Archive for the 'Refurbishment' Category

3 years later…

Three years have gone by since we bought our flat in Berlin (the first one).

What happened in the meantime?

On a parallel street a new building in neo-bauhaus style has just been built. Prices for these new properties vary from 3,500 to 5,000 Eur per square meter. Well, there is so much real estate worth renewing in Berlin that new buildings could be avoided, right…still the prices tells something about the direction the market has taken in Berlin during the crisis.

The construction company who carryed over the refurbishing of our flat is always as busy. Business did not slow down for them, they are excellent craftsmen after all. Refurbishing of existing buildings in the Kiez carries on, both on Wilmersdorf’s side and on Kreuzberg’s side.

The Kiez has not over-gentrified in the meantime, and that is good. Across the townhall I’ve spotted a new patisserie and the smith has gone. But maybe he was not a good smith after all…his store was always closed, the service was a bit patchy.

The Kiez did not become fashionable, there are no fancy boutiques and we still have all our bakeries, delightful independent bookstores and stationery shops.


Living in a vintage gas station, in Schoeneberg

Andreas Meichsner for The New York Times

Have a look at the fabulous article by the New York Times on a very lateral-thinking renovation: from gas station to apartment-cum-art-gallery!

Actually, I remember seeing an Aral gas station teamed up with a bar/restaurant at Schlesisches Tor U-bahn station, close to Club der Visionäre. I wonder if it is seasonal or open all year round…have to check it out.

The full article can be found on the New York Times website together with a beautiful slide show. An excerpt of the article follows.

In Berlin, a renovated gas station


Continue reading ‘Living in a vintage gas station, in Schoeneberg’

From the wall to four walls

Mauerpark gentrification? au secours!!! Let’s hope this side of Berlin remains messy and fluid, and not a neat row of pretty boxes! There are already so many houses built in Berlin which only ask for a coat of paint (and yes, new plumbing, the removal of the odd paper-thin post-war dividing wall), why building more?

20 years on, a street recalls the Berlin wall

by William Boston on Sphere Continue reading ‘From the wall to four walls’

…and here are the flats!

color kitchen

It took some time, to refurbish them, to stitch up proper mini-websites, but eventually here they are. Click on the links on the right…

The 1920s flat has a surface of only 54 square meters – plus a mezzanine! – and is located in a beautiful Altbau. The 1960s flat is cuddly, only 30 square meters but its location is magic!

Both are located in the Bayerisches Viertel in Schöneberg…our ideal neighborhood!

And now, what’s up?

baedecker vide pochesOne year ago I kick-started the refurbishing process at our 1920s flat in Schöneberg. In the early spring, while the finishing touches were being added…ooops! we decided to double-up and buy another flat, the Little Cub, a small but cuddly 1960s apartment.

Over the Summer I furnished also the second flat and we spent our holidays in both of them. Ab und zu, we would move from one flat to the other, in order to check our ergonomics intuitions, see if something was missing and make room for friends and family who joined us in beautiful Schöneberg.

We collected lots of enthusiastic feedback.

On our 1920s beauty the most frequent comments were: “Look at this magnificent window!” (you see it now as the Header of this blog). “I loove the touch and feel of the old parquet!”. But also the modern evolution of the flat got the thumbs up, especially the bathroom in gray hues and the surprise mezzanine.

The 1960s Cub flat seduces for its balcony view on to the park and the flood of light, making those 30 square meters airy and open. Its German retro 60s design was enhanced by selecting carefully the furniture. A few pieces, not to crowd the space, but the right ones.

In the meantime, the crisis unfolded. One year ago everybody was scared of banking with a Bad Bank. Markets crashed and the like. There were times we asked ourselves if we had done the right move.

With insight, we realized we bought at the bottom of the market (hopefully!) and our monitoring of Schöneberg real estate prices confirmed a thing or two.

First, good locations and nice properties disappeared from the radar, were scarce on the market and retained their value. Second, more mass-market and common properties were abundant and at cheaper prices. But we didn’t want a property without caractère in the first place, so no regrets. Third, it’s more difficult to get mortgages today.

And now, what’s up?



In an earlier post I was referring to those difficult years, the 60s. The media give us today a golden vision (very much an American one) but those years were not so sorgenlos…neither in Italy and nor in Berlin.

Our WestBerlin 60s flat had to contain some reference to the Divided City that Berlin began to be in those years. So, DDR design. And possibly the best one.

I found this lamp. The shape is classic, a standing metal part with a white cylinder-shaped textured lampshade. But what a texture! The material used for the cylinder must some sort of Ost-polymer, and as soon as I saw it, it remembered to me the external wall of the KINO INTERNATIONAL on Karl-Marx-Allee. The Eastern Bloc idea of what the sorgenlos 60s had to be…

If I will be lucky, also the next lamp will be, for the materials used, an architectural quote of an OstBerlin landmark. Fingers crossed…


This wall was reproduced on a Berlin compilation of 2003 I quite like, F.U.N., featuring the wunderbar Tiefschwarz & Eric D’Clark “Blow”

The palisander sideboard…


The 60s flat is very small, yet it has a beautiful vista overlooking the park and the pond and a nice balcony. I wanted some sense of continuity between outside and indoor and this was the leading idea in looking for a wooden sideboard. A functional storage unit, possibly from the 60s. With burnished metal legs – not stainless steel – in “Swedish style”, as we call it in Italy.

The budget constraint was quite tight, at the same time I wanted to continue if possible on the handcrafted note, even if it had to be an industrial product. Since industrial objects of the 60s were produced on a smaller scale…there were chances to find something well manufactured. And once more I found exactly what I wanted.

I found a beautiful, simple and linear Musterring sideboard of the early 60s in yet another Schöneberg store. Palisander finish, brown mat metal legs: exactly what I was looking for!

The piece of furniture is perfect, as though it had been produced a year ago. And the other good thing is, after a bit of negotiation, it ended costing like a standard ikea sideboard, about 200 eur. Without flat packs and montage. Magic Schöneberg!


Blond plywood inside, with a removable shelf (functional), it still conserves its original sticker on the inside of one of the two doors. Voila’, a German iconic brand of the 60s! As I came back to Rome, I found in my inbox a message…my friend from Lugano had sent me this link…great minds think alike!

Three pillars of the living-room are there. Good value for money and all reincarnations of previous furniture lives. The only emissions were the 10 minutes of so by van in the Kiez. Zero packaging. Very umweltfreundlich!

As per the lighting, more second-hand will follow. One piece is secured (curious eh?), the other maybe is still waiting for me in one window shop…or maybe not…we’ll see. The table and chairs hunt will provide a bit of Abenteuer for next week, and with that the living room fourth and last pillar will be set.

Of course I am planning a linden-green wall against which the palisander cabinet will look even more gorgeous! Even in the winter we want to remember the green golden shade of the Linden trees…

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