HOME | Family of five gets a major makeover

A major home renovation in Shanghai has Chinese internet users abuzz.

The Zhou family’s three-floor home in Shanghai’s Shikumen neighborhood was tiny and difficult to navigate. Each floor was about 12 square meters (129 square feet) and the bathroom was only one square meter (11 square feet). An attic provided an additional 1.6 square meters (17 square feet) but the family was still stretched for space.


The family of five — comprised of Yuan Zhou, his wife, son, and elderly parents — also had to aid Yuan Zhou, who is disabled and has hemophilia, making it impossible to climb the stairs. Yuan Zhou slept on the bottom floor to avoid the stairs and sharing a room with his parents, which meant his father had to sleep in the closet.


The kitchen of the house.


Yuan Zhou’s son had to do his homework on the stairs.

Yuan Zhou struggles with the stairs.


Amid their difficulties entered Pingzhong Wang, director of interior design at Ping Design Studio in Shanghai, who learned of their plight and wanted to help Zhou family renovate their home.

The task wasn’t easy.

The family home shares the same stairs with their neighbors, and so any renovation needed their neighbors’ approval. After a lot of back and forth, Wang revised his drafts several times until they agreed.

Want also wanted to install an elevator so Yuan Zhou didn’t have to climb stairs, however the size of the house didn’t allow for the elevator that Wang had originally designed.

Wang stayed up for nights to redesign his plans and finally come up with a solution.



The ground floor of Zhou’s house often got flooded and was extremely damp, so Wang elevated foundation of the house and added a waterproof.

The ground floor of Zhou’s family after renovation.

Wang built a separate stairway and doors so Yuan Zhou didn’t have to share the stairs with his neighbors anymore.


The home was very dark, so Wang replaced the concrete doors and front wall with glass and added a skylight to provide more natural light.

The skylight.



Wang chose a hydraulic elevator for Yuan Zhou which was smaller and quieter than a traditional elevator. It’s also more suitable for low-rise buildings.

The hydraulic elevator that is installed in Zhou’s house.

Zhou is in awe of the new elevator.


The old house was built in 1911, and Wang  wanted to let some of the original bricks remain to honor the history of the house.

Wang left the original wall as a decor.

The Zhou Family was in shock after seeing their “new” home.


Images Credit: SINA

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It is truly heartening to watch how the re-design of a home for a family of five can make such a positive impact in their lives. The turning point  for this family is a result that proves good design really can make a difference to our life.


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