Chic apartment is journey through time and cultures
A historical apartment inside King Albert Apartments on Shaanxi Road S. is brought to life with plenty of artistic touches.
It's a new-old approach that interior designer Linda Lee has applied to this 120-square-meter home she shares with her husband Andrew Williamson.
Built in 1930, the apartment building brings the couple back to a fascinating moment in Shanghai, and its historical charms fascinates them. Inside, the old elements are well kept, and the interior space gives full rein to Lee's artistic instincts.
Lee is originally from Jingdezhen, a world-famous porcelain capital in northeast Jiangxi Province, and has been inspired by art and crafts since she was a child.
She studied interior design and styling for her master's degree, and worked for many years with Jaya Ibrahim, the world-renowned interior designer, as well as for SCDA Architecture in Singapore.
She now has her own design studio specializing in designs for luxury hotels, residences, galleries and retail.
Her apartment reflects her style and taste, although it needed a thorough cleaning and some adjustments. There was not enough natural light, so her creative solution was to paint different shades of green inside the dining and living areas. With her special use of colors, the interior projects a charming, moody ambience. Lee loves to keep the curtains open and let the outside trees become part of the decor.
Her interior style is eclectic and personal, but what's most important to her is to feel at home.
Colorful painted walls, custom-patterned carpets, period furniture, designer items and ethnic objects express the home's inner character.
"I have no particular like for any specific style, but love to collect whatever objects I have encountered during my trips that fascinated me," she said.
It is a more personal ambience in a global style made by objects dear to her heart.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, she usually spent two months a year outside of China, which gave her a great chance to bring back interesting things from different cultures and continents.
A passionate antique collector, she only displays part of her collection in her home.
"I like the fact that my apartment is one of a kind. It reflects my personality, travels and design influences. My interior has been progressively influenced by cultural diversity."
Many objects sourced worldwide are used to create different scenes at home that give an exotic look, while keeping a local identity thanks to the historical elements retained. Different elements are harmoniously balanced in different sections of the apartment.
The foyer features beautiful wallpaper from French design house Pierre Frey, a Shanghai Art Deco cabinet, an antique Burmese offering vessel from the beginning of the 20th century and a Synapse ceiling light from Apparatus.
The living room exudes a warm, moody vibe with a red, velvety, customized sofa, Louis XVI glass cabinet and 1950s coffee table made of American walnut wood setting the elegant foundation, while the contemporary artwork by Ni Zhiqi adds a splash of color and energy to the space.
One side of the living room leads to an old sliding door that opens to the master bedroom, where the deep red wallpaper contrasts with the black four-poster bed with a bed head covered with Jim Thompson royal Thai silk, casting a warm and exotic touch. The room has a cocooning atmosphere, highlighted with the use of Tai Ping carpet and several pieces of antique furniture, such as an exquisite Art Deco cabinet from an antique shop in Germany.
Another side of the living room leads to the dining area, which is flooded with most of the natural light in the apartment.
Next to it is a gorgeous bathroom with an Art Deco-style mosaic floor and clawfoot bathtub that makes a chic statement.
Lee manages to conjure exotic designs against soothing backdrops. Whether it is the rich detail of a porcelain vase or a piece of ethnic fabric, she realized the potential of local cultural sources and design elements to impart magical moods in the settings.
The apartment gives the feeling that you are traveling in time. It still feels very authentic and true to Shanghai, but a collection of furniture and objects brought from many different countries makes it a mixture of cultures within a living space.
Ask The Owner
Q: What's the best thing about living in Shanghai?
A: It's a very international city that brings together a mixture of people from different cultural backgrounds. I also find local restaurants and stores that have been open for many decades very attractive.
Q: Describe your home in three words.
A: Cozy, ethnic, timeless.
Q: How do you unwind?
A: Reading and practicing yoga.
Q: Where do you spend most of your time at home?
A: On my sofa reading.
Q: What's the view outside your window?
A: The platane trees.
Q: What's your favorite object at home?
A: I love every object in my home, because each carries its own story and history.
Q: Where do you buy furniture?
A: Antique shops in different countries.