Couple create unique personal space in rented unit

Yang Di
The bright, spacious apartment rented by Stefanie and Matthias Lang is highly personal and cozy.
Yang Di

The bright, spacious apartment rented by Stefanie and Matthias Lang is highly personal and cozy.

Located inside a premium residential complex in the leafy city center, the space impressed the couple with its open-plan design and sun-filled vibe.

The couple was looking for a modern, simple place as the naked base to create a true home with all the furniture and signature pieces that they would bring from their home countries Austria and Germany.

“As it is only me and my husband together with our two adopted cats, we did not need a very huge place but set priorities on lots of natural light, an open-floor plan and a vibrant location — and of course pet-friendly,” Stefanie said.

The first time they saw the flat inside the complex at 41 Hengshan Road, the couple loved the open-floor plan and abundance of sunlight, as well as the beautiful balcony overlooking the green tree-tops of the neighborhood.

Couple create unique personal space in rented unit
Dong Jun / SHINE

The couple chose plain-colored furniture for the living room but have enlivened the atmosphere with brightly colored accessories. 

“As we found this place after seeing 30 other apartments, we came back the next day to check out the neighborhood and we immediately fell in love with the beautiful green alleys, small shops, individual cafes, restaurants and a vibrant mix of local citizens and our future neighbors,” she said.

The two-bedroom apartment had recently been completely remodeled in a modern minimalist style.

“From what we heard, the building is considered to be one of the city’s most luxurious but also small and personal residential buildings,” she said. “It is rather small and we got to know the staff and neighbors in no time which made us feel at home quickly.”

The couple didn’t make any change to the layout but added their personality with signature pieces in the kitchen, living room and bedrooms.

“We turned it from modern clean into crazy, cozy, inviting and individual — this is our interior style and makes our home cozy for ourselves, families and friends,” Stefanie said.

Couple create unique personal space in rented unit
Dong Jun / SHINE

The kitchen forms part of the open floor plan.

“We try not to just copy one style but mix all the contradictions of modern living — international interior design brands with flea market finds, exclusive furniture with bargain pieces, Nordic soft colors with crazy patterns, original vintage elements with modern chic.”

The living room is where the couple spends most of the time, with their two adopted cats.

“They make our place a true home,” Stefanie said. “We will never forget the day they came into our life and turned this place into a cozy home with their mere presence, waiting for us behind the door every single day until we come home.”

The open-floor plan makes a visual impact yet the different functional areas are clearly defined into kitchen, dining and relaxing. This helps the eye to structure the place from a design perspective. The couple’s favorite furniture style is Nordic and simplistic as it complements their signature pieces and allow them to stand out.

They have opted for furniture in simple plain colors but have accessories and signature items in intense colors.

“We love to entertain friends often so it’s important to tell a story about ourselves with each item in this living, dining area,” Stefanie said.

Couple create unique personal space in rented unit
Dong Jun / SHINE

Original wooden wine boxes from Germany are creatively used as bookshelves.

Decoration items dear to them are brought together from Germany — an original Lufthansa service trolley from Stefanie’s parents, original wooden wine boxes from Germany as bookshelves with their favorite cookbooks, a renovated wooden cupboard from Stefanie’s Austrian family, an original old radio from her grandmother, a little cactus from her time living in Mexico, the rainbow color leather patch carpet from a garage sale, and her first black fine-polished piano.

Stefanie loves to share the stories of her beloved items.

“Both of my parents worked for the German airline Lufthansa for almost 40 years,” Stefanie said.

“This original first-generation Lufthansa board service trolley from my father is 60 years old. It traveled thousands of kilometers over the ocean for many years on duty.

“As kids we played with it and acted as flight attendants and pilot but now it is a mini bar with our favorite spirits to serve our guests in our Shanghai home.”

Couple create unique personal space in rented unit
Dong Jun / SHINE

Timber walls, linen curtains and a Hessian mat has created a quiet space in the master bedroom. 

The original wooden wine boxes have the imprint “Wein aus Deutschen Landen,” which means wine from Germany.

“My husband is from a famous German wine region, the Kaiserstuhl area, and this reminds him of home and makes him very proud,” Stefanie explained.

The master bedroom is a quieter space in the sense of design and therefore the atmosphere.

“We keep colors more decent and restrained, however still added some personal highlights including the wool-woven carpet and the display mannequins from a retailers’ garage sale,” Stefanie said.

Stefanie is a jewelry designer with her own brand “Pearl Rebels.”

“The most favorite artwork in our home is in my jewelry box as I design jewelry myself,” she said.

“Other than that, we consider everything as art in our place, as long as it is individual, personalized and creates a unique emotion in ourselves.

Art is not what someone else calls art, art is what you like.”

Couple create unique personal space in rented unit
Dong Jun / SHINE

Matthias and Stefanie Lang in their apartment.

Ask the owner

Q: What’s the best thing about living in Shanghai?

A: Having endless opportunities in every context.

Q: Describe your home in three words.

A: Welcoming, unique, simply us.

Q: What’s the first thing you do when you get home?

A: Pet our two adopted cats who greet us every day at the entrance.

Q: How do you unwind?

A: Pet and care for our cats, tend to the flowers and plants on the balcony, chat and spend time together.

Q: Where do you spend most of the time at home?

A: In our open kitchen, dining, living room area. There’s always so much natural light.

Q: What’s the view outside your window?

A: Treetops of the neighborhood and beautiful church next to our building.

Q: What’s your favorite object at home?

A: The favorite ‘objects’ are our cats. They simply make our place a true home. Other than that I love the old German radio from my grandmother.

Special Reports