Urbanstrasse renovation, the making of a home, Berlin

We arrived in Berlin over six years ago; two kids, two rucksacks and dreams of a new life. The van full of furniture from our London home arrived minutes later. We had done several recce’s and visits to Berlin and found the perfect neighbourhood in Graefekiez, Kreuzberg, and, almost, the perfect flat – but I had never set foot in it.

Of course from the photos and Louis’s descriptions I thought it was generally sunnier, the balcony larger and the main road quieter. But the road was noisy, the balcony non existent and the light was flooding into the bedrooms but not quite hitting the kitchen. But we loved it. And compared to our rickety London floors and average sized ceilings, the shock of height, space and such a solid strong structure was exciting. This was our blank canvas in which to start our new life.

Blank canvas really is the word, because anyone leaving their flat in Berlin needs to restore it to its initial ‘blank’ status. So white washed walls, wooden floors, high ceilings and big windows, often with no kitchen is the way flats usually arrive. Although our walls were a kind of coffee colour. Not really welcoming.

But it wasn’t long before we added colour. I’m not sure if its Berlin’s strict rules of leaving your flat¬† freshly white painted white encourages a kind of minimalism inside Berlin apartments, or if it’s just a part of the culture. I felt slightly scared at the thought of colour but once we got started I have never looked back.

Urbanstrasse was like an empty page, waiting for a story to be written, The story
needed to be one about a growing family, something cosy and warm, but fresh, bright
and spacious. 

The world of this apartment grew and changed over the years as the children and we did. The way we hosted, made us move the table into every corner to create more ease. less clutter, etc. But the way the seasons changed made us also migrate towards the cosy fire in the winter, and the windows in summer. The table was relocated many times, and each time it felt like a new apartment!

The choice of the French grey on the walls is one I never regretted and have never wanted to change. Interesting that grey is considered the colour of depression and darkness of cold winter and sorrow, because I actually feel it adds an incredible warmth and sense of class and grace to our home, perhaps the warm blue tone in this particular grey helps.

The bedroom spaces have been ever-changing according to changing needs. These lockers below were a great street find. I was tempted to paint them but love the scuffed surfaces and scribbles.

This ceiling fresco, below, is crazy and amazing, but it does draw light away from the room and, it’s not my favourite image. But still, it adds a certain something to this flat!

And so the ever-evolving home continues to progress.

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