Family-friendly and functional
Brian Ong and Zhou Shaowen’s apartment was recently furbished to give it a more relaxing, elegant family space, thanks to Italian architect and designer Domitilla Lepri.
The couple, who have four children, decided to update the living space after seeing the home interiors of a friend, done by the Italian architect.
Lepri found the existing apartment space a bit chaotic when she first visited the family home.
“It was totally occupied by the kids. There was no clear division of functions. The big room served as living, dining, study and kids play room,” Lepri said.
Ong, CEO of Bonday Education, wanted a family space that was functional for all of his large family.
“I wanted a simple modern home with some Chinese elements incorporated,” Ong said.
Lepri began to work on the project and the challenges in hand.
“The total space was created by the connection of two apartments. The complication was that one was owned and the other rented, therefore, we had to find a flexible solution in order to have two independent units that could be assembled,” the designer said. “The good part was that we had a lot of space, and that we could dedicate a play area to the kids and a living room area to the parents, and have a more clear division and definition of the spaces between the kids and adults.”
The other challenge was related to the short construction period. Works had to be completed in a couple of months when the family was on holiday.
“It’s clear that when you have such a short timing everything has to be well planned from the beginning and nothing can go wrong,” Lepri said.
The designer couldn’t touch the layout of the rented apartment but redesigned the space in the other apartment in order to create a dining area separate from the living area.
“The main concept of this project was to divide and define the two different zones: kids and adults. In normal cases, houses are designed for adults and the area dedicated to the kid is limited to the bedroom generally. But here I had the impression that the main concern of the family was to create a suitable environment for kids — creative but also safe. This was the priority,” Lepri said.
“So for the kids’ area we used many graphics on the walls; in the bedroom we have mountain graphics and a customized cabinet where the kids can have access to their clothes without any help, and with two bunk beds leaning directly on the floor so the child who sleeps on the bottom bunk doesn’t fall out.”
The study room features a long desk for three kids and features a huge dark orange sun painted on the ceiling. The play room features giraffes and lions painted on the walls. No sharp angles and all the furniture is children friendly.
“For the adults area, the style is elegant and sophisticated. We covered part of the walls with wallpaper featuring ancient-style landscapes in the dining area and wallpaper of romantic clouds moved by the wind in the bedroom,” Lepri said.
The basic color scheme in this apartment is based on a neutral color matched with a brighter color. Each room features a neutral palette plus a stringer color — blue for child’s bedroom, orange for kid’s play room, light green in the children’s living room, purple for master bedroom and dark green for the adult living room. Main materials used was wallpaper, wood and a lot of natural paint.
The living room, with a green tone palette, features a colorful jungle-style wallpaper, a green carpet in contrast to the white sofa. The overall style integrates some Oriental touches, with a round coffee table featuring a modern Asian design. A pair of green velvet armchairs completes the room.
“In the master bedroom, we created a romantic feeling playing with cloudy wallpaper and gray and purple tones,” Lepri said. “We used an exotic wallpaper of an Oriental-style landscape with elephant and Indian architecture in the dining room. We gave the room a modern touch by adding chairs from Kartell and a vertigo lamp. The room is divided from the kids’ living room by a Chinese-style screen. In my design I love to mix Eastern and Western influences.”
Regarding the furniture, Lepri designed almost all the furniture with the exceptions of the dining table and chairs and living room couches.
Homeowner Ong said he likes how Lepri designed every room with a different color scheme and still managed to have unifying elements across all rooms.
Ask The Owner
Q: What’s the best thing about living in Shanghai?
A: Strong sense of community.
Q: Describe your home in three words.
A: Kids-friendly, functional, cosy.
Q: What’s the first thing you do when you get home?
A: Chat with the kids.
Q: How do you unwind?
A: Listen to music.
Q: Where do you spend most of your time at home?
A: Living or dining area.
Q: What’s the view outside your window?
A: A row of trees.
Q: What’s your favorite object in your home?
A: Drinking mug.
Q: Where do you source furniture?
A: From my capable designer Domitilla.