The perfect sanctuary that offers everything

Merunisha Peel and Timothy Pilsbury found their ideal Shanghai home in the leafy center of the city, an area boasting a village feel.
Dong Jun / SHINE

The living room is truly eclectic in choice of furniture, fixtures, books, objects and textiles.

Merunisha Peel and Timothy Pilsbury found their ideal Shanghai home in the leafy center of the city, an area boasting a village feel with the benefits of being close to the excitement of the city.

They viewed a variety of home options when they moved to the city eight years ago: Lujiazui highrises, lane houses, villa houses and enormous compounds in Puxi.

“We finally chose this city apartment facing leafy Hengshan Road for the location, the views and relative simplicity of the existing decor,” Peel said. “We have convenience for daily activities, a neighborhood with history, character and platane trees.”

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Mid-century modern Knoll credenzas provide the perfect platform for ceramics and sculptures.

When the couple first saw the apartment, it had just been refurbished, so apart from asking for the original furniture and some light fixtures to be removed, no changes were needed.

The big windows in the living room and bedroom that allow natural light to fill the rooms are one of the most attractive elements of the space.“It affords us spectacular views of the city and our neighborhood,” Peel said. 

“We decided to bring the contents of our California home here, hence the request for the removal of the existing furnishings.” Before moving to Shanghai for work, they used to live in La Jolla, California, by the ocean.

The apartment, decorated with an eclectic mixture of furniture and artworks, is an inviting and inspiring place where the couple re-energizes and relaxes.

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Guardians and greeters: ceramic Chinese gnomes greet guests as they enter. 

“My husband and I both do some creative work from home, so it is important to draw energy and inspiration from the home environment. Entertaining friends is important, so to this end a warm and inviting space is essential,” Peel added.

The living/dining room is open, comfortable, inviting you to enjoy the space whether you are eating dinner, reading a book or having tea with friends. The study is a balance of organized and inspiring while the bedroom is peaceful and cozy.

The couple doesn’t like to define a personal style when it comes to their home decoration.

“We don’t have a ‘style’ per se, we just enjoy choosing pieces with a story and that we know we would like to keep forever. For instance, every item of furniture was chosen not only for its aesthetic beauty, but also from a perspective of art and design history and utility.”

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The couple’s interest in furniture is reflected in their dining chair choice, no two are the same.

“We hope our home reflects our personalities and life experiences, with a mixture of cultural backgrounds. We are from different cultures, and have collectively lived in 11 countries. Tim is from a design background as a car designer and I’m a cross-cultural coach. We have a mutual love for arts, design and different cultural influences,” Peel said.

Their furniture comprises pieces from different countries and design eras — Italian, Spanish, Danish, Finnish, British and American, spanning mid-century modern and contemporary pieces.There is no particular color scheme. 

“We revel in a broad palette of colors that complement each other and our environment in general. It is important that the furniture, ceramics and artwork can create a dialogue without a single piece being dominant,” she added. Artworks equally play an essential role.

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An artfully elegant table and chair from Spanish designer Oscar Tusquets Blanca engage with an intense portrait by Spanish artist Augustin Mirpages.

“We dare not call it a collection. The vast majority of our paintings and sculptures are from artist friends, as well some of Tim’s work,” she said.

“Wood and ceramic pieces have been collected from different places we have lived in and traveled to. Some pieces were chosen for their textures, materials, while others drew us for their sense of lightness and humor. 

Again, dialogue and story are important, that way objects relate to each other, the space and also to us. I sometimes move works around to create a new dialogue.”

Ti Gong

Merunisha Peel and Timothy Pilsbury

Ask The Owner

Q: What’s the best thing about living in Shanghai?

Tim and Nisha: Convenience, you can step out of the front door and within minutes you can find anything you need as well as the energy and diversity of people.

Q: Describe your home in three words.

Tim and Nisha: Comfortable, eclectic and inviting.

Q: What’s the first thing you do when you get home?

Tim: Take off my shoes. Nisha: Make a cup of tea, turn on the news or music.

Q: How do you unwind?

Tim: Cycling and walking around the city. Nisha: Yoga, reading, cooking, listening to music and day dreaming.

Q: Where do you spend most of your time at home?

Tim: In the study working on a variety of projects and online teaching from time to time. Nisha: Equally spent in the kitchen, living room and study.

Q: What’s the view outside your window?

Tim and Nisha: Different views from different windows — different aspects of the city and neighborhood.

Q: What’s your favorite object in your home?

Tim: A painting from my good friend Agustin Mir Pages. It was given to me in 1992. The painting and my friend’s talent are a continuing inspiration. Nisha: It changes with my mood and the season.

Q: Where do you source furniture?

Tim and Nisha: Our furniture is mainly from the US and Europe. In Shanghai, I think the Design Republic is one of the best places to source furniture and fixtures.

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