Before and After 1 – First Look

I have moved 25 times in the last ten years. And honestly, I don’t know which I find more staggering—that it’s been ten years since I first moved away from home, or that I’ve been such a nomad. Over those years I spent a lot of time fantasizing about what my ideal place would look like, how I could paint it, decorate it, and make it my own. The U.S. rental market is largely what-you-see-is-what-you-get. A whole subculture of DIY exists just for renters looking for impermanent ways to improve crappy paint jobs or cheapo cabinets. So imagine my surprise when I got the keys to Hamburg place and found out that it was mine for the making.

Let’s back up. To be totally honest: I was pretty unimpressed when I toured. The previous tenants had taken their free rein and painted the walls in garish colors: mustard yellow, forest green. The lights they’d installed were hung too low and made the apartment look small and dark. The trim and doors in all the rooms were an aged beige that looked dirty and unwashed. On the pros side: the location was phenomenal—four doors down from my friends, and in a bustling little hub of bars, cafés, and shops in one of the city’s nicest neighborhoods. And the potential was there: crown molding detail in the main living spaces, huge windows, high ceilings, and rich hardwood floors. With options slim to none and needing an apartment to get started on the visa process, I decided to take it.

Upon moving in, I found that the Hausmeister (or property manager) painted over the crazy color scheme I’d seen in the tour, but left that dirty beige. I quickly took stock of what I wanted to change:

  1. Paint all the trim and doors white
  2. Accent wall in the hallway
  3. Add color in the bedroom
  4. Add color in the living room
  5. Light fixtures throughout (it came with only bare bulbs in the living room and bathroom, a dark lamp in the bedroom)

Without further ado….some of the shots from Before: