Softness, comfort and a sense of warmth
Softness and comfort is key to Annemarie Langenhof’s four-level rented house where visitors feel a sense of warmth. The beauty of the residence lies in the balance of relaxed simplicity and the sense of individuality thanks to the Dutch family’s well-loved possessions being brought over from their home in the Netherlands.
Annemarie, her husband Gerard Langenhof and three children, arrived in Shanghai in 2015 not knowing anything about the city. Then after three and a half years of living in a safe compound they decided to move to the leafy downtown area to experience city life.
“Especially for me compound life got a little boring because most of the shops around the place were closed. Fortunately our real estate agent found this perfect house after an intensive search that took about two weeks,” Annemarie said.
Tucked inside Yongfu Road, the location is ideal for a family — in the middle of several nice restaurants and stores.
“We love to take scooter or bicycle rides around the neighborhood and our car is hardly needed anymore,” she said.
They felt as if they were stepping into “their” house at the first viewing.
“It was very much our style and taste although it needed a thorough cleaning and some adjustments,” Annemarie said. “But in general it was a turn key for us. We fell in love immediately.”
Fortunately they didn’t have to make big changes as the basic structure and design is very decent.
As a professional skin therapist, the fourth floor was almost “created” for Annemarie.
“There were shelves already made as product shelves and the view from the room is great. Huge windows can be opened up completely just like the big windows on the ground floor,” the 43-year-old said.
Soothing light and an airy feel make the rooms come alive in a relaxing way.
“We tried to create a Scandinavian bright and minimalistic look with not too much clutter and accessories. Too much of that makes the interior too restless and a welcoming focal point of our memory is key to add a personal touch to the space. We love design, so some lamps, chairs and items here are from our favorite designers,” Annemarie said.
“Our interior style is modern and minimalist but the most important is to make us feel at home. So I guess a cushion now and then or a fur piece gives you this warm feeling.”
The Dutch couple love to keep the background uncluttered and minimal and let the house’s key objects draw the attention.
“We decided to put in just bigger objects on the first and second floors,” the mom of three said. “We as a family fill the space by living it. On the wall of the first floor we hung a print of the most beautiful tiles of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. It means a lot to us as Dutch having something Dutch in the house, just like those Dutch delft blue canal house miniatures on the stairway.”
Annemarie loves the first floor vibe with the old concrete wall, the antique Chinese panels and the ceiling glass.
“The architect had a very good eye on design details and we think he got inspired by the Western world,” she said.
The kids’ rooms and the master bedroom are all essentially furnished to avoid spaces that might suffocate them.
A lot of things in the house were bought in Holland and some items, like the small benches, were sourced in Shanghai. The intricately carved panels in the master bedroom, and on the first floor, are from the house owner thus making a perfect connection with Chinese culture.
“For all of us the furniture is special. Our dining table has always been my desk in our house back in Holland; our sofa is probably the most popular item because we love to watch TV a lot together so it needed to be big. Unfortunately we couldn’t get the fourth part of it to China because of the lack of space in our first home here, otherwise it would have been perfect,” she said.
“Our family life all happens in the kitchen from breakfast to diner. We don’t put a TV in that room because we want to communicate with each other. The best time for us is sharing breakfast together with the beautiful warm weather — so we can open the big windows to the patio area. It feels really like inside is also outside.”
Ask The Owner
Q: What’s the best thing about living in Shanghai?
A: Shanghai is a city of unlimited possibilities and opportunities. As a professional skin therapist and business owner I feel that you can achieve all you want here.
Q: Describe your home in three words.
A: Open, happy, bright
Q: What’s the first thing you do when you get home?
A: First I always sit down at our big dining table, preferably with the big patio doors opened, and have a nice cup of coffee.
Q: How do you unwind?
A: I unwind best by sitting at my desk on the top floor with so much light surrounding me and feeling separated of the rest of the house.
Q: Where do you spend most of your time at home?
A: As a family we spend a lot of time in our kitchen dining area, but later and in the weekends in our family room watching good movies.
Q: What’s the view outside your window?
A: Luckily we have a wider view toward the Shanghai library and a nice pool of the compound next to us. It feels like we have it in our garden.
Q: What’s your favorite object in your home?
A: The Chinese antique panels with a beautiful carved top.
Q: Where do you source furniture?
A: When I source furniture I tend to look at shops like Soft Guru or a small shop on Yongkang Road. We also buy abroad in other Asian countries. Most of our furniture and decorations are from Holland though.