Before & After: Shanghai apartment



International companies or organizations often provide housing for employees. As an teacher at international schools, the door of my home opened up to a broad spectrum of spaces, most needing some interior TLC. A young family in Shanghai, China, has been going through various phases of creating their home away from home. This takes time, patience, and will.

Phase 1: the apartment in “as is” condition upon moving in; white walls, nice wooden floors, lots of space.

Phase 2: bold colors on walls to liven the space up; mix n’match furniture for optimal use of space

Phase 3: (with SH services) repainting in calming and complimentary colors; selecting and repositioning of furniture; accessories like art are to come

Quite different, right? More on how Somebody’s Home services helped this apartment feel like home in the next Home Away From Home feature.


Home away from home {Prague}

Travel. Interior design. Writing.

These things interest me…greatly.

Fusing them together looks like this: sharing homes of international dwellers on this blog. Here’s the first. Meet Sarah. She and her husband, Derek, are international teachers from Canada+U.S.  living in Prague. This is the feature on how she makes home away from home.

How would you describe your first impression of your current home? 

I fell in love with my home the minute I laid eyes on it.  When we first moved to Prague, we had a very nice attic apartment.  It was modern and convenient but it wasn’t what I envisioned European living to be like.  After our lease expired, we went on the hunt for a new flat.  When our agent showed us our current place, I knew we had found our home.  It has high ceilings with light fixtures set in crown molding, huge windows that bring us lots of light, and gorgeous wood floors.  The layout is perfect for our lifestyle – it is perfect for entertaining.

What aspect of your home caught your eye (architecturally or other)?

The floors are my favorite feature.  The wood is laid in a herringbone pattern which I absolutely love.  I am always looking down and admiring the floors as I walk through the apartment.  I adore them – scuffs, scratches and all.

 What challenges did you find (dark rooms, irregular shape, unfavorable rug, etc)?

One challenge in our apartment is that the floors I enjoy so much are not completely level.  My husband put in a great deal of time hanging a photo collage on the wall only to discover that it appears a bit askew.  The slanted floors cause our furniture to tilt slightly and therefore the pictures do not look straight.  Another challenge is that our apartment came furnished.  We had to incorporate 3 couches, a dining table and chairs, beds, wardrobes etc. with the pieces we already owned.  This leaves the apartment feeling a bit cramped in some rooms and of course not all pieces work together harmoniously.  We’ve made do the best we can with the mixed bag.

What items/objects instantly make you feel happy or at home?

My cats always make me feel happy at home.  They have traveled with us to 3 different continents.  The little rascals have clawed much of our furniture to shreds and their hair is literally everywhere but having them with us is totally worth it.  They are the ultimate accessory to every room!

Which room is your favorite? Why?

My favorite room is the kitchen.   We spend most of our time in the kitchen; cooking, talking, and just hanging out.  The big dining table doubles as a work space and we can almost always be found there, day or night.  This room does not have the best layout, nor is it decorated in an ideal fashion but I still love it.

Do you incorporate travel items into your design? If so, give an example.

I try to incorporate some special items from our travels into our flat without going overboard.  I feel I am getting better at this the longer I live overseas.  The pieces I display hold wonderful memories of the places we’ve been together and act as reminders of our adventures.  Pottery, travel photographs, and art pieces can be found throughout our apartment.  Our bedroom decor was inspired by the colors and art of Mexico as it is a country we both hold dear in our hearts.

How do you feel when you get home? 

When I am at home I feel comforted.  I feel at peace.  As an international teacher I have had many homes in various countries.  My life is full of new experiences and new discoveries.  Every day brings a new adventure.  It is important that when I walk in the door of my home, I feel a sense of stability and belonging.  My home is a place that makes my heart feel good.

{Thanks, Sarah}

GET THE LOOK! {living room}

  1. IKEA Vate Table Lamp
  2. Felix Wooden Sofa Side table
  3. West Elm Solid Throw – Monogrammable, 50″X70″, Slate
  4. Madera in White pillow
  5. Camden Black Two-Seat Sofa
  6. IKEA Ribba Black Frame

Does your living room need a little help? With Somebody’s Home, you can turn your space into a haven of color, texture, and style. Check out the services page for more information.