East meets West in classic, modern villa
Tucked inside Beijing’s Haidian District, a magnificently designed house takes a novel approach to using colors, patterns and materials. Bold and sophisticated, from the moment you step in, your eyes are drawn to the space’s many charming details.
Julia Tan’s family home, with a total space of 850 square meters, both inside the house and outside the courtyard, is a master residential design piece, mixing the best from the East and the West. The China red door with its roof tiles, typical in the capital city, opens into the courtyard and home of the family of three.
Tan had spent over a year reconstructing the original architecture in order to make it perfect for family living. When she purchased the property a few years ago, she wanted a family home with a spacious garden, surrounded by nature.
“For the interior, I did not worry about it as I saw designer Baptiste Bohu’s previous project in Chongming Island, Shanghai. He’s very experienced in doing a total interior makeover, infusing a mix of Chinese and French elements in a natural, no-pretence way,” the homeowning architect said. “I also liked the fact he designs some of the furniture using natural materials like wood and bamboo. They exude a sense of character — bespoke and tailored.”
Bohu took the challenge of transforming the Beijing abode into an ideal private residence. And homeowners gave him pretty much freedom to design the house.
“The house was brand new with modern Chinese architecture resembling a courtyard house which is quite typical of Beijing. I liked the space and the layout,” French designer Bohu said. “The Chinese owners were relatively open-minded and bold regarding the design. They are very Chinese and very international so they opted for a mix of East and West.”
It was Bohu’s first residential project in the capital so it was important to bring a Beijing element.
“It seems obvious but the color red came to my head right away, reflective of the Forbidden City. Hence, you can see many touches of red in each room of the house and especially in the main living room. We can call this interior a Paris-meets-Beijing house.”
Bohu didn’t change any parts of the original layout because each space made sense, which does not happen that often.
“I liked the double-floor living room with a void that creates a feeling of grandeur,” Bohu said. “I also enjoyed the fact that there was a real entrance area, a sun room and a vast master bedroom. Basically each room had something interesting to work with whether it was a pitched roof, a special window or a wide space.”
The house has a very specific and well-defined mood — international and traditional with a twist. The designer doesn’t want to show the boring old representation of the past but rather an adaptation into the current time. It integrates the classic elements yet modern and grand. Bohu loves to combine brave colors with customized furniture or antiques.
“The living room is very grand with two deep red Chinese cabinets that I originally designed for the Design Shanghai exhibition show. A fireplace is at the center with an oversized mirror which is so typical of Parisian style,” Bohu said.
Two giant lanterns occupy the ceiling where he added wooden beams. Very high silk curtains in shades of grey and red are combined with a red striped French sofa and some caned colonial furniture bring a warmer and cultural touch.
The dining space is adjacent to the kitchen, making it very family-friendly. There is a large display of plates and dishes all along the wall and a customized mosaic floor under the dining table.
For the master bedroom, the style is more feminine with curvy shapes, velvet fabrics and pink beige tones. The canopy bed is typically French and the bedroom is open to a bathroom with precious materials and a stunning mirror ordered in Syria.
Tan’s daughter is a big fan of Christian Lacroix, who has been collecting pictures of his vintage designs, thus her room has Lacroix wallpapers and fabrics.
Bohu believes the house’s highlights include the combined choice of fabrics, murals, wallpapers, floor patterns and colors.
“The mixed use of materials and decorations make this home totally unique. You simply can’t copy it, and you can’t mistake it for another home. It stands out,” Bohu said.
“We designed and customized each piece of furniture and lighting in the house. Not one piece has been commercially purchased so it took a tremendous amount of work, including the owner, who participated in the choice of fabrics and materials. However we absolutely loved to tailor-make each piece and the fact that you won’t ever see the same piece of furnishing, lighting or wallpaper anywhere else. It’s also a style that is very hard to reproduce and to keep the right balance of elements,” he said.
The designer said functionality for a home is always number one priority.
“Before beauty we first get a functional brief from the owner. Family life is at the center and each of the family members has their own sanctuary in the villa,” Bohu said.
The daughter enjoys a great bedroom with a balcony, bathroom, study room with a library, and even her own ballet dancing room.
The couple has some rest areas, such as a study and a sun room, and even the guests their own privacy quarter. The open kitchen and an enclosed Chinese kitchen respond to the needs of cooking but also in terms of a family gathering. Circulation is smooth and the flow of energies is very fluid throughout the property.