Posts Tagged 'Renovierung'

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’

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…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!

Recycling furniture and collecting ideas in Berlin

Yesterday I looked at magazines to take with me on my easyjet flight on monday…and I was surprised to see the cover of Elle Decoration, British edition. First of all, holidaying at home. Exactly our plan for this summer! And secondly, green. Lastly, a 60’s sideboard. Tout se tient!

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But let’s proceed with order. In the recent posts several themes were launched.

– Green glass…

– Green bookshelves…

– DDR design…

– German iconic brands of the 60s….

Well, Elle decoration seems to follow Aflatinberlin steps! 😀

In fact part of the time spent holidaying in Berlin will be dedicated to the finishing touches and furnishing of the “cub” 60s flat. With items seen and collected over the past 2 trips to Berlin (with a little help from our friends in Viktoria Luise Platz), and with ideas pondered during the last 4 easyjet flights. Let’s see how all these items come together…

personal bauhaus -1

bauhaus 01

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.

just DIY it!

worm, chrysalis and butterfly…

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This is the butterfly…a bedroom full of light, the bed facing an enormous double window overlooking the chestnut trees, new oak floor and travertino paint for the walls.

cimg0127…the necessary chrysalis…

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And this was the ugly worm we bought…poor thing it was ugly but with lots of potential! This is the same room as above, here as a post-war kitchen.

Before the war each floor of this Altbau had just 2 enormous buergerlich flats, with chambres de bonne and the like. Each flat was then divided in 3 flats. Our worm – pardon, our Flat – didn’t have any bedroom, just a big living room with a bow-window, a kitchen and bath both with windows, and a roomy dark corridor for a total of 54sqm.

We torn the wall down (even if we never liked Reagan, we did as he said 😀 ) and transformed the neighbouring bath and kitchen into a nice bedroom with a superb double window.

So now The Flat has a double bedroom and, thanks to our architect, the living room goes back to its pre-war destination. (Er…what about kitchen and bathroom then?!)

sleeping in

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Last weekend, first night in the flat! The flat needs still a bit of work on the storage units, so there are still tools and paint around the living room. But bathroom, kitchen and bedroom were up and running. And anyway, no hotel or B&B had been booked…so I would have slept in the flat no matter the situation.

Tests were ok and with flying colours…

Opting for a big shower (2m x 1m) rather for a bathtube was definitely a good idea, especially with the rainshower set. The snowy and icy cold weather in Berlin provided the ideal test also for the heating system below the dark anthracite grey tiles of the bathroom. It’s a pleasure to walk barefoot on something very similar to stones warmed by the sun. Our personal zero tolerance for bathroom furniture – except from a built-in small cabinet – also gives to the bathroom a nice mineral feeling, quite warm thank you to the mixed use of mosaic and milky-white tiles on the walls.

The kitchen test was limited to a good cup of tea as I had not bought groceries…in the picture you see a gorgeous constructivist-looking IKEA teapot. I bought the bold zinc letters forming our logo (RC)^2 last summer in NYC at the Anthropology store on Madison. Oh boy, at that time we just had the keys of the flat and the project was just a sketch done on the table of our favorite roman pizzeria while brainstorming with our architect. I can’t believe that sketch is now reality…

The living room hosted still a bit of work in progress, but it’s the only room which retained its original destination, albeit slightly modified by the disguised presence of the kitchen and by a mimetic mezzanine. The Rundbogenfenster – sort of bow window – was refurbished but untouched. A kind neighbor who lived 1945 in this Altbau building said that we are lucky to be on the front side of the building, which was not damaged by bombs and this explains the fact that these windows are only present on one side of the house. As the oak original flooring and ancient bamboo internal ceiling structure.

The bedroom is fully furnished even if curtains are badly needed in order to guarantee some quiet sleep, the 2 windows are indeed big and flood the room with light.

My brother and I bought a small radio-alarm clock in order to have some familiar noises around us. We were surprised by how silent the flat is, good 1900’s isolation, I suppose. We could hear steps on the kerb covered with icy snow during the night.

I hope that on the next trip MeinMann will be able to join me to Berlin, to see the result! He found this flat during our second flat-hunting campaign, back in november 2007, we signed the contract together in december 2007 and since June 2008 – when we finally got the keys – it’s been my task to commute monthly to Berlin.

I am now on first-name terms with a few cafe-keepers and shop assistants, I’ve found out what I can get at Aldi and what deserves a trip to Kaiser, learned the ropes on the comprehensive pillow offer in Germany, become an expert in return Blitztrips to IKEA in under 1 hour…the Kiez is my oyster.

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I am looking forward to enjoying together the Gemuetlichkeit* of our flat, after all this busy-bee activity and all the research and big and small decisions. We deserve at last some farniente in Schoeneberg, going to the market in Winterfeldplatz, buying a Bund of flowers or listening to a nice record at home…

*=something more than cozy…warm, intimate, comfortable, good to stay in…something that cats master very well as you can imagine


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