Posts Tagged 'Stucco'

…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!

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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

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

Staring at stairs…

I have discovered today a beautiful stairs blog...full of great pictures by those like us who stare at stairs …

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So these are the Altbau’s stairs, in massive black oak…all the way from 1914 to nowadays…they are such a beauty!

Why we went for an Altbau

We visited several Aufbau flats buit after WWII, between 1955 and 1960. They are all neatly planned and very rational. But there are a lot of them on the market, and that we could always find one, if we fancied it. Like the one herebelow, in Moabit.

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We felt these flats are quite abundant on the market, whereas Altbau are definitely  rare, especially those at reasonable prices.

Sometimes the Altbau is just “old” and not particularly exciting. Sometime it’s fine, but the Kiez is a bit of a social desert. Sometimes it’s magnificient, but someone just snapped it up!

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Still with a lot of dedication and patience you may find a flat in an Altbau which needs some refurbishing but offers:

1) interesting architectural patterns and facades: Jugendstil, Gruenderzeit, Historicismus, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Bauhaus, Bayerisch, Gothic… you name it.

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2) nice lobbys with big portes cocheres and staircases with wooden boiseries

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3) the flats have high ceilings: close to 4 metres on average, some retain the original stuccos

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4) iron, heavy heating systems, sometimes with nice shapes, forms follows function etc etc

5) beautiful windows, bow-windows – and BIG ones, not tiny!

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6) old oak parquet, or at least, portions of it;

Of course, there are also some minuses:

1) awkward layout, due to the post-war cut-and-paste: in many cases a large buergerlich flat has been divided into 2 or 3 smaller units, the Grundriss sometimes has an innatural feeling, with small rooms, big corridors, odd room shapes;

2) very thin walls were added in order to carve out more rooms out of bigger ones, they have external pipes in many cases;

3) uneven floor surfaces. Nice parquets mix and match with poor wooden planks or are hidden below old carpets. Sometimes the original parquet was substituted with laminat, which is ok for a 50s flat, but looks out-of-synch in an Altbau

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In a nutshell, you have the uniqueness, but lots of work to do, and some money needs to be spent on the property.

Still, they did know a thing or two on building techniques, one century ago. Those Altbau which resisted to 2 wars have done their homework pretty well, and they feel solid and glorious.

It DOES gets emotional…if you fall for an Altbau, it’s also for it being still there, 100 years or more after it was built. It’s for that bit of boiserie, still up. Or for those thick exterior walls, conserving so well the heat, and for those thick, solid heating systems, which were extremely modern at the time of construction, and still are.

Photos: StripedCat (all Altbau photos were taken in Schoeneberg)


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