Modern kitchen with a marble countertop and backsplash featuring a black faucet, a white bowl with a wooden lid, and a potted plant.
High ceilings, stucco, an abundance of white, stylish designer furniture, and striking contrasts – Sebastian Schmidt's stunning flat in an old Cologne building is an interior design enthusiast's dream come true. Join us for a room tour through the home of this interior expert.

Finding a rental flat in Cologne can be a daunting task, requiring either patience or a stroke of luck. Sebastian Schmidt falls into the latter category. Not only did he find a flat, but he stumbled upon his dream abode. With passion and a keen eye for detail, the 36-year-old teacher has transformed this old-building gem in the heart of the Belgian Quarter into a minimalist haven of comfort. Sebastian proves that minimalism and cosiness are not mutually exclusive, showcasing how 'Luxury Minimal Design' translates into everyday living. Prepare to be swept away by an extraordinary living space.

A man in a black t-shirt and light trousers stands against a white wall holding a glass of water with lemon.

Gira editorial team: Sebastian, you've been living in your elegant old-building flat in one of Cologne's most beautiful and central neighbourhoods for a little over a year now. How did you manage to find such a gem in Cologne?

Sebastian: If I told you that the flat was advertised on one of the most popular and well-known online real estate platforms, you probably wouldn't believe me, but it's true. I was very lucky to discover and secure this stunning old-building treasure.

Gira editorial team: High ceilings, wood-panelled walls, a beautiful wooden floor, and coveted design classics – many dream of a flat like yours. But you've also poured your heart and soul into the renovation. What changes did you make, and what was the biggest challenge?

Sebastian: I didn't need to make drastic changes, since the flat had been renovated a few years prior and was in excellent condition. I simply added stucco mouldings to accentuate the old-building charm even further. Additionally, I made some modifications to the kitchen, which I inherited from the previous tenants. For instance, I replaced the extractor hood and upper cabinets with a natural stone (Carrara quartzite) structure.

Gira editorial team: Where in your flat do you spend most of your time – and why?

Sebastian: I spend most of my time in my dining room, a space accessible from the bedroom, hallway, and living room, making it the heart of the flat. It features a 2.40-meter-long table where I often work, read, or enjoy lovely evenings with friends.

A modern dining room with white furniture, a large chandelier, and a vase with flowers on the table.
The large table in the bright dining room is perfect for an evening of games with friends. Source: Sebastian Schmidt/Rosephotography
A minimalist room with a white marble torso sculpture on a pedestal and a modern black floor lamp against white panelled walls.
Stucco mouldings combined with a simple statue add to the old building charm of the flat. Source: Sebastian Schmidt/Rosephotography

Gira editorial team: Your latest major project was the makeover of your kitchen, or as you call it, your “problem room.” What changes did you make?

Sebastian: Actually, only one side of the kitchen was the problem, as it looked cobbled together somehow and out of sync compared to the rest of the kitchen. I'm a fan of symmetry, clean lines, and a unified look, so I had a design similar to the one on the right-hand side of the kitchen installed on the 'problem' side.

I also integrated wooden bar stools and a painting by William McLure into the new kitchen design. One small change that had a big impact was replacing the existing white sockets and switches with black matte ones from the Gira E2 design line. The result is fantastic and perfectly complements the overall look. I especially like the matte finish, which looks very classy and high-quality.

Gira editorial team: You also have the Gira USB power supply and the Gira IP flush-mounted radio in black matt. How do you like the Gira features in your everyday life?

Sebastian: I equipped myself with these Gira products as soon as I moved in, and I wouldn't want to miss them any more. I especially love the Gira Radio which provides the perfect background music for cooking.

A stylish workspace with a marble countertop, a modern vase, and a wooden chair, set against white panelled walls.
Another eye-catcher in the kitchen: the Gira IP radio in black matt. Source: Sebastian Schmidt/Rosephotography
A bright, modern living room with large windows, white furniture, and a black marble coffee table on a plush rug.
Large windows and high ceilings flood the living room with light. Source: Sebastian Schmidt/Rosephotography

Gira editorial team: There must still be things you're not completely happy with. What's next on your to-do list?

Sebastian: I'm happy with my flat, but at the same time I'm a fan of change. My home is a bit like my creative interior playground, where I like to let off steam and redesign and change things.

A cosy bedroom with a padded headboard, white bedding, and a modern floor lamp, featuring a grey blanket draped across the bed.
Light colours combined with simple black contrasts also enhance the look of the bedroom. Source: Sebastian Schmidt/Rosephotography

Gira editorial team: Sebastian, thank you very much for the interview and the glimpse into your old-building gem.

Want to know more about Sebastian's dream flat? You can find many more impressions on his blog “Sebastian's View” and on Instagram.