A Shanghai apartment with soul, energy, a story to tell
Aladin Hardy’s Shanghai home has been created with lifestyle-centric rooms that blend comfort with personal touches — and pop in just the right amount of energy.
The 33-year-old Belgian searches for living spaces with a soul, a story.
“Searching for a home has always been a pleasure to me here in Shanghai,” said Hardy, who is a managing director of Publicis Luxe China.
Hardy moved to the city in 2017 and found his first apartment through a great real estate agent.
“I have contact with him ever since then. I usually ask him if there is any good deals on the market,” he said.
Hardy never wanted to live in a high-rise building or a big residential compound. He chose a lane house as his first home in the city and lived there for three years.
“It was the best way to immerse myself in local tradition and a way of living. But after a couple of years, I wanted to upgrade and have more comfort, so I looked at many apartments for months,” Hardy said.
“A friend used to live in this apartment and told me he was letting it go. I saw the light, the location and took it over. I always wanted to live downtown and close to my job and activities. Living in Jing’an District is absolutely wonderful: It has a blend of tradition and represents the beating pulse of Shanghai. This building also houses a historic fire station, dating back to the 1920s, which added to its historic charm.”
The residential building, in which Hardy lives on the fourth floor, has been recognized as a cultural heritage site. Traces from the past — from the carved railings to the wooden doors — have been preserved.
“But I’m not going to lie, this flat does not have my ideal aesthetics. It features dark wooden doors and old-fashioned ceiling lamps,” he said.
But Hardy saw the potential of his 135-square-meter space and transformed the home to match his personal tastes.
“I did a light renovation, including painting the walls white, replacing the plugs and changing the internal doors. I wanted to make sure it feels like home.”
o accommodate a comfortable living room filled with sunlight, a chic dining space and a cozy bedroom, while Hardy’s eclectic style is manifested in the arrangement of the furniture.
“I brought all my furniture from Europe when I moved here. This is the best way to feel like home and the real luxury for me is to be able to sleep in my very own bed,” he said.
“My interior style has evolved over the years. I have been collecting furniture and objects from different places. I don’t really think ahead if they will match or not and somehow it works for me.”
Hardy brought part of the collection to his Shanghai apartment while leaving some objects in Europe.
“I enjoy the idea of having a ‘stock’ at home where I can pick and choose from to change the mood from time to time. Every so often I open the storage space and switch an old vase from my grandmother to a contemporary candleholder from my father. It depends on the mood and the season. I also love to turn the whole living room upside down to get a new energy and new feng shui.”
Different rooms have been designed to give off different vibes according to their usage. The dining area is clean and pure with a white table contrasting the bolder-style tableware.
The living room is created to be calming and bright during the day and cozy at night. The bedroom has a mixed feeling but is still bright enough to ensure you wake up in a happy mood.
Balance is so important for any stylish, relaxing interior. Hardy knows how to balance different elements to make a rather elegant style. The home reflects a mix of styles composed of furniture and artworks.
“The bookshelves in the living room is one of my favorites and it has a very Nordic 1960s vibe, which I love. It’s filled with books, objects and a painting hung in the middle done by my great grandmother. It resembles a ‘cabinet de curiosities,’” he said.
Another piece dear to his heart is the USM cabinet in the bedroom which he wanted since he was a kid.
“There is a ‘lego’ feeling of it — classic yet playful,” Hardy said.
Despite the eclectic use of furniture, there’s a pervading sense of calm and spaciousness in the flat thanks to the calming green-colored walls in the living room and the rest in white throughout the space.
White for the walls are offset by the colors from the furniture, rugs and objects. This has been Hardy’s go-to rule for years and he ended up with a green-hued living room.
“It brings the space to life and now I’m considering repainting all the other walls,” he said. “Personal touches, pictures, flowers and a burning candle are all key elements of a cozy home. I love spaces that are lived-in with a ‘controlled’ mess showing that the space is used. A cozy, warm environment means a comfortable couch where you want to watch television all afternoon, a dining table where you spend the whole night laughing and drinking with friends, a nice balcony full of lush plants.
“On top of all that, the host is also the one bringing a welcoming feel to it. Your living space represents you and is the extension of you.
“Home is where my heart is. I’ve felt at home everywhere I lived and it’s because once I moved to a new place or country I feel fully settled. I miss the people I love but not as much as I love traveling. When I go back to my home country there’s always a moment where I feel like I need to go back home — and it’s Shanghai now.”
Ask The Owner
Q: What’s the best thing about living in Shanghai?
A: It’s one of the biggest cities in the world but somehow I feel like living in a village filled with traditional markets, small boutiques and little surprises here and there. I love the mixture of modernity and tradition in the city and it reminds me of New York City 20 years ago.
Q: Describe your home in three words.
A: Eclectic, comfortable, mixed.
Q: How do you unwind?
A: Cooking makes me relax.
Q: Where do you spend most of your time at home?
A: Living room
Q: What’s the view outside your window?
A: Historic lanes and high-rises.
Q: What’s your favorite object in your home?
A: Sicilian vase.
Q: Where do you source furniture?
A: I brought most of my furniture and objects from Brussels but in Shanghai I found a great platform, Taobao, to purchase some functional pieces and discovered special home accessories from Chinoises and Studio NooSH.