De­sign touches

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI -

The meet­ing room, which was part of the orig­i­nal res­i­dence, was ex­panded around 1918 to in­clude a fire­place. The room also features col­ored walls and dark wood pan­el­ing. The wooden fire­place frame is dec­o­rated with sculp­tural and in­cised or­na­ments, hand carved from solid teak by mas­ter crafts­men us­ing special chis­els and blades.

To re­store the fire­place, a coat of paint was painstak­ingly re­moved and miss­ing sec­tions were re­paired with wood that match the color of the an­tique sur­face be­fore be­ing stained and sealed. The ce­ramic tiles of the fire­box re­quired only mi­nor sur­face clean­ing. A crafts­man from Italy was able to de­ter­mine the orig­i­nal wall color of the room by care­fully scrap­ing away the lay­ers of paint ap­plied over the decades.

The sun­room was ex­panded after 1918 and was once used as a space for grow­ing plants and con­va­lesc­ing. The room has many win­dows that al­low the space to be bathed in sun­light. The up­per stained­glass win­dows re­peat mo­tifs found through­out the res­i­dence; how­ever, the im­agery within the large fig­u­ral pan­els is unique to the house. It is not known whether Rong Zongjing com­mis­sioned them, but their in­ter­pre­ta­tion sug­gests con­nec­tions to the pre­vi­ous res­i­dent’s own life.

The orig­i­nal wooden win­dow frames re­quired ex­ten­sive restora­tion. The sur­face was sanded to re­move old lay­ers of stain and re­paired sec­tions were blended with the orig­i­nal wood. Miss­ing hard­ware was also re­placed and treated to match the orig­i­nal metal pieces.

Dur­ing an ex­pan­sion project fol­low­ing Rong’s pur­chase, the grand ball­room was cre­ated by com­bin­ing three bed­rooms. The space, which was used to host par­ties and for­mal events, is crowned by a mas­sive 45-square-meter stained-glass sky­light com­pris­ing 69 pan­els. This stained-glass cen­ter­piece is a mo­tif preva­lent dur­ing the Art Deco era. It is jux­ta­posed with or­na­men­tal el­e­ments from an­cient Greek and Ro­man cul­tures, such as the spi­ral­ing rib­bons and cor­ner lau­rel wreaths.

The restora­tion of this fea­ture re­quired the com­plete re­moval of the sky­light. Dur­ing an ear­lier restora­tion, the orig­i­nal glass was dam­aged and some of the pan­els had been in­stalled back­wards. Bro­ken or miss­ing pieces were re­placed with vin­tage glass that look sim­i­lar to the orig­i­nal.

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