A Cool & Cozy Small Home in Beijing

updated Apr 30, 2019

A Cool & Cozy Small Home in Beijing

updated Apr 30, 2019
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Name: Sasha Fominskaya and Aaron F.L.
Location: Fangjia Hutong — Beijing, China
Size: 645 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, renting

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Living in Beijing as an expat often means working with what you have, usually pre-furnished apartments and roommates that never seem to stick around long enough to decorate. But when Sasha Fominskaya and her boyfriend Aaron moved into their first apartment together, they wanted to put more effort into making it a home. Sasha, a graphic designer at Lava Beijing, worked with Aaron’s growing poster collection and their shared love of flea markets to brighten up a dimly lit, simple hutong home with bright, colorful prints and quirky graphics.

Their courtyard is located on Fangjia Hutong, one of the many ancient streets in the capital that are undergoing a rapid transformation. The government has been working to restore the buildings back to their original design code, often by bricking up the facades, forcing longstanding small businesses to permanently close in the process. Sasha has worked with Lava Beijing to help her remaining neighbors without shopfronts find creative alternatives to alert passerby to their stores and restaurants.

When asked if she worried whether her own home would face the threat of demolition, Sasha says she doesn’t — she thinks her courtyard is likely going to be protected by the city because the property was once owned by an Imperial family member. Many years later, the home now retains some of its Chinese elements, like old furniture and vintage finds mixed with more unusual nods to traditional Japanese style (the landlord installed a raised tatami floor in the middle of the living room), all creating an inspiring escape from the construction nearby.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: The best style!

Inspiration: Things that look good that we can get nearby.

Favorite Element: Our tatami.

Biggest Challenge: Not buying any new furniture because we knew we wouldn’t be staying in this place for a very long time.

What Friends Say: “It’s a good find,” “Is it going to get torn down?”

Biggest Embarrassment: Lack of light.

Proudest DIY: A block printed mini-tablecloth.

Biggest Indulgence: Artwork, posters, prints and zines.

Best Advice: Don’t tell your landlady what you’re doing beforehand.

Dream Sources: Flea markets around the world.


Desk — Taobao
Bookshelf — Taobao
Ladder — Housewarming present
“Don’t Tamper with Electrical Lines” Sign — Taken from near the Great Wall
Bug Poster — Panjiayuan Antique Market, Beijing
Lu Xun Poster — Panjiayuan Antique Market, Beijing
“Raising Red School” Poster — Panjiayuan Antique Market, Beijing
Unknown Japanese Movie Poster — Nakano Broadway, Tokyo
“Counterplot” and “Good Girls Beware” Lobby Cards — Bought off a collector’s private sale
Unknown anime cell — Nakano Broadway, Tokyo
“Autumn” Print — Saki Souda
Lucerne Poster Exhibition poster — Studio Feixen
Japanese Towel — Uresika Bookstore, Tokyo
Cabinet — From the landlady
Pillows — Taboo
Go Game Table — Vintage
Floor Lamp — IKEA
Work Lamp — IKEA

Botanical Prints — Vintage, from YanShu Bookstore in Beijing
Red Jewelry Box — Flea market in Chengdu, China
Girl Print — Katya Dorokhina
Chubby Baby Poster — Panjiayuan Antique Market, Beijing
Black Cat Block Print — Handmade
Art Studio Print — Katya Dorokhina
Carpet — Gift from a friend
Mini Tablecloth — Handmade
Tissue box — Taobao
Floor Lamp — IKEA

Thanks, Sasha and Aaron!

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