Related News

Home » Feature

Original old lane house perfect for style remake

FABRIZIO Leuti wanted to create a home that was elegant and practical yet somehow luxurious and fantasy-like. The homeowner and designer knew exactly how to bring his dreams to fruition.

Five years ago, the Italian interiors and fashion designer was looking for an old house that retained its original feeling - not touched or restored - for his family of four. This 300-square-meter, three-level lane house tucked away in a hidden spot on Yuyuan Road had old-world charm and sufficient practical space, plus a villa shape, to fit their Western criteria.

The house hadn't been changed in the past 50 years and for Leuti to achieve his desired glamor for the interior, it meant starting from scratch. He did as much as he could to renovate the structure according to the original floor plan.

Structural alterations liberated the home to the new owners' needs and made each space bigger and more pleasant to roam in. The veranda was enlarged, divisions fell away and original features like the fireplace, the wooden stairs, the old Shanghai-style bathtub and even the old tree in the garden were retained.

"I visited the house many times before I started to design the interior. I needed to catch its inner soul and then started to find the suitable 'dress'," Leuti said.

"I do not have a special style but prefer the eclectic look in which you can mix and match pieces from different cultures, time periods and design styles."

An eclectic interior undoubtedly requires creativity and vision. The idea is for all of the very different elements to merge into a cohesive interior decor scheme.

"Each style has its nice and worse aspects, so you have to be able to find the right one that will not disturb you when you enter a house," he said.

Leuti is always up for a challenge and his eclectic style so perfectly captures his one-of-a-kind taste. He applied different materials and styles throughout the house with fastidious attention to detail, creating different feelings that inspire you to "feel."

Walking through the front door, you get a clear view down the length of the open-plan living and dining room, with French windows both sides opening onto the veranda.

Nowhere is his style more detailed and elegant than on the house walls. In the living area the light-pink and French-blue hand-painted silk wallpaper transforms a drab wall into a delicate, special backdrop.

"Silk paintings were exported to Europe about 200 years ago and we call it 'Chinoiserie,' which reflects Chinese artistic influences," Leuti said. A traditional peony flower motif on the coverings is changed to roses and bamboo to reflect an East-West mix. The homeowner doesn't see barriers between Eastern and Western cultures.

It is evident that one of the most dramatic and important changes one can make to a decor is the wall painting. Hand-painted motifs with fresh colors can take any room from dull and boring to vibrant, alive and eye-catching.

On the second floor, a motif of birds and pomegranates in muted green bedecks the master bedroom while an opulent 4,000 hand-painted pink roses motif dominates the children's bathroom.

Color has been applied to most effectively create a mood for every room.

The French blue-themed living and dining room exudes a relaxed, informal feeling where family and friends can chill out.

Green and orange are the two color themes used in the master bedroom where the couple wanted a relaxing, stress-free space reminiscent of nature and tranquility. Eight-year-old daughter Mirta's room has a red and pink theme which gives a feeling of warmth and energy, at the same time reflecting the girl's strong character. In contrast, six-year-old son Jaime's light blue room evokes a mood of ease and peace.

According to Leuti, everyone's room in this house should reflect their tastes and personality. He believes a special theme color in a room helps to create a unified look which also helps to tone down the riot of lines and texture characteristics of eclecticism.

Although he created refreshingly different moods for different rooms, the entire house seems surprisingly connected and unified.

At the first-floor living and dining room, Leuti's eclectic medley of European antiques blends pleasantly with a choice of Chinese accents and custom-made, sleek-line pieces to evoke a classical splendor and old-world ambience.

"It's not a style you can name when you experience the place - it's just a mix of the furniture I had shipped over, plus what I loved and bought since I came to China 25 years ago," Leuti said. "However, when I mixed things I started from very clean line, modern classical to then bring in other styles."

Leuti has lived here with wife Antonella and two children for five years, turning over time the old Shanghai lane house into their comfortable home.

They converted the tiny backyard space into a home gym where the brick walls, red Chinese style gate, modern lighting, sleek Wellness Bike and Wellness equipment altogether provide a pleasant environment that everyone enjoys spending time in. It's a place that makes one feel energized.

Upstairs the master suite features an elegant European look with a 1920s' four-poster brass bed and white carpet from Italy. But Leuti added a sense of humor and style into the interior by placing the contemporary artwork "The Four Happy Military" above the fireplace.

The same green and white colors extend to the master bathroom.

The whole top-floor space is the children's "playground" where Leuti made it simple for them to play and grow.

Accessories are essential to this house. The homeowner prides himself on mixing textures and styles, especially if made to match the overall color scheme of a room. The energy in a room comes from the dynamic interplay of European silverware, Buddha statues, old Chinese robes and contemporary Chinese artworks.

"I've already bought new fabrics for the curtains and two old Shanghai chairs and I'm going to change them after summer," he said.

Who is he?

Michael Young, a British-born and Hong Kong-based artist who has been designing many things for 18 years and lived all over the world. While still designing furniture, the bulk of his work consists of ultra-high performance, technologically innovating and funkadelic apparel such as the Giant City Speed bicycle and a playful USB flash drive worn as a bracelet. Now he has an office in Hong Kong, specializing in helping Asian companies develop new ideas.

Describe yourself.

Driven, inspired, curious.?

Describe your design style.

Machine driven and questioning typologies.

?Mention some of your works and name one you are most proud of.

Chair-4a. It is a modern dining chair made of recycled aluminium. The project explores new technologies and it's been great working with amazing factories in China.

Are you currently involved with any project?

Opening the new Corain Dupont flagship store in Shanghai next month. That is exciting.??

Describe your work with 100 Percent Design Shanghai.

Well, it's coming together. I'm working with the International Copper Association on a great sculpture for the entrance and a lot more inspirational companies. So really I am making it appealing to a growing design community and retailers.?

Would you say that design is affected by culture?

Of course we all have our perception of what is correct or acceptable and this effects what we do but as a designer you need to be in a helicopter pilot's seat?to see the big picture.

Where are you most creative?

When I am at home absorbing information and processing it onto paper.?

What does your home mean to you?

My wife and dog and love.?

Where would you like to go most in Shanghai?

100 Percent Design.

Who inspired you out of the design circle?

Syd Barrett.

What's your viewpoint of sustainable, eco-design?

Make a little effort where ever you can. It's a hard subject as there is so much to know and to understand but I try to do my bit, check what factories are doing. I have four recycle bins, but don't copy my mistakes, make your own.

What will be the next big design trend?

Small electric cars are cheaper to produce, so is the much nicer car design?in China.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend