Western designs with a bold Oriental touch
When Kim Gabrielse-Duker and Wouter Gabrielse were offered a chance to live in a penthouse in downtown Shanghai, surrounded by the city’s dynamic vibe, they jumped at it.
A short wander through their home, with its big, open living area and wall-length windows, and you’re immediately stopped by the gorgeous views from the 380-square-meter penthouse windows.
The Dutch family have lived in five houses over the past six years, the first three of those years were spent in Pudong residential compounds, two years in a lovely lane house on Fuxing Road, and finally, a penthouse on Anfu Road.
“I loved all the properties we’ve lived in because they all had different things to offer. The first three were heaven for the kids — big rooms, gardens and all the facilities a child could wish for,” Gabrielse-Duker said. “But I needed to be surrounded by this city’s amazing vibes and dynamics, so we moved to Puxi. The lane house had an incredibly characteristic space but the downside was that it lacked sunlight.”
After two of her daughters went off to college, the couple wanted something completely different — a modern apartment.
They moved in September 2019 with their third daughter Karlijn and have since enjoyed this geographically perfect location. Large windows bring in plenty of sunshine and what Gabrielse-Duker liked most about the apartment is that the simple decoration leaves space to express itself. It features a first-level living and dining room, kitchen, balconies, a study and four bedrooms on the second level.
“Our home is where we live, so we try to recreate a feeling of keeping our identities. We brought our own furniture to Shanghai six years ago and the interior style remained quite the same through all the moves,” the 48-year-old mom said.
“But in every house the elements add a different feeling to it because of the entourage. My intention is to keep the ambience the same, which makes it feel like home away from home.”
Gabrielse-Duker describes her interior style as modern classic. All objects remind her of the places they have lived in, their travels and the beautiful memories they have as a family. Gabrielse-Duker doesn’t have a particular rule for mixing different styles and doesn’t go by the book. She loves to try different combinations and a home is a projection of her tastes.
Regarding the color scheme, there is no dominant color throughout the house, yet the color scheme is soothing rather than invigorating. The furniture tends to be shuffled into different rooms during their moves. Constantly moving allows Gabrielse-Duker to create a different feeling for the home.
With minimum framing structure, the design on the first level delivered a seamless extension from one functional space to another, creating an airy, free-flowing space. The sitting area is composed of a comfy sofa from Cassina, and sofa chairs from Dutch brand Gelderland with a neutral palette soothing to the eye.
The Dutch family brought most of the furniture from the Netherlands when Wouter got a job for an American chemical company and most of the pieces have sentimental value.
“We love the designer Piet Hein Eek, who designs and makes furniture from leftover materials and turns them into the most wonderful, sustainable items,” the mom of three said.
Both of the tables are from his collection, as are the dining room chairs, which take center stage in simple surroundings.
Modern and classy at the same time, Gabrielse-Duker loves the cleanness of Dutch design items. There is lovely detail when you take a closer look.
Gabrielse-Duker holds on to her heritage by placing treasured items around home, including an 18th-century Dutch “rondbuik” cabinet from the province of Zeeland where her husband’s family come from, as well as a gorgeous silver teapot and silver teaspoons her grandmother collected.
“We love that we have some family pieces in our house that belonged to family for generations,” she said.
A vase designed by Marcel Wanders, was given to Gabrielse-Duker by her husband when their third daughter was born. It is dear to her heart as it resembles a huge mother heart with three ways to put flowers in. Placed on the dining table, it gives an overall look of individuality.
A bold, colorful painting by Israeli artist Basmat Levin graces the wall of the living space next to the piano. The couple received the piano as a wedding gift from Gabrielse-Duker’s parents. Gabrielse-Duker loves artwork from Basmat because they are colorful, authentic and always tell a story.
“This painting, we call it ‘the pianist (Basmat has other ideas about it), but ‘he’ is next to our piano and it looks like he’s just finished his recital and is very pleased, in a modest way, with the result,” she said. “I do like mixing Western designs with Oriental touches, and combining modern design with antiques. I find contrasts very interesting. For example, the table lamps I designed are the results of beautiful Chinese pots and vases sourced from all over China together with the exquisite fabrics from Europe. Each piece is hand-made expressing my original idea.”
Ask The Owner
Q: What’s the best thing about living in Shanghai?
A: Dynamics, culture and inspiration
Q: Describe your home in three words.
A: Warm, light and authentic
Q: What’s the first thing you do when you get home?
A: Turn on the lights, diffuser and light some candles.
Q: How do you unwind?
A: With my family, a glass of red wine and some easy music on the terrace.
Q: Where do you spend most of your time at home?
A: In the living room.
Q: What’s the view outside your window?
A: Shanghai facing the east and south from Anfu road.
Q: What’s your favorite object in your home?
A: I think the black piano.