HARD work, imagination, and personal style have transformed the Tunisian ambassador’s residence into a home for Ambassador Tarek Amri and wife Radhia Amri.
Bright colors and sunlight streaming in from big windows create a comforting atmosphere and remind the couple of the Mediterranean sun of their home country.
The ambassador and his wife arrived in Beijing last year. Amri’s previous post was as acting ambassador of Tunisia to the United States. “We went to China in 2008 and what surprised us was the great development in terms of urbanization and the management of the cities,” said Ambassador Amri, who noted that the Chinese people now seem more confident and prouder of the country’s achievements in culture and education.
As a career diplomat, Amri said moving to a new country is always a challenge. “Firstly we saw things as foreigners living in another country for a while. However ... we later decided that wherever we go we should consider it our permanent home, a place where we would live indefinitely,” he explained.
The couple have ensured that inside the Tunisian embassy compound, their residence is cozy and convivial with a strong personal touch. The minimalist, beige-tone interior creates a timeless backdrop that enables the home’s ambiance to change with the seasons.
“We kept a few pieces of Chinese antique furniture. We wanted to mix a very authentic Chinese element with our own Tunisia touch,” the ambassador said. They came to the residence with all of their favorite home accessories as well as items collected during their travels.
“We like to think our home has a personal feel to it,” Ambassador Amri added.
“In Washington, we made our residence very white and blue, a typical Tunisian color theme. And when we were living in Japan, we lived in a house decorated with washi paper and mixed in with Tunisian style,” he explained.
The couple has explored many new ideas in their Beijing residence related to their home’s integration with nature, the continuity of space and the use of natural light.
“We decided to use a collection of paintings from the ministry and our personal collection of accessories to bring out colors and light. Moreover, we have decided to place different sitting areas in the spacious living room — both traditional Tunisian style and modern type — to let guests experience authentic Tunisian hospitality and the amazing Tunisian teas and desserts,” he said.
Despite the considered arrangement, the residence manages to avoid feeling over-designed. A beautifully curated mix of antiques, Tunisian silverware, and contemporary pieces are thoughtfully displayed in different corners.
Ask The Owner
Q: What’s the best thing about living in Beijing?
A: Living in Beijing is a rich and amazing experience. I am very impressed by the historical presence in China. I am very fond of the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. I love the historical aspects of the hutong and Houhai area in Beijing. I prefer the traditional architecture to the modern. I’m very impressed with how well-preserved these places are.
Q: How do you unwind?
A: I go to the gym, have any sort of hot drink — tea, hot chocolate, even coffee — with friends, take a bubble bath, or read French books to relax.
Q: What’s the best view outside your window?
A: The garden has the best view, especially during this period of the spring season. I love the green color of the grass. Roses abound in my garden and my favorite roses are the orange ones.
Q: What’s your favorite object at home?
A: I’m collecting Chinese tea pots. I like the different shapes and the different colors and materials. I want to display them at home so my guests can admire this small collection which I hope will become bigger and bigger. What started out as a hobby has now boiled over into a passion. It is one way to connect with and learn about Chinese cultures by sharing an affinity for tea.