A sanctuary amid the hustle and bustle of Shanghai
Interior designer and decorator Baptiste Bohu's rented historic apartment is an idyllic retreat from his busy life. The French designer aims to create a sanctuary where he can take the time to enjoy the visceral aspects of living amid the hustle and bustle of Shanghai.
Bohu has been an eight-year tenant of this gorgeous 220-square-meter old Shanghai apartment. He was particularly drawn to the many intact original features such as the wooden floor, plaster moldings, fireplaces, arches and door details. The long corridor is also a typical Parisian apartment layout.
Bohu said it was important to retain as many of the original features as possible to retain the authenticity.
He recently transformed the rather bold and dramatic interior to a complete new look. "I enjoy changing the interior regularly – based on steps in life. My house is a great place to experiment with different styles. Now I wanted a more grounded, more mature, more calm interior – and quite minimalist in a way," Bohu said.
"Before the space was crowded with objects – I liked each of them but I needed to breathe and get more space."
The current interior is a modern Parisian style with Chinese influences. "An Art Deco base with a general black-and-white scheme," he added.
The long corridor as viewed from the entrance gives a dramatic effect for people as they arrive. All of the door frames and windows are repainted in white and shades of white and off-white are chosen for the curtains and fabrics in general: from light beige and ivory to creamy white.
The living room brings a sense of calmness and openness. Full height glass doors open to the balcony and allow in enough sunlight to illuminate the interior, creating a shifting display of light and shadow.
An old fireplace placed in the center with a heavy decorated mirror on top are both painted in white to give a coherent "white" look.
Another highlight is an old door with wood moldings that Bohu found in an old warehouse and is now attached on the wall, also painted in white. On the floor is a white-and-brown patterned carpet gifted from a friend that gives a warm effect to the all-white space.
The dining room is another timeless space that exudes understated elegance. With a neutral color palette and natural finishes, Bohu transformed the room into a cozy dining area for socializing with friends. The central ceiling light makes a striking statement, designed by Bohu for previous Design Shanghai. Shelves displaying blue and white Chinese ceramics add a cultural touch to the room.
The kitchen, however, is his personal space which he keeps in a more casual design. With a small dining space connected to the kitchen, it can accommodate informal gatherings.
"A lot of the pieces are actually samples from all of my projects. I always try at my house first before I try on a project so I end up with a very eclectic mix of furniture," Bohu said.
The white color scheme is continued to the two bedrooms, imbuing a sense of spaciousness and lightness. Bohu incorporates a four-poster bed with beautiful white linen curtains to enhance a romantic, resort-style tone.
He also manages to conjure exotic elements against soothing backdrops. Whether it is the rich detail of a porcelain vase or an antique frame, he realizes the potential of local cultural sources and design elements to impart magical moods in the settings.
Overall, the apartment feels very authentic and suited to Shanghai but with a collection of furniture and objects inspired by different cultures.
"I think this house represents well who I am: a mix of modern and classical French with strong Chinese influences," Bohu said.
"Home is part of who you are – it is a shelter and a refuge. To me it is extremely important. It participates highly in my happiness and how I feel in a city. I spend a lot of time at home. I make sure that the five senses are enhanced with scented candles, flowers and so on. I also enjoy having friends at home and it seems they also enjoy being here because they never leave when they come for dinner!"