Sweden meets Shanghai in cozy downtown apartment
The bright, spacious apartment rented by Ylva Rantfors and Linn Medlov is highly personal and cozy with Scandinavian aesthetics.
Both from Sweden, the two women met in Shanghai through a common friend, and wanted to find an ideal apartment to share. They both prefer Nordic design based on minimalism and simplicity with a stylish edge.
"As it's only me and Linn, we didn't need a very large place but set priorities for lots of natural light, an open-floor plan, a nice outdoor space and of course a vibrant location," Rantfors said. "It was quite hard to find what we wanted, but finally we did it."
When they first visited their current home, it was under renovation and a complete mess.
"But designer Nathan Hou, who is our landlord, showed us the design rendering. We saw the potential in it," Rantfors said.
Hou, founder and design director of Nothing Studio, has done many different projects in the tree-lined downtown area. Because of the flat's ideal location on Yueyang Road with a great view of the neighborhood, he decided to transform it into a contemporary-style living space without compromising on functionality.
The highlight is definitely the 100-square-meter rooftop space – a rare find in the center of Shanghai.
"It was also the biggest challenge – connecting the interior to the rooftop upstairs. We spent a lot of time on figuring out the structure and details to make it user-friendly," Hou said.
Rantfors and Medlov liked most of Hou's refurbishing ideas, but also loved making small adjustments according to their lifestyles and personalities. For example, they preferred the open kitchen. There is also a bar area that visually separated the open kitchen and the dining area. They wanted to create an atmosphere that's functional, aesthetically pleasing and, above all, comfortable.
The open-floor plan makes a visual impact, yet the different functional areas are clearly defined as the kitchen, dining room and living room.
Rantfors' and Medlov's favorite furniture style is Nordic and simplistic, as it complements their signature pieces and makes them stand out. Hou opted for furniture in plain colors and classic shapes.
The basic color scheme is based on neutral tones and wooden materials.
The living room, with a light tone palette, features a forest green sofa, and the overall design integrates plants to freshen up the space. The luscious greenery enhances the space, which is abundant with natural light.
During the night, a moody evening atmosphere is the focus. Floor lamps, table and ceiling lights are incorporated into the living area to illuminate different spots.
"We love to entertain friends often, so it's important to have a spacious living and dining area for people to socialize and have fun. There's also a comfortable corner created next to the windows, where I put my favorite armchair inherited from my grandma. It's an ideal spot to read and to chill," Rentfors said.
Though most of the furniture was purchased locally, Rantfors did bring some essential pieces from home, including the armchair, dining chairs and a painting of the Temple of Heaven she bought from a market in Beijing when she worked for the Swedish Chamber of Commerce five years ago.
In each bedroom, family photos and personal items are displayed to add to the warm ambience. The similar style and color scheme in each room is designed to create a good flow.
The 155-square-meter apartment allows for comfortable living, but the rooftop patio is obviously the luxury. It sends out a holiday vibe when you lay in the lounger, seeing only the sky, charming historical houses and city skyline.
In Sweden, there's a strong tradition of spending time outdoors. Rantfors come very often here for relaxing and entertaining. The rooftop integrates cozy spots to lounge, alfresco dining, barbecue facilities and everything contributes to an outdoor oasis in an urban jungle.
Ask The Owner
Q: What's the best thing about living in Shanghai?
A: It's about the different kind of people from all over the world you meet here. Everyone is very social, open-minded and wants to connect.
Q: Describe your home in three words.
A: Light, modern, Scandinavian.
Q: How do you unwind?
A: Reading and having a glass of wine.
Q: Where do you spend most of your time at home?
A: At the bar.
Q: What's the view outside your window?
A: Beautiful old houses and a lot of trees.
Q: What's your favorite object at home?
A: The grandma chair.
Q: Where do you buy furniture?
A: Designer shops in Sweden.