An eclectic home basking in natural light
When Liu Chang rented a 169-square-meter apartment on downtown Shanghai's Hengshan Road, he envisioned a cozy home he could put his stamp on.
Located inside a premium residential complex, the fourth-floor apartment impressed Liu with its open-plan living space, sunlight-filled vibe and views of plane trees outside the window.
The space has clean white walls and gives full rein to his aesthetic instincts, so he wasted no time turning the apartment into his personal cocoon. The home is now brimming with personality and a relaxed, romantic charm.
Liu manages a health-care policy think tank and consulting firm called ASK Health Asia. Prior to joining ASK Health, he was a professor at Duke University in the United States and the National University of Singapore. Over the past decade, the Wuhan native has lived in Germany in addition to the US and Singapore.
While his primary home is in Singapore, Liu looked for a unique living experience when searching for an apartment in Shanghai.
"As a frequent traveler who's often out of the city for weeks, I looked for an apartment with elevators and a great service team but at the same time a homey place rather than just a service apartment, " he said. "One of my biggest joys is to invite friends over for meals. All these requirements led me to 41 Hengshan Road."
It was not in perfect condition when Liu first saw it.
"It seemed like the windows hadn't been cleaned for ages, so the amazing view was totally wasted by the previous tenant," he said.
Liu cleaned up the space, removed the curtains and started decorating it from scratch.
"When I moved in, I had just gotten out of quarantine with only one suitcase, so all the objects you see now have been curated over the last 15 months."
Liu considers light crucial to a good home. On a beautiful summer day, an almost Mediterranean clarity of brightness is provided by the prevailing crisp whites, which underline how the entirety of the main living area basks in natural light. Outside the windows, the lights, shadows, wind passing through the tree leaves and reflections form a very romantic scene.
Meanwhile, the interior walls, plants and colored glass objects catch and reflect rays of light, building a visual feast that is particularly eye catching at sunset.
The interior is filled with light and eclectic.
"It's quite simplistic but also decorated with a bit of romance from the many colors of my collected objects. The highlights are the magical view of the tree leaves that change colors across the seasons, the shadows and lights shining in through the windows and the illuminated glass elements reminiscent of candles. Sometimes, I even have the feeling of being in Paris when entering the apartment," Liu said.
The clean lines of furnishings and white walls create a neutral background for the many crystal and glass objects of different shapes and colors.
White, black and wood are the main colors chosen for the primary furniture items combined with steel, leather, cotton and wool materials.
"I like to keep things simple and clean and add surprising elements here and there – those exquisite objects of various colors and textures," he said.
Part of the home's aura comes from Liu's eclectic collection of glass objects.
"I started to collect glass objects of different forms when I began to appreciate and integrate more colors into my living environment," he said.
Undeniably fascinating, glass objects take center stage when the natural light comes through and creates a magical reflection. Two of his cherished possessions are a small, blue glass elephant and a series of flower vases that enhance the romantic mood.
Liu displays art pieces and knickknacks in ways most people probably wouldn't consider. The art pieces are casually positioned on the floor and books are piled on the shelves along the benches.
"I always keep my additional new copies of my favorite books as gifts for friends who come to my place," he said.
Your home should reflect who you are.
"I love being surrounded by people and having friends over, so I want my place to be welcoming."
The large rug in the living area is perfect for people sitting on the floor with drinks after dinner.
During the city's two-month lockdown, Liu had the chance to get to know his neighbors and organize home brunches and dinners for the community.
He also appreciates his time alone, so the space needs to be a calming and laid-back place to listen to music, read a book while drinking wine, take a nap or simply enjoy the views outside.
"Home for me is a great source of happiness, a blessing and my best gift to share with loved ones. It recharges me when it's filled with people and laughter, and also when it's quiet with just me here."