The Ultimate Home Tour: The Basement

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Building a house for a client, says Michael C.F. Chan, is like making a film in which he or she will play the starring role. “You are using a visual picture to tell the story of someone’s life,” he explains. “Most of my clients are very successful people, and I wouldn’t want to tell them how to live. I think of them as the actors and myself as the screenwriter who writes a film with them in mind.”


In that vein, then, the most compelling scene from Chan’s screenplay for the Chinese real estate developer who owns this home in Shanghai is set underground, in a 3,400-square-foot recreation area that includes a swimming pool, spa, massage area, screening room, gym, and lounge. “The basement is the family’s escape, and I wanted it to be sophisticated but relaxed,” Chan says. “The style is an integration of classic European design with Chinese antiques and accessories.”

Chan, who was born in Shanghai, raised in Hong Kong, and studied architecture at the University of Southern California and Harvard before establishing his own design firm in Los Angeles, often merges elements from Eastern and Western cultures to create diverse settings. “There are so many great things about different cultures,” he says. “I take the best of everything and blend it together.”

The lounge has a traditional Chinese look “so that the family would feel comfortable relaxing and playing mah-jongg there,” says Chan, who designed most of the furnishings. He employed a warm color palette and soft fabrics to create an inviting family setting. Chan lined the pool with aquamarine Italian glass mosaic tile and continued the Roman bath theme throughout the pool area by covering the floor with tumbled giallo stone and adorning the walls with stone lion’s head fountains. “Shanghai doesn’t always have the best weather,” Chan says, “so I wanted to make the indoor pool more beautiful than anything you would see outside.”

Michael C.F. Chan & Associates Inc.



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