Home Decoration Tips

By Domitilla Lepri

You’ve just rented a new apartment in Shanghai, and you are eager to move into your new flat, but something is just not right – the decoration is not exactly what you were expecting. Having said that, the apartment doesn’t belong to you and you are therefore not ready to spend a huge amount of money to redo the deco. Depending on your budget however, there are several options to easily make your new place a little more stylish and to your taste.

Is the colour of the walls definitely not your cup of tea? The easiest way is to repaint the whole apartment or at least the living room and your bedroom. Should you be afraid about the smell or toxicity of the paint, there are some imported paint brands available on Yishan Lu that are safe. Fluxer, a Danish brand, has a nice choice of pastel colours.

If repainting the walls seems too complicated or if your landlord doesn’t allow you to do so, the other option is to cover as much of the walls as possible with big mirrors (as long as they reflect something nice), paintings – you can find some propaganda tapestries from the Cultural Revolution in the old markets of the city, or, if you want something more traditional, paintings representing Chinese mandarin families.

Otherwise, if you don’t want something too colourful, you can also opt for some black and white photographs printed on aluminium plates (which by the way will save your artwork from being damaged by humidity). There is a wide selection on Taikang Lu.

If your budget allows it, you can also think about hanging some beautiful hand-painted fabrics that can be purchased from Platane on Taikang Lu or Yongfu Lu.

You hate tiles and your bathroom and kitchen are covered with them? You have two easy options: repaint them or apply some stickers. Grotto Design Creations, on Yongfu Lu, has nice tile stickers.

If you are not happy with the curtains, go to the fabric market and buy some nice linen or cotton material. Finding a shop to make your curtains should not be very difficult; every neighbourhood has one. Some of these shops can also source the fabric for you, but costs will be much higher and their selection is usually not very interesting. Alternatively you can also go to Ikea, which is always a good option.

Everyone has probably seen the typical Chinese chandelier – something in between baroque and deco style – and not everyone likes it! If this is case, simply go to the lamp market behind the Ikea in Xujiahui. There you will find a wide selection of excellent replicas of designer lamps. Otherwise, Illu Deco on Xiangyang Lu has a nice variety of beautiful handcrafted lamps, generally made out of fabric, in numerous shapes and in both Chinese and western styles.

Finally, if you can’t change all the furniture of the house, but still want to give it a nice Chinese touch, you will find a lot of inspiration in the antique markets of the city such as ones on Dongtai Lu or Fangbang Lu. They have ceramic statues and horses, lanterns, Buddha stone heads and ceramic or wooden pots.

Happy shopping!

Domitilla Lepri is the owner of Shanghai-based DL Architecture, a firm specialising in renovation and interior decoration. If you have an interior design question you’d like her to answer in a future column, please email her at [email protected].

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