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The right balance between work and family
By Patsy Yang

THE Swedish consul general’s house in Shanghai balances cool and warm elements and provides an inviting space for both official and family functions.

When Viktoria Li moved to the city two-and-a-half years ago, her objective was simple: balance the budget and certain furniture demands of the Swedish foreign ministry.

“This house has a basement that we can store a lot of things and constantly change the furniture arrangements on the upper floors,” she said. “And the whitish walls, wooden floors and the simple design give a Scandanavian touch to the whole space. Meanwhile, the four floors give us a good divide between private and public spaces.”

Located on secluded Xiangshan Road, the 390-square-meter house, which Li shares with her Chinese husband and two children, features abundant natural light and soothing greenery views from floor-to-ceiling windows on the first floor.

Li said the family spends most of their time together on the first floor as the open plan kitchen and living area “give a sense of control over the action in the home.”

Her first thought was to ensure functionality in the home.

“Swedish interiors are always about functionality and comfort, simplicity and good-quality materials. We use a lot of wood combined with modern materials like metal and plastic,” she said.

A pared-back color palette and meticulously planned arrangement of furniture and accessories are at the core of the house’s minimalist vibe and create a sense of harmony.

All the key pieces were selected by the Swedish foreign ministry, from the Swedish designer furniture pieces to the light fixtures around the dining room on the second floor.

The second floor features the dining room and the sitting area, where Li hosts official lunch or dinner receptions. She admitted the space is about representing the country and not her own sense of style.

However, with contemporary Swedish chairs, tables and cabinets, the space has an intimate, homey ambience rather than a stale corporate-like environment.

“We have brought very little personal belongings, mainly our books, small decorations and personal things,” she said.

The personal touch was more obvious on the first floor.

Despite the simple materials and neutral palette, the house is cleverly geared toward providing the comfort Li and her family crave when they beat a retreat from work. The kitchen island is the heart of the ground floor. The terrace and balconies on the upper floors allow them to enjoy the leafy surroundings, Li said.

“When you look out, you feel like you’re in the trees, like in Sweden,” Li said.

“Functionality is number one to me and you should be able to alter things at home. If you want to decorate for Christmas then you are able to put a lot of red things out, but you should also be able to take it away,” the consul general said.

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