• Wei Shen

If possible, I want a home like this...

Despite that nowadays various home decoration tips are omnipresent and perhaps overwhelming, some fundamental concepts are often overlooked by the general public.

When it comes to abstract concepts, they are somewhat metaphysical and can easily trigger controversy. Today I am going to share some ideas that represent what I am pursuing in the sense of a dream home. They are very personalized since they are the fruits of independent thinking. After reading it, you are invited to express different opinions, but to some extent, I wish that my idealized home picture will touch somewhere in your heart and maybe eventually help you find your own dream home in certain ways.

A courtyard with tantalizing access

Having a front yard or backyard in the house is not enough. The most important thing should be the consideration of the way I approach the house through the yard and how I enter from outdoor to indoor space.

This will require holistic design.

I have been admiring the traditional Japanese residential design, as the courtyard and the indoor space are carefully planned as an entire whole. The size of each room does not matter the most, and the integration of garden view and interior space is the key. They are naturally connected through a transitional space which is shown in the image below. The sliding doors are also playing an essential role in framing the garden view while dividing the interior and exterior space.

residential courtyard design

A traditional Japanese house with a garden view in Kyoto. Image from

Residences with transitional space in Kyoto and Tokyo. Images from

Images above show the sequences and views while people are approaching the interior from the courtyard.

I have to admit that the delicately designed experience of how I enter my house rather than the house itself will significantly contribute to my mental health. Scenes are not static but projected into the brain as a series of constant movements, so you cannot get the variable sensations just by watching still pictures.

Close view of outdoor greenery

If I choose to live in a condo unit, the perfect level would be between the second and fifth floor. Many love to live as high as possible in a contemporary condominium building which would turn out my personal nightmare.

Because the view from a skyscraper residential unit, filled with an empty sky as well as messy roofs, does not charm me at all, compared to the street residences. What is worse? Units above a certain height in a tall building don't really have functional balconies; even if they do, it would be too windy to spare some time there peacefully. Balconies to me are like the eyes of a person, I won't be able to live without eyes.

Instead, I prefer a literally "down-to-earth" living experience, where I can sometimes see the leaf veins, watch birds interacting with each other, and smell the mud after a summer rain. I would also be able to closely witness the change of leaf colors as the seasons rotate.

I need to feel physically connected to the ground.

Or if it is located in the city center, seeing some old architectural features on the buildings opposite the street makes me feel closer to the splendor of human culture and history. Also, the vibrant urban street life is always comforting.

Balconies with a "down-to-earth" view. Images from

Having outdoor greenery views in a residence is imperative for the sanity of our soul. Images from

Lighting contrasts

When it comes to visual appeals, contrast is a critical ingredient.

Contrasts exist everywhere in residential interior space: tall wardrobes vs short benches, bright colors vs deep colors, rough surfaces vs smooth surfaces, etc. Today I am only going to exemplify with lighting contrast.

Why do we need or want contrasts?

Contrasts keep us from boredom and fatigue by creating excitement. What motivates you to walk through a long dark corridor can be a glimpse of the exterior garden at the end of the corridor, vivid and bright; if the corridor is lit as bright as the outside, the garden view will blend in and therefore lose the temptations as well as the power of driving you to approach.

In the first picture below, the foreground space filled with bookshelves is much darker compared to the distant door where some natural light is leaking in, thus our attention is easily drawn to the world behind the sheer curtain. Here the lighting contrast is creating a sense of mystery, hence adding great interest to this room when people are passing by.

Images from

In the second picture above, the brightest spot of the entire room is where the two chairs stand, obviously by the window. The rest of the room including the high ceiling in the foreground is relatively dark. The randomly placed two chairs and the monochromatic art frame on the background wall are forming a selected focus by a stage lighting artist. This small highlighted area of the room vividly provides us a sense of story, rendering a unique mood and probably some imagination...

I would like to have this kind of contrast design in all rooms because they introduce aliveness, enticement, and inspiration.

Different nooks

No matter how spacious a room goes, I need one or two small nooks in it where I can fully indulge myself being alone.

A typical one would be a reading corner consist of a cozy armchair, a floor lamp that stands for my taste and provides the perfect amount of light for reading, as well as a book storage furniture that accommodates most of the books that define who I am. This kind of nook can be easily configured and altered as my taste evolves, or simply goes with my craving for trying new things. Moving things around, repainting part of the wall, or just changing a pillowcase can instantly refresh the interior space.

Bay windows can be easily chosen as a space-efficient nook while functioning greatly. A proper seating design and a nice window covering would just make a heaven for me. Images from

Naturally lit bathrooms with small tiles

Having natural lighting in bathrooms is a luxury, no mention getting it through a window of substantial size.

Whether it is a wrought framed window in an old building, slim but tall, or a big glass pane in new construction, a nicely located window connects me to the outside world and possibly nature. When at the right orientation, the sun hits the interior during the day of certain seasons and casts gorgeous shadows that instantly enliven the most private place in a house. This kind of atmosphere can never be replaced by expensive bathroom facilities.

As large tiles are dominant in the current trend, it would take me longer to source the ideal bathroom tiles in a much smaller format. But it is absolutely worth doing so, especially tiles that have the look of handmade quality. Some manufacturers and studios in Europe and Asia still keep their traditions of designing and producing unique small tiles.

Images from and

Bathrooms finished with small tiles in colors that can be easily found in nature. Images from

Tiles that mimic natural stones are a definite no to me, no matter in which room, because I simply cannot tolerate fake materials.

Bathrooms finished in large tiles usually seem to lack a sense of detail and appear to be cold, dismal, and emotionless, which is not the right vibe for me to experience at home.

Full of life

I don't know who really enjoy a minimalist type of ambiance at home, definitely not me.

Some interior designs are only great for taking photos, minimalist and sleek, but lacking life. My ideal living environment should be stuffed with personal items. The warmth of life is reflected in these items used by me and my family. They may not be exquisite nor expensive, but over time, my various life moments and emotions will integrate into the items and eventually become my precious memories.

I have always advocated filling homes with things that are selected and bought gradually, one by one. Not only is it for price comparison, but more importantly, for doing it with our consciousness and more verified intention. As a result, you can almost tell a story behind each piece. A story that uniquely belongs to your life experience. Your walls should be covered with photos, paintings, the floor is better to be covered with rugs and nice planters, etc. Only this kind of home ambiance can always touch people as well as ourselves.

Home should be stuffed with items selected over the years or decades and pieces that you truly love. Images from

Don't leave too many empty walls. Don't be afraid of putting nails on the wall. Walls are the best canvas to showcase our passions in life. Images from


The list will be continued another time.

Yes, everyone has a different growing up path, different aesthetics, and different life experiences. You may think that I am not pragmatic and too idealistic. In fact, we don't need to have the same ideas regarding home styling and interior decorations. What I am trying to convey is not a one-size-fits-all concept, but the process by which you generate these concepts. There is no wrong idea, but it is not right when you don't have your own opinion. As long as you are passionate about life, are able to think independently, and are hard-working, then regardless of what kind of house you own, you will eventually be able to dress it comfortably with charisma.

Shenwei Design is thriving to accommodate everyone who is passionate about life, who embraces details in the day-to-day living experience, and who loves challenges. Share your thoughts in the comment area below and let me know how your dream home looks like.


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