Interiorssneak peeks

sneak peek: lucy and richard young

by anne

If I’m not mistaken, today’s sneak peek is our first from China. Lucy and Richard Young live in Shanghai, where Lucy is the founder and designer of Paper Tiger Shanghai, a boutique paper business that creates gift paper inspired by Chinese traditional arts and design reinterpreted in a contemporary style. Their home was originally built in 1930 on a street that was part of the former French Concession. The house was in rough shape when they found it; the couple notes that in the Western world, it probably would have been condemned, and friends tried to talk them out of buying it. But after visiting 100 places, they saw the potential (the famous Shanghai movie star Hu Die lived there in the early 1930s) and fell in love with the small, quiet, leafy neighborhood. With the help of Aoo architects, they embarked on a year-long renovation. The result is a home that looks from the outside like it was built in the 1920s, with an interior that mixes mid-century modern, art deco and a dash of Asia and features pieces acquired over the past 20 years from the different places they have lived — Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Beijing and Shanghai. Many thanks to Lucy and Talitha Vermaas for the images! — Anne

Image above: The wood bar cabinet was one of the first pieces of furniture that we saw when we viewed the house from the previous owners. It was in their dining room and covered with a tablecloth with a rice cooker, microwave and various other small kitchen necessities on top of it. We purchased it from them for about the cost to move it out of the room and polished it up and restored it to its original use. It features two wings on the side that open up to reveal three rows each of stem-glass racks. The painting is by Toshio Ikarashi.

Image above: The lane our house is on dates back to 1924 and was built by English architects, hence the English-style architecture of these houses here. On sunny days, wash is commonly seen hung out on bamboo sticks to dry, as dryers are considered a luxury appliance here and are very rarely used among the older generation. Blankets and bedding are hauled out as well on these days to get sun.

See more of Lucy and Richard’s Shanghai home after the jump . . .

Image above: We discovered the two armchairs in a back storage room left behind by the previous owners. They were originally covered in a very old, faded and threadbare fabric, which Richard begged me to throw out. I had them recovered in an olive-green leather, and they are our favorite chairs to sit on in the house. I had the round cushions made at June Wang Fabrics on Anfu Lu.

Image above: Stairs leading up to our second floor. The orange door to the left of the stairs is a small closet that wraps underneath the stairs. The right side of the stairs was originally a wall, which we had cut out to allow more light in.

Image above: Our master bedroom loft/en suite study. The loft was built to the spec of our bed frame, which we acquired in Singapore 13 years ago from The Shop House and made out of reclaimed old Java railroad teak.

Image above: The Chinese trunks were another leave-behind by the previous owners. We had them restored, and they are now great containers for stuff.

Image above: The second-floor landing of the house. I rescued the table from our lane, which I found after it was tossed out of a neighbor’s window. One of the legs was broken, but otherwise it was in good condition, and I loved the shape of it. My friends at Elm Workshop Shanghai fixed her up, and she’s as good as new! The painting is by Australian Aboriginal artist Dolly Daniels.

Image above: The front entrance to our lane house, which opens up to a small garden. Shanghai is an inspiring city, and spring is the best time of year in Shanghai. The leafy platane (plane) trees are in full bloom now, and the fragrance from the jasmine trees around the city permeates the air. I’m on my bicycle as much as I can be and getting inspiration for future designs.

Image above: In order to create more space, we opened up all of the original ceilings and created loft spaces for all of the bedrooms. This is my 8-year-old son’s room. He sleeps in the loft and studies and plays downstairs.

Image above: Our kitchen with the sink facing the original lightwell of the house that is now home to bamboo plants. The metal bowl to the left of the stove is from Dongjiao Market in Beijing and a gift from my friend Juliet. These bowls are really common around China and used to wash clothes, vegetables, faces . . . anything!

Image above: The first floor of our master bedroom. The spiral staircase leads up to a loft where the bed is. The canvas throw rug, originally from Iran, we purchased about 18 years ago.

Image above: These anatomically correct hand-carved wooden folk dolls were found at the Fuyou Antique Market in Shanghai. I doubt they’re antique, but I liked the workmanship and thought they were cute.

Image above: Our TV/family room, which is technically located on the second and half floor. The glass floor allows light down into our lightwell to keep our bamboo plants alive. The old wicker trunk was a Singapore purchase and now stores old photos and CDs and doubles as a coffee table.

Image above: My 11-year-old daughter’s room. The spiral stairs lead to her sleeping loft. Her walls are painted a light yellow and the wainscot a sky blue.

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  • As someone who also lives in China, and is currently looking to buy a house here, this was a refreshing post to see the way that other expats blend the western and Chinese influences. I hope this will inspire other expats to do the same!

  • I love the style of this home! It’s very cool to see such a great east/west fusion present in everything from the style to the architecture.

    The lightwell is one of the coolest things I have ever seen.

  • Wow. I love that each bedroom has a loft and a space below for work/play. Really great to have a sneak peek into a Chinese house, albeit with Western influence. A really cool space – love all of the elements collected over time.

  • They managed to make the rooms art you can live in. Wonderful choice of colors and beautifully placed graphically.

  • I think this is the best sneak peak I’ve ever seen! If I lived in that amazing house, I’d never want to leave either!

  • Beautifully done, but I can only assume that you do have title to the place (房產證) or else the renovations will be at the kindless mercy of the landlord. Also, the difficulty in finding such places in Shanghai is that 1) owing to the passage of many years title of ownership is not clear (產權不明) and 2) such places have long been inhabited, and the neighbors are – well, let’s say “ornery” in the extreme and antagonistic to any renovation.

    More than 10 years ago, immediately after foreigners were allowed to buy residential property in Shanghai, my Taiwan wife and I moved over but were obliged to buy new construction for the above reasons. That narrow window of opportunity closed just a year later; foreigners can still buy residential property in Shanghai but under stricter conditions.

    There is still a smattering of good buildings in Shanghai, but demolition awaits almost all that occupy a large bit of land as the asking price is predicated on the astronomical cost of land for real estate development which practicably condemns such structures to the wreckers.

    Again, your home is lovely.

  • Re hanging clothes in the sun – in Australia, dryers are mostly considered a waste of electricity – hanging clothes outside to dry is better when possible & aired blankets smell & feel fantastic.

  • Wow. I have never seen a house like this! All of the staircases and lofts and glass floors and light from every direction!! Really beautiful and really inspiring. Thank you for sharing it.

  • Thank you very much for the very generous and kind comments. @Jenn, the stove hood is a SMEG that we had elongated. @Lisa, it’s seasonal! In the winter it was a Moscow Mule with very spicy ginger beer–and that was difficult to find and had to add our own ginger zest, now that it’s warmer, we are trying out Mango Margarita’s.

  • Awesome! Wonderful! We are so glad to have the opportunity to see the pictures and all that you have done in superior fashion.

    Ann and Charlie

  • Neat-O! Love the spiral staircase, bamboo view from the kitchen, the light, and that you saved quite a few pieces from the previous owners. It’s so great to see such a different type of home. The sleeping lofts are a brilliant use of space, it would be so peaceful sleeping up there I think.

  • Lucy!! WOW I remember you from [The Studio] days when I lived in Shanghai and you started your buisness in the small room of [The Studio] and i was renting artist space upstairs working with Nicky! Incredible to see your great home on here- hope you are doing amazingly well. Best, Anna

  • I lived in the French concession a few years ago and this sneak peak really takes me back. Well done on such a beautiful blend of old and new, western and Chinese. An amazing home!

  • Lucy and Richard,
    Visiting you two in your home, meeting your kids, was the highlight of our trip to China. Thank you again, and let us know next time you come to Sedona. You have inspired me to clean up my “piles”. Love the artistry of your home.

  • Great use of color and space. Our son Mike has a friend who moved to London with his wife and 3 young daughters. The wife discovered that the neighbors didn’t like them because they were so “ostentatious”. She learned that having a luxury item such as a clothes dryer for everyday use is unacceptable.

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