by Kassadee Marie, HSM team writer
In traditional Chinese architecture, emphasis is placed on the principals of feng shui, which is the ancient practice of ensuring good fortune by making sure that objects placed in a landscape or building are in harmony with the universe. Another important feature of this architectural style is its emphasis on articulation (flow) and bilateral symmetry, which signifies balance. While in contrast to the buildings, Chinese gardens tend to be asymmetrical. This is because the underlying principle for a garden’s composition is to create an everlasting flow.
A traditional Chinese home is a compound with walls and various buildings organized around a courtyard or a sky well. The walls are built for privacy and for protection from rough winds. Inside the courtyard, depending on the wealth of the family or families, are open spaces, trees, plants and ponds. The new (to North America) Mahjong apartment appears to have been planned with these principals and ideas in mind.
This beautiful personal estate is quiet and serene. It has a view above the high walls that is mostly heavenly-blue sky with fluffy white clouds moving by, but you can also see dark, leafy treetops in several places. From the rear deck of one of the buildings there is a view of a neighboring pagoda of many levels. The three structures there in this estate are designed with the customary use of swooping eaves, lanterns, carved details and red and gold highlights on the exteriors. For the Chinese traditionalists, red symbolizes good fortune, while gold, which is considered the most beautiful color, symbolizes good luck. Two of the structures there are two-room spaces with a wide central hall in each, which can be entered by way of an open circular entranceway. These buildings have golden wood floors and trim; large windows with etched designs; and rice paper doors that almost look as though they could slide over the interior door ways.
There is also one small structure in the center of the garden, where you and your guests arrive, which can be set up as a family pagoda (temple). In the garden, there are also beautiful plum trees in several spots, a tiny stream which flows into a koi pond that is almost covered with lily pads, a small stone bridge over the stream in one place; and stone step path that leads through the pond. There is raised wood decking on four sides of the walled courtyard, including decks in front of the two main structures. The deck continues to the rear of one of the buildings, where another koi pond is located. This one also has two water spouts in addition to the koi and lily pads.
This building contains the large mahjong game, which is a lot of fun to play alone or with another person. The game is styled using the tiles of a traditional Chinese game, that may have been invented by Confucius himself, around 500 B.C. There are three modes in this game, single payer, multi-player (competition) and multi-player co-op. Full instructions are included, but it’s basically a matching game, using the tiles that are “free” on several levels. The owner receives four long sleeved sweaters when they play the various modes. These sweaters are soft yellow and orange with symbols from the tiles on them, such as “Lucky Seven”. There is a leader board in the game room that shows universal top players and the owners own ranking, also.
There are many furniture items now available in the stores in Home that will suit this style, including – and especially – the $3.99 Oriental Decor Bundle from Codeglue. This pack has nine items, including two wall items which are Oriental bookshelves (for decoration only) and an Oriental Triptych. These items would look great here, in the five wall spots for frames or other wall hangings. The other furniture and decorating items in this set are a simple bench, two tables, a carved wood room divider, a floor lamp in a lantern style, a potted plant and a simple cherry blossom in a large white vase.
There are also items from Granzella that, while they are actually Japanese, would look great to make an old fashioned kitchen there. These items include an earthen oven, a bizen water jar, a cutting board and knife, and a wood basin and they are available for $1.99 in a bundle. The wood basin is large enough to sit in, though not made to do so, and I believe it may be an old fashioned bath tub.
Whatever furniture you decide to use there, please note that there is only one spawn spot, which is located outside in the garden area and not all furniture items will fit through the circular doorways. All of the items in the two packages I’ve mentioned do fit and I was also able to place a small bed there from Lockwood’s Cucumber line. The rich wine color of the bed covering looks wonderful there.
We’ve all been hoping for something different in the way of a personal space from Sony, and I believe this estate has a lot of what we were hoping for; it’s definitely not a cookie cutter space. If you are interested in Asian styles, you will definitely want to pick up this little jewel to enjoy decorating, inviting friends to visit and playing the mahjong game.