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)
Anyone who reads this blog knows that I have a giant girl crush on author/tv presenter/blogger/teacher/stylist/decorator/columist/and a million other amazing hats Shannon Fricke in Australia. I’ve been a fan of her work for a few years now and follow her blog religiously because she is such a breath of fresh, unpretentious air! You don’t always find that with multi-talented people, but with Shannon you do. She’s not only one of the best when it comes to style and decoration, but as a person this lady is a top notch class act. That’s why I not only want to point you over to her work today for a little inspiration but I have to show you this gorgeous cabinet that she recently did up for a spread she produced for a magazine.
Is this not the best idea for an old cabinet? Paint it white and wallpaper the heck out of it? Love. This. Don’t you want to grab rolls of Florence Broadhurst and Cole & Son papers this very second and go a little crazy with it? Even if you don’t have a freestanding cabinet like this one, you can do something like it to the interior of any closet, or even a china cabinet or bookcase. Knock yourself out, Shannon did and look at the results.
I love seeing these gorgeous green and yellow tones together — so fresh and so signature Shannon Fricke as she is a great lover of greens, blues and yellows as you can see in the other lovely photos that I’ve included from her design portfolio and home.
Thank you for the inspiration today Shannon!
(image: via the women’s weekly/shannon fricke)
If you are looking for some creative DIY ideas for your home to inject a little personality then I have a few ideas to share! I recently picked up a copy of Creative At Home in Germany and found some sweet projects. If you live in Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy, Austria, Switzerland and of course Germany then you can find it where most magazines are sold. You’ll need to buy the magazine to get templates and instructions but here is a glimpse of a few that I liked…
I normally do not by Creative At Home since I but so many mags as it is — I like the projects and overall layout/style of Dutch DIY mag 101 Woonideeen (I wish they’d publish that mag in English) but this copy of Creative At Home had a nice cover and so I picked it up and instantly found a few projects that I could connect to. I sometimes find the crafting ideas and styles in magazines looking a bit too crafty if you know what I mean, whereas the ones in mags like 101 Woonideeen usually look more artistic and creative and less “glue guns and bead projects gone wild” if you catch my drift.
I like the idea of handpainting a coat rack like this one above, which show deer. If you cannot paint you can always cut out images from wallpaper or even fabric and use Mod Podge to adhere and also to seal it. Another fun DIY is to take two branches and use them to form a deer head and paint eyes on it – sweet art for a kid’s room! I think my favorite idea from the magazine is to paint a wooden table silver. It works here because they’ve used a table with lots of texture — it could look slightly tacky on a smooth table with no visible grain. I like how they’ve applied it very lightly, you can still see the wood in some parts making it a bit more weathered. It’s great that they skipped painting the legs silver, that would have looked very kitschy.
It’s all about knowing when to say ENOUGH when you are making things at home, isn’t it? Editing is so important but as important is self control and pulling the plug because often you can overdo a project and it comes out looking like an art project from a 5th grader. It’s a fine line, isn’t it? LOL.
Great job, Creative At Home!
(images: creative at home scanned)