Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin
Tuesday, 18 February 2014
'The House In Good Taste'
On Sunday husband and I talked about 'home' as (one) expression of ourselves.
People are always quite astonished at how we live.
Their fantasy paints pictures that might stem from husband's profession - "a university professor" at least in the German mind has a special image, and we often brim over with mirth when we remember a quote that son brought home in the days he still went to grammar school:
"I see you and your parents", one learned teacher told him, "in the evening - all three of you making Hausmusik in front of your fireplace."
(If any student of Hans reads this, he/she will roll on the ground screaming with laughter too).
The second 'label' was quite correct: books, books, books (and some more books). Most of them in the three-room-study in our house in Hildesheim (above our big flat where we, the family, lived - and also many books in that too). Most of them are still in Hildesheim, (although 6000 went as an endowment to the Literary Archive in Marbach - though that didn't help much to create more space: miraculously the shelves filled up with lightning speed). "They are my tools", Hans says apologetically, and he is right - now they wait for him three or four days of the week in Hildesheim, because in Hamburg, then in Berlin, I wanted less of these dusty friends (there are still enough!).
A friend, an architect, said after his first visit to us: "I am so happy! I really feared what might have been your interior design - but I think it is absolutely you!"
You bet! A very mixed style, not many antiques (as a lot of people seem to expect), nor stylish modern "design". (I put it in brackets, because everything is design).
And my kitchen - which I like! - is a shock for all these dream-kitchen people, who look at the advertisements (where - in a ridiculously spacious kitchen - huge - grey - with a bar and lacquered shining fronts - you might find after look hard enough somewhere in the vast wilderness a chic little couple, lacquered as their empty kitchen - maybe they discuss whether they will order something from the Chinese take-away, because that sort of kitchen isn't made for cooking). Or those baths: when I see the altars - oh, sorry, got the wrong impression: it is the bath tub, not an altar - also in a room as big as a football field -- I wonder... though I admit that I would like our bathroom in Berlin to be a bit bigger - (as it was in Hamburg) - our bath now in the 180 square meter flat has somewhat Spartan features - but then: we can live with that.
What we love and want most is space and light.
Except twice we always had Art Deco flats in the many cities we lived in - high ceilings, high windows, pitch pine or beautiful parquet, folding doors, stucco. In every flat each of us had a study - a room of one's own.
Our guests have to sleep on a comfortable daybed for two (I tested it) - if you need two seperate beds we have to think hard and please tell us before your visit.
PS: The title of this blog is from Elsie de Wolfe's lovely book "The House In Good Taste", first published in 1913, written by 'The First Lady of Interior Decoration'.
I hope very much that you find that the Quiche and the lamb's lettuce and the home made mousse au chocolat will provide the good taste when you just drop in...