Home in Hanoi

If you want to find inspiration from a home with worldly tastes plan a visit to Hanoi, Vietnam. American designer Amelia Fendell, founder of Chez M’Lain, is mother to 18-year old son Nico (who has the good looks and enough passports to pin him as a young gentleman spy–he may very well be a young gentleman spy) and travels so frequently an app to track her location is in the works. Coincidentally Amelia is currently renovating her other home in Amsterdam with her partner of over ten years. More to come on that later…

The living area has a delicious mix of vintage finds and newer accents. Every piece adds comfort, designed to sustain endless gatherings.

The living area has a styled mix of vintage finds and her own designs. Every piece adds comfort, designed to foster endless gatherings.


An unusual skylight becomes an opportunity to display collectibles and bring in the natural with flowers and plants.

Her influences as a global citizen is shown through quality wares. She is also in awe of history, the grandeur and customs of past times, and the works of skilled artisans throughout the world.

While Amelia piles on air miles achieving global style can be effortless without the need to travel. Simply follow Amelia’s 14 tips:

1. Old and New Combo: Start by mixing vintage pieces with contemporary patterns and color to create eclectic and inviting spaces


Vintage pieces and contemporary art are a timeless mix, which style the stairway.

2. Vintage Shopping: I am always walking through the markets and antique shops looking for unusual pieces. Sometimes I will change an entire room based on one piece–whether it be a small tray or chair.


A room can be themed around a starring piece, such as this antique rattan settee.

The best vintage markets are in Belgium. I find a variety of unusual pieces there and in the auctions in the Netherlands.


Part of the journey in creating a home with global style is to shop the flea markets. Belgium is Amelia’s favorite place to find great loot.

Vintage finds with Amelia's custom embroidery is a tasteful mix.

Vintage finds with Amelia’s custom embroidery is a tasteful mix.

3. Light at Home: Good lighting is essential for composing a room. Add layers of lighting from floor and table lamps to overhead lighting with dimmers.


From overhead lights to supporting fixtures, lighting helps accentuate a well-appointed room.

4. Color Process: Sometimes I have a vision in mind for a room or space and will work from the walls inward. Selecting paint is key and takes time–always painting squares of color on the wall and seeing how it feels during the different times of the day. Then I begin layering in colors with the cushions etc.


A dramatically colored wall creates a look, which highlights the added detailing.

5. When to Splurge: Lighting and always one extraordinary piece for each room such as an antique carpet, chair, paintings or objects are worth the investment. I also have a large collection of contemporary art from Asia and Europe, which is great for building character to the rooms. I also find unusual objects to refurbish, like new shades to update a lamp or upholstering a worn piece.

Invest in an important piece, like a rug or art work.

Invest in an important piece, like a rug or art.

6. Thrift Store Finds: Many unusual pieces can be found in secondhand shops, antique stores and flea markets. They usually need a bit of love and attention but it is worth the effort if you find a great piece.

7. Show Offs: I collect many small items and learned that they are best exhibited in gatherings. Not all collections need to be displayed in one place. Break it up and put them in groups in different places.


Likeminded pieces create an eye-catching vignette.

8. Accentuate the Bathroom: I love powder rooms, which is a fun place to be creative. Personal photos and mementos give me joy to look at them.

A bathroom need not be sterile, but is personalized by bringing in accents.

A bathroom does not have to be sterile, which can be personalized by bringing in unexpected accents.

9. A Good Mix: There should always be fresh flowers in unusual vessels. Mix the arrangements as small groups of flowers or one extraordinary bunch. Candles are also a must-have, which immediately sets the mood for a special evening.

Mix your personal finds with flowers for a pop of color and touch of the natural.

Mix your personal finds with flowers for a pop of color and natural element.


Hallways are a great opportunity to add design intrigue. Gallery walls and a slim bureau with a mix of pieces weave in the home’s worldly theme.

10. Strategic Placement: Lighting should be in pairs as well as end tables. The sofa should be the same color as the large mirrors in the dining area and in the hallways to reflect light around the room.

11. Layered Look: Layers of old kilms and variety of plants create an oasis of sorts, notably in the bathroom.

12. Open Kitchen: I love having all my silver and objects on display, which makes it easy to find what I am looking for.

13. Conceal Electrical Cords: Do some planning of where to situate outlets. In the house in the Netherlands we splurged by putting the electric outlets in the floorboard near the tables and sofa so we would not see the cords.

14. Mud Room Must: Have a great mudroom or shoe room at the side of the house or kitchen entrance with hooks and cabinets to hide and hang all the gear.

Photography by James Vigliano.

For more information on designer Amelia Fendell please visit Chez M’Lain.

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