Introducing: A family of 6.
When we visited her 4-room HDB flat, Vanessa had lived in it for just 2 weeks. She’d just spent her first Lunar New Year in her newly renovated home, with her husband and 3 kids — a 5-year-old, a pair of 3-year-old twins and a 6-year-old mini Schnauzer.
When asked what she thought about Gush paint, she summarised it in 3 points — speed, comfort and peace of mind. “This was my second renovation. When I say there’s no smell, there’s really no smell at all. I was happy. I moved in faster, got comfortable faster, and it felt like I’ve been living here for a while. It made me feel good to move my kids in earlier. No smell, no headaches, no itchy eyes, nothing.”
A nose that stays wary.
She feels strongly about this. With a sensitive nose, she often enters a space and smells new items before she sees them — like a new car mat. One could say her nose is her superpower. She cheekily let us in on an anecdote. “ A good friend of mine was supposed to move homes at the same time as me. Her landlord used a normal traditional paint and she still can’t move in 2 - 3 weeks later, even with air-purifiers. The type of interior paint you use makes a big difference.”
Once bitten, twice shy.
Vanessa did not have the best experience for her first home renovation 8 years ago, beyond toxic fumes from materials like vinyl flooring, carpentry and paint. Her dog at the time had pre-existing health issues that were exacerbated by the poor air quality. This physically manifested with the tearing of the eyes and general irritation.
More often than not, big life changes affect our worldview and how we function after. Vanessa believes that while some of her late dog’s health issues were beyond her control, the best thing one can do is to keep the environment you live in clean, healthy and toxic-free. This thinking influences how she lives her life and raises her children.
Of form and function.
If there’s one thing we learnt about Vanessa, she’s a minimalist. In her home, every wall and ceiling is a perfect shade of white. No accent walls. No extra colours. Consistent. Comfortable. Peaceful. When asked about her living philosophy, she described practicality. “Things need to be functional, and they need to serve a purpose. You invest in your comfort. If your environment is in disarray, it’s difficult to be in the right frame of mind to focus on what’s next.”
Beyond just an aesthetic, it is a lifestyle choice. “When you have kids, you start thinking deeper about safety and reducing toxic exposure. We only use glass and metal water bottles — no plastics. Same for dishwashing liquid, laundry detergent, shower gel.” While it may sound like quite a task, Vanessa asserts that it’s not difficult to find safe products in Singapore.
The cost of reducing formaldehyde.
Unsurprisingly wise and well-read, Vanessa knew all about the Singapore government’s plans to potentially introduce formaldehyde limits in building products. “I think it’s awesome. There are studies that prove formaldehyde exposure leading to leukaemia and other cancers. For me, it’s a risk I won’t take. Think of it this way; the cost of managing cancer — financial, mental, emotional — is not worth it. I’d rather pay for precautions.”
However, she’s also well aware of the luxury afforded by this thinking. “For Singaporeans living paycheck to paycheck, reducing chemical exposure in their everyday lives is the last thing on their minds. If this becomes the industry standard, everyone can live with one less worry.”
Besides health preservation, Vanessa has her heart out for workers who are constantly exposed to formaldehyde in their line of work. These limits, if imposed, would make a tremendous difference in their lives.
Advancements in technology.
Through her renovation experiences, she has acutely observed improvements in material technology over 8 years. “Technology will allow us to live better lives and reduce chemical exposure. It’s improving.” She alludes this to corporation-level improvements, such as better raw materials and vacuums to eliminate pollutants. And of course, Gush's non-toxic and air-purifying paints make the list.
The simple pleasures.
From our illuminating conversation with Vanessa, it truly feels like she has everything under control. When asked what wellness means to her, she expertly tells us about its multifaceted nature. There’s good food and time spent in nature. “It’s also about being able to take a Sunday afternoon nap,” she laughs. “That’s wellness to me. It makes me happy. It’s harmonious living. Having a comfortable place to come home to, watching my kids grow up healthily and happily. It’s the simple pleasures.”
It is the simple pleasures indeed. To live a life that’s a little more intentional. To pay attention to the little things — like the brand of paint — that transforms your life for the better, while being easy on the planet. Together, we can go beyond the surface.
Read more about how Gush’s air-purifying paints work
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