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Daniela in her living room with terracotta walls

Keeping up appearances: from flat share to family home

When she first moved into the top-floor flat of a 19th century house in Kassel, Germany, Daniela Schinke was barely out of university. She joined other 20-somethings in a flat share and they made it their own. 18 years later, a lot has changed for Daniela, except for her address. Now she lives in that top-floor flat with her husband, two daughters and their cat Polly. The passionate Instagrammer constantly transforms the rented space to make it her own. Find out how.

Passion for the past

“I’ve always had a soft spot for old buildings. Before moving here, I renovated and shared a 50s villa with a couple of friends. For a short period, I lived in a “normal” rental apartment, but I quickly realised I much prefer staying somewhere with a history. This house was built around 1880 and was part of an old monastery. During the Second World War it was partly destroyed and the damaged parts rebuilt, which is why two rooms have higher ceilings than the rest of the flat.”

Let’s play

“I’ve a passion for Scandinavian design, but I’m also drawn to the cheerful colours you see in Dutch homes. And I like the playfulness of French interiors. That’s probably why I’m drawn to the intensity wallpaper brings to a room – it changes the atmosphere and creates depth. In our living room, the gorgeous Raphael design by Sandberg achieves exactly this effect.”

A new beginning

When I moved in originally, the apartment was quite rundown, and to be honest, it was a bit grim. But I saw the potential. We started renovating as soon as I joined the flatshare. These old oak floorboards had been covered up by a dark grey carpet which we removed, and we also lacquered all the doors and skirting. We had way too much furniture in here, so we edited that down over time. Today it’s a mix of a few old treasures – some inherited, some collected – plus some mid-century design and beautiful softwood pieces.”

Back down to earth

“At the moment I prefer earthy tones and materials. Like stoneware. I saw the Vidar jar on Instagram and it fits right in. I repurposed it as a vase and love that matte finish and the Marsala hue is just marvellous – perfect for my living room.“

Colour balance

“Adding a little bit of colour can change a space completely. For our living room I chose a warm terracotta pink by Kolorat – I just love natural materials and finishes. To keep the overall balance, I try not to have more than three colours in any one room.”

So bloomin’ good

“I like to spend a lot of time outdoors, one of many reasons being that I’ve a huge passion for flowers. Planting them, seeing them grow und enjoying their beauty. It just makes me very happy. To me, they’re very important to live with: flowers are good for my soul.”

Heart of the home

“When I first moved in, the kitchen needed of a complete overhaul. There was even PVC glued onto the tiles! We designed parts of the kitchen ourselves and a friend helped us build it. Most of our life seems to happen in the kitchen, it’s not just where we eat. Now we’ve finished it, it’s my favourite room in the flat. When everyone else is still asleep, I like to sit here with a cup of coffee.”

Keeping it fresh

“For the kitchen walls I opted for a light grey with a hint of blue called Skylight by Farrow & Ball. White pastel hues in blue-mint and a lot of wood help to create an airy, bright atmosphere. That’s quite important considering the low ceilings that come with a half-timbered house. Our options for storage are quite limited because the ceilings are so low. So we just need to chuck things out from time to time.”

Never stop experimenting

“I love soft pastels combined with white, wood and just a dash of black. At the moment I tend to go for earthy or heavy hues, like terracotta, marsala, mustard and cinnamon, lifted with a nude pink. Thank God my family supports most of my colour experiments. They aren’t even surprised when I quickly repaint a wall anymore.”

Building trust

“I get a lot of ideas from reading magazines and books, but also from Pinterest and Instagram. But I do believe it’s important to develop your own sense of what you like and what you feel comfortable with. Like everyone, I’m influenced by trends, but the most crucial factor when making decisions should be your own taste. Overall, I am inspired by people who are bold, trust themselves and risk following their own path.”

Prints please

“I can never resist a beautiful print. They don’t need to be expensive or by a famous artist. They just need to lure me in with their colours, their illustrations or their message. At the moment I have works by Ruth Landesa, Lisa Bengtsson, Seventy Tree, Lisa Grue or Philiuko. And then there are the creations from my children…”

Be a good listener

“The grey wallpaper in my youngest daughter’s room serves a calming background for all the colourful toys. My advice to anyone decorating a home from scratch would be always give yourself some time to listen to an empty room. And mix old with new, I always think that has more charm. “

Open-door policy

“I enjoy being surrounded by people: my friends, my family and usually my kids’ friends like to come over here, too. We love to cook together, to chat, listen to music and we might even dance in our kitchen. Well, I have to admit, with getting older I have become a little quieter. But, we’ve had so many parties here – with loud and low music, in fancy dress, with wine and lots of fun. I just think it’s important to celebrate life.”

The allure of blue

“For the bedroom I’ve chosen a dark teal called Inchyra Blue by Farrow & Ball, which has lot of depth and calms the room. It works wonderfully with blush, terracotta red and sage green. Overall, I would desribe my interiors style as colourful but never cheesy. I have a fondness for pastels and a Scandinavian aesthetic.”

More to come

“I’m just not a simple black-white type. I do admire minimalist spaces, but I want my home to be inviting. My next project will be to repolish a few of the older pieces of furniture. And we need a better solution for my husband’s 1,500 vinyls. The old shelf doesn’t look great and is almost falling apart.”

Article written by: Marius Thies
Photography by: Anna Cor

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