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Personal sanctuary imagined by dreamers
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Solace is comfort from the everyday complexities of life, and one's shelter is one of the main sources of true internal tranquility.

Berwin Tanco's dwelling in the center of this busy city reflects solace in every corner. Every part of his home reminds his visitors of a tropical spa, a kind of place that dreamers imagine when they try to conjure the perfect getaway.

Only when one proceeds to walk into the house does the mystery unfold - an impeccable start for a relaxing discovery. Modern hues of orange and brown dominate.

"I realized that Shanghai does not get a lot of sunshine and it is cold and damp in the winters," says the director of Vinyl Group that offers architectural and interior design services. "By adding warm, earthy colors such as orange and brown, I feel less depressed by those chilly winter days."

Tanco found inspiration on his travels to Southeast Asian luxury resorts, boutique hotels and spas such as the award-winning Banyan Tree spas and Mandara Spa. The design style he used in this space is a mixture of Southeast Asian, Chinese and rustic.

"I wanted to create a home escape, a place where I could just walk in the front door and feel an instant sense of calm and comfort like I was in a spa," he says.

Warm accents harmonize with the neutral-tone of the furniture in the house. Tanco designed all the furniture himself and had his builders make it. With orange as the background in the living room, he used a handful of wood furniture to brighten up the interior and to cast a warm glow without being overwhelming. Contemporary sofa and chairs, with simple clean lines, minimize the feel of a crowded room and bring a sense of calm.

"I tried to make some furniture stand out such as the dining chairs with a higher-than-normal back. This makes visitors remember my house after their first visit," he says.

Tanco knew specifically what he wanted when he moved in two years ago. His most basic need was for a 100-square-meter apartment, sufficient for himself, and ideally in relatively quiet part of town. For him, it is great to be able to combine the traditions of the local culture with the perspective he has over what's going on in interior design trends.

The interior's great sense is enhanced by a couple of design devices. One is the old elm wood door to the bedroom, which is the division between private and public space. The Chinese-mix-Indonesian-style door looks like a Ming-style (1368-1644) cabinet from a distance.

The bedroom is the essence of refined simplicity, comfortably decorated with art objects. A traditional poster bed gives off absolute peace and relaxation.

"There is nothing practical about my house. I destroyed the wall that separates the two bedrooms and made one of the rooms into a huge bathroom with a two-meter-by-two-meter bathtub," he says.

The spa-like bathroom is a work of art. It is inviting, relaxing and tranquil. He chose neutral cream color, stone floors, and accent pieces that don't overload the senses. The frequent spa-goer can find his own retreat after everyday hectic work.

Tanco likes to show off decorative items from his travel. "I am really into ethnic and retro items. You can see soft furnishing highlights that are a bit rustic from all over the world in my apartment.

"Lighting is essential when creating a space," he says. "By designing your home to allow light to enter, it will look less dull and more vibrant. The key in living a healthy lifestyle is to begin by decorating your home in a positive way."

(Shanghai Daily January 21, 2008)

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