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September 22, 2019

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Home » Sunday » Home and Design

Creating a home of peace and curiosity

CAROLINE Grout de Beaufort is a “global nomad.” The French native, educated with the influences of many cultures and places, brought unexpected objects and materials into her Shanghai home.

She lived in Paris before coming to Shanghai six years ago to start Publicis Luxe, an advertising agency for the luxury sector.

Caroline’s criteria for a house was that it is calm, light-filled with big windows and features real wood or stone floors without any plastic touches. It also needed to have a large living room, two bedrooms, and very importantly, be in an old house with high-quality renovation in the tree-lined downtown.

But finding a truly authentic yet renovated old apartment that retains its charm while incorporating modern features is not so easy in the city.

She was lucky to find the right agent, who understood her needs, and selected for her a few apartments, but the right ones.

The 200-square-meter house on Kangping Road was the answer to all of her requests.

“The first exquisite impression was the spacious wooden private staircase with access to the apartment, then the living room with beautiful large old windows and the genuine wooden floor,” Caroline said.

With all the charming features retained, de Beaufort was keen on creating an ethnic, wabi sabi (the aesthetic that is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete) style of interior and mixing old furniture, with new design sofas and lights in unexpected ways.

Many interesting and tribal objects she found in different countries, mainly in China and Kenya, are well displayed.

Throughout the space, there are no bright colors, rather a harmonious blend of wood, leather, metal as well as the tones of beige and grey/blue to create a very peaceful, calming vibe — a mix of nature and savoir-faire.

The Shanghai home for de Beaufort mirrors her personality, her interests, her travel stories. There was never a particular style she wanted to follow in her home decor. She decorated and added elements to every possible corner along the way as she traveled the world and found a piece she loved.

“I like to mix inspirations from different cultures and countries thus I have chosen old raw wooden furniture with scars and traditional daily objects in natural materials such as benches, tables, plates, fishermen’s baskets, old sarongs from Bali,” she said.

De Beaufort collects objects given by nature such as driftwood, roots, shells and cow horns. She is also fond of objects carrying spiritual meanings. For example little statues from Thailand, masks from Africa, pots to burn incense from Yunnan Province, China, wedding pearl jewelry from the Masai tribe in Kenya and metallic, hand-shaped “fatma hands” from Morocco used as lucky charms.

“I’m very touched also by the work of local artists, paintings and sewing on old sails or on rusty metal plates,” she said.

She loves mismatched, used and natural pieces. That combination is visible in every room of the apartment. With leafy green outside and abundant natural light, the inside always feels cozy and quiet. Caroline keeps the colors light, as a contrast to the darker shades of the backdrop from the wooden floors to the doors. A touch of lightness is added to the space by layering natural fabrics and textures as well.

The center of the home is definitely the spacious living room that is composed of two comfortable sitting areas. Two comfy single sofas face a two-seat couch upholstered in same grey/blue velvet with an old wood bench in between. It makes a welcoming spot for chill-out time with family and friends. Next to it, along the big windows, three leather armchairs bought at Studio FH Shanghai make the perfect accent furniture that add dynamic detail and exotic flair to the room.

“My house should be like a retreat, where you can feel peace but also curiosity and excitement,” she said. “Each object has a story, remembers a journey, and speaks about people and traditions. They are inspirations for my work, also as a creative director.” She will soon leave the city and go back to Paris for a new position at Publicis.

Q: What’s the best thing about living in Shanghai?

A: Everything always changing, everything always possible. The city is beautiful and dynamic with a lot of green spaces, and people are always welcoming.


Q: Describe your home in three words.

A: Nomad, warm, exotic.


Q: What’s the first thing you do when you get home?

A: Fall on the sofa, listen to music.


Q: Where do you spend most of the time at home?

A: In the living room and the kitchen.


Q: What’s the view outside your window?

A: Trees everywhere, from the street on one side, from a garden on the other side.


Q: What’s your favorite object at home?

A: Impossible to choose. It’s the balance of all of them.


Q: Where do you source furniture?

A: From antique shops to design studios.


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