The big reveal: our actual house! Holy cow, I worked so hard!
Seriously, I thought I was going to pass out 11 feet up on that ladder, so many times.And I hate painting walls.But my easel has a home again.
I’ve been obsessed with designing, collecting and curating my environment since I was a tiny child.
We finally have a home big enough for all of my weird stuff, and all my husband’s weird books.
Painting our house and the furniture I bought for it on eBay, and planning and building our kitchen and workshop (I designed it and constructed the cabinets but the actual building was done by the amazing Handyman For Berlin, James!) took about ten months.
Along with unpacking the 480 or so boxes that arrived on January 24 in the shipping container (again thanks to James, whose moving crew of good-natured Ozzies ran everything up the stairs).
Decorating, hanging, and installing window treatments was in there too. James hung all the heavy artwork and other stuff, with me handing the tools up to him, and installed the window treatments, because I’d sworn I’d never fucking do it myself again.
James also installed all the light fixtures, which sometimes necessitated a hilarious degree of resourcefulness. Not only does your Berlin apartment come with an empty room with pipes sticking out instead of a kitchen, it comes with wires sticking out of the ceiling instead of light fixtures.
James hung endless hooks for things using his “Super-Drill”, an impact drill which is the only way to hang things on foot-thick, crumbly altbau concrete walls.
I bought the ram’s horn, porthole and ouroboros mirrors right before we left, knowing Berlin altbau apartments tend to long hallways and envisioning a Hall of Mysteries that would recall the one in The Dawn Treader.
The tin fish was listed on my packing list and shipping manifest as “fish from Gail’s abortion”, which is an even stranger and sadder story than you can possibly imagine. Eventually the fuse box door will be wallpapered in some quirky-ass FlavorPaper or Timorous Beasties print I can only afford a meter of. I also plan to wallpaper the salon double doors, and just haven’t got there yet.
I’d say my overall decorating scheme is at 95% here.
James rewired this 1970s lamp I bought for ten bucks at the Berkeley Flea Market in 1998, as well as half a dozen other lamps. (European current and plugs and sockets are very, very different.) I gold-leafed five-euro mirrors from the discount store. I glue-gunned trim to all my eBay-score and email coupon chairs and sofas. I painted tables.
I assembled and stained countless pieces of heavily discounted furniture, and attached Anthropologie knobs I’d been hoarding for a decade. I repaired broken things I bought for cheap with epoxy clay and paint. I made more shadowboxes, and frames, and converted lampshades. I built a new base for my dollhouse, and finished filling and decorating it at last.
I dug through boxes of my husband’s childhood mementoes to find his snowglobe collection, his piggy bank collection, his signed baseball and his sports trophies.
My birthday gift to him was getting the special limited edition poster from HOPE 11 he brought home framed and hung immediately (above, sorry it’s blurry). On July 30 we had our housewarming/husband & Daria’s birthday party and revealed it to the world.
It was fantastic and joyful, and afterwards we slept for a combined total of 42 hours in a 24-hour period.
James came and took these pictures a day or two later, wisely recognising that parties are the only time our house is really clean.
That’s why there are like ten thousand bottles of wine on the counter- when you give a party in Europe, everyone brings booze. I’m ferrying it over to Daria a backpackfull at a time, since we have no use for it. The workshop is really a fine example of how beautifully James realized my crazy ideas.
The kitchen is going to be amazing once I sew and hang all the newsprint-patterned curtains over the open shelves. And once we get our dryer.
Wow, I’m so tired from writing about how much work this was that I have to go lie down. Anyway, our house (except for some final details and making the bedroom nicer)!
Isn’t it completely amazing?