While I adored our handmade Christmas decorations this year, there’s something about getting the tree down and that helps me appreciate the spick and span feeling of the home back in order after all of the abundance. I thought it made for the perfect time to share a Germany House Tour – all 700 square feet of treehouse paradise in our Freiburg, Germany apartment in the Black Forest.
You might notice the wide doors. As luck would have it, our flat is in the clinic of Sebastian Kneipp, a German Catholic priest who was a pioneer in natural and hydrotherapy practices. Many of the bath towns here still use his practices that he developed from the forest and waters surrounding our little flat. It’s definitely like the perfect place for our family to get rest, nature, fresh air and time together following a pandemic.
In Germany, one of the most favorable descriptions of a home or person is ordentlich, or orderly. This, for me, has been the beautiful lesson in living here. I feel like after a small living experience, I know more about how to identify what’s sacred in life, the value in keeping things scrubbed, nice and in good order. It’s easier in this living arrangement to find contentment with exactly what I need.
This expat short term rental, complete with basic IKEA furniture in both white and beige, has been the best place to live. I’ve loved making this home and living in it. I am excited to share some favorite parts with you!
Germany House Tour
Many German apartments that one leases long term don’t come with kitchens! Since flat living here is more like a long term home and people are particular about their kitchen equipment and layout, it’s common for families to build one in. This tidy, clean white kitchen in our rental was such a relief and makes everything pop – from fresh fruit to flea market art and dish towels.
I am especially fond of the delft blau tile of the kissing Dutch couple that I painted at an Amsterdam delft blau painting workshop. It’s been so fun to fill a blank slate with new, meaningful things like that over the last year.
The biggest change we made to the flat was purchasing this IKEA Erktop Slipcover. I love the pop of print and how I can take it outside and scrub the cushions on the balcony as needed (which is regularly with this forest crew). Framed photos are one of my rental decorating tips.
I love to decorate with what we already need out as a family, like books in a basket for reading time. It seems to work its way in visually when I recognize them in the process. I love Heidi’s guitar over here and how feels so warm on the vintage parquet floors. It tends to draw the right people over to the big chair when we are hosting.
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IKEA Erktop Slipcover // patchwork quilt block pillow pattern
We added a little rental-friendly zest to the sitting area with another IKEA slipover, more flea market finds and a collection of masks I bought at a party store on a day trip to France that make me laugh so much. They give faux-museum vibes on the wall but really just become so enticing when hung like this to grab and wear around for a minute.
I’ve been so lucky to have Heidi’s great aunt here with us in Freiburg. She was so gracious to offer her renowned quilting services to me for some custom pillow covers. Between her collection of books and Etsy Quilt Block Patterns, I could find a few that represented our family and time here well. They are so special to me, so easy to pack and move through life and something I hope Heidi wants to take with her to her first place.
The winter stars are so popular here, I’ve been shopping for one for probably a year. The patterns and designs are overwhelming! This one someone had put out for free – easy!
I always had a good day at the spring flea markets if I could find a little warm, wooden side table for around $8. It keeps things nice, from the little planter turned coin keeper I made with Heidi at a Dallas Silk Art class, to thrifted vases I can keep around with my little art of how to make grocery store flowers look nice.
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The lighting was all IKEA when we moved in, which let me switch out some of the options that came with the flat to ones I found at our local IKEA that felt more like us. The track system to be able to install these pretty seamlessly in a rental fascinated me! This big rattan reminded me of picnic baskets. Mealtime in the Black Forest has mostly been upgraded picnic food – from fresh salads to pressed sandwiches and fruit and cakes all day – and there hasn’t been a complaint yet.
With the ideologies of Throw Nothing Away and Buy As Little As You Can being major values of our town, the puzzle trade market is strong. They just go on the sidewalk when complete for the next challenger (and they always have all the pieces?!). Based on what we find, I think I am one of many family homes here where it’s impossible to get a picture of the flat without a puzzle in progress on the table. 🙂
IKEA MALM Bed Review
Queen’s room came with this classic IKEA Malm bed and nightstand set up. Honestly, it’s been a great little bed and mattress (also IKEA). It was a fun stretch for me to keep the Scandinavian feel while warming it up a little. My favorite thing I did in this flat that I could do in all my bedrooms now was install these bedside scones. I love how it got the lighting off the nightstand space, and it’s a nice, soft light that makes me want to read a little before I turn in. The hotel feel of it made anytime I felt transient this year feel a little more luxurious.
With having so little storage, buying anything – from a headband to a bottle of lotion – becomes a game of how much I really want to look at it. Only keeping things around that delight me makes it easier for me to find a place to put them and know they’ll somehow blend in.
German bed making is such a trip to me, but I do love a when in Rome moment. The wildflowers here in the spring are bananas, and have kept me patient through this dark winter, reminding myself the darker and wetter it is now, the most explosive spring will be. It’s so quiet in January here, but by March the birds are all so loud, calling for breakfast for their babies beginning at 5:00 a.m.. I love how it all works here like that.
Oxford Pennant continues to deliver the mantra in all the right ways, and has become an MVP in being so easy to pack and move and install and inspire.
Writing and writing, especially the Sunday newsletter email to you all each week, at this desk in this flat with this view is the coolest thing I’ve ever done.
Girl Loft Bedroom Ideas
I just loved adding this special wallpaper to Heidi’s room! I learned so many tips for putting up peel and stick wallpaper.
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One thing we got really into during the pandemic was watching videos on small living – from little cabins to converted school buses and custom built tiny homes. A little loft-like space for kids that feels completely like home at the same time became such a creative pursuit for us. I can’t believe we got this opportunity.
I love this little space we made for calm sleep (no devices on this side of the bookshelf), prep for the day and plenty of room for things and treasures she’s found in the forest and I’ve found at the flea. The rattan storage baskets in the bookshelf open up to the living room on the other side and get dragged around the flat for various projects before sliding back in. These chalk labels became an opportunity for us to practice our German, which I have to report now worked like a charm.
I love this IKEA SLAKT bed that we purchased to turn this former media area of the flat into a girl’s loft space.
Since there’s just one bathroom, a little mirror over here and a drawer with her brush, lotion, and these days, tinted lip balm collection, helps us all get ready without forming a queue at the loo, if you will.
The washing machines are so small here, my trick to not overstuffing has become tiny hampers (and fewer clothes!).
I feel so close to all of the homes we’ve lived in, but right now I feel like maybe there will never be anything else like this place. I’ve learned so much about what’s sacred to a home here, how contentment brings out the beauty in everything. I have loved getting to know the rhythm of nature so closely here and seeing how beautifully German culture brings that into the home with fall hygge or summer picnics.
It felt like the perfect day to show my appreciation and love for it by taking a moment to share it with you! What do you think?