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Villa becomes elegant home
By Patsy Yang

Heather and Chip Hassan, the owners behind the furniture store Chapin House, have turned a villa house in the Pudong New Area into an inviting home where they can share their uncompromising passion for good taste and elegant colors.

They have mixed many styles to create a well-curated vision with layered looks of old and new. English-style upholstery, sea grass rugs, Chinese antiques, linen fabrics and art are mixed fabulously in the 260-square-meter home.

They have interesting decorative objects in the oddest places — an old dim sum basket to hold hand towels in a bathroom or a plant stand in the powder room. Blue and white jardinieres and garden stools are sprinkled throughout.

“There are many colors and textures mixed throughout the home, but one thing that is definitely pervasive in almost every room is blue and white,” Heather said.

When searching for an ideal home base in the city, the couple very much wanted an excellent location for their daughters’ schools. “In addition, the neighborhood is gorgeous and there are only 25 houses, which makes it very private. Our house is small for a villa, but for us it was perfect because we knew it had wonderful design potential and since we own a furniture store, of course we love to decorate.” Heather said.

The couple loves that the home has an open floor plan on the first floor and it’s not compartmentalized with lots of wasted hallway space and walls. “When I come home from work and I’m cooking dinner, I get to hang out with kids because the kitchen isn’t closed off from the rest of the house.”

They also love the fact that they could take the entire second floor of the home and use it as a master suite. They had an open room between two bedrooms that seemed like wasted space so they decided to transform it into a cool dressing area with custom-made mirrored armoires for clothes. Heather could use the round table in the center of the room for all her costume jewelry.

The second bedroom is now a sitting room and has a full bath that Chip uses. “I use the bath off our master bedroom, so we have His and Hers bathrooms. Every girl loves that,” Heather said.

To make a perfect home base, the couple made lots of changes to the space. They renovated the kitchen and all five bathrooms according to their own aesthetics.

For the kitchen, the couple chose all white cabinets and added Chinese furniture hardware to give it charm and a nod to local culture. In the powder room, they took an antique Chinese chest from their store and added a blue and white sink. The blue and white Ralph Lauren wallpaper is the final punch of design that brings it all together.

“We also put in dark distressed hardwood floors throughout the first floor which completely changed the entire look and feel of the space,” she said. Originally, there was the typical cream-colored marble tile common in many homes. “Personally, I think it’s a very cold and boring look that you see too much in Shanghai. The new floors really lend themselves to my design direction and feel so much more cozy in the winter months.”

The couple loves to mix and match. For example, the coffee table in their living room is a 130-year-old Chinese bed. It’s a statement piece that looks fantastic when it is mixed with Western style upholstery and accessories. “I have many Chinese pieces that I’ve incorporated into almost every room in the house. I love it because it can work with any design style. From minimalism to country French — it just works,” Heather said.

“You can buy pretty furniture, but it’s the accessories that really define the home and I have lots of accessories. For me, decorating is the ‘stage set’ for my life and I love to surround myself with beautiful things. My addiction is and always will be Chinese blue and white ceramics. I can’t get enough of them and they are throughout my house. We sell tonnes of this in our store, but my husband jokes that we could open up a second store at our home of just Chinese blue and white ceramics!”

Heather has a real passion for interior decoration and she loves to share her ideas. “The living room is quite small, so it had to be functional,” she said. They covered up one of the windows with a beautiful red screen with hand-painted monkeys and birds to create a space to put their large sofa. “I love to entertain so it was tricky to try get enough seating. The little Chinese bench was the perfect piece to complete the seating area because it’s just deep enough and wide enough to fit the space. Plus, it’s made of wood — so it doesn’t look clunky.”

The black shelf behind the bench serves as a bar when they entertain and helps to define the living room and dining room spaces.

Their master bedroom is tiny compared to most, but the couple feel comfortable in it. The room originally had peach-colored walls, which they covered with grasscloth wallpaper, transforming the room from ordinary to exotic.

They’ve had the four-poster bed since they got married and the chests on both sides of the bed are 17th century English antiques. The lamps are vases from their store that Heather had wired. A narrow Chinese console on the wall is perfect as a vanity with an English ottoman. “A big part of what I think gives the room charm and coziness is the bedding and the pillows, as well as the leopard drapes, which add a touch of drama,” Heather said.

For their two daughters’ rooms on the third floor, they wanted five-year-old Breck’s bedroom to be feminine and whimsical. The focal points are her little white bookshelf mantle, which has secret compartment doors, and her tea party table in the middle of the room, which she uses constantly. The embroidered lantern-design drapes add a touch of Chinese whimsy and the colors are perfect for a little girl.

The room of 16-year-old Payton has a sophisticated palette. It leaves no doubt about her being exposed to many great furniture styles growing up with parents in the business. “She wanted to have it fun and cool and was super specific that her color scheme be white, blue and fuschia. Her room actually feels like a little apartment because it has an office area and a huge bathroom.”

They spend most of their time as a family on the first floor. “My husband loves to sit at the dining table with his laptop and the kids are either hanging out in the living room or in the kitchen, but it’s great because we are all still essentially with each other. Movie nights are big in our house, so we all pile on our deep sofa to watch,” Heather said.


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

A: I think the best thing about living in Shanghai is the friends we’ve made from all over the world. Working in our store everyday has introduced us to so many wonderful people, and we feel lucky everyday going to work and helping them make their house a home. It never feels like work when I help people with design decisions. It just feels like fun.

Q: Describe your home in three words.

A: Treasure trove, Bohemian, layered

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

A: Kick off my shoes, dump my briefcase and chase down my kids.

Q: How do you unwind?

A: With both my husband and I working, our time to go out is usually limited, so we love to go out with close friends for dinner and laughs. The laughs are important!

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

A: We have a little garden with blue and white jardinieres outside our living room that makes me happy when I look out the window.

Q: How do you scent your home?

A: Right now we are developing our own Chapin House candle line, so I’ve had the fortunate task of testing the candles in our home.

Q: What’s your favorite object at home?

A: I think I would have to say my bed. It’s heavenly.

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