Imagine you find a place to rent but it's completely empty – no furniture, not even a kitchen. Even a Londoner would give it a pass. However, in Germany, this is the norm. Thanks to rolling agreements that don't need to be renewed and more legal protection for tenants, renting isn’t a temporary solution. So when Social Media Campaign Manager Josephine and her Web Developer boyfriend Philipp moved into a partially renovated, pre-war apartment in Berlin, they started from scratch.
"On the move-in date, the place was only partially renovated. We got all the skirting boards and the floor in the hallway sanded. We also replastered most of the walls which meant we could decide how to paint them straight away. We wanted to have one black wall and one bare plaster wall. When we told people, they didn't think it would work, but now, everyone loves the look.”
The housing market in Berlin's quite competitive, but the couple had time on their side. "We weren’t under any time pressures which helped us secure this place. The landlord said it would take a few months for him to finish the renovations. That scared off most of the people who were interested."
Philipp: "Josi always wanted to have a vanity desk and we invested a lot of time searching for the perfect one. We found it at MADE.COM. With its dark stained ash, it was love at first sight with Penn."
"Moving into this flat meant saying goodbye to student furniture. We only brought two pieces with us, the sofa and two shelving units. Now, we're doing things step by step. After living here for a year, we're almost done but we recently learned that the third room will have to become a nursery."
"The living room is our favourite room. The big windows, access to the little balcony and the black wall with the grand swing doors to the bedroom. We chose to paint it black to give the space more depth."
"The best interior advice we followed was to allow ourselves some time to get a feeling for the flat. You have to live in it for a while before you can start decorating. Our first impulse was to order everything in the weeks before the move. But patience really paid off. A lot of decisions could only be made while we were living here."
"Plants breathe life into an interior and we use them to add a pop of colour. That’s why there's always a fresh bouquet on the dining table", explains Josephine. Philipp adds: "We love inviting people over. It's easy to get people in the kitchen to cook together or have friends over for breakfast at the big dining table. We're also thinking about throwing a party once the whole place is done."
Moving in before the renovations were finished had its downsides: "We had to accept that not everything will be perfect straight away. We had to set the fridge up in the living room as the kitchen tiles were fitted three weeks after we moved in. And the kitchen arrived a month after. We cooked on a little hot plate in the bathroom and dined outside.”
"We really wanted a vintage sideboard for the hallway. We found one on eBay when the place wasn’t even ready to move in to. But we felt really lucky getting this piece. It's an original from Denmark and in such good condition.”
"When we came for the first viewing we knew that this was the one. It may sound a bit cheesy, but it’s true. Everything was perfect and exactly how we wanted it to be: the location, the size and the fittings. It was almost too good to be true.”
Article written by: Marius Thies
Photography by: Mirjam Wählen