When I first considered moving from Texas to Germany, I pictured us in a chateau with vintage wood beams on the ceiling, an upstairs and downstairs and sprawling backyard. Hey, it could happen. The German housing market continues to humble those of us who flock to her nature and care, but I’m here for the long term ride. I am also at my best when I’m in a first things first vibe, and right now Heaven on Earth is our 700 square treehouse in town. Add a few slipcovers for the IKEA chair and it’s really quite homey (I’ll explain).
We were so lucky to find the typical, perfect So It Looks Like You Just Internationally Relocated starter flat in a great neighborhood and nice building – complete with basic pots and pans and the best of IKEA’s starter furniture line. It’s a place I know well from moving as a child and the bliss of college era furnished apartments. They can be a little dismal on move in day but warm up fast with the right approach.
I love a blank slate and restrictions at the same time. Making these rentals feel like home has its own rules, but is easy and fun in so many ways that help me feel settled in a new place at the same time. We’ve been in three rentals in the last year, and I stand by my five ways to fancy up a rental flat fast.
I was so lucky to have my Mom visit right as we were moving into our latest and most long term rental. Walking through our historic Old Town my American mother pointed and said, like she had spotted an apparition in the desert, “Is that….is that a T.J. Maxx?”
Sure enough, I had really looked over some basic places to get going as I was taking in the Euro vibe. We raided the place, and one of the best suggestions from my Mom was stocking up on frames. They instantly add something to empty coffee and end tables or nightstands. Printing the photos becomes a special thing I can do when I feel like I need a few more memories from here or home in our sightline. When I have had the gift of seeing friends here since moving, I go by a store and buy a frame then print a photo and put it somewhere that needs a little touch. They are proof that we are making a life here, moment by moment.
Books from Home
Before moving, we had the majestic American yard sale. Packing things up the night before the sale, my daughter saw Frog and Toad and a few other big favorites of ours from the era of this home, it felt logical to let go of. I saw her face drop. My heart did too. “You know what?” I said, “These must be in the wrong pile. Because there is no way we are going without Frog and Toad. They’re part of our family.”
It felt the same way for me recently when I missed a favorite book I would have had on my shelf in Dallas but, logically, went into the boxes for resale. I tried to be stoic but it was such a relief to see it on Markus’ nightstand.
We are so grateful for the English library here, and are enjoying letting our library slowly refill itself. Books are such good companions in times of transition, I’m glad we keep making space for them.
Flea Market Finds
As much as you can probably tell I’m an enthusiast, I present this objectively. Flea Market season here has been such a dream. It’s a great excuse to get going and in the sunshine on Saturdays and a super inexpensive way to find all kinds of things you need for a new flat (or don’t).
As someone who loves to hit a thrift or flea market when I’m traveling it’s so fun to see what’s coming out of the closets of each culture, so to speak. I’ve found it a great way to be able to add color to the flat in simple places like, switching a white side table for a warm wood for the price of 8 euro or changing out the gray dish towels that came with the flat for a perfectly broken-in, cotton red check set from an old fau’s stash. Whether it’s the second hand shops, estate sale shopping or shopping for vintage online on sites like Etsy, I love seeing what I can take off a new neighbor’s hands to spruce up our new place.
We are so lucky to have fresh cuttings available at our local markets and for such an affordable price here. It feels like an act against oneself not to take home a few tulips wrapped in paper with the groceries for less than $5. I love making grocery store flowers look nice with a little extra time once they’re home.
IKEA Erktorp Chair Slipcovers
We live long enough to become our mothers, and I am thriving in my slipcover era these days. We were gifted the responsibility for the standard rental’s IKEA Ektorp chair and IKEA Kivik sofa in a very “whelming” beige, as they might say in Europe (according to specific sources).
With two dogs, an eight year old and a personal allergy to beige, it seemed like the best temporary solution was to bring in reinforcements. I love our new IKEA Ektorp Slipcover SO much. It’s like the place was totally transformed with a little pop of pattern, and I’m breathing much easier with the protection of outdoor fabric I can throw in the wash and take with me along with, I hope, more of our deposit. If I miss them too much as we move on, I can always invest in some IKEA of our very own for a kids or guest room and throw these on for the same result.
What about you? Is there something you like to do when moving into a temporary space that makes it feel like home?