This past October, we moved from one Beijing apartment complex to…a different Beijing apartment complex.
It doesn’t sound particularly exciting, but it meant moving from a fully furnished service apartment, which felt a lot like living in a hotel–with its cold stone floors, gold console tables, and strangely patterned carpeting (I maintain that brick red, kelly green, dark brown, and mustard yellow should never join forces in woven form)–to an unfurnished place that we could make our own. We had a few pieces of furniture that we’d bought to fill out the first apartment–a couch, a couple dressers and tables, and some artwork. But it pretty much meant starting from scratch.
This, of course, elicited all sorts of anxiety, apprehension, and home-decor-related angst on the part of my mother, who has looked upon every interior design decision she’s ever made with both regret and ennui. “I just want to get rid of everything and start over!” she often says. Of course, this has never happened. We just go out to Home Goods and garage sales and buy more weird stuff that doesn’t really go together.
But of course, being the freeloading post-college graduate that I am, still living at home whilst trying to build some sort of nest egg for a nascent future, I was quickly enlisted by my mother to help choose light fixtures and wall art.
After buying some paint, caulk, and power tools over at Home Depot while on vacation in Hawaii (sounds excessive, but you wouldn’t believe what higher quality construction materials costs over here), we got to work. Over the past few months, we’ve slowly filled up our new home away from home, with plenty of Skype conferences seeking approval from Kaitlin, who is without a doubt the most design-oriented and ruthlessly opinionated interior decorator in the family. This is what we ended up with.
Okay, here we go!
We begin our tour in the entryway, which is…tiny. It’s so tiny that we force people to leave their shoes outside when they come over. We salvaged the situation by putting a mirror there to make the space feel a little larger. Across from the mirror is a handy dandy IKEA shoe case, and an old photo of New York City.
To the living room! We went for a pretty organic color scheme here, with a lot of natural textures (wood, hemp, linen, cotton) and white, beige, and soft gray colors. The curtains were left over from the last tenants, the bird-less birdcage was purchased at a Zara Home fire sale here in Beijing, and the coffee table was custom made at a fabulous price from some online Chinese furniture manufacturer. It was a little dinged up when it arrived to us, but at the price they charged, we didn’t complain. We chose turquoise and orange to add pops of color from the walls, the pillows, and the bookshelf.
We also perpetually have a stack of movies on the middle of the coffee table, which grows, shrinks, and changes as new ones come out at our trusty back room DVD store (I know it’s sketch, but it’s our only communication with the outside pop culture world!)
The middle of this couch is my favorite spot in the whole apartment. That’s probably why it’s looking kinda lumpy.
We also LOVE the three paintings on the wall behind the couch. They add so much brightness to the room.
Here’s our small yet heterogeneous cookbook collection here in China, including such treasures as Martin Yan’s Chinatown Cooking, and The Complete Passover Cookbook. Martin gives us a valued perspective on dim sum, while the Passover Cookbook teaches us everything we need to know about latkes and noodle kugel. Variety is important.
There are also a few Chinese language cookbooks, which are pretty much a mystery to everyone except my mom, and a couple LSAT prep books that have long-since been forgotten. Ahem. Anyone need a spare LSAT prep book? New and unused!
A lot of our books here in China were purchased at expat book sales around the city.
One of my favorite parts about the apartment is this shelf lighting. If you want to make any room look instantly homey AND stylish, get yourself some tall bookshelves and snazzy shelf lighting.
Just off to the right of the bookshelf, in front of the big living room window, we have a couple chairs from IKEA. IKEA is the king of sensible space-saving options. These chairs are the perfect size for a small living room.
As a kind of end table, we use this wooden box painted with these beautiful orange flower patterns. It’s actually an antique Chinese food carrier. It’s the perfect spot to place a morning cup of coffee or a slice of Citrus Cake w/ Candied Oranges.
Here’s our collection of cacti and succulents, which thrive in the dry climate here in Beijing.
And then of course, there’s the TV. We’d originally tried ordering this very Pottery Barn-like entertainment storage unit, but it would have overwhelmed the small space. So we opted for this red chest and some floating wall shelving, which keeps everything feeling light and airy. And of course, we have our trusty air purifier, which is running almost 24/7.
Just across from there is my lovely piano, which was the sweetest deal ever. It was rented, delivered, and tuned at any time I want for less than $300/year. Not a bad sound, either.
Across from that is the dining table. It’s small.
On the table is our thyme and rosemary–the only two herb species that can survive the winter.
Then, there’s the kitchen. This is where the magic happens!
And here’s my parents’ prized possession–their baby named DeLonghi. Young DeLonghi makes about five cups of strong coffee every day.
Moving on to the office!
Check out this awesome photo collage…
And another set of floating shelves. It’s a really small room, so it’s a great way to have shelving without taking up too much space.
Here’s the couch that we’ve all taken naps on at one time or another.
Some snapshots of the bedrooms…
And last but not least, the focal point–the center of our entire little apartment universe:
That massive elephant of a massage chair is my dad’s favorite piece of furniture, and the bane of my existence.
But hey, the view from the nearby windows aren’t bad, especially at sunset on a nice day.
That’s the place! We like it. Let us know you’re out there and comment!