One of my favourite newly discovered blogs is Two Men and a Little Farm. I spent a very enjoyable few weeks recently trawling their archives and catching up on their tale of buying their dream farm and doing it up, while still living during the week in the city home. One thing that has really made an impression on me is the way they pull lots of different small things together to over time create a very pleasing whole. I've never really paid much attention to the ins and outs of interior design other than leading through one or two books my mum had when I was a little girl. I'm sure I've come across lots of stuff over the years of reading various blogs and discussion forums as well but for some reason, perhaps a right time right place thing, a lot of things have been clicking into place in my mind while reading through TMAALF.
One thing that really caught my attention was how they have made decisions ahead of time about the colour palette for each room. They also have very definite ideas of the style they like, which I'm not quite as definite about. But the colour thing? I reckon I can do that. In fact, more and more over the last couple of years, I've been heading in that direction anyway and have slowly been gathering things in complementary colours for a couple of spaces. But now I know I can take it a step further and totally pull an entire room together by, for example, painting furniture. Since most of my furniture is second-hand, very little of it matches and I've occasionally dabbled with the thought of sanding things down and painting them. Having a mishmash of stuff didn't really bother me though. Perhaps it's my advancing age or maybe it's just also having seen my sister getting her house done bit by bit since they moved in there a couple of years ago but these days I'm definitely leaning more towards a more cohesive look.
This post ended up becoming far too long so I'm actually going to split it up and post separately about my plans for each room. Although I have lived here for five years now, I haven't really done a huge amount to make the place my own. In Ireland, most places you rent come furnished so I've just always been used to living with an assortment of bits and pieces that might not go very well together. And decorating is a big no-no. If you're lucky, you'll be able to get permission to put up a few nails to hang some pictures but you can forget about painting or anything else. You just live with the colour scheme your landlord likes and, if you're lucky, are in a place that has been redone recently and is probably the very non-offensive magnolia colour which now seems to be standard.
Here in Germany things are very different. Most places come completely unfurnished - a bathroom suite must be provided but a kitchen, for example? That's usually down to you. If you get lucky you might be able to buy the previous tenant's kitchen, if not, like me, you have to buy everything, right down to the taps. Most people, I now know, paint when they move in somewhere and really, it makes sense to do so before you move all your stuff in. I didn't really get that when I moved in and although the management company told me I was responsible for decorating to me the place didn't really look any worse than most places I've lived before so I didn't think it was worth going to the expense. That leaves me now with a whole load of furniture and stuff to move around if I want to start painting and papering.
Before going any further though I definitely have to mention Raufaser, the woodchip wallpaper that is ubiquitous in Germany. You will almost never see just a nicely plastered and painted wall and only occasionally 'ordinary' wallpaper. And even that is usually reserved for places that people own (and home ownership is just not as common here as it is in many countries). So, most places for rent, including mine, come covered in Raufaser. Even the ceilings. And my obligation as a tenant is to hand the place back in the same condition I received it in. There is one wall in the sitting room which has yellow wallpaper on it - it's starting to peel off and does need to be replaced. Everywhere else is Raufaser. I have bought wallpaper for that wall and also for the kitchen though. Hopefully there won't be any problems when I do move out even though I've changed it. Knowing it's just a rental also means I've dithered on whether or not and how much money to spend. I honestly didn't even think I'd be here for five years and even though I will hopefully be moving on in a couple of years, there's no point in leaving it any longer. It will do me good to devote more time to really trying to create the kind of space I want to live in and I think it will actually leave me better able to prepare myself for a move. Coming up over the next week or so, photo-heavy posts of each room. Warts and all, which means that you'll all be able to see how decluttering will have to be a major part of any efforts on my part!