Sometimes you meet expats who radiate style and ooze personality in such a way that you know instantly their home will be a reflection of who they are and where they have been in life. Maya Tarabay-Schisano is one such expat. Born in Lebanon and married to her Italian husband, Antonino, together they have lived an exotic tale around the world with their two boys, Matteo (12) and Tommaso (8). Having lived in countries like Dubai, Italy, Australia and now Shanghai, Maya is a seasoned expat who enjoys living in the leafy suburb of Xintiandi she now calls home.
Maya’s quaint apartment is the epitome of her Middle Eastern heritage and worldly travels, with a rich color palette and styled with gorgeous antiques, dark wooden furniture and mixes of glass and metallic ornaments. “It’s important for me to set up a place for my family that reflects our heritage so our sons are comfortable and familiar in their home wherever we are in the world,” she says.
When asked to point out some of her favorite pieces, Maya enthusiastically shows us a coffee table and bench seat set she fondly recalls restoring. “This Middle Eastern coffee table and seating was given to me by a friend because she was going to throw it out as it was in terrible condition. It was originally bought for the Emirates tent at the Melbourne Cup in Australia for the visiting royal family at the time, but after this and over the years it had not been looked after. I restored it and cleaned it up and also had new cushions and bolsters made for it and I loved the end result.”
With a background in interior design, Maya has a strong sense of design flair and an eye for creating unique pieces to match her exotic style. Apart from the gorgeous pieces from around the world, including an antique fan from Lebanon, antique book stand from Dubai, Aboriginal artwork from Australia and rugs from Turkey and Iran, she also loves creating bespoke pieces. “I worked with an exporter here in China to custom-make the leather seats with insets of kilim carpets and match it with pillows backed in the same kilim carpet to give it more of my style,” she says. Maya adds that a home should reflect your personality so you can feel comfortable the minute you enter. “I love warm earthy colors for my makeup, clothes and have them in my home because they are part of my style and make me happy.
You don’t need a lot of money for good interior design; you just need to understand your own style and reflect this in your home.” As Maya gives her two sons a cuddle on the couch, and they talk to each other in two languages and laugh about knowing five languages, it’s clear they know how to keep their heritage alive while being a global expat family.
Clockwise from top:
Yellow ceramic lattice stool, ¥1990, www.indigo-living.cn
Metal base lamp, ¥899, www.zarahome.com/cn
Persisk mix rug, ¥12,999, www.ikea.com
Perforated gold tray, ¥179, www2.hm.com
Turkish rug footstool, ¥3900, www.casapagoda.cn
Brico club chair, ¥14,500, www.casapagoda.cn