By Amy Burger Special to the Post-Dispatch Sep 10, 2016
The centerpiece of the spacious dining room is a custom-made Ming-style rosewood dining table and chairs. Display cabinets hold the couple’s collections of Buddha figurines and Cambodian silver. Photo by Huy Mach, email@example.com
Ada Kaiman welcomes guests into her home with a warm smile and a spread of delicious homemade dumplings — a traditional dish from her native China. She’s adjusting well to a new life in St. Louis with her husband, David, who grew up here — especially considering that it’s the first time she has lived in the United States. The couple moved here in January after three decades of living in Asia — most recently Hong Kong.
Having always lived in an urban environment, they fell in love with the architecture and views afforded by their 1929 high-rise apartment building overlooking Forest Park, as well as the vibrant street life of nearby neighborhoods like the Loop and the Central West End. Ada has enjoyed experiencing all of the culture that St. Louis has to offer.
One glance around the couple’s home, however, makes it clear that they’ve brought much of their Asian experience here with them. David’s mother instilled in him a love of antiques. During his years traveling throughout Asia for his career in banking and financial management, David visited numerous antiques dealers, picking up art, artifacts and furnishings to amass a large collection that includes pieces from China, Cambodia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Burma and Afghanistan.
Stepping into the entry foyer, he points out a pair of early 20th-century cigarette ad “calendar posters” from Shanghai and an elegant Chinese calligraphy dictionary resting on a pedestal. Moving into the bright and comfortable living room, art greets the eyes in all directions. Covering one wall is an enormous painting depicting a Balinese village market scene. Four vibrant reproduction paintings of Balinese women by artist Miguel Covarrubius hang on opposing walls, offering windows into another world.
More of the couple’s collections are on display in the formal dining room, including Buddha figurines and heads and Cambodian silver. Crimson red accents throughout the space reflect Chinese heritage and echo the dominant hue of many Chinese Buddhist temples.
The couple’s master bedroom is tranquil and minimalist in its décor in contrast to the main living spaces. Two additional bedrooms have been turned into separate office spaces for Ada and David, each reflecting their unique personalities.
Ada’s favorite thing about the apartment, however, is the view. She loves to watch the seasons change in Forest Park and catch sunrises out the east windows and sunsets from the west.