Home > iDEAL Focus > Features > A mix of culture creates the perfect abode
A mix of culture creates the perfect abode
By Patsy Yang

Vintage pieces and naturally aged materials are paired with modern Italian design to give the residence of Italian consul general in Shanghai a homely feel.

Stefano Beltrame and his wife Nicoletta Beltrame moved into this residence seven months ago. Having lived in Kuwait, Italy, the United States, Germany and Iran for more than 20 years, the couple started their new life in Shanghai which was their first living experience in East Asia.

Having lived the Italian lifestyle in different cities and countries, Nicoletta again grabbed the chance to introduce color, texture and a personal style to her new abode.

And she had the freedom to create an eclectic look.


There were not many furniture before the couple moved in. “I have brought almost everything from our home in Rome,” she said, adding that she had visited Shanghai with her three children last year to look at the place.

“Then I started to think what furniture and decorative items would fit in here.”

The first floor is the living and dining room for the family but is also used for official functions. The living room’s high windows let in plenty of light, and the walls are painted in cream colors as the perfect backdrop for artworks.

Rather than creating an interior that only reflects Italian culture and image, Nicoletta has carefully chosen pieces and materials that they have collected from different countries they lived before.

“We wanted to create an atmosphere with a well-balanced mixture of culture — from Iran, Italy and also China,” Nicoletta said. “Of course we have kept our European identity but worked on a fusion style that is also very much integrated into the local culture.”


She thinks that the combination of old and new is more meaningful. It is important to mix them because the contrast enhances both styles and forms a truly modern look.

“As long as you fill your house with things you love, it will just fall into place, regardless of age or style,” she said.

Talking about the way she keeps her Italian identity, Nicoletta said: “The essence of Italian living is centered around our dining table — the porcelains tableware, the way to serve food, the authentic Italian food and wine…

“We love to host receptions at home and make our guests feel at home,” she added.

The dining room reflects Nicoletta’s preference of mixing Italian design with ethnic accents. Around the Italian table setting, there are amazing antique and ethnic pieces Nicoletta picked up in Iran — a collection of potteries, old ceramics from mosques, and small items. In a typical Iranian home, textiles and embroideries are key elements. Nicoletta had bought the textiles and crafts from Iran and even custom-made cushions and shawls with her own designs.

An Iranian corner in the living space features abundant light coming in during daytime. Nicoletta loves to spend time in this cozy corner, drinking tea or coffee, reading books and simply enjoying the special moments.

“Iranians have very good taste and I found very modern elements in their antique pieces,” she said.

Nicoletta pointed out the Iranian artworks in the living area.

“There are so many young painters, photographers in Tehran. I always checked their ateliers and discovered something new. The artwork by Farad Moshiri that I brought here with me is one of my favorites. His painted jars, which form a trademark of his production, look like three-dimensional objects, with mosaic effects.”


“Having moved to Shanghai for only a few months, I’m still at the stage of discovering the city by visiting art exhibitions and markets,” she said.

The villa house also has a garden that the family likes very much. They spend much of their weekends sunbathing, or having brunch with friends.

“The compound is tranquil, and the trees and flowers in the garden make it a comfortable place to be, especially during warm seasons,” Nicoletta said.

Q: What’s the best thing about living in Shanghai?

A: To discover another culture. Everything is very happening here.

Q: Describe your home in three words.

A: Warm, colorful and friendly.

Q: What’s the first thing you do when you get home?

A: Changing homey comfortable clothes and sunbathing in the garden if the weather allows.

Q: How do you unwind?

A: Reading, listening to music, watching movies.

Q: How do you scent your home?

A: Fresh flowers.

Q: Where do you source furniture in Shanghai?

A: Casa Pagoda and Platane on Taikang Road.

Customer Service: (86-21) 52920164