I can’t stop thinking about my walls lately. This past week I was hired to work for a major client on an advertising campaign here in Europe, so I had to do a lot of shooting using my home as a studio space. It was SO much fun and worked out beautifully, mostly because I made some nice backdrops for the walls, etc. but I kept feeling really discouraged with my ugly raufasertapete walls. I know you have heard me complain about this before, but in Germany nearly every rental property is coated with raufaser – it’s this super dated and tacky wood chip wallpaper that, while it may have been popular during the Bauhaus period, I vote we move on and have smooth, normal walls in rentals. That way, it’s easier to paint or paper over them and apply things like decals and washi tape (particularly fun in children’s rooms). Smooth walls are also so easy to clean and maintain. Plus, raufasertapete tears super easy. Here is what it looks like.
Raufasertapete makes me cringe for so many reasons, but mostly cosmetic ones. But there are also the problems you run into painting it. You have to apply 3-4 coats, sometimes more depending on how deep the color is, because it just soaks in your paint color like a sponge and a lot of times, the color isn’t so even when you are finished which is particularly noticeable if you’ve used a really dark shade, like charcoal. If you want to clean raufasertapete you can spot clean it, which takes a long time, or you can paint over it which is what nearly everyone does – paint over dirt, stains, smudges, candle smoke, etc. I don’t want to sound snobby but paint over dirt? No thanks.
While I singlehandedly cannot change what people want to put in rental property here, I keep thinking about what I can change in my own rental home without getting in hot water. We are looking to buy a home now, but the house hunt will take years and I’m all for future thinking but you also have to love where you live today and for me, the one big thing that makes me love my home less is the raufasertapete everywhere. Thankfully, the landlord didn’t put it on the ceiling in the four rooms in front of the house, but in the hallway, kitchen, guest room, master bed, both baths and my husband’s office, she put it on the ceiling too – which just makes it look like those equally bad “popcorn” ceilings in American. Thankfully, my ceilings are SOARING so you don’t really notice it at all but still. Such a shame to see this cheap paper in a gorgeous period home built in 1900. Why do people devalue their property and take out the charm just because it’s a rental property?
So I’m thinking a lot about ways to camouflage it, especially since more and more magazines want to hire me to style for them and shoot in my studio, and because I’m shooting my next book partly in this space, so what can I do? I cannot learn to live with it. I tried for 3 years and I cannot change the fact that I think it’s the ugliest stuff on the earth. Sure, it’s white and you don’t “see” it unless you are photographing against it – but when you style shots you mostly are styling against a wall if you are showing art or photos or shelving, etc., so the wood chip ‘bumps’ are super visible and even appear grayish and cast odd shadows and some days, it even goes a bit yellow in the sunlight.
I thought to use wallpaper, though my landlord says I cannot paint or wallpaper my walls, but I think that is very unfair given what we pay for our apartment so I’m thinking to speak to her again. I want to do remove the raufasertapete and hire someone to smooth out the walls and then paint them in muted Farrow & Ball colors (nothing dark, I really dislike dark walls). I wonder what she’ll think of that? I’m a little afraid to ask! And I would only do it if I didn’t have to return everything back to the way it was when we rented it – meaning, install the raufasertapete all over again. No way, I would never do that, the smooth walls are so much more beautiful and easier to wipe clean and only make the property more valuable and gorgeous.
I was also thinking to spare the expense and headaches and leave the walls as they are and just hang murals like the ones shown in this post from Anthropologie, or buy wood panels and create some wood backgrounds behind my bed or sofa, for instance… Or mount some plywood on the wall above my sofa and wallpaper it, or or OR! I just keep thinking, what can I do!?
I think, aside from learning German, raufasertapete is the most challenging thing for me since I moved here – thankfully I love German but not the wood chip paper. Our last apartment had it too. I just don’t get it. And I just don’t want it!
Any opinions to share?
I really like it when people are so clever and creative that they reuse stuff that might end up in the cellar, or worse, a dump otherwise – making new out of the castaways, creating something stylish and one-of-a-kind. That’s what I admire about OUD Now! located in the Netherlands. I wrote about this Dutch firm a few years ago, but I have to refresh your memory because I think the man behind it, Dutch designer Theo Herfkens, is so cool!
Those Dutch know how to do some pretty cool things to old stuff, I think they are the masters of transformation. I always like seeing what will come from them next. OUD Now! takes unloved pieces that are ornate and maybe “grandma” style, and combines them with very clean, modern and spare pieces so that the result is a mix of styles that somehow works.
I would love to own this one, or this one, or okay this one too (only with a different handle, like this one from Chocolate Creative)… My friend, Margarita Lorenzo, makes the best knobs – I have to place an order for a few myself. Love them.
What do you think of these cabinets?
I love the home wares collection (and furniture!) from French Connection. When I was last in London, which was in November, I saw some of their collection for the home and really liked it. The quality looked just fine and I loved the muted, relaxed palette because you can mix these things into your interior world so easily without wondering if they’d match or not – can’t go wrong with raw materials like wood with grays and whites. So versatile. They just rolled out some new furniture that I love. Here are some favorites below, with links, and since it’s gray and rainy today, I find these images restful and just well, nice to look at.
My favorite things: leather and jute gray rug, wooden table with wheels, safari babe chair, tied bedding, driftwood mirrors, tree trunk wooden stool and the leaning shelves. I would love to buy some of these things, but they won’t ship outside of the UK. So I guess I just have to look like most of you who aren’t living there…
I’d add some music to this mix by Rose, Coeur De Pirate and Carla Bruni – they’ve been on constant rotation in my studio all week. I’d also light a few candles, add a string of twinkle lights over a door or mirror, and bring in some tea along with a really nice plate of yummy healthy things to eat. That’s what you have to do on gray, dreary days. Relax and go with it. Create your own sanctuary and make a little magic.
P.S. I’m so happy French Connection seems to be moving away from their branding as FCUK, I always thought that was so degrading to their image. Did you ever think that too?
(images: french connection)
I’m not finished yet talking about lights and these from Kerrie Brown Design Studio in Sydney are sooooo nice. My columnist, Jillian Leiboff, told me about Kerrie’s work this morning and I loved her lighting immediately. Here are a few photos for a little show and tell.
I had a good look around her website and really fell in love – very quirky and colorful… I can really see these shades being sold at Liberty in London, can’t you? In addition to lampshades, you can find pillows, wallpaper, blind, fabric, headboards, cabinets and more. I was fascinated to learn that Kerrie is actually an Academy Award nominated set decorator and interior designer – what a fantastic background! She’s worked on the sets of The Quiet American, Mission Impossible, The Chronicles of Narnia and Don’t be Afraid of the Dark.
Wouldn’t it be an amazing job to be a set designer for major motion pictures?
(images: jillian lieboff)