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Before And After: Two Dated Apartments Are Transformed Into One Beautiful Home

2020 has been all about the home. It's been a place to live, a school, an office, a gym and above all else, a safe haven. Little wonder so many have decided to carry out home updates and make it their homes an even more cosy and personal place to be. But there can't be many who have taken on such a huge project as Izabella

Formerly owned by the Royal Marine, this beautiful building on the north coast of Germany dates back to 1870. Sadly, the previous owner had ripped out many of the period features, and what remained was buried under layers of tiles, wall-to-wall carpets and wallpaper. Even so, Izabella and her boyfriend could see its potential and decided to restore it to its former glory - room by room. Just in time for Christmas! 

Before:

"We love old houses, and it has always been our dream to renovate one. We fell in love with the high ceilings and the history. We also liked the road, it had an English feel," Izabella shares. "Unfortunately, the previous owner had removed some of the historic elements, but we could see its potential."


The renovation
Izabella and her boyfriend had a vision to turn the two apartments into one house. They were also keen to  restore the original details and add stucco, moldings, wooden floors as well as replace the windows and doors. It was a massive undertaking and involved completely gutting the place and starting again from scratch. Their vision and hard work completely paid off, as they peeled back the layers to reveal beautiful exposed brick and beautiful, high ceilings. 

"Our plan was to connect the two apartments. Downstairs we were looking to add a kitchen, dining room, living room and a small bathroom, and upstairs a master bedroom, dressing room, bathroom, workspace and guest room. To achieve this, we removed walls and changed the entire plan of the house," Izabella explains. 


"We did a lot ourselves since our budget wasn't very big," Izabella tells me. "We also lived on site during the construction. It was definitely more work than we thought, and we still haven't finished! Our philosophy was just to go for it, which worked out well, as I'm not sure that we would have taken the project on otherwise - it was a vast undertaking! Nevertheless, we are very happy that we did!"

The results
Needless to say, the pair have done an incredible job. Small, musty, dated rooms have been transformed into vast, spacious open-plan living spaces. And the house has been furnished with a wonderful blend of old and new.  The result is a calm, minimalist home which oozes elegance and character - and it's ready just in time for Christmas! 

"I think we are most happy with the wooden windows that open outwards," Izabella tells me. "They also have the most beautiful handles with gorgeous details. And you know, the beauty is in the detail! "We also love the herringbone flooring and all the stucco details and holdings. We are happy that we have been able to give the house back its historical flair!"


Kitchen cabinets from IKEA

"To be more sustainable, we chose natural materials and lime wash paint, which is marvellous!"


"For Christmas, I like to decorate with natural materials, foliage and greens with touches of gold and red. It's classic with a modern touch. I also love paper ornaments and light lots of candles."

Wooden Christmas tree from byWirth

Limewash paint from Bauwerk ColourDrift vase* by Cooee

Limewash paint from Bauwerk Colour


"If we hadn't done so much ourselves, the renovation wouldn't have been possible - so we are very pleased with this decision, even though it has been tough at times!"


Thank you so much for sharing your incredible renovation with us Izabella! I salute you for taking on such a huge project - your hard work has certainly paid off! 

What do you guys think? Would you consider taking on a project like this? 

And just how beautiful is Izabella's home?!*

You can see more pictures over @gruenderzeit_zeit

Having renovated the summer cottage kitchen by hand last year I can vouch for the sheer amount of work that goes into a renovation (and that was only the tip of an iceberg). Sometimes it's so nice to see what goes on behind the scenes, you somehow appreciate its beauty even more! 

Fancy taking a look at a few more before and after features? Here are a few incredible transformations: 


And perhaps the most mind-blowing of all: an industrial welding plant becomes a family home and wedding venue

Who knows, perhaps this will be you in 2021! 

Niki

Photography: @gruenderzeit_zeit

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Before and After - My Swedish Home Makeover!

Last night I was clearing out a cupboard and came across the estate agent pamphlet for our house from when we bought it. I knew we'd made some changes over the 12 years but looking back at the pictures made me realise just how far we'd come! At the time, we were living in a small apartment just down the road and when the house came on the market, we knew it would be perfect for us, but it was over budget. And then we had a stroke of luck. No one wanted it!! Being a consistently 'hot' house market, this was incredibly unusual in Malmö, particularly in a popular area by the sea - where homes tend to sell within weeks, if not days. The estate agent explained that potential buyers had turned their noses up at it, saying it 'didn't have the right feeling'. 

When Per and I went to view the property, we understood what they meant. No one lived there (it was used as an occasional city bolthole by a businessman who had a permanent abode in the countryside) and the living space lacked soul. In addition, it featured some pretty questionable decor choices.... and the dark wood wall and floors made the entire space really dark. It felt gloomy and somewhat depressing - hardly a home to aspire to! The price dropped dramatically and became within reach (although still a stretch!). Despite the appearance, we could see its potential, and would be mainly cosmetic. Plus, it meant acquiring a house in the area we so loved! We jumped at it! 

I'll never forget finally getting the keys in our hands and our first night in the house. I simply couldn't believe it was ours! Twelve years, two children and multiple interior changes later, we're still just as happy in our home today.  

Here's how it has changed over time:

Kitchen / Dining  Before 

Kitchen / Dining After

The very first thing we did was give the entire house a lick of fresh white matt paint (with the help of parents Father and Stepmother!). It would serve as a blank canvas until we decided which way to go in terms of colour. Many of the walls remain white today, although we've added some deeper, earthy shades in some parts of the house. 

We also got someone in to sand down and whitewash the oak floors which immediately lightened up the entire living space. 

We loved the existing Marbodal kitchen units and backsplash - they've served us well over time. We kept them and instead focused our attention on installing better appliances such as an induction hob and new fridge and freezer. 


The kitchen lacked work surfaces, so we added a new kitchen island (there was one when we arrived but it was tiny - you can see a glimpse of it here). The unit is just from IKEA but one of those pieces that fell into place and felt like it had always been there!). It's become a popular gathering place (not only for people - but also the daily post, keys and even sports equipment as the kids fly in through the door - yes, it drives me insane!). But it DOES look lovely on the occasional times it's clear (or better still, has a G+T on it!).


Per has owned the wooden dining table for years. it's made of solid wood so can be sanded down and restored whenever the need arises. It's a really timeless piece and something I can imagine always having in our home. There's no marking on it sadly, so we're not sure of the brand. 

We transformed the corner into a reading nook, which has become one of the most popular places in the home - and means we can all relax in the same room, while doing our own thing! At Christmas the daybed is placed in the attic and replaced with a tree! Years back, we even had a bubble chair hanging in that corner

All the storage was in place when we moved in, and as a family of hoarders, we're still grateful for it. We're unsure what they had planned for the recess - maybe a TV? But it serves as a great, cosy dining seat nook today! 

Sitting Room Before





Sitting Room After


I'm not opposed to dark wood walls - they can look fab in a 50's style residence. But since the house is overshadowed by an apartment block, it can get really dark in the afternoons. Painting the wood white immediately lifted the entire living room area. 

For the first few years it looked like this - and then later we changed the sofa (the cover of which is constantly updated thanks to Bemz - you can check out the many transformations here and here) and added a gallery wall. 



 Open plan space on middle floor (before)

Open plan space on middle floor (after)

Confused?! As much as we'd loved to have had a second sitting room, we needed the extra bedroom. So, Per and a friend built a wall (on the opposite side of the wall from the pillow end of the bed are the stairs) - creating an extra bedroom for my teenage stepson. We removed the shelves to make room for the bed and painted the wall a cosy dark blue! See the complete make-over here

Second bedroom before

Second Bedroom After



Allie's bedroom has changed many times over the year - and will no doubt change countless times more as she grows! The original blue shade felt really cold in a North facing room. The first change we made was to paint them a fresh white (as seen here when the girls shared the room when they were small). We later painted the walls a more earthy, warm shade to add a cosy feel when Liv moved into her own room. I shared the DIY make-over here

Top floor sitting room before

That sofa! 

After

The top floor was originally a sitting room - and we kept it as such for the first few years. But slowly we realised no one was using it - which was a real waste as it's one of the most beautiful, light-filled rooms in the house. So, we transformed it into our master bedroom and home office. And never looked back! 

When we first moved up there the walls were white - as seen here

It's been various shades over the years. For now, we've settled on 'blushing peach' by Jotun Lady, which has a wonderful, calm and cosy feel.


We painted the wood floor 'strong white' by Farrow & Ball (which is actually more of a pale grey). Per designed and built the shelves using planks, wire and nuts and bolts from a local hardware store. 

I sometimes use the corner of the bedroom as my home office when I'm not at the studio (seen below). Today the wall is dark brown ('Norwegian Wood' by Jotun Lady) but it has also been white (you might recognise it from the front cover of interior book 'Everything In Its Place'!). 

We also transformed the nook (above) into a home office for Per during the pandemic - here's a glimpse

The entire room has become a real haven - and like a mini apartment within a house. We love it! 

I have to say, it's been so much fun to take this trip down memory lane, thank you for humouring me! 

When I have days when I wonder why the progress in our house is so slow (there's a reason I've never shown our bathrooms! - potential project for Autumn, perhaps? Don't tell Per just yet...!), I'll look back at these and see how far we've actually come! 

Our house buying decision also taught me an important lesson. At a viewing, take into account the basic bones of the property (the shape, the era etc.). Don't let the 'feeling' or 'soul' put you off. That's something you can add once you move in!   

If in doubt, check out the before and after archive, it's quite incredible how much you can change a property with a little vision, time, effort and money. And some homes, like mine - might just need a lick of paint! 

Don't believe me? Here are some of my favourite 'before and afters' of all time:


I'd love to hear the story about your home - how you found it, how it felt to finally get the keys in your hand (whether as a renter or homeowner), and any changes you've made! 

Niki

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A Rundown House Becomes a Fairytale Swedish Country Home

In 2010, Johanna Berglund and her family were living in a tiny cottage in the village of Broddarp, North East of Gothenburg - and dreaming of owning a house. One day they heard a rumour that the nearest property was for sale. They immediately knocked on the door. And the rest, as they say is history. Well, not quite. The 280-metre square house needed a lot of work - but they knew it had great bones as it had been built by Johanna's husband's great uncle - a talented builder. The pair set about transforming the house room by room, learning as they went - and ten years later it's nearly finished. Before we take the tour, I can't resist sharing a picture of the house before the renovation - the transformation is simply incredible! 

Before

After

I actually had to do a double take to check it was the same house! I'm so impressed with their vision and how they've gone the extra mile. The level of detail is a rare sight these days and really warms the heart - don't you think? Her online moniker 'snickarglädjen' (joiner joy) starts to make sense now! 

Behind the beautiful carpentry, there's a deck complete with an outdoor kitchen and dining area - an idyllic place to enjoy long summer evenings! 

Johanna and her partner have taken equal care with the interior, creating a charming home full of traditional details, beautiful wallpaper (mainly by Boråstapeter) and a cosy corners. Enjoy the tour! 







What a magical home! The level of care that has gone into the renovation oozes out from every room.
So much so, that it's worth going through the pictures several times - you're bound to spot something new every time!

Is there anything that stands out to you? 

You can see more pictures of Johanna's home over at @snickargladjen and on her website. If you're in the area you might also like to stop by Prästgården - where Johanna runs a boutique and a place to enjoy a swedish fika - as well as pick your own flowers. I'm all in!

If like me, you're now dreaming of rural life, here are a few other homes you might enjoy today: 


Speaking of rural life... we're up at the summer cottage for a few days and word on the street is that my parents-in-law are about to arrive in the harbour by boat. The girls are rushing around me in excitement. I'd better get busy so we can go and welcome them!

Wishing you a happy hump day (nope, still not quite used to that term!!). 

Niki

Photography courtesy of Johanna Berglund with kind permission. 

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