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The spirit of Shanghai enlivens a home in Lakewood National

Including influences from the years Bill and Cheri Clever's spent in China, this home dazzles with one-of-a-kind flair.

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  • | 5:00 a.m. May 16, 2024
A dramatic mix of colors enlivens the open concept living area, with equally dramatic views of the lake and golf course out past the swimming pool.
A dramatic mix of colors enlivens the open concept living area, with equally dramatic views of the lake and golf course out past the swimming pool.
Images courtesy of Michael Wagner/Sunny Lens Media and Suki Scollo/Coldwell Banker Realty
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If Bill and Cheri Clever’s home in Lakewood National seems energized by an Asian point of view, there’s a reason.

The owners lived there — in Shanghai —for six years as expats, with Bill running his own consulting business. 

Did they like it?

“We didn’t want to come home,” says Cheri.

Luckily, they brought part of the atmosphere with them. Their home is dramatically Asian in feeling, full of unusual effects and glowing colors. The principles of Chinese design are everywhere — the harmony of curves and straight lines in the living room, the use of natural materials like wood and porcelain. But the most exotic touch of all is the wall color. Could that possibly be … black?

It is. 

“Dark colors can be intimidating to decorate with,” Cheri says. “But they can add serious drama to a space.” And rather than darken the room, the color serves to anchor it in its bright and sunny setting. Walls of glass bring in the outdoors and the colors change depending on the time of day. The palette of black, blue and grey works to create an exotic harmony — a primary goal of Eastern art. 

Set into an expansive feature wall in the great room are carefully designed asymmetrical shelving and niches, plus a large TV and extended fireplace. Designed by local contractor Brandon Graber, the wall allows the Clevers to display just a small portion of the artwork they acquired in China. “Everything that I collected while living overseas holds special memories for me,” says Cheri. “I looked for one-of-a-kind items that were handcrafted, sculpted or painted by local artisans.”

Other pieces are sprinkled throughout the house and in the outdoor living area. Many are representations of Buddha; other pieces have classic stories and legends attached to them. The Clevers collected so much they needed their own shipping container to get it all back home.

The Oriental motif extends to the outdoor living area, with a feature wall of black porcelain tile, complete with fireplace and TV. A vaulted wooden ceiling completes the look.
Images courtesy of Michael Wagner/Sunny Lens Media and Suki Scollo/Coldwell Banker Realty

Cheri credits Bill with ideas and support but the home is clearly her vision. She became interested in decorating when the Clevers built their first home back in Ohio. Cheri hired a decorator but found her ideas unexciting. So, she took over the job herself — and discovered a talent she has nurtured ever since.

“I’ve had no formal training,” she says. “But I study online — other designers, trends, furniture placement. I wanted our house to be luxuriously different and create a mood. And I love to push boundaries.”

Both Bill and Cheri admit to being a little apprehensive about their move to China back in 2004. Bill had just retired from General Motors and they had no idea what to expect. But the experience turned out to be positive and life-changing. “Shanghai — with a population of over 20 million people — was a modern, upscale city, beautifully landscaped and immaculately clean,” Cheri says. “We felt very safe. We could walk the streets anytime, day or night with no fear.”

The three-bedroom, three-bath home features a three-car garage.
Images courtesy of Michael Wagner/Sunny Lens Media and Suki Scollo/Coldwell Banker Realty

Home was a 4,000-square-foot condo overlooking the main street in Pudong, an area popular with expats. There were parks, schools and a modern metro system. The couple led an active social life. Bill played golf at the Tianma Country Club and Cheri joined clubs as well, including the International Women’s Society and the American Woman’s Club. The most fun? “I shopped, shopped, shopped.”

Cheri learned Mandarin and got to know many of her Chinese neighbors. “Chinese family values touched my heart,” she remembers. “The work ethic was unbelievable. Many young adults, especially those who worked in expat areas, spoke eight or nine languages fluently.”

But by 2010 it was time to return home. The Clevers exchanged their view of Shanghai’s iconic Pearl Tower —103 stories high and the symbol of modern China — for a different kind of iconic view: a wide peaceful lake and a sunny golf course at Lakewood National. The home they chose was 2,500 square feet, with three bedrooms and three baths. A big part of the appeal was the open concept plan and the three-car garage.

Since they planned to spend a great deal of time outdoors, the Clevers rethought and enlarged the home’s outdoor living area. They put in a custom saltwater pool with spa and sun shelf and then constructed a whole new seating and dining area complete with outdoor kitchen. Here the Far East atmosphere includes a wall of black porcelain tiles and a custom wood-vaulted ceiling.

The Clevers’ granddaughter Victoria refers to the dramatic kitchen lighting fixtures as the “taco lights.”
Images courtesy of Michael Wagner/Sunny Lens Media and Suki Scollo/Coldwell Banker Realty

Inside, Cheri paid particular attention to lighting her new home. “I always like to have one show-stopping light fixture. In this house I used two oversized hammered brass pendants over the kitchen island. My granddaughter Victoria calls them the “taco lights.’”

“Furnishing the home was a bit of a challenge,” Cheri remembers. They moved in during Covid and many stores were closed. So, Cheri was forced to purchase online. She was extra careful with her measurements and color choices. To her surprise, everything went off without a hitch. “I would surely do it again this way.” It helped to have son Michael involved. He’s a painting contractor and made sure that the work was done to Cheri’s specifications. And if the home has oriental touches everywhere, there is one room that remains very All-American — Bill’s den, an old-fashioned “man cave” with an 86-inch television and his collection of sports memorabilia on display.

Their home in Lakewood National has been the perfect retirement residence for the Clevers. But they have decided to downsize and have just put the place on the market. They’re currently looking at condos in the Ranch. It’s a bittersweet moment, but Cheri is looking forward to another decorating adventure, another chance to mix East and West into the perfect combination of comfortable and gracious living.