So when Michelle Ward brought out Crusade #51: Home Sweet Home I dove straight in. This is not only the hardest I've ever worked on a Crusade, this is the hardest I've ever worked on any blog post here at Studio Mailbox. Michelle's ideas are so terrific, I'm grateful for the inspiration to document our life. Truth be told, I wish I had done this for every residence I've ever lived in.
I hope you enjoy this tour, please feel free to leave a comment and let me know you were here. Or speak up with what you think I should change in this house!
Our first impression when pulling up to look at this rental property was less than enthusiastic. It doesn't look like much from the front, but give it a chance, and c'mon inside...
*Ringing doorbell* Ding-dong*Ding-dong*
When you enter the house, the first room is the dining room. The entire house is staggered half-levels so there are metal bars to give you an open feel but prevent you from tumbling down into other rooms.
Since we've moved so often, we always try to find ways to make our stuff work. Designers might say this is an "ecclectic mix of old and new." I call this several years of slowly upgrading our crappy stuff. Our house has everything from hand-me-downs to Ikea to antiques. Down the first set of stairs is the living room.
Although the ceiling is low because of the house's strange format, the room is huge and bright. My favorite piece of furniture is the coffee table which is actually a World War II Army Ammunitions trunk. I bought it at a Minnesota rummage sale for 10 bucks at least 15 years ago.
This trunk is a big conversation piece having been with me throughout the US, England and now Germany! Oh the stories it could tell...
Y'all might remember my post about acquiring needlework at flea markets. Our living room pillows are made from old framed and forgotten handwork that I've bought over the years. I've disassembled, washed, and blocked them. Using bright Ikea fabrics, they were made into pillows. We love them, and nearly everybody comments on them.
The next shot is our balcony, followed by the view of the living room from the other side, returning back up the short flight of stairs to the dining area.
Here are some images of our kitchen, which in Germany you typically own even if you live in a rental property. We used our kitchen from our old city apartment and had it reinstalled. Germans don't typically like clutter and it's rather unusual to have a hanging pot rack. It fascinates our guests. The funny part is that the ceiling in our old kitchen was so high that my hubby used chunky chains to hang it, which gave the old place a groovy industrial look. Here with the squatty ceilings we get comments like, "wow those pans must be really heavy!" Hah hah. The tile black-splash goes hand-in-hand with the metal Brady Bunch prisoner bars. It's a 1970s rusty variegated brown. I have some yellow accessories just to really mix it all up! I hate my kitchen curtains and have been meaning to change them for years. I have no idea why I haven't or what that says about me.
There is a small guest toilet tucked into the corner of the dining room, which has always grossed me out. The real kicker is the classy ceramic sign on the door and reads, "Lokus." Lokus is a slang term for the toilet. This lovely decoration is basically the equivalent of having something on the door that says, "The John" or "The Pot." At first we tried to determine how to remove it without tearing off half of the wooden door. Over time, we've stopped seeing it and now I sort of love it. I think no matter where I live, I might post signage that clearly labels the bathroom the "Lokus!"
The other honorable mention here (besides the outdated bathrooms themselves) is the fact that a house that's built half-way into the earth seems to get a lot of bugs. Monster spiders invade through the drains and ants come out of the walls in the spring. All that white powder you see along the floor in the Lokus is not cocaine that we were trying to flush down before this tour. That's baking powder which seems to be the only natural deterrent I've found that keeps the ants out.
Well you don't get all these levels without a bunch of stairs! Many times I've felt like I've spent the entire day bringing stuff from downstairs upstairs and then stuff from upstairs downstairs. Let's move to the next level, and if you look down to the right you'll catch a view of the dining and kitchen on your way up...
Next is a shot of my son's room. Too bad I didn't stage a glimpse of the polar fleece covered duvet on his bed! Before you accuse me of horrible Feng Shui, make sure you take a peek at the lower right corner of the photo. That's the 3-story drop down from his room and why we refuse to put the couch under the window and instead tucked it beneath his bed!
I'll never forget when my friend Bakes came to visit, because we had to set up a futon for her kids under the windows in my room. You can imagine how stressful it is to have European windows that open fully to a drop like that. "You will not jump on this bed or you can die!" she told them. Even I was scared! I cannot express how the windows in this joint worry me endlessly.
Funny thing about these hanging houses. I thought I was going mentally insane as I hemmed those curtains. They'd touch the floor in some spots and not in others! I couldn't believe how poorly I had measured. Or was I just sewing unevenly? Turns out, houses built into hills settle and move. They're not square. Lesson learned: don't try and hem curtains to "just brush" the floor...or good luck with that anyway.
Overall, we've done a good job making the best of this place. Here's a little collection of the worst offending tidbits, most especially the yellowed & brittle plastic outlet covers, the funky plastic curtain rods and grungy straps that open and close the external metal shutters that Germans call the "Jalousie." Eww....
There are a lot of different theories about renting. We have the attitude that after changing our environment so often we are no longer willing to throw money at surface stuff that doesn't even belong to us. If you've only rented one place, you're probably more inclined to invest in some upgrades.
For now, I did a little color and texture study as well as a parting shot of the garden gnome that sits out front.
Maybe some of you remember when I smashed my own face with a garden shovel? Well my friends--- this is where I was digging when it happened. I have mad respect for that darned rock!
I walked around with a bruised face for weeks...
There's been more good days than bad at this place. And the important thing is that we know that "HOME" is a relevant term.