Name: Lexie Comstock
Location: Former French Concession — Shanghai, China
Size: 800 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years, renting
For someone whose cookie baking skills have gained her countless fans in Shanghai, Lexie Comstock is very chill about not having a kitchen in her apartment. The founder of Strictly Cookies and Connecticut native lives in a lane house in the French Concession with high ceilings, a well-stocked bar, and ample room for her second-hand furniture obsession, but lacks a space to prepare a meal from scratch. Lexie says the kitchen omission is a pretty common issue for old lane houses — when she moved to China seven years ago, her first apartment had a similar situation.
"It had two burners in the hallway, so you'd literally be cooking with the neighbors," she said. "We would see what each other was making and we'd give each other stuff to try and it was very communal." Her current place also has a kitchen located outside in the shared hallway as well, and this time, it's private — her neighbor has her own kitchen and even a bathroom in the hallway. Lexie says she spends so much time in a professional kitchen for her cookie business that she doesn't mind this more unusual set up at her home.
In fact, it's these shared spaces that have made her fall in love with her home in China over the years. "There are a lot of older people who have lived here for awhile, so they have all known each other for a really long time," Lexie said. "Downstairs these guys will just put out a table literally every night and just smoke and play cards and hang out. … Living so far away from home, it's nice to feel that community."
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Eclectic? Eclectic!
Inspiration: Old things and the streets of Shanghai — I take things that have been thrown out on the street.
Favorite Element: The light!
Biggest Challenge: The kitchen is outside of my apartment, which is not ideal, but a step up from my previous apartment, which only had two burners in the hallway.
What Friends Say: OoooOooOooOoo
Biggest Embarrassment: The very loud feral cats mating on the adjacent roof.
Proudest DIY: Despite the burners in the hallway situation, my last apartment in Shanghai was really special to me because it was my first solo adult living space. Our lane house was switching to fancier plastic electric meter boxes from these old red wooden boards with the meters kind of nailed into them, so I snagged the old ones because I thought it would be a nice memory of that time, and I own very little art. So now they have been heavily cleaned and hang on my wall.
Biggest Indulgence: Two old leather reading chairs.
Best Advice: You CAN take it with you!
Dream Sources: My parents gave me some amazing furniture that I wish I could ship over here, but that would feel like a pretty big statement regarding long term living in China…
Sofa — IKEA (handed down from previous resident)
Wing Chair — IKEA
Pillows — LuRu Home
Ottoman — Found on street
Side Table — Pudong Antique Market, Shanghai
Desk — Found on Street
Chair — Pudong Antique Market, Shanghai
Coat Rack — Pudong Antique Market, Shanghai
Coffee Table — Pudong Antique Market, Shanghai
Trunk — Landlord's
Bar Cart — Secondhand
Lamps — IKEA
Leather Armchairs — Pudong Antique Market, Shanghai
Record Player — Uptown Records, Shanghai
Naval Map — From grandfather
Bookshelf — Passed down from previous tenant
Rug — Handed down from grandmother
Chairs — Secondhand
Cabinets — From the street