Calm, comforting, family sanctuary allows artistic creativity to blossom
For Noor Peek her home is a quiet refuge, which allows her creativity to unfold.
It is a sanctuary from the outside world where she and her family can relax and feel calm and comfort.
When the COVID-19 pandemic stripped us of so many other things, the intrinsic need to create a personal, comforting home gave the Netherlands-born lady something cheery to cling on to.
The mom-of-three moved to Shanghai from Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2018 following her husband’s job relocation. The family lived in Johannesburg for five years and a decade in London, where Peek worked as an interior designer for a leading British interior designer studio, Todhunter Earle Interiors.
“I loved my job but, since we left London, I began to source decorative objects in the countries I lived for people in Europe to decorate their houses with,” she said.
From the southernmost country on the African continent to the metropolis of the Orient, there came uncertainty.
“As we had one week in January 2018 to find a house, I flew straight to Shanghai from Johannesburg, where it was 30 degrees, and when I landed here, it was snowing,” the 45-year-old said.
“We decided to pick this family house in Windsor Place because the compound facilities were nice for our children. The house has a pool and I had an idea in my head that we would use it as much as Johannesburg. Unfortunately, that’s not the case in Shanghai. But during the COVID-19 home school period, the kids used all the facilities extensively.”
The family enjoys the compound facilities, the pool and abundant space. Apart from that, “it’s absolutely not our taste. It’s in Hongqiao area, a bit far from the charming downtown. So, as soon as the kids are in school and my husband is at work, I drive to the downtown area which I like far better. But I’m always happy when I come home in the quiet compound away from all the noise and hectic street life,” Peek said.
Peek would love to make a million changes to the house interior, such as the dark wooden floors and doors. But since it’s a rented house they are not allowed to change anything. But they found a solution by adding their own collection of furniture and artworks to feel more at home.
“An elegant, personal feeling is vital for us. We like to live and be surrounded by abundant natural light, soothing ambience and colorful art,” she said. “I always wanted to create an atmosphere that is in harmony with the house and its environment.”
The whole thing is to find the right balance between warmth and colors on the one hand and elegance and peacefulness on the other hand. The all-white background is a perfect backdrop for the clean-lined furniture and decorative items to shine.
“I love a contemporary style combined with somewhat antique or exotic elements to give it a personal touch,” Peek said.
The spacious first level comprises a main living room, dining room, big kitchen and a smaller lounge. The floor-to-ceiling windows open up to the gorgeous outside, with a pool as well as outdoor dining and lounge areas. It is where the family organizes home parties and get-togethers in the summer.
Inside, the elegant style means simplicity, a choice of light colors and natural materials. Peek doesn’t purchase furniture with much color; she likes her clutter-free home to be calm in its appearance and makes room for art and flowers.
“For the living room, I wanted it to look elegant. I picked some colors I like from the artworks we have for cushions and I mixed some patterns and textiles to make it all look a bit more interesting. Finally, I added some black and wood to give it some depth,” she said.
Antiques and vintage pieces add patina and history to the home. Peek points to the dining chairs she purchased during her days in London. The 1920s Art Deco-style chairs simply add a charming feel, placed around the long dining table.
Other emotionally resonant pieces include the artwork displayed next to the dining table. An African women portrait sewed on a fabric makes a great, cheerful artwork and reminds the family of their lovely African housekeeper in Johannesburg. It was purchased from a gallery in their favorite town, Franschhoek.
Peek’s favorite color is pink, therefore the feminine shade is discreetly seen in different corners from the placement of a light pink-colored cushion to the Chinese paper box displayed in the glass cabinet.
The upper floors belong to the private quarters. The master bedroom is Peek’s own intimate sanctuary.
“I wanted to make the space a bit more romantic. We chose a black antique Indian chest and a few bronze details, combined with dusty pink and ochre yellow accessories. If it was up to me, I would have decorated it with nice wallpaper,” she said
Ask The Owner
Q: What’s the best thing about living in Shanghai?
A: I like the cultural aspects of the city: many exhibitions, performances and nice restaurants to check out.
Q: Describe your home in three words.
A: Bright, calming and elegant
Q: What’s the first thing you do when you get home?
A: Switch on all the light.
Q: How do you unwind?
A: Sitting at the dining table and chat with kids.
Q: Where do you spend most of your time at home?
A: At the dining table.
Q: What’s the view outside your window?
A: Pool and garden
Q: What’s your favorite object in your home?
A: The artwork by L Motay.
Q: Where do you source furniture?
A: I try to look for objects during my vacations and I prefer to buy vintage pieces.