Historic abode combines elegance and simplicity
For Frenchman Romain Poirier, a home’s authenticity and history should be preserved and passed on.
His rented apartment, housed in a historic building on Maoming Road S., evokes a charm of the city’s past.
“I have always looked for an authentic, lived-in Shanghai home since I moved to the city in 2015,” Poirer said.
Hailing from the famous wine region Burgundy, Poirer is a designer and engineer, with work experiences in France, Mongolia, Hong Kong and now the Chinese mainland.
“I grew up in a construction business family and I’ve always been obsessed with construction, inspired by the beauty of interior design and architecture,” the 30-year-old said.
“I traveled to Shanghai for the first time in 2012. I am in love with the city for its cultural diversity, its historic charm and the beautiful historic architecture that can be found at every turn in the downtown area.”
Poirier met his Chinese wife, Wu Lingxiao, before settling in the city in 2015. The couple opened their own company, French House, in 2018, providing interior design and a construction consultancy service.
Their 130-square-meter home lies in a central location, where historic buildings and modern facilities are built next to each other. It is also situated in a neighborhood full of cafes and restaurants.
After more than a dozen visits, Poirier found an agency to help him locate his new apartment. The authentic atmosphere of the building and the heritage aspects inspired a renovation respectful of the original layout.
“The entrance of the building provides an insight into the city’s colorful past. Our high ceiling and abundant sunlight coming through makes the space very bright and pleasant,” he said. “I really appreciate the old materials, such as the wooden flooring, the old metallic windows and high ceiling. We just needed some minor adjustments to make the place more functional, according to our lifestyle.”
In order to have easy maintenance in the open kitchen, the Frenchman changed the original wooden flooring to marbles. But as a designer, he loves to reuse old materials instead of throwing them away. The old wooden panels were used creatively on one side of the kitchen wall to frame a modern fireplace.
The property has two bedrooms (one master and one children’s room), two bathrooms and a spacious living room with its open modern kitchen. The main door opens into an airy living room flooded with natural light, courtesy of the large windows.
The living room is more oriented for their two kids due to the big space and natural lighting. The open dining room features a big table convenient to share dinner or brunch with friends or family members.
The master bedroom is minimal looking with calming color tones. The glass wall between the master bedroom and bathroom makes the space more intimate.
Though Poirier retains the existing old materials, passed on from last century, the overall style is contemporary and sleek.
“I like the combination of modern items with some old touches. Based on a 1930’s space, the idea is to add contemporary items such as lighting, rugs and accessories to bring the rooms into the 21st century.”
He describes his style contemporary and French.
“I believe that every new project tells a unique story. What I like for my home is minimal, clean, combining elegance and simplicity, and with details adapted to the needs of the users,” he said. “We love this apartment, it reflects our minds pretty well. The color theme is based on indigo blue, reserved white and walnut brown. These colors and their combinations create a mood and enhance a particular style.”
The living room’s white and light grey walls are in dialogue with the vivid colors of indigo blue from the sofa and the artwork on display. The natural light from the large windows floods the living area beautifully. With a piece of exotic Indian carpet on the floor and the several sleek furniture pieces, the setting creates a warm and sophisticated atmosphere.
The couple loves to spend time in the open kitchen and share special moments over the long dining table.
“My wife likes cooking; the kids can play in the living room; so we can all be in the same room, listening to music, sharing a great time with each other,” Poirier said.
Ask The Owner
Q: What’s the best thing about living in Shanghai?
A: Shanghai is a city full of passion and surprise. Everything you want, you can make it happen here. It is a city full of opportunities and possibilities.
Q: Describe your home in three words.
A: Charming, creative and stylish.
Q: What’s the first thing you do when you get home?
A: Shower, and play with our babies if they are not sleeping.
Q: How do you unwind?
A: Sport like boxing and checking art exhibition.
Q: Where do you spend most of your time at home?
A: Living room.
Q: What’s the view outside your window?
A: Shanghai historic buildings.
Q: What’s your favorite object in your home?
A: Our carpets.
Q: Where do you source furniture?
A: From many trips, otherwise we custom make them.