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Warm, eclectic, modern and changing

SOMETIMES moving to a new country presents an opportunity for positive change, to give life a new direction and probably a new style to home interior decoration. Such is the case with Chris Buckley, an Oxford science graduate and PhD, who has lived and worked in Asia since 1994.

In 1996, his first trip to the Tibet Autonomous Region immediately captivated the Englishman, who was fascinated by the richness of the culture and history, the remoteness of the region, the art, symbols, beliefs and religion.

Since then, he became a specialist in Tibetan arts and crafts, wrote the book "Tibetan Furniture," which The New York Times praised as one of its Recommended Design Books for 2005.

Buckley founded a carpet retailing company in 2000 and cofounded a Tibetan weaving company in 2006, producing Lhasa-made carpets with pure handspun Tibetan wool.

A resident of Beijing for a decade and a passionate follower of Tibetan art, Buckley's taste has been refined during the years collecting arts and crafts as well as designing carpets, while his hands-on creative approach is clearly reflected in his rented 200-square-meter Beijing home.

Only when one walks into the apartment will the mystery unfold in a relaxing series of discoveries. Warm accents harmonize with the white walls and wooden floors. The space is filled, but not cluttered with old Chinese furniture, Asian textiles, Tibetan arts and crafts, blue-and-white porcelain, Buddha statues from Southeast Asia and carpets of Buckley's design. Contemporary sofa and chairs, with simple clean lines, minimize any sense of crowding and bring a sense of calm to the space in the city center.

The apartment is within the Sanlitun Diplomatic Residence Compound, originally built for diplomats.

"I like living in the city center for the restaurants and buzz that the city has," Buckley said. "Also, I was looking for an apartment with high ceilings since a lot of Beijing apartments have ceilings that are too low. This gives it a more spacious feel."

After moving into the flat with his wife Shelagh in 2001, Buckley did very simple renovation, painted the walls white and put in simple wood flooring.

"I prefer white walls because I try to make the furniture and arts stand out," he said. "Here in China the flat is mainly determined by my collecting tastes and I tend to change things around every few months, bringing out different things and match up different objects based on color. I tend to choose furniture and art in the same palette in each functional space. Right now, hues of black, brown, gold and pink dominate the senses."

The home is furnished with a collection of antique Chinese furniture and a vibrant tapestry of carpets. Together, they create a home full of rich colors and interesting textures. The homeowner picks colors that work in harmony, without becoming provocative, yet not falling into boring shades.

"I love old Chinese furniture with not too much decoration, which is very easy to use because it looks quite contemporary," Buckley said. "People call this Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) style but actually the shapes are from the Song Dynasty (960-1279)," Buckley said. "It combines very well with modern furniture with simple designs, such as the sofa in the living room, the dining table and the bed."

An avid collector, Buckley juxtaposes art and pieces throughout the apartment. In the entrance, two Tibetan chests from the 16th and 17th centuries from Lhasa coexist with Buddha statues, creating a Tibetan ambience. For the living room, Buckley found contemporary pieces, like the sofa sets, to mix with the antique red lacquer cabinet from the city of Ningbo, a Ming Dynasty low table with curling ends and crackled lacquer, a Khotan rug from the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and a collection of colorful glass Buddhas from Thailand. The dining room is equally varied, with a more exotic ambience and vibrant colors.

Each room reveals a different character, which gives visitors a pleasant surprise as they walk around. The cozy, eclectic living room, with abundant light, provides a spot to relax, and this is where Buckley spends most of his time, apart from his office.

"This is also the space to display my favorite things I have collected so I change it around a lot. I get bored if it stays the same for more than a few months so I bring new things out and put them on display," he said. "The fun is in moving things around.''

Buckley didn't put too many the Tibetan pieces in the apartment though he is a collector and researcher of fine Tibetan furniture. "Tibetans love strong colors and painted decoration, which is very different from the traditional Chinese furniture that is more about wood and form," he said.

He was immediately interested in Tibetan art, furniture and carpets when he visited first in 1996. "But too much Tibetan furniture in a room can make the space look cluttered and a bit overwhelming."

Instead, he has displayed his design rugs here and there with contemporary versions of Tibetan motifs, made from pure Tibetan highland wool. The sleek designs offer a modern twist that suits the modern and elegant aesthetic. And each rug is an individual work of art with life and texture of its own.

The ambience is further enhanced and warmed up by ethnic minority textiles from Tibet and southwestern China. "Part of the reason for collecting textiles is to get inspiration for carpet designs and color schemes. I have a large collection of old Chinese silk fragments and these have been very useful for my designs," he said.

Perhaps the greatest success of Buckley's home style is the way in which the Tibetan furniture, accents and the dramatic textiles interact with other styles and modern arts, something a bit more magical than a typical urban flat.

We all love a trip to the seaside during summer, but going home again after soaking up all that bright sunshine and blue sky can be a bit of a downer. This summer, it's easy to take a little of that coastal look home by decorating outdoor areas, whether a garden or roof terrace. It's all about making it feel as fresh and invigorating as a sea breeze, with tones and textures drawn from nature.

Wall Sconce Ocean Blue, 439 yuan, from Casa Pagoda

Address: 15-17 Taikang Rd

Tel: 6466-7521

Chair One Concrete Base Red, 5,600-7,600 yuan, by Magis, from Design Republic

Address: 88 Yuqing Rd

Tel: 6082-3788

Donuts, 44,000 yuan, by Extremis, from Shanghai Design Center

Address: 3758 Qixin Rd

Tel: 5479-6089

Outdoor Showtime Sofa/Chair, 7,100-10,400 yuan, by BD, from Design Republic

Address: 88 Yuqing Rd

Tel: 6082-3788

Table B, 52,400 yuan, by BD, from Design Republic

Address: 88 Yuqing Rd

Tel: 6082-3788

Candle Holder Olive glass, 469 yuan, from Casa Pagoda

Address: 15-17 Taikang Rd

Tel: 6466-7521

Outdoor Table Steel Base Teak Top, 3,990 yuan, from Casa Pagoda

Address: 15-17 Taikang Rd

Tel: 6466-7521

Outdoor Steel Chair, 1,490 yuan, from Casa Pagoda

Address: 15-17 Taikang Rd

Tel: 6466-7521

Bora collection, starting from 2,580 yuan, from Artdecotek

Address: 868 Hongjing Rd

Tel: 6268-5137


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