This is the entry hall of our home. It is spacious, well-lit, and decorated in elegant red-gold. The ceilings soar atop elegant columns.
My mother is an elegant sort of woman (narrator's aside: I didn't quite inherit any of that as her daughter). She loves the classical tradition, and adds a wonderful Chinese spin to this weave.
There is nothing quite like stepping through the front doors and seeing the skies open above you, and the staircase unfurl before you.
If you peek to the left of the entry hall, you will see our living room. It continues in red and gold, with a beautiful coffee table that reminds me of an astrolabe (though I do not know what an astrolabe is). There is a piano in this room, unpictured, that we have had for perhaps twenty years. We're hoping to replace it with a nicer one.
If you peek to the right, you will see the dining room, which I like to call "The Bamboo Room," for its bamboo paintings and bamboo plants. This is the "fancy dinner table" that Chinese-American families reserve for never using.
The Master Bedroom
This is the Master Bedroom, which I like to think of as a room of swirling China blue.
Our mother, Li Li, made the accent on these curtains by the window.
"I bought the curtains, but something felt like it was missing," she said. "So I added the blue lace accents. Do you like it?"
My mother sounds like a little girl when she asks me questions like these. Of course, I love it.
(Please imagine something with me for a second: imagine my brother, Peter, making my mother's bed so that he can take these shots, and then un-making it as best he can. We pulled off some covert ops.)
In the master bath, you can see a window that is the union of a rectangle and an oval atop of it (I do not know the name for this shape).
"I started with the idea of pleated gold curtains with a dark gold tassel," my mother explained to me once, "but it didn't look quite right draped atop the window. So I did my own thing, but it was still missing something. I put the tassel above. How does it look?"
I was in awe, because my mother is a master of furniture jazz improvisation.
Two Sunlit Rooms
There is a sunroom downstairs, where my mother made sheer curtains to let in the light. The room is all in white, accented with some red pillows. I like to open all the windows and sleep in half sun, half breeze.
Above, there is an octagonal room, with the same sheer curtains and sun and breeze. It is hard to capture the peace of this room.
"I was thinking of putting a couch in the center, and maybe a small coffee table," my mom explained.
"It's already perfect," I replied.
The Breakfast Table
You might already know that a "breakfast table" in a Chinese-American household means "everything table". We eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner here. We watch dramas here. Recently, we have started to drink wine here. My mother has probably sewn curtains here, too.
I recently shared my fears of shopping with my mother. I had no idea where to begin, I said.
She shared with me the story of this room, unlayering the intricacies she made through design, love, and time.
At first, she fell in love with these chairs, with their gold-beaded, green and bronze backings. From there she made seafoam-green curtains to match, lined with gold. I remember trying to find a made-to-measure curtain business to save her time, but in the end, she laughed and did it herself.
Next came a rug with green and ivory and gold and red, but mostly green-ivory-gold so that it would match and not clash. The table itself came last, as a bargain from the display floor. It had a scratch, but my father and mother buffed it out together.
So you see, magic still takes hard work.
The Basement (地下室)
A work in progress in 2018. Our mother has carefully planned the layout and festivities in this basement — a reading nook, a bar for fancy nights, a pool under sleek lighting, and an open space to dance the night away, with music to light up the nights.