toronto, Kuala Lumpur and now Singapore. We started in Amsterdam, which is where we’re both from, then we moved to New York where we lived for two years, then on to Toronto where my husband pursued a two year long MBA, then we moved to Kuala Lumpur where we spent six years, and now we live in Singapore where we have been for two and a half years.

I have a masters in arts but when we were living in Toronto I decided to follow my dreams and start a design blog called Bloesem. Ten years on and the blog has grown into a multidisciplinary creative studio.

Singapore is a really nice, easy place to live. Luxurious, not in terms of money, but in terms of safety, healthcare and education. All the fundamentals in life are a priority here, of course that also means you have to work hard to be able to afford to live here. When we moved my husband and I decided to combine work and family life by choosing to live in an old colonial home which meant we could have everything under one roof – home life and work life. It is located right in the heart of the city which I love, and it has a beautiful lush garden.

Life here is perfect for my children, especially at their current ages (6 and 10). They receive a very good education and a great lifestyle. They also spend a lot of time with other international kids from around the world exposing them to many different cultures. I believe this will help them later on in life as they will be able to adapt easily to different situations. It’s true that they often have to make new friends as expats come and go, but by creating a very steady and strong home-front, my husband and I are trying to make sure they don’t feel lost and have a strong sense of what ‘home’ is.

We also travel home to Holland as often as possible so the kids get to spend time with their friends and family there. It’s very important for us to that our kids get to know their roots because whenever the time comes for us to return home, we want them to feel comfortable about where they came from.

My day begins with us all having breakfast together. Once the boys have gone off to school I get to work on my computer. The team that I work with arrives around 9am and we have a quick meeting to discuss the day’s work. The rest of the day is always different depending on what jobs we have going on. At the moment I am spending a lot of my time working on a new print magazine we will be launching this year called Koel, but my days also include styling, photography and conceptualising content with my team for the Bloesem blog.

We also work on collaborations with brands such as Etsy and Bugaboo, and run an online concept store, as well as a studio space here in Singapore where we hold creative workshops and seminars. We finish work around 6pm and then it’s family time. This is when I make sure my boys get my undivided attention for sports, games, homework or just relaxing together.

I try to not see my home life and work life as two different worlds. Both are 100 per cent part of me, I just need to make sure I fit them together. I believe if you try hard to separate them that only makes it more complicated. My kids are free to walk in to my office at any time and my team is used to having them around after 4.15pm which is when they come home. Saying that, they usually head straight to their rooms or play outside in the garden. I wouldn’t say it’s always easy, but overall I love being able to work from home.

One stark difference between life in Holland and life in Singapore has to be the heat and humidity, it can get pretty intense, although it’s nothing a little air conditioning can’t fix. What I like about this is that your wardrobe stays pretty much the same all year round, except for when we travel back home to Holland. Of course there are cultural differences between Asia and Europe. I noticed that in Europe we are more outspoken but here people tend to hold back a little. It’s different, but very interesting, and I am learning a lot from living in different countries.

I definitely miss home. It’s where I grew up and have spent most of my life, and it’s also the place I’m most comfortable in. For this reason we plan to go back when the boys are older so they can pursue their higher education there, but also so that we can go home and spend more time with our family.

For more about Irene and Bloesem check out and

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