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Glimpses of a past life: our maison formidable

Glimpses of a past life: our maison formidable

I love our past home. We used to live in the top floor apartment in an old house in Cologne/Germany.

We paid it off over a long period of time, dedicated a lot of time and mainly money to renovation. It was one of the most rewarding things we have done in our lives.

Tomek’s dad was a great help. He came all the way over to spent some of his precious retirement time at a construction site – our home to be.

We did everything you could possibly imagine to rearrange our apartment which basically was expanded attic space. We put in a solid floor out of natural wood, new windows, reinforced walls, build a new hallway, bought a modern kitchen and completely changed bathroom interior. There was a lot of technical adjustments to be made, too, but you probably know that Poles have extended building construction skills (it’s in our genes).

The bathroom and living room during complete chaos in 2005.

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With the help of Tomek’s dad and a helpful friend it took us about six months to design our home.

I loved it because we created another world or as granny used to say ‘it’s like entering an old theatre’. The atmosphere was defined by  antique furniture and a cosy eclectic mix of art nouveau and haute bohème. It was our passion to assemble many unique pieces at Cologne’s and Holland’s grand flee markets.

I remember how we bought the wooden panels for the floor. The flat was about 70m2 which amounted to 1125kg of wood. No elevator meant carrying solid panels up for the course of a whole day and dealing with muscle ache for the rest of the week.

Tomek showed off attractive manly features carrying over a ton of hardwood – to the 4th floor by himself! I was hardly able to move one heavy package despite using my whole body weight pressed against the wood. It took months to measure the panels, nail them to the floor without gaps (not to mention the acts of scraping and polishing).

From that time on it was clear to me that Tomek is a superhero without the costume and that consequently I must be his chosen girl – amazing. This was a great start and we lived happy eight years in a habitat worthy of superheroes and super interior design.

Our living room. I am a lot into decor-porn magazines and love to inspect other peoples homes. There are so many adorable rich bastards with great style showing off their summer, winter and leisure villas.

This is our humble seating arrangement facing a fake fire place.

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My dad installed a fake fire place for us, framing Christmas presents in the picture.

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Personified charm in spades. Sometimes I would just walk around our home engaged in sightseeing and self-appraisal, at the same time critically inspecting and planning further re-decorative moves.

Behind the slim antique mirror door was our walk in wardrobe. We bought the door frame at an outlet for antiques and found an inscription at the handle.  We contacted the company and it turned out the frame was once part of a big cupboard, boasting state of the art pioneer automatic door knobs from 1898, produced in London.

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More of the bedroom to the left and half of our study room to the right. My dad remodelled my antique bed into this generous sofa. We even planned a movie wall to watch films in cinema format (the projector was neatly hidden in the cupboard). Nowadays we go to the cinema but seriously haven’t watched TV since we left.

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We enjoyed riding the home improvement train and one month before we sold it I got a new working desk. There was always something to look for, to change and add. With every piece of furniture it was getting bigger – or so I it felt. It was like a joint piece of art.

Me in my creative corner of our study. Ignore the washing hanging from the windows, using the sun to quick dry clothes.

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Right next to me, Tomek working in his office corner.

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The kitchen. I was so fond of that kidney-shaped induction stove. We made an entrance so that we were able to walk straight into the kitchen from the hall.

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Cooking with friends was a lot of fun in our open kitchen-living-dining room.

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This is me and mum serving chocolate fudge cake with strawberries.

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The bathroom – our tiny Spa. The bathtub was deep and long (Tomek is a tall lad), designed for two to be completely covered up with water to the chin. This is one thing I miss and if it wasn’t the clear waters of Koh Samui Island/Thailand  or the hot ocean in Punta Burica/Panama or Japanese Onsen and peculiar bathrooms with relaxing hot tubs, I would miss our bathtub routine.

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The apartment was never complete without the most furry and sweet family member. Bella, my parent’s beagle dog who would often decide to visit over the weekend.

“Where is the food?”

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Bella has helped to reorganise stuff during renovation. She was testing couch and bed comfort, giving back a lot of warmth – being the warmest pillow in bed.

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She often assisted Tomek at work.

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Christmas 2007.

beagle dog next to Christmas tree

Bella was our best friend. She passed away last year in April 2012 after a terrible neurological disease at the young age of only seven years. We think of her everyday.

This is our flat one day before we moved out. The door handles are old pieces which we brought from Szczecin. Those brass door handles probably once decorated one of the cities imposing German villas and early 20th century houses  (today inhabited by poor jobless families and alcoholics who tend to take their beautiful homes apart for money).

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The study looked bare after we have stripped it of all adornment, to begin a nomadic life. When you look out of the window you can see a birds nest. In Cologne, there are swarms of wild canaries that probably once escaped out of their cages and are now a unique attraction in the city.

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The area was quiet and the view tranquil. I still prefer to stay at top floors in hotels.

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Our home was fan-friggin-tastic and yet I do not regret a day of travel, especially to see and touch and eat all the things that we used to read about. All the same we are always looking at real estate for fun when we travel and we are currently thinking to establish a homely base somewhere.

What is the velvet cuff that keeps you from leaving? Have you found the perfect place that you call home?

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