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with oodles of design ideas

DENIZ Demirel opens her doors and offers a peek into her private sanctuary, along with some insight on why she and her husband love the Asia digs.

Demirel from Turkey and her Italian husband Corrado Lo Maglio have lived in Asia since they were married in 2001. After moving to Shanghai, they started to look for a house to purchase.

"Searching was relatively easy, after some good homework and market watch we were clear about location and type of apartment that we wanted: it had to be very central, in a compound/building with good standards, high ceilings or attic with a nice view, around 200 square meters,'' Demirel said.

"It had to be a good-value purchase with high potential as an investment and at the same time a very enjoyable place to live.''

With this spacious flat located on Weihai Road, the couple couldn't think of a better location.

"We are only minutes away from Nanjing Road, People's Square, Xintiandi, with easy access to the highway and in the middle of a large and quiet compound with lots of green, a big lake and still plenty of convenient shops by the corner,'' Demirel said.

"We also fell in love with the amazing view from the large room with the floor-to-ceiling window.''

The homeowner said the layout wasn't exactly what they wanted, but the couple liked the idea that the apartment was just an empty shell and they had the opportunity to change a lot of things to suit their tastes.

With that in mind, the couple set out to ensure that their home would be impeccably designed.

According to the original layout the master bedroom had the best view in the apartment.

"We thought that, no way we could keep it like that, we had to use the fantastic room for entertainment and relaxation so we merged two smaller bedrooms in order to create a master bedroom elsewhere,'' Demirel said.

"Plus, we got a much larger master bathroom with a decorative, custom-made jacuzzi.''

The original kitchen was small and dark. They broke down a separation wall to open it up and bring in more light. Now, it gives a totally different perspective.

When the couple was conceptualizing the design for their 158-square-meter flat, they wanted to create a sense of space and light.

"Our desirable living environment had to be warm and welcoming, a representation of whom we are, coupled with our love for Asia,'' Demirel said. "So we added our own 'touch of Asia' to the decor.''

Living in Asia for so many years had a big impact on the couple's taste. Since they had traveled so often, the couple became familiar with different decorating styles of different cultures.

"Learning how to recognize and appreciate these differences let us absorb a whole new taste that now has become part of us. It is a process of learning and integration, and it will continuously evolve and develop together with our life experiences,'' Demirel said.

"Due to my Turkish background my decor style is ethnic and somewhat traditional. I love everything that expresses people's culture. Whenever I travel I tend to bring back a bit of culture from the place so that I remember that special trip.''

She has a gift for mixing exotic materials with romantic imagery. With a collection of dazzling Asian treasures from China, Thailand, the Philippines, Cambodia and Indonesia, the house stimulates positive comments from visitors who admire the blend of cultures.

"I am a Turkish of Muslim background and my husband is a devout Catholic. We love each other and our culture and we live in Shanghai where our friends are all from multicultural backgrounds.''

"However, I had to balance my need for ethnicity with my husband's contemporary taste. As most Italian contemporary men, my husband is very modern in his decor style.

"During the conceptual design we compromised with each other,'' she said. "The home is eclectic and ethnic with modern furniture pieces - a little bit of me and him, like a design marriage!''

In the living and dining area the couple wanted the walls to become the focal point for these two rooms.

They accented two of the walls with slate stone and heavily accessorized them with meaningful pieces.

When visitors enter the living-dining room their eyes are drawn to the accent walls and the dazzling pieces that they display.

"We chose to have vivid accent pieces from Southeast Asia to make the atmosphere more authentic. We used neutral but warm colors on the walls, placing interest only on the stone walls,'' Demirel said.

The couple decided to carry out the same design style criteria throughout the house. In the master bedroom a spa-like open bathroom is created using Chinese cabinets to mix and match the ethnicities of the two decor styles chosen: Thai and Chinese. This makes the room inviting, cozy and romantic.

The entertainment room, which is round and surrounded by huge windows, posed a few decorating challenges.

"Thus we asked the help of our friend and designer Bya Patzner.

"We had the furniture and part of the bar and we wanted to place interest in the evening view of the Shanghai skyline,'' Demirel said.

According to her, Patzner came up with so many ideas and she had so much enthusiasm, energy and passion that the couple decided to let her lead.

"She interpreted our needs, wants and must-haves and placed the furniture facing the row of windows and created an interesting shelving unit to hold all of our equipment,'' Demirel said.

"She used the same old wood we already had on the floor, dramatic color and brick to transform our already nice entertainment room into the perfect one,'' she said.

"We still remember that, when the paint work was finished, we sat in the room staring at the strong color of the ceiling and we started to wonder ... then only a few days later Patzner finished everything with all the right accessories and the whole scene made perfect sense," she added.

They let Patzner guide them into using dark, punchy strong warm colors such as gold, brown and red.

"It is amazing what the right color can do to the decor and how it can revamp and completely change the feel of the room that was before quite ordinary,'' Demirel said.

The couple loves to invite friends over for drinks in their entertainment room.

"Our friends are always amazed by the view and by the interesting yet cozy feel of this room," Demirel said. "We entertain a lot and the result has exceeded our expectations.''


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