Shanghai Homes: Modern Classic

Blue and white ceramics, warm wood and light create a classic sanctuary in Jinqiao for this family.

by Abbie Pumarejo | Thu, April 06, 2017

The front courtyard of the Hassan’s home in Jinqiao offers a peek at what awaits inside. Several large classic blue and white Chinese jars congregate at the door, granting guests access through the Spanish-style villa and into the main living area. Having been in Shanghai for more than eight years, the Hassan family has only been in this house since last summer. But even though they’ve had the opportunity to live in several other homes and areas, this has become their favorite.It definitely has to do with the layout of the house. In the main living room, two separate seating areas have been created, with two white sofas anchoring the room on a natural sisal rug. Hassan admits,

“Our living room really lends itself to entertaining.  It’s large enough that we can have a few seating areas without people feeling crowded. On one end is a quaint Spanish-style fireplace, which is lovely to use during the winter and adds great ambiance, and on the opposite wall we have a tall bookshelf, which balances out the room nicely and helps to create distinct spaces.” 


An antique low table divides the couches where two large blue and white porcelain lamps command attention. The lamps were the first purchase the couple made when visiting Jingdezhen their first year in Shanghai. They are actually large vases that have been converted into lamps. The beautiful blue and white dragons that are emblazoned on each one became a source of inspiration for the painting in the dining room. She asked an artist here to create the exact same dragon, matching the shades of blue on the vase.It’s difficult not to note the predominance of this color combination, not only in their home, but also as the calling card for their business, Chapin House. Both Heather and Chip love the color blue. Describing her style as “collected,” Heather says,

“For me, it’s mixing in Chinese antiques, Asian artifacts and the color blue. I know what I love and I surround myself with that.”

Not surprisingly, she chose this color scheme throughout the living area and dining room. The mix of antiques and modern pieces of furniture, paired with the soothing palette of blue and white combine to create a classic, yet modern aesthetic.  

With two daughters – one here in elementary school and another in the states in university – their bedrooms reflect the overall style of the home, but take into account the girls’ personalities. Navy blue and rich fuchsia dominate in one while black and white create a sophisticated sanctuary in the other. Not to be overlooked is the family’s basement, and their transformation of the space. When they moved into the house, it was a dreary and musty area.They pulled up old carpet and re-tiled the floor, then painted the two main rooms striking colors of green and orange. The orange room is great for lounging with a neutral sectional sofa and a leopard print rug, while the adjoining green room (not pictured) is home to a ping-pong table, small bar and blue and white modern paintings. This space is put to good use for family time and also when friends come over. No doubt they will feel welcomed and want to stay.  


More Q & A with Heather Hassan:

SF: Tell us a bit more about transforming the blue and white vases:

HH: It just so happened that I bought a gorgeous pair of blue and white vases and since my shipment hadn’t arrived yet from the US, I quickly had them made into lamps and to this day, they are one of the best things that I’ve purchased in China. I've enjoyed them every day for the past 8 years. I’ll forever remember buying them and that will make me happy in the coming years. I love it when people have things in their home that have a backstory.

SF: You commented that your style is "Collected." Can you elaborate on that?

HH: When I buy something and put it in my home its because it moved me in some way when I first looked at it. Decorating to me is about surrounding myself with things that I love and are comfortable. Growing up, my parents had a gorgeous formal living room but I was never allowed to really play in it and I always knew that when I grew up, I wanted a less fancy home. You can be casual and still chic at the same, and that’s not always easy to pull off.   The trick is in accessorizing. Anyone can walk into a showroom and buy nice sofas, chairs or a dining set, etc., but the real magic happens when you accessorize and layer the foundation of your room with lamps, rugs, art, and books. For me, its mixing in Chinese antiques, Asian artifacts and the color blue. I know what I love and I surround myself with that. 

SF: What would you recommend to someone trying to decorate their home and creating their own 'style’?   

HH: It's ALWAYS okay to mix styles together and don’t ever be afraid to do that. Personally, I think anything Chinese style can fit into any design lane and adds so much intrigue. Just because something looks good in a fancy showroom doesn’t mean you need to buy that ENTIRE LOOK. A home should be a reflection of who you are and not what some salesperson told you to buy. I always ask my clients about what makes them happy. Is it a particular color, a favorite piece of art, a beautiful antique or maybe its the sofa and chairs they just bought. Work from the foundation of the room as you live your lives. Perhaps you'll buy a beautiful sculpture in your travels that will give you a forever memory. Or maybe you’ll find a rustic antique Chinese altar table that would fit perfectly behind your Italian sofa, or even stumble upon a gorgeous fabric in Bali you could make into a pillow for that chair you don’t know what to do with….I say, go for it!!

Get the Style

Zebra printed leather rug:

Pistachio ceramic stool:

Blue and white porcelain ginger jar:

Ektorp three-seat sofa, vittaryd white:

Mirrored wardrobe: