A trip to Berlin, Germany

We just got back from an European trip and it was soooo wonderful. I love Europe, it’s history, it’s old, interesting buildings, streets and I would happily travel there every year.

We travelled via a bus tour, our first time and it was really great. No worrying about schedules (someone else did that for us), traffic, directions or parking. But we had alot of time on our own, which made us very happy.  All in all, it was a very stressless holiday.

The itinerary was Berlin, Prague, Vienna and Budapest. And with a few town/cities in between the major stops.

Today, I’m sharing Berlin, which was our first stop and where we stayed for 3 nights.

I wasn’t overly excited about visiting Berlin, but the closer it got, and the more I read about it, the more intrigued I got. I had just finished reading Ken Follett’s series on the WWII, in the summer, so that was a good history refresher for me.

We arrived after the loooonnng overnight flight and jumped on our bus to get to our hotel. We stayed on the Western side of Berlin and I loved our hotel.  Here’s a few pics from the lobby and our room. The bathroom was very funky with it’s overscaled art on the glass door.

H10 Berlin Ku'Damm       H10 Berlin Ku'Damm

H10 Berlin Ku'Damm    H10 Berlin Ku'Damm

On the way to the hotel, the history lessons started when we stopped at the Olympic Stadium where the 1936 Olympics were held.

Olympic Stadium Berlin

That night we met up with our fellow travellers for dinner and to get acquainted. The next morning we started off with a bus tour of the city for the morning. A great way to get your bearings in a new city and we saw the double row of bricks that designate where the Berlin Wall had stood.

Berlin wall

We also walked along the part of the wall that is still standing. It has been graffitied and beautified by art. The wall ran pretty much along the side of the Spree river, which divides the city in the two parts.

Berlin Wall Berlin wall

Not far from the remaining parts of the Wall is the Oberbaum Bridge which is an amazing red bricked double deck bridge that crosses the Spree (built in 1894).

Oberbaum bridge

We visited the Brandenburg Gate and saw Bellevue Palace (the residence of the German President) and also Berlin’s Konzerhaus (Concert hall) where a busker was blowing huge bubbles to the delight of many kids and adults.

Brandenburg gate

Berlin concert hall

Checkpoint Charlie was another stop and I have to recommend the museum at the checkpoint, it seemed a little small and gimmicky when we first went in, but it actually was huge, it just goes on and on, and we easily could have spent half a day there. So many stories on how German’s coped during the war and how some managed to escape East Berlin and some that didn’t.

Checkpoint charlie

We then visited the Holocaust Monument, (also known as the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe), it is a stark and cold place. The artist did not give any explanation for the monument so we are left to interpret it on our own. I think he meant us to feel stark, cold and alone. The long tunnels and maze like structure were built to allow us to feel what it is like to be caught in a maze and to keep trying to get free and into the light.

Holocaust Monument, Berlin Holocaust Monument, Berlin

Literally a block and a half away from this monument is the site of Hitler’s bunker, where he committed suicide. There is no building or even a plaque on this site, it is a parking lot. The only way you know it was there is there is a sign describing what had lain beneath the concrete.  It felt like, Germany has vowed to not let any of these sites become a memorial to him.

Hitler's bunker site

We also went down the huge boulevards that run throughout Berlin and saw typical communist apartment buildings, that were built during the 50’s – 80’s.

Berlin

Berlin

On a lighter note, we also visited Charlottenburg Palace, the German palace that was modelled on Versailles. If you’ve been to Versailles, you’ll see the similarities in these pictures. The grounds were also beautiful but at that point, our feet were done, so we didn’t do too much exploring of it.  I’m thinking I’ll do a full post on this palace at a later date as the flooring and chandeliers were Ah Mazing!

Charlottenburg palace

Charlottenburg Palace Charlottenburg Palace Charlottenburg palace

We also stopped into the sixth floor of the KaDeWe mall that is legendary in Europe for it’s amazing selection of any type of food and drink that you could desire. We of course, bought some amazing pastry to enjoy.

KaDeWe

KaDeWe

The Sony Centre is another cool sight in a city that doesn’t stop.

Sony centre

Did I mention that the bars in Berlin have no closing hours and also you can walk along the street with your beer or alcoholic drink of choice with no issues? It’s definitely a party city for the young and the young at hearts.

We also saw these crate sofas…. crate beds??? in at least two places in the city. (I’ve blurred out the faces as best I could).

crate sofas crate beds

Bears are everywhere, sort of a Germany’s mascot, they are often standing on their heads and are always painted in interesting colours and designs. Art and creativity are everywhere in Berlin.

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There is also Museum Island, which comprises 5 different museums. We didn’t get to all five, but we did manage to get to the Pergamon which is one of the most famous ones. It houses classical antiquities, such as  archaeological treasures such as:

the Market Gate of Miletus, it has reconstructed from the ruins found in the Middle East.

Pergamon museum

And the Ishtar Gate of Babylon also reconstructed from ruins. Pergamon museum

The last day we were there we went on a boat cruise on the Spree river and it was a fabulous way to see the city. I took way, way too many pictures of the Berlin Cathedral as it was just so photogenic.

Reichstag from Spree river Boat cruise, Spree river

Boat cruise Berlin Cathedral

That night we also saw the Reichstag dome. This is the glass dome at the top of their Parliament building. After you get to the top by elevator, you read the history of their government, by circling around the centre column. Once that is done, you can walk up the long, twisting ramp to get to the outdoor viewing area and are treated to an amazing view of the city. It was pretty spectacular to do this at night.

Reichstag

Reichstag Reichstag

Reichstag

The blue seats you see below are their parliament seats.

We ate well in Berlin and enjoyed their very welcoming citizens. People were always quick to help and get us going in the right direction when we looked lost. We enjoyed a couple of hours lounging in this very casual and cool bar, right on the side of the Spree river, near the Island Museums, where we were serenaded by talented musicians. I could have happily stayed there for another few hours.

bar on the banks of the Spree river

And one last beautiful photo of the Cathedral.

Berlin Cathedral

Berlin surprised me with it’s beauty, creativity and history and I’d definitely go back in a heartbeat. So if you get the chance to visit, go.

Lisa

Classic, warm, beachy home

Classic, warm and beachy, these were the adjectives my client used when describing to me how she wanted her home’s living room/dining room and kitchen to feel. She also wanted to have lots of storage in all three rooms. And we achieved just that. I visited her last week and took some photos to show just how great the transformation turned out.

This is the view from the entry now.

After – beachy living and dining room

The befores:

before living room before living room

I did up a couple of mood boards and sourced products for her so that she could follow the plan along at her own pace as her time and budget allowed. She also has an extremely handy father who did alot of the hands on work. Trades people were hired for the jobs that were not DIY and I think this makeover shows just how much you can do on a fairly strict budget.

So obviously this was a fairly extensive makeover, new hardwood floors were installed in a medium tone brown to keep the look classic and timeless. The dining table was an existing one that her father had made so it was incorporated into the space.  The sofa was custom made and the case goods were picked up from big box stores.

I suggested that she use some of her own family pictures in the 4 large frames and they have turned out perfectly. She already has plans to rotate in some newer pictures. The drapery was ready made and adds some graphic pattern to the palette.

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The bird and octopus artwork was purchased by my client on her yearly trips to Prince Edward County and they are the perfect compliment to the space.

after - beachy living room

after - living room

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Now onto the kitchen. Here’s what it looks like now.

After - warm beachy kitchen

And here’s the befores:

Before - kitchen before - kitchen Before - kitchen

We continued with the same drapery as the living room and dining room as the windows are literally right beside each other. The hardwood floor was continued throughout the kitchen as well to keep the flow from room to room. The existing dark wood cabinetry was painted out to match the new pantry and open shelving.

An antique feeling dark wood table was added to tie in with the dark wood floors and the chairs were my client’s grandmothers, which serendipiously match the table perfectly.  I selected a clear glass pendant to keep the sight lines open to the new backyard deck, as well as a glass and gold flush mount fixture (not shown) for the working area of the kitchen. Under cabinet lighting was also added during the renovation.

The bronze/gold Brizo Talo faucet sparkles like a piece of jewelry on the Caesarstone Quartz white counter and the backsplash is actually tile that looks so much like barn wood, you have to touch it to believe it.

After - warm and beachy kitchen

After - kitchen pantry and open shelving area

These extra cabinets added much needed storage to the space challenged kitchen and a little touch of display area, which can be changed out to a bar or appetizer area when guests are expected.

After - kitchen wallpaper and mirrors

This long, long wall opposite the stove, was treated to some softly textured wallpaper that is wipeable and adds a little extra pattern to the kitchen. My client found these adorable mirror spheres that hide the unused and unsightly phone outlet.

Kitchen faucet - Brizo Talo

The Brizo Talo faucet.

After - kitchen open shelving

Some added display area that also showcases the backsplash.

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My client is thrilled with her home and it’s new look. She says when she gets home she breathes a happy sigh and settles in for some R & R. Which just makes me smile!

Lisa

 

 

 

 

 

Art – do you frame or stretch?

Happy New Year! I hope 2017 is being kind to you so far.  It has been wonderful to me. We escaped for a week right after Christmas to Cuba for a little R&R.  It was wonderful to put my feet in the sand instead of heavy winter boots, even if it was just for a short while.

While we were there, we ventured to the Varadero Market to check out some artists. I love to buy pieces of art while we are away to capture the feel and beauty of a country.  And Cuba doesn’t disappoint with their many talented and creative artists.

We bought a typical Cuban scene of a colourful street with a 1950’s vintage automobile, of course.  The colours are so vibrant, we were smitten at first sight!

Cuban artwork

I’m thinking it will be absolutely stunning in my new navy dining room. Here’s a picture my son in law took on Christmas day of my holiday table, below.

Navy Dining room

So now how to finish it? Do I stretch and frame or just simply stretch it? Well, I put the question to my followers on FB and the response was overwhelmingly to have it stretched.

But I guess, I don’t follow advice too well, as I’m having it framed.  

My reasons are because the dining room is more formal so a frame feels right but actually, the artwork made my decision fairly easy. As you will see in the photo below.

Cuban artwork

Do you see how the terra cotta colour is kind of creeping out of the edges of the paint on the sides and bottom? It would look really unfinished if you could see that on the sides of it once it was on the wall. You could paint the sides I suppose as I have other mounted pieces done that way, but I didn’t want to play with the integrity of the painting.  The other option was to still stretch it but to bring the painting over the sides so that there was no unfinished sides but then I’d lose the artist’s signature and shrink the size of the art.  Not what I wanted to do.

And there was another plus to having it framed, Michael’s was having a framing sale and if you choose a sale priced frame the cost of the stretching was also on sale. So even though stretching was cheaper, for only slightly more money, it will be stretched and framed.

So there you have it, it will be stretched and framed. I decided on no matting as I wanted to keep it relatively simple and clean.  I went with the frame in the picture above. It’s a soft black and has a slight texture which gives it a little bit of a rustic feel to it, kind of like the painting itself.  Even though, it’s going in my dining room, I didn’t want it to be too formal and I certainly didn’t want a busy frame as the painting has alot going on. I wanted the piece to shine out of the frame, if that makes any sense.

So sorry, to those of you who voted for stretching only.  I’ll post a picture once it’s done and in place and you can see what you think.

Lisa

How to hang a wall full of plates

It feels so much like spring here, even though it is really still a few weeks away, but that’s okay we will definitely take it.  When spring hits, I always get a little bit of spring decorating fever. Are you like me and want to repaint the entire house and change up all the accessories?

Well, the last few weekends I’ve kept myself busy redoing my dining room plate wall at our cottage.  And I’m absolutely loving the results below.

Blue and green plate wall

When we purchased the cottage, the wall looked like this.

Before - plate wall with plate railsI loved the idea of decorating with plates, but I wanted to modernize it and give it more of a free flowing feel.  So here’s the step by steps on how to achieve your new plate wall.

First off, I removed the plate rails and filled all the holes in the wall. Then after a quick coat of paint on this wall, I got started.

Oh yes, before I forget, I purchased these Plate Hangers from Ebay.  I didn’t want to use regular plate hangers as I wanted a more clean and modern look, but feel free to use whatever hanging method you prefer.

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1.  You want to gather all the plates and lids (I used one casserole lid that was minus a casserole bottom) that you would like to hang. I would suggest keeping a somewhat cohesive theme, like I did with mostly blue, green, and white plates. But don’t be too rigid, a few surprises are always a good thing.

2. Measure out the width and height of the wall area that you are looking to cover. Once you have these dimensions, tape out these measurements on a flat surface, a table or perhaps the floor, and start playing with the plate placement.

3. Tips for plate placement –  I placed the larger plates first and then added the smaller plates. I also tried to disperse similar colours evenly throughout.

Blue and green plate wall

4. Next, I cut out newspaper templates of each plate and labelled it with the plate colour. I then followed the instructions for the plate hangers and left them to glue on the backs of the plates overnight.

5. Mimicing the plate placement on my table, I taped the newspaper templates on the wall (with painter’s tape) and stood back.  I adjusted them to ensure a fairly consistent space between the plates and kept standing back to see how it looked overall.

Blue and green plate wall

6. Once I was happy with the placement on the wall, I measured the back of the plate, from the hook of the plate hanger to the edge of the plate, and marked the corresponding measurement on the newspaper template, so that I knew exactly where to place the screw.

7. Once I had each screw in place, I removed the newspaper and hung the corresponding plate. I worked from the top to the bottom and it went really, really quickly.

So here it is ALL DONE! As you can see, there is lots of room to grow. It is my perfect excuse to hit up the antique/vintage stores and garage sales this spring/summer to fill it all in.

Blue and green plate wall

Blue and green plate wall Blue and green plate wall

Blue and green plate wall

Blue and green plate wall

 

Lisa

Friday ponderings

DSC_0291 I’m dedicating this post to what’s new, upcoming and heck, whatever I found interesting lately in the big wide online world.  So without further ado here’s the articles and DIYs that caught my attention and made me ponder.

I loved this post written by Leslie Carothers on Hadley Court’s blog titled, “How much does it cost to remodel a kitchen?” It’s a great read if you are about to embark on a kitchen remodel, makeover or renovation. HGTV has done a great disservice to all in the design industry and to our clients, as renovations do not get done properly in a week or on a ridiculously small budget. And this article helps to dispel a few myths.

Benjamin Moore’s colour trends 2015,  They went in a different direction than Pantone’s Marsala and I am seriously considering doing one of the cottage bedrooms in Guilford Green HC-116, once I figure out who is taking the wallpaper down :-/.  It is such a soothing soft, timeless green, and I can so see it with all the warm pine.

Loved reading Lumar Interiors post all about the “anti-trend” trend for 2015. As I tell my clients, don’t worry so much about the trends, it’s all about living with a space that feels like home to you and works for your lifestyle.

Now, I secretly and seriously want to be a minimalist. I purge and donate, but then I almost instantly have a need to fill all the empty spaces….sigh. So I loved this read from Apartment Therapy and last spring I actually did put some spring clothes away to see if I’d even miss them.  I’ll let you know how that goes in a few months.

I have enlarged and framed many of my own photos to put on the walls of my house and cottage, and I’m totally loving this simple DIY to turn photos into huge statement making ART from Popsugar. I just have to go through my thousands of photos to figure out which one I want to try this with…oh yeah…and where it would go.

Have a fabulous weekend and let me know which pondering caught your attention.

Lisa