Harmony and balance, comfort and function
One of Guo Yi’s greatest skills is creating beautiful interior spaces with harmony and balance, comfort and function. Moving from her previous apartment, to the current one on Hunan Road, her talent for decorating is once again in play.
In the 135-square-meter apartment tucked inside this peaceful, tree-lined street, she has given each room a personal touch of intimacy.
“When our four-year lease from the previous apartment on Fumin Road was coming to an end, we wanted a new area to live in,” Guo said.
The jewelry designer and stylist thought it was time to move on and open a new chapter with New York City-born fiance Nikolai Grigorov, whom she met in Shanghai.
“This time we picked the apartment together. His only criteria was to have a balcony so he can barbecue — mine was to have more closet space,” she said.
Guo always looks for homes with an abundance of natural light, a good structure and a central location that allows her an easy commute to work.
“We loved the apartment for the wooden floors and the wonderful natural light throughout. It feels cozy with the room divided out nicely, very different from our previous apartment, which had more of an open floor plan. Furthermore, the open kitchen connected to the dining room is an added bonus for entertaining guests,” said the Shanghai native who grew up in New York.
The original lights were a hideous shade of gold so they had them all removed and replaced. There were two showers so Guo changed one of them into a bathtub.
She said the apartment had been unoccupied for eight years but the landlord did a great job of renovating it. The structure is solid and the fixtures are all nicely done.
Guo was confident of turning the apartment into a sophisticated refuge because she has a natural talent for interior design. She pondered over every aspect, from placing each particular furniture item to the perfect lighting in each room.
“I always prefer a slightly modern touch to anything I design or surround myself in. I have a reverence for the old but an affinity to the new. For our living space I just wanted something cozy and warm where we can nest in,” she said. “I like to have neutrals set the groundwork for pops of color. I’ve selected grays and earthy tones as neutrals for the flat. White walls are great to showcase art and of course nice black linear lines here and there. The pops of color change throughout the year with flowers, vases and pillows.”
The dining room is where the couple entertain guests, so it has a relaxed vibe to make them feel at home, while mix and match chairs create nice textures around the dining table.
The living room has two big sofas for watching movies, surrounded by books and art Guo has collected from her travels.
“It’s just super dozy and warm. Our wool knit rug just ties in that coziness to a point where you simply don’t want to leave the room,” she said.
In the daytime the room is flooded with natural light, but when the night falls, Guo loves to use different lamp light and candlelight rather than one central source, so she’s able to illuminate different corners of the room for different effects. The result is certainly more soothing.
Guo’s passion for art and beautiful objects is evident. And, as a stylist and designer, Guo knows how to use different corners and open shelves for the chic display of these beloved items.
“I have a favorite artist in New York City who is young and cool. I commissioned him to do a drawing which hangs above our sofa. It was an accident that he used a blue that matches our pillows,” she said.
Another favorite of hers is by floral artist Azuma Makoto, which is bricks of flowers suspended in plastic. She is also fond of a cool lithograph by Salvador Dali hanging nonchalantly above some fashion books in the living room. Guo says she doesn’t purchase art because of its value. She loves to search for emerging artists and photographers with strong personal views toward objects and life. Serene and calming, natural wood and soft tones sets the scene for the master bedroom. Guo placed some of her favorite antique and vintage Chinese furniture in this room to evoke a bygone era’s charm. And, it goes without saying, it is a charming apartment.
Ask The Owner
Q: Where do you spend most of the time at home and why?
A: We love the living room because we love movies.
Q: What’s the best thing about living in Shanghai?
A: I love the food and the beautiful historic streets. It’s just in my blood to love this city.
Q: Describe your home in three words?
A: Warm, modern, unpretentious.
Q: What’s the first thing you do when you get home?
A: Go directly to living room and put on HBO.
Q: How do you unwind?
A: I love a good bath.
Q: Where do you spend most of the time at home?
A: Living room.
Q: What’s the view outside your window?
A: A great big gorgeous magnolia tree.
Q: What’s your favorite object at home?
A: Right now it’s my new Jonathan Adler multi-headed ceramic pot with cyclamen flowers in it.
Q: Where do you source furniture?
A: I used to go to the antique warehouse out in Pudong but it’s been maybe eight years. Most of my furniture came from a store on Fuxing and Shanxi roads that has now closed down.