When you’re an American living abroad in Europe, you have so much to learn in addition to a new language and culture — you also must learn about things like curtain installation and the best paint suppliers. Even if you’re an American living in another city or state, you have much to adjust to. When I relocated, I didn’t give much thought to not being able to walk into a home store and know exactly what everything before me was made to do. When I walk into German stores, especially the big DIY chains equivalent to Lowe’s, it takes me five times the effort to locate exactly what I’m looking for because the brands are so unknown to me.
I’m not complaining, it is quite fun when I carve out the time to take a trip to a home improvement store because I often find things that I never knew existed. For instance, I recently discovered some amazing curtain rods that effortlessly clip into the frames of your windows so you don’t have to put a single hole in the frame or wall. Genius!
Beige on walls with crisp white trim is becoming more and more popular, I see it frequently in German design magazines. I love this look.
The one thing I’m not finding in Hannover so far is really good paint. I understand that my city is quite small compared to the giants like Berlin and Hamburg so naturally I won’t have the same access to products as larger cities… I sometimes wish we had a Flamant in Hannover because their paints are amazing and we could use a little more diversity. (Which reminds me, I really need to visit Cafe Flamant again, that is such a great place to chillax after a long day of shopping.) We have plenty of paint in local home stores but the colors don’t wow me as they did when I rummaged through the thousands of paint chips at Lowe’s or Home Depot. I am a big Benjamin Moore fan and had many of their colors committed to memory because I knew they’d always work – my “no fails” as I referred to them.Without Ben Moore and other brands that I relied on for years, I am forced out of my comfort zone and you know what? I’m okay with that. Sometimes. Certain days I’m not so okay because I’m human, but then I think of what a privilege I have to simply be living on an entirely different continent exploring new things and I feel embarrassed for getting annoyed by things like the lack of Target, Method products and owning a car (my choice).
Speaking of paint, I also love Farrow + Ball colors, which we can get but not so easily and they are very expensive. That is why when I came across two brands from the Netherlands recently – PTMD (which I purchased in Hamburg last week) and Histor, I had to learn more. I’m hoping Histor has presence in Germany so I have to do some research… but I find lots of great colors on their website and in their magazine which you can see scattered throughout this post.
Martha Stewart Living paints always captured my interest but you won’t find them in Germany. But again, that’s okay because I want to explore and find some great stuff on this side of the pond. I don’t believe in living in the past or pining for what I left behind — what’s the point!? Sometimes I miss certain things because I learned to rely on them and knew what I was buying, there were no hidden surprises, but the past is a different life, right? It’s important when you live outside of your home country that you really embrace what you DO have and to also go on a wild and crazy search for more because there is plenty to unearth that may even be better than what you had before. I think I told you this before, but I attended a meeting last Autumn for women who live here in Hannover that are from all parts of the world and the group leader asked everyone to write down what they love about their expat life in Hannover because she said expat groups can quickly become negative because people automatically start talking about what they miss, not what they have.
This made me think, what is it about human nature that nudges us to see the bad before the good? To compare things that shouldn’t even be compared in the first place? How can we manage these feelings whether we are living in another town or another country — missing what we had? How do you deal?
(images: histor paints)