Freunde von Freunden

January 6, 2011

My friend Jeannette reminded me of this great interiors/lifestyle site based in Berlin called Freunde von Freunden that I’ve been meaning to tell you about for months. If you’re curious to see how lots of creative people live and work in Berlin, this site is for you. There are interviews (some of them in English), video, and most importantly — lots of inspiring interiors to enjoy. I think you may like seeing what old German city apartments look like — at least in the altbau buildings (photos of them are here thanks to Google images) – which basically means “old building” in English but goes a bit beyond that as I’ll get into below…

Freunde von Freunden

The altbau is typically very charming as many are Jugenstil dating back to around the 1900’s; I live in an altbau and some of the features in my building include huge windows, a balcony, soaring ceilings and original wood floors — some of us are lucky to have the herringbone hardwood floors which are quite handsome. Also the building entryways are typically grand and very large. Unfortunately, just like old buildings in the states, landlords tend to modernize them by removing the beautiful old details to install more “functional” and very typical things like boring bathroom tiles (replacing the gorgeous old tile), but if one is lucky enough they can still find an altbau apartment that has many of the original details still intact.

Freunde von Freunden

I laughed when I saw this bathroom above. These windows are so typical here in most of the government buildings, law firms, doctor’s offices, museums, etc. I guess that this could be only in the big cities, but in my city many old buildings are occupied by businesses. The bathroom above looks just like the one where I had to go to sign off on some paperwork recently. I don’t know, I love these bathrooms. Whenever I am in old buildings I want to photograph the bathrooms. Strange hang up of mine. Perhaps I should do it? Hmmm…

Freunde von Freunden

I totally love this kitchen. It’s feminine but not too much… Someday I will have either vintage Belgium or Portuguese tile in my kitchen OR hardwood floors. Help me to get rich and famous so I can fulfill my dying wish, please? Thank you. :)

Freunde von Freunden

Oh I like the built-in shelving in this kitchen above and that print, yes, that is a great one. Did you notice the detailing on that antique cabinet? I bet a husband somewhere just about died when his dear frau painted that cabinet white, but honestly I’ve seen them in their original state (regular wood) and they just don’t have the same sex appeal. I know, I know, antiques lovers everywhere are cringing as I speak…

But back to Freunde von Freunden, it’s a terrific site founded by Berliners Frederik Frede and Tim Seifert with beautiful photographs taken by Ailine Liefeld. Some say it is like The Selby, but I don’t see that — I find it to be a different experience entirely. FvF focuses on featuring those who are creative and working in creative industries and not so much on hipsters or how edgy one can be…  or how racy even… Though I love The Selby it really does focus on the uber hip which is why we love it whereas FvF tends to tap more into real people and they dig deep into the world of those featured, capturing some of their life through video (not all, but some) and it is Berlin-focused so the local content is especially nice for those who are either living elsewhere but are Berlin-curious or who live in Berlin or nearby, like me, and have no clue who really works and lives in Berlin because like any big city, it’s often hard to find other creative types and typically you either find them at parties, exhibitions or online — at least that is how I find others who are working in creative industries.

Freunde von Freunden

Freunde von Freunden

Freunde von Freunden

You can ask anyone in my life and they’ll tell you that I have wanted a black Kit Kat clock (I call it a Felix clock) since I was 18 years old and saw one in the home of my friend in Boston. I can’t believe I still don’t own one. This photo above sent me over the edge, I may just have to hunt one down… I wish someone would buy the rights and reproduce them in ceramic (the one above is plastic) without the jeweled eyes (the vintage ones are ceramic with jeweled eyes).

There are so many amazing people who live in this fascinating city and because it is still so affordable, it continues to draw artists and dreamers from all over the world which is exciting because it’s rare to find a city that has beautiful property left that is also in good neighborhoods and affordable! Plus, Berlin is great for families and lots of the apartments are quite large so there is room to spread out a bit. I like that for many of the FvF interviews, they show the workspace of the person interviewed, which often means showing two separate spaces — the living space and the office or atelier. They recently interviewed an American artist living in Berlin, Kelsey Brookes, and I found the way he got into art so fascinating and since the interview is in English, I encourage you to read it here because it’s pretty inspiring how this guy found his calling.

Freunde von Freunden

Freunde von Freunden

I want glass domes and a mirror like that, don’t you?

Freunde von Freunden

The photos throughout this post are some of my personal favorites, though you really need to dig in and spend time on Freunde von Freunden because it is a great way to blow off a few hours. :) I am now a regular Freunde von Freunden reader and look forward to seeing who will be featured next.

P.S. This site made me realize that the author of those Japanese Paumes books need to do a Berlin interiors book, huh? I mean, there is none for Berlin yet and why? I haven’t the slightest clue… Especially after visiting this site!

(images: Freunde von Freunden and Ailine Liefeld)


  • Reply jenn January 7, 2011 at 12:02 am

    What an interesting site! I love seeing how *regular* people like me live. It’s much more inspiring to me than the crazy hip/expensive homes that are fun to look at, but not even remotely realistic. And that entry way photo? OMG, that tile! Amazing!

  • Reply Cassie January 7, 2011 at 12:36 am

    LOVE the inspiration images. Of course I wish my house looked something like that. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Emily January 7, 2011 at 1:02 am

    The bathroom photography comment made me laugh. There’s a bathroom close to my work complex that is old, with great huge windows – and it has the most flattering light ever. Sometimes if I’m having a bad day, I go there just to look in the mirror and say “It’s not so bad!”

    I’ve always wanted to take photos in there, but am still trying to figure out how to do it without seeming like a huge creeper….any tips?

  • Reply Eva January 7, 2011 at 1:33 am

    I recently moved to Switzerland so this is definitely interesting and timely for me. Thank you!

  • Reply Stevie-Lyn January 7, 2011 at 1:52 am

    Felix the Cat wall clock?? Classic!

    I love the single blub over the dining table. I wonder if how it looks at night as you’re trying to eat dinner though.

    And of course you can’t miss the parquet floor! Gah, I wish it was mines…

  • Reply laura trevey January 7, 2011 at 1:54 am

    We used to have one of those vintage cat clocks! love them ~~

  • Reply Rachel @ Little Bits of Lovely January 7, 2011 at 2:10 am

    I love these spaces and agree completely the glass domes are brilliant!

  • Reply Jeanne January 7, 2011 at 3:33 am

    What a great post….I love all the interiors, and I’ve heard Berlin is a fabulous city! Thanks again…you are ON for 2011!

  • Reply Vanessa Elizabeth @ Ruffled Rose January 7, 2011 at 4:44 am

    Berlin is all the rage these days for the art scene! Thanks for sharing such a great blog.

  • Reply Heather January 7, 2011 at 6:17 am

    Wow! Holly! I really loved this post. Every tidbit of it. The beautiful light filled images caught my eye of course, but your descriptions and dotings were equally compelling. What a charming site. Yes. I agree that Paumes needs to do a Berlin version. Im ready to buy! Also, you are already are rich and famous dearie -rich with multitudes of friends and followers and you are a burgeoning authoress! Hugs! Im so proud to know you!

  • Reply Candice January 7, 2011 at 7:03 am

    Checked out The Selby and Freude von Freuden – awesome! Thanks for the recommendation. I think I like The Selby best, but I might be biased because they have photos of homes in Sydney on there. x

  • Reply Judith of Felicity Crew January 7, 2011 at 9:08 am

    Thanks for the link, I have been looking for something like that in German-speaking countries! And as for the photography… I already see myself spending hours and hours in front of this site!

  • Reply Sylee January 7, 2011 at 9:10 am

    I’ve been addicted to Freunde von Freunden since they launched. Sarah Illenberger’s interview is one of my favorites. And I know, these windows! I was in the Postamt and took all these photos of the bathroom, I was so enchanted by the flaking white paint and antique catches…

  • Reply Monica January 7, 2011 at 10:04 am

    Oh my, those apartments are the bomb. High ceilings, wood floors, large windows, french doors anyone? Me, me, me, me, me me……

  • Reply juliette January 7, 2011 at 10:10 am

    love this! I am really trying to get myself to read more German stuff and this looks like a good one to add to my list!

    Also, the bathroom pictures, yes please! You are so right; some of the bathrooms over here are really interesting…so weird how that’s true!

  • Reply Holly January 7, 2011 at 11:55 am

    Thank you for the link to FvF. I’m excited to explore it this weekend. And I very much agree that Paumes needs to do Berlin! I hope it’s just a matter of time.

  • Reply ana January 7, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    The apartments look lovelly. Every & each one of them. What catch up my eye was that kitchen floor, the one with the brown & caramel tiles. This remindes me a lot of portuguese vintage tiles that are handmade with concrete and dyes. And there’s only an artisan in Portugal doing that is a small town called Estremoz.

  • Reply Ottomar January 7, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    I love that site too. Made a post on that a while ago where you can see some of my favourites:

    I really love the giant hang-it-all on the top picture there, really nice picks from you too!

  • Reply el {what you fancy} January 7, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Word art just works so well anywhere… love it :) And how beautiful are those wooden floors??

  • Reply Will January 7, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    I just love that kitchen nook – so cosy.

    Happy Friday, Holly! xo

  • Reply Kristina January 7, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    Simply adore Altbau apartments! The old wood floors, the great black/white tiles, high ceilings, mindblowing “stuck” (jugendstil decoration on ceilings) – all beyond beautiful! In Berlin they have amazing places for a rent that a normal person can actually pay…
    Super nice pictures, thanks for sharing.
    Viele Gruesse, Kristina

  • Reply Beth January 7, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    I love love the live-ability of the rooms. I’m so inspired by the images you choose to share! I really enjoyed the interview with Brookes – very interesting!

  • Reply Rocio Rincon January 7, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    I love the kitty clock. I want one!!! Besos

  • Reply Danielle January 7, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    Totally inspiring images and that quote was seriously funny. I am not sure what I was thinking, but I bought my son a Family Guy book for Christmas and the other day he was reading it and laughing so hard he could barely breathe and it was because Stewie said “You know I would love to stay and chat, but you are a total bitch!” Just imagine saying that to someone, luckily my son saw the humor in it, but would never ever use it…he is too polite for that!

  • Reply Lisa's Creative Home January 7, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    Beautiful Pictures! I am off to go check out that site. I dream of visiting Europe someday and getting to experience the old world architecture. I love watching House Hunters International just to see homes in other countries!

  • Reply January 7, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    Wow, beautiful picitures. I love the just color combination with the woodcolor. And do not forget the pur lightning.

  • Reply Melissa :: A Beautiful Mission January 7, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    I can’t stop scrolling up and down, looking at these beautiful images!
    THANK YOU for sharing!

  • Reply Fancy! New Zealand Design Blog January 7, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    I LOVE this blog! And posts like this one show what superb taste you have…I am actually heavy breathing a bit over these interiors…haha.

  • Reply Stina January 8, 2011 at 9:16 am

    I’ll be Debbie Downer for this one (just a bit, don’t worry ;-) ): When I was apartment hunting, I was looking at Albauten too. Saw some really lovely ones, but when it comes down to it, most of them are so expensive when it comes to energy costs. Only few landlords can afford (or want to) take the necessary steps to insulate properly. So your heating costs can easily double compared to a normal apartment. The high ceilings are lovely to look at, but if you have a really bad winter (which Germany seems to get in increasing frequency), it will take a long time to properly heat the apartment and keep it warm. I’ve seen heating bills up in the 400s (Euros) a month, which is insane.

    If you are lucky enough to get a landlord who’s willing to renovate and make the apartment energy-efficient, the rent becomes very high (because hey, it’s an energy-efficient Altbau!). I was looking with a roommate, we both have full-time jobs, but we couldn’t afford most of the Altbauten.

    They do look absolutely gorgeous, though. ;-)

    • Reply decor8 January 8, 2011 at 12:38 pm

      @Stina -I think it depends on the city. Hannover (where I live) is still very affordable for an altbau, especially when you compare a similar apartment in Hamburg or Munich. But you are right about heating costs, our place is energy efficient with all new windows, but it still can get pretty cold in here so we close off the front rooms and mostly use the back of the house. I also have my office in the guest bedroom but in the Spring, I’ll move into the front room which is larger and front facing with a balcony.

      Also Berlin has some affordable old apts as well but the more people are moving in and “discovering” it, much like parts of Brooklyn over the years or Boston even, the prices surely will go up but at least in Germany there is somewhat of a cap on rents since here the prices go by square meter not by number of rooms, which is so much better than Boston for instance. What I pay here for 210 sq meters is what I would pay in Boston for 80 sq meters. But Munich, Hamburg, Frankfurt, etc. — those altbauten are very expensive there. It really depends on the city.

  • Reply Stina January 8, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    Absolutely. Munich is really crazy when it comes to rent!

  • Reply Claudia January 8, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    I have that white armoire from leyla peidayesh pic on my desktop!! Adore this site. Love altbau rooms and like many old buildings, energy costs are more but (don’t shoot me) better than ugly new windows???? I try to be green in other areas of my life and my sister is a l.e.e.d certified designer so she keeps me in line! Also love your new lighting Holly…perfect!

    • Reply decor8 January 8, 2011 at 9:10 pm

      @Claudia – Oh I agree, fortunately though my new windows are not ugly — but if this were my house I would have left some of them original like on the wintergartens and in the kitchen. Oh well. Can’t have it all.

  • Reply TJ January 8, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    Oh I loved this post! It made me miss my old Jugenstil in Wuerzburg! Best wishes from ochsenfurt, tj

  • Reply Terry G January 8, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    Seriously amazing home! Simple and understated, but really well decorated. I agree with Jenn, it’s great to see how normal people live and decorate their home.

  • Reply Lidyll January 8, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    Hi there! I just want to thank you for your ever so inspiering site! It is absolutely fantastic-and every time I visit I am itching to get started on various home-projects. Love it!:) Love these pictures, by the way!:) I`m coming back soon;)

  • Reply D'Homez January 8, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    Beautifully designed home. Love the wall which says “Get off my back you’re a real pain in the ass”. Each and every corner is utilized to the fullest. Love it!

  • Reply claudia@StonehouseLove January 8, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    Lucky you, holly! My old stone Pennsylvania farmhouse has replacement windows that are vinyl–i know—eeek–at least they have the ‘colonial’ faux divided-light look, ughhh–so yes you definitely can’t have it all–I would have restored the old ones since pretty new WOODEN windows are the big bucks!! I’m saving that for after the mortgage is paid off :)

  • Reply michelle January 9, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    Forget Paumes, you can do it instead :)

    I actually gasped out loud when I saw the photo of that lobby with the huge arches and black & white floors, gorgeous.

  • Reply Heather January 9, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing these beautiful photos. I recently visited Berlin but unfortunately didn’t get the chance to look at the interiors of any old buildings like this. Superb.

  • Reply Andrea Sosa Fontaine January 10, 2011 at 8:34 am

    You’re blog has a really nice design aesthetic. I really love the chalkboard wall as the backsplash in the kitchen. I have a post on my blog showing a chalkboard wall used as a headboard from a movie.

  • Reply Jan January 10, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    Oh yes, i LOVE BERLIN. Great interior photos here! LOve that dnaish teak credenza with white vases:)

  • Reply kerry macLeod January 11, 2011 at 1:11 am

    I actually have an original Kit Kat clock and forgot about it till I saw your post. When my Babcia died my crazy uncle wouldn’t let anyone have her stuff…but he did allow me to have a little cat cookie jar, a deer figurine and that clock! The clock was a random pick…I really like the other things as they remind me of her. I might consider parting with it…let me know if you truly want it…we don’t have a spot right now.


  • Reply marta talmor January 17, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Oh’ yes, I like the mixture between old/new, Its always look amazing!
    and curious! Like the old house in Toscany I’m intended to restore, you always find yourself in the same dilemma, what to keep and where to change!

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