Posts Tagged 'decoration'

…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!

One year later…1 candle on the cake!

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One year ago we started this blog. Two main reasons: to report about our “flat in Berlin” experience. And to keep track of our renovation adventure, which had just started and needed a bit of a public kick – an official timekeeper online!

One year later, we are going to spend soon our first ever real holiday in our flat in Berlin, having dedicated 1/4 of our weekends in the past 12 months to blitz-trips to Berlin in order to follow the renovation works, sort out paperwork, choose tiles, buy furniture and make the flat feel like our home in Berlin.

One year later, and 3/4 of a global financial crisis later, we’re happy about our choice. It is true, other real estate markets plunged so deep that now there are several “cheap” real estate markets in the world. But we were not just looking for a bottom-fishing real estate opportunity, we wanted something very specific: an apartment with good bones in Schöneberg at a reasonable price, not a seaside flat in Spain or a maisonette in England. In the meantime, garage prices in Rome plunged by 3%. Maybe the Italian real estate market will undergo a correction one day, but the reality is, a 1-car garage in Rome still costs more than a flat in one of the nicest areas of Berlin. Period. Continue reading ‘One year later…1 candle on the cake!’

user friendly?

It is always difficult to figure out the exact ergonomics of a living space, first on the paper with the architect project, then when you do some little changes as work unfolds. Again when you have to furnish the place and imagine how you will move around in the house.

This week A flat in Berlin underwent its user friendliness test. Even more demanding: a”friend friendliness” test!

Friends flocking to the city for the Bread and Butter fashion week stayed at our flat. Rome’s monsoon season was responsible for their adventurous arrival in Berlin at 2am at Schönefeld, but eventually the ladies were able to take a well-deserved night’s sleep in quiet Schöneberg, before tackling their busy schedule of meetings at the fair the next day.

Apparently the user friendliness test was passed with flying colors! They found the right things in the right drawers, they liked the big window and the solutions we adopted. Nutella and Wasa in the pantry were a welcome comfort food after their long hours in the aircraft stuck on the tarmac waiting for takeoff… 😀   I know the feeling!!!

personal bauhaus -1

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Ok ok, it’s been a bit too flowery around here in the latest posts. So let’s go back to the roots of our own private interpretation of “Prussian Altbau grows bauhaus with a little help from recycling and IKEA”.

In our flat we had excellent raw materials to work with. First of all, a century-old oak herringbone parquet, restored to its glorious beauty. Oh, if you could hear the sound of it!

The flat has indeed great bones, namely its 4-metres-high walls. After lots, lots of research, we chose a warm shade of gray, in order to make the cold North-German winter light seem warmer. I agree with Bruno Taut: even under the strictest bauhaus constraints, white in Germany is treacherous, it can turn to “gray-ish white” very easily. White is abbacinante in Italy (can’t find the proper word in English…light so strong it makes you blind), but we feared it may turn into psychiatric-hospital mood under the Berlin sky…especially on bare walls.

I quite like the way – in Germany, mainly – wood is being refrigerated by adding stainless steel. I don’t know if this is quintessential to bauhaus, but it definitely is for me. This is the rationale for the IKEA table with stainless steel U-shaped legs, and for the cantilevered chairs found at a second-hand store, little Marcel Breuer mongrels with a couple of Wassily genes. You saw them dusty in previous posts.

Talking about stainless steel, MeinMann is still skeptical on this solution, maybe as a character in a novel in the ’30s who described this furniture as “dentists’ style”. We well see how we get along with these objects.

And the french doors? They match our Prussian beautiful bow-window, the stucco on the ceiling, all things which are so un-bauhaus. But even during bauhaus, people didn’t throw in the bin their Jugendstil apartments. The flats transitioned from one style to another. The Altbau was born under Historicismus, was raised under Jugendstil, but I like to imagine that it became adult and independent only with the bauhaus, in the ’30s.

gazing through green glass

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For some reason I am attracted to green glass. Not broken Heineken bottles, which sometimes on friday nights you can find right on your bike track in Berlin. I find watching light filtering through green glass mesmerizing.

Countless green tumblers are in our roman cupboards. And plates, of a nice emerald green. To me, drinking fresh tap water (great in Rome) in a green glass makes it even more refreshing.

And then I love books. And bookshelves. And Berlin’s green forests and lakes.

The consequence is pretty obvious. I fell for green glass also in Berlin.

My first finding was this pretty kitsch fruit-bowl, now detournée en vide-poches, bought with the objective to force myself to put keys, USB-key, purse, phone, japanese note pad and S-bahn tickets all in the same place. In a new flat it is just so easy to disseminate key objects (keys!) around and forget them since there is not yet a gravitational law of essentials. Two euros, at my favorite russian flea market. DDR design for the masses. The (other) lives of objects.

Once again, I admit it’s quite fleuri but you are now familiar with my personal theory on “occasional splashes of color – giving the mood of the season – costing next to nothing – and which have a practical use”. Fruit bowl, key bowl, you name it.

The second finding…you will find out about in August! It has something to do with a previous post on Salone del Mobile bookshelves, love for crafted items (like those DDR benches),  green glass  of course…and with a little help from our Viktoria-Luise-Platz friends!

pink tea in Berlin

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June in Berlin and spring is in full bloom…orange blossoms, peonies, colors fill the streets, the balconies and even the store window displays. Stunning color combinations at my favourite flower store in Bayerischer Platz – crimson red peonies and yellow daisies! daring! – but beautiful peonies are a temptation also in the not alluring light at Nolle’s U-bahn station…you simply can’t resist them!

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Another thing I cannot avoid is my local flea market, so this time the temptation to dive in the green-pink mood was too strong, and the DDR 1960’s cups were simply too cute to be left there on the stalls!

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I know, I know. This isn’t either very prussian or bauhaus. But hey, it’s spring…I would NEVER have a flowerly Laura Ashley-esque wallpaper, but I’m all for ephemeral  splashes of color, especially in the bedroom! Some flowers, a cushion. Just to remember what season we’re in.

So this time I wanted to take inspiration from Li Edelkoort’s matches of flowers & objects, and, even if a little predictable, I did like playing around with tea and peonies…and a little pink, the color of balconies this spring in Schöneberg.

Now we can go back to rigorous and linear bauhaus things…in the living room.

someone said greenshoots?

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A young italian designer is proposing this bookshelf…it rings a bell with one of my latest second-hand raids in Berlin…(continued)

The Ironed Curtain

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I hate watching TV in the afternoon, but the Giro d’Italia speeds through Friuli Venezia Giulia,  across the plains, and heads to my Triest! How beautiful to see views of the Adriatic Sea!

I also hate ironing, by the way.

But ironing my new Berlin curtains while watching the ciclisti speeding across the Karst along the Gulf of Triest is a must!

In Berlin there are no blinds. So if you want to sleep you need curtains. I do not particularly love them but I like my 8 hours of sleep.

I went to a professional Gardinen stylists to hear the prices. I was looking for a cotton, mature plum, contemporary fitted heavy curtain. They didn’t have exactly what I was looking for…they were bordering on bordeaux and that’s not my cup of tea. Anyway. Made to measure, consider Eur 810 for our tall and large bedroom window. Argh! More expensive than my sliding-doors white gorgeous IKEA wardrobe!

An emergency solution was needed. I had indeed spotted my favorite color with the nice metal eyelets in the curtain department at IKEA, but the size didn’t fit. But…you just need to buy 2 sets of curtains, and add those missing 30cm by sacrificing one set. The remaining curtain can be used to double up the fabric which hangs in front of the window, in order to make it even darker. The part which hangs in front of the heating does not need to be too thick, in order to let the heat through.

The mature plum color is quite neutral, for summer and winter. It fits very well with white and beige panaches, or with lime green and brown. With pinks and magenta, or with any shade of yellow. So there’s plenty of room for playing around with colors in the bedroom, and little constraints

They metal eyelets are very bauhaus and absolutely not romantic and fluffy. They fit with the very simple stucco on the ceiling. They are linear and practical, the curtain can slide fast on the rails and believe me, when the ceiling is 4-metre high, that helps.

IKEA arbitrage tip: purple Merete curtains are only available in Germany, not in Italy. The price in Italy is Eur 39,95. You will not be surprised to hear that the same product (declined in more colors) in Germany is only Eur 29.90. So, two sets for 60 Euro…and I love purple

just DIY it!

ivory-towel attitude

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I admit, I am fond of haberdashery, DYI and papeterie. These were my favorite shops when I was a kid. In the 70s bricolage was all the rage and these were the shops I would visit together with mum or dad. Looking for the right tools to scrap paint from a wall, or for a new elastic textile-rubber waist band for the pajamas.

At that time you would repair things. So as a kid and teenager I helped in all sort of manual work in the house, except electric stuff and car maintenance where my job was limited to “hold this and don’t move”. This does not mean I was good at it or that I enjoyed all chores. I loved knitting but I hated embroidering. I loved gardening and I hated sand-papering wood planks.

It seems now that the only thing people need to “repair” is the skin (from our stressful lives, from the sun…). You buy buy buy and never do maintenance to objects or simply repair them.

Living in a flat is not so conducive to manual work (where do you store all the tools?) but there are some things that help us in focusing on MAKING things rather than buying them. The obvious one is cooking. Another one could be recycling.

So my latest recycling has something to do with haberdashery. When you merge two “homes” – MeinMann’s and mine, 10 years ago – you suffer from an overflow of stuff. Kilometers of excess white fluffy towels were stored away in boxes with cedar wood. So when it came to buying the stock of towels for The Flat in Berlin I resisted the temptation to grab the towels at IKEA, which was the easiest option, and rather trans-shipped our pristine excess inventory from Rome, courtesy of easyjet. More space in the wardrobe in Rome!

In order to make things easier when there will be friends staying at The Flat in Berlin and in order to have some fun, I popped down to one of the last haberdasheries of our Quartiere in Rome and bought the fantastic fettuccia. Yes, like fettuccine. It’s bias banding, a colored textile tape. Washing-machine safe.

Like glasses in a party, each couple of towels has been color-coded. It’s a fresher look, it costs 1,90 eur and it is practical, especially if you don’t like color towels, you have one bathroom to share and you don’t want it to look like a souk.

But the nice feeling is, you buy the tape by the 10cm, not by the meter or in a plastic conditioning. It’s fantastic to be able to buy as much stuff as you need, not an inch more. And to have your tapes wrapped in a tiny piece of paper. I love this feeling.

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