Modern homey space, stylish, cosy and light

Julia and Klaus Hartig's 280-square-meter apartment in the city center is unassuming and highly personal.

Julia and Klaus Hartig’s 280-square-meter apartment in the city center is unassuming and highly personal.

When she found it six years ago, it was still under renovation but she knew this is the one.

“I just felt right,” said the stay-at-home mom-of-one, who used to work in the hospitality industry. “I always enjoyed looking for a new home, especially since we have been living in Shanghai for many years. We are part of the enormous change, not only city wise, but also in terms of housing, standards and decorations. It was an interesting journey.”

The couple’s first rented house in 2004 was an old lane house. They loved the beautiful garden and living in that charming house among locals in the narrow lane.

Modern homey space, stylish, cosy and light
Dong Jun / SHINE

The living room is welcoming and highly personal with several designer pieces and contemporary artworks.  

“We had enjoyed the local lifestyle and everything was in walking or bike distance,” she said. “We were very fond of the area with huge trees, gorgeous heritage protected houses and the streets with local shops, restaurants.

“At that time, our daughter was just a baby (now 15). I still remember her excursions to our Chinese neighbors exploring their homes. She was by far the youngest member of the community.”

Living in an old lane house comes with plenty of charisma but also means plenty of maintenance.

“I knew it was time for a change. I looked for a very long time but I could not find another house where I thought we would feel home until I found this apartment,” the German said.

The space is ideal with an abundance of natural light, a quiet neighborhood and a nice view.

“We didn’t have to make any change to the layout as the landlord did a brilliant job and we still love living in here after six years,” Julia said. “The layout was done very thoughtfully with a very spacious walk-in closet and a walk-in refrigerator. We also have two kitchens. One serves as an entertainment/welcome area with a bar for drinks and appetizers. On top of that I created a modern but homey space, stylish but still cozy.”

Modern homey space, stylish, cosy and light
Dong Jun / SHINE

 The dining area has a contemporary look featuring well-selected artworks including the artworks by Huang Hairong and Han Feng. 

When the couple moved to the city they only came with a couple of suitcases and some personal items as they were only going to stay for two years. Their furniture is the result of looking for bits and pieces in Shanghai furniture stores such as the sideboard with the English flag on or their custom-made couch and the designer chairs.

“We prefer light and warm colors for our furniture because some of our artworks are very colorful and we did not want to overpower them,” she said. “My husband inherited a very old two-seater sofa from his grandmother, which we moved with us to Shanghai in 2004.

“It was covered in a blue paisley baroque fabric, which started to fade due to age. We looked for many years for the right textiles in order to refurbish. Then we bought a very bright print in neon colors, which hangs on one of the walls in our living room, to come up with the right fabric idea. We opted for beige and neon piping around the cushions to create a symbiosis between the two pieces.

“We love art. And since we installed painting rails everywhere in the apartment, we are able to move the art around and create a new look and feel to our home, whenever we feel like. And our landlord appreciates the hanging system, since we don’t have to drill holes in the wall. It’s like buying new cushions for your sofa — it changes the entire atmosphere of the room and transforms your home.”

One of the couple’s favorite things is strolling through art galleries.

Modern homey space, stylish, cosy and light
Dong Jun / SHINE

The seating area boasts an inherited two-seater sofa and an original Andy Warhol print.

“The important thing for us is that the piece we see somehow ‘speaks’ to us or that we do feel a connection to it,” she added. “Most of our art comes from extremely talented Chinese contemporary artists.

“I pretty much love all our artworks but one in particular is very special to me. It’s from a Chinese male artist and he moved to Scotland for a couple of months. Apparently the weather wasn’t ideal so he painted with charcoal, big black drops of water on white felt. I saw the painting in one of our favorite galleries and called my husband, who was in Germany for work (for a lubricant company), and I raved about it. He had the genius idea to encase the painting in an acrylic frame to protect it from dust so we ended up buying it.

In their bedroom four squared art pieces hang above the bed, which represent the seasons. Since the paintings are quite bright, as are their Chinese bedside tables, the couple decided to keep a rather low profile in terms of the color scheme for the rest of the decor and went for white, earthy and light blue colors. This gives the room a nice, cozy feel.

Despite the apartment boasting an amazing collection of art, Julia still considers the view from their balcony the highlight.

“Once spring arrives in Shanghai, you can literally see the trees in front of your eyes blossoming on a daily basis. The view from our balcony is astonishing with so much green. Our daughter can see from her bedroom window the breathtaking skyline of Pudong,” she said.


Modern homey space, stylish, cosy and light
Dong Jun / SHINE

Julia Hartig and her family moved to this spacious apartment six years ago and have enjoyed the local lifestyle ever since. 

Ask The Owner

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

A: Hustle and bustle.

Q: Describe your home in three words.

A: Art, flowers, decor.

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

A: Sit outside and enjoy the view.

Q: How do you unwind?

A: Quality time with my family.

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

A: Everywhere.

Q: What’s the view outside your window?

A: Green, green, green.

Q: What’s your favorite object in your home?

A: Art.

Q: Where do you source furniture?

A: Design stores and Decor magazines.

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