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Global effort to create tranquillity
By Yang Di

WITH a warm color palette and a mix of global finds, this light-filled space tucked inside a Shanghai lane in the former French concession makes a perfect family home.

Felicie Corre-Le Blan and Jean-Baptiste Le Blan have combined vintage pieces with the latest comforts and modern technology to create a retreat from their busy Shanghai life to share with their children.

"It was not easy to find a place we liked," Felicie said. "We wanted a comfortable but original apartment with its own character."

"Luckily, this place gave us a sense of belonging when we first saw it - a duplex in a small building located in a typical Shanghai lane on the leafy Wukang Road."

The apartment was in a good condition, though with some details that needed to be revised - such as old-fashioned lights, the curtains, and the shiny wooden floor.

"But we loved the terrace next to the master bedroom, and the serene ambience of the lane and street," Felicie said.

While they respected the apartment's original features, the couple wanted to furnish it to their own taste. The first change was to paint the dining room turquoise, the living room light green and the master bedroom pale blue.

"We wanted to live in Shanghai feeling our French-Parisian style: antiques mixed with contemporary furniture and ethnic objects," Felicie said.

The Shanghai apartment Felicie and Jean-Baptiste have called home for a year and a half is defined by an uncompromising level of detail and craftsmanship that contributes to its modern but relaxed style.

The couple admit to being obsessive about their surroundings and have similar tastes in decor. The living room gathers favorite furniture brought from Paris, while the dining room is described as "1960s Miami style" with turquoise walls, colorful furniture and photographs Felicie's parents bought in the United States in the 1970s.

Some favorite items include a 1950s lamp-table bought a few years ago at the famous antique market St Ouen puces near Paris; a famous Eames lounge chair; artwork made by American graffiti artist JonOne in Shanghai, as well as drawings by their friend, Brazilian illustrator Filipe Jardim.

"Each piece of furniture and object has been chosen with passion or brought back from different trips to exotic places in Africa and South America," explained Felicie.

"It was very important for us to feel at home even if we are thousands kilometers away from Paris. Not taking them with us would have been very disappointing," she added.

Subtle sentimental touches - photographs and family heirlooms - are evident throughout and help to ensure that the space is never cold or cliched.

The couple were trying to achieve a more personal take and wanted to avoid focusing on the classics that you find everywhere.

The light-filled kids' room next to the living area is vibrant and cheerful, decorated with colorful curtains and a line strung along the wall on which they clip pictures, postcards and teddy bears.

Upstairs, a library - also used as a home office and kids' playground - is intimate rather than purely functional, with small touches such as artworks and kids' drawings above the bookshelves, a vintage American flag hung on the wall and an inviting armchair in front of the window.

Felicie chose pale blue as the main color for the master bedroom, which is chic and restful.

Outside is the spacious terrace where the couple love to relax and enjoy a leisurely drink on warm days.

And over a well-earned glass of wine they can congratulate themselves on having created a home that combines stylishness from around the globe with comfort and practicality.

Talking with Felicie Corre-Le Blan

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

A: Riding a bicycle beneath plane trees in the former French concession and being at the same time in one of the most booming cities of the world.

Q: Describe your home in three words.

A: Colorful, welcoming, cozy.

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

A: Switch on some lights of the living room. Light is really important to feel good at home. Not too bright, not too pale.

Q: How do you unwind?

A: Sitting in the sun on the terrace, surrounded by flowers and plants.

Q: Where do you spend most of the time at home?

A: In the dining room, playing with the kids.

Q: What's the best view outside your window?

A: The view of an old house dating from the 1930-40s.

Q: How do you scent your home?

A: With Diptyque candles that I bring back from Paris every time I go.

Q: What's your favorite object at home?

A: A 1950s lamp-table bought a few years ago at Clignancourt, the famous antiques market near Paris.

Q: Where do you source furniture in Shanghai?

A: In warehouses full of old Chinese furniture. These are really nice when mixed with European contemporary pieces.

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