A lived-in space with views and a feeling of openness
Living In Shanghai
Relaxing, bright and comfortable, with a hint of elegance – the 240-square-meter apartment on Anfu Road is a cozy home for Allison Kopher and Marcus Hafkemeyer, and their kids Simon and Benedict.
Kopher from Minnesota in the United States and Hafkemeyer from Cologne in Germany met in New York City, lived in Frankfurt for three years and moved to China in 2017.
After living in Beijing for a year and a half, the couple moved to Shanghai due to a new job opportunity for Hafkemeyer.
"When we moved to the city, our son Simon was 2 years old and we had already signed up for a pre-school in the downtown, so we looked for something close by.
"We found an apartment we loved in Chevalier Place but quickly learned how cutthroat the application process was," Kopher said.
While the couple took their time to decide, they learned it was gone. They continued their search and ended up with another place in Jing'an District for the first year, which was nice but didn't have the amenities that they had hoped for, particularly play areas for their son to get his energy out.
When the lease was ending, they fortunately found another apartment in Chevalier, they jumped on it this time. "Our style is extremely modern and we preferred to search for homes that have been recently renovated. Our current home fit these criteria very well," Kopher said.
The spacious apartment, with unobstructed city view, is filled with abundant natural light and the feeling of openness flows right through from the moment you walk through the door.
An open-plan living room is connected to the dining room, which leads to the kitchen and storage space. "I appreciate that the kitchen is quite separate from the sleeping spaces so we don't worry so much when the kids are in bed."
The couple's major concern is comfort. They both need a lived-in space without overly decorated interiors. They aim to rest and relax without the necessity of being surrounded by too many colors and materials.
"We wanted a serene space for our living area. It actually worked very well, because over the years we have collected some European designer furniture pieces which is my true ideal style," Kopher said.
When they moved in, the apartment was furnished. "But we could keep what we wanted and let them take what we didn't. We bought our showpiece sofa and the artwork already existing above the sofa fit perfectly."
She said their style has shifted a bit over the years. "Initially we had an overall neutral tone with pops of color. With this apartment we went only for neutral colors. Most important, though, is that my children have their place in the home. I have tried to seek out functional storage solutions and beautiful toys that don't need to be relegated to the closet."
Kopher dedicates her time to create inspiring interiors for the two little ones. The style of the children's rooms also complements the overall design, but it leaves room for a little playfulness.
"The children's rooms are my favorite rooms. Currently our older son has his own bedroom and the baby is in the nursery. I love the neutral colors with fun, quirky design elements."
From the beginning of her pregnancy with her first son, Kopher focused on children's design that fit in with her own design aesthetic. "But I also wanted him to feel like he had his space in the home. As he grew older, I noticed there are many wonderful toys from all over the world that are open-play, meaning do not just have one function but can inspire creativity in their play."
She also found it challenging to source decorative items and furniture for kids for a modern home setting here in China, so Kopher's children's store Modern Littles was born out of her idea of building that one-stop shop full of beautiful, design-oriented, sustainable, and high-quality toys, interior products, and furniture sourced from all over the world.
She personally selects each cool, design-oriented brand for the local market and in her home setting, a beautiful mixture of kids' furniture and toys are placed next to the adults' pieces without looking odd, just chic.
"We like to keep our space as minimalist and neutral as possible, but we have collected some art and items that will remain with us always. We have an artwork from New York, where my husband and I met, that we bought from a vendor in Central Park. Whenever we look at it, we think of our favorite city in the world," she said.
The couple also sources items in Shanghai and the selection of furniture is not based on a particular brand but on respect for the interior style. One of their favorite home accessory brands is Studio NooSH. The newly acquired item from NooSH is the Chinese ancestors painted on linen canvas, which brings an Oriental touch to the living area.
"My home is very important to me. I grew up in the suburbs of a relatively small American city in a home with a driveway and a front yard. Once I became an adult living in NYC, I treasured making my small space my own. I was very happy to live in a small apartment making the city my backyard and my kitchen and everything in between. I dreamed of letting my kids live the city life and experiencing all there is to offer. I don't have any ambitions of having a big home in the suburbs or the countryside; I love working with what we have and making it our home."
Ask The Owner
Q: What's the best thing about living in Shanghai?
A: The buzz, the vibe, the speed at which everything moves.
Q: Describe your home in three words.
A: Serene, loud, full
Q: Where do you spend most of your time at home?
A: In the living room most likely.
Q: What's the view outside your window?
A: The city in three directions from 23 floors up ... love waiting for the Oriental Pearl Tower to light up in the evening.
Q: What's your favorite object at home?
A: Probably our Nespresso machine.
Q: Where do you buy furniture?
A: Hay and Casa Casa are my favorite stores in Shanghai.