Finding my new home

Friday, 5 February 2016

I finished last year’s record number of posts (ehem…) with an adieu to my old place. So let me start this year’s series of posts with an introduction to my new home. If you follow me on Instagram you’ve already been privy to some peeks into the new place. But I still think that nothing compares to (and I personally very much prefer reading) a good, old, detailed blog post to those little sepia coloured snapshots…

Ready for the long story ?

I had already vaguely contemplated moving a few years back. I even went so far as to check out a few ads on Belgium’s biggest real estate site (through which I’d already found my old place back in 2005 btw). But nothing concrete ever came of it.

A year ago I had however reached a point where I felt very dissatisfied with my living conditions. 10 years into that apartment, I think I had simply outgrown it. And in all fairness, quite literally as well, with a growing cat herd of then 8 (!) indoor kitties… It was not however until my Oma passed away in early March that I finally got the impulse to really move on. That terrible loss of one of the persons I love the most (and with whom I attach my fondest memories) made me consider some life changes.

So I did decide that it was time to find a new place. One that was a better fit for the needs of my raucous fur babies and my current more mature self. Head long and full of enthusiasm I plunged into a real estate search. I was not, however, prepared for the serious reality check that shortly ensued. Having lived for 10 years in a very nice and properly renovated flat, I could not have imagined the horrendous places I was about to visit. Over the course of the next two months, I searched through hundreds of real estate listings, visited dozens of apartments, experienced the utter lack of professionalism of the Brussels real estate agents, got acquainted with building conditions that I would not have thought possible still existed in the 21st century (pervasive dry rot all over Brussels, so called renovations that are totally substandard not to mention downright illegal, water damage that made you wonder how these places are actually still standing)… How the owners even dared to ask the sale prices that they did ?! I still can’t believe it.

And yes. I got increasingly frustrated with whole process. All the while being more and more relieved to come back to a beautiful home after visiting one disaster after another. I hadn’t seen one place that was better or even just comparable. And by mid-May I had reached the point where I actually decided not to move. Instead I would be content with what I already had and use some of my budget to do some further renovations…

And then I came across an ad containing these…

A perfect fit for ALL of my search criteria. A garden flat, spacious, but not too big, in my preferred neighbourhood and within my price range. And cherry on the cake : the place had been recently renovated, but with a keen eye on maintaining all the charm of the original 19th century features… Looked almost too good to be true.

But then I came through the entry door, and BOOM ! My heart nearly stopped… I immediately knew it was the one. I made an offer that day, I heard back from the owner that mine was the best, but she still wanted to have a few days to think about it. She then called me back and asked me to up my offer (slightly). I agreed… And that evening my offer was accepted. Just like that. In the end it took 6 days between the visit and sealing the deal. And then of course a few more weeks for my mortgage to get approved and still a few more months for all the notary stuff to be dealt with…

It still seems completely unreal. The universe aligning so perfectly. I feel incredibly lucky and blessed !

Now let me round up this already very long post with some additional pictures I took during the second visit of my future home, back in mid-June 2015. Of course, they’re pretty rubbish like all good walk-through photos tend to be…

Now that you've seen the "before" are you ready for the "during" pics ?

Saying good-bye

Sunday, 22 November 2015

For those of you who follow me on Instagram, this will not come as a surprise... 2015 was quite the year for me - home wise. I did indeed decide to move !

Searching for a new home was quite the nerve-wracking experience (more on that another time), but in the end I did find an amazing new place. So selling my beloved "old" apartment turned out to be less painful than I'd imagined... But still, I lived there for over 10 years. It's the reason I started this blog. It's the place where I feel that I really became a (more or less) responsible adult. So before I start posting about my already much loved new home, I feel like I need to close this chapter and do one last post to honour my lovely 1950s flat.

Let's do one last tour, shall we ? I'm using the photos I took for the real estate ad (no, I didn't go through an estate agent - if you saw their "professionalism" over here in Brussels, you wouldn't either...). So everything is looking very much at it's best. Just imagine a bunch of stuff and a cat herd behind from where the pictures are taken...

Ok. I'll shut up now.


And just for kicks (and to document every last bit for eternity), here's also my ad text :
Madou – Place Saint Josse - UE area : spacious and sunny 1 bedroom apartment (+/- 70 m²), incl. hallway, kitchen, bathroom with tub, separate WC, 1 large bedroom (17 m²) and a large living / dining room (22.5 m²) + 2 terraces at the front and back (east – west facing) + 1 cellar. Double glazing (except kitchen), electricity is in accordance with current building standards. No renovations needed ! Central gas heating (shared by building), individual water and electricity meters. PEB : F. Monthly building expenses (incl. maintenance, heating and savings) : +/- 150 eur. Building is very well maintained, incl. lift (savings are done to renew lift in 2018), quiet and nice neighbors. Very conveniently located within walking distance of city centre, international institutions, public transport (bus and subway) and numerous shops and restaurants. Visits take place on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, as well as on Saturday mornings. Contact (English, French and German).
And now I'm ready for new adventures in a 19th century garden flat !

Bedroom in-between

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Jeez! This blog post was meant to be an "after" post waaaaaaaaay back in July, but has been so long in the making, it's now turned into an "in between" post. 

Yep, that's right. I already got a few improvements in mind.

More about that another time though. Let's do a quick tour before everything changes again.

So first big change I was supposed to blog about last year : I used the left-over paint from the living room to repaint the bedroom wall with my beloved Farrow & Ball Stiffkey Blue.
That's actually how it all started. I was finished painting the wall and was planning on putting the bed back into that nook. Job done ! But then I thought "Hhmm, hold on a minute. Those teak shelves would look really good against that colour...". And what was supposed to be a quick half a day refresh job turned into a full blown weekend long redecorating action.

Shelves, bed and a lot of the other furniture got swapped around, holes were drilled into walls, other holes were filled up, art and various other stuff was moved around. Everything was a mess...

And this is what it has all settled into.

Dude. Looking at it like that, I do have a lot of stuff (maybe I should do a clear out first before considering doing anymore changes ?). That cute little 1950s armchair from a few years ago is still going strong, despite the cats best efforts to stractch it to death.

I also hesitated about removing the Modko cat loo and Pastoe side table before taking any pictures. They're kind of randomly placed here, but then again, it's where they usually live... I haven't been able to find them a better place. So what the heck, might as well be true to reality on this old blog.

Moving over one wall. So this is where the shelves used to be and where I now sleep. Or try to, if the cats will let me...

Hhmm, somehow all the angles are weirdly crooked in this view, but I can assure you that all the walls here are straight. And so is the tapestry over the bed. I really loved having it in the living room, but after discovering this morning that the cats managed to scratch a hole in it (wtf ????), I quickly moved it over the bed. It's hanging a bit high, but hopefully it will stay out of the cats' reach that way.

And one more reality check btw. The bedroom door ! It has been that way for the better part of three (yes, three !) years, including the masking tape around it... I can be terribly lazy if I put my mind to it ! 

You can get a better look at my new ceiling lamp here.

But I mostly included this picture for future reference, as I'm planning to invest into a proper bedframe. A first for me after nearly 20 years of living on my own ! I'm not considering anything wildly fancy. And for the time being I'm mostly hesitating between these two Ikea options : the Mandal or the newly released Askvoll bedframe. Any thoughts, opions or suggestions in this regard are welcome.

I'm still in love with my Ikea Pax wardrobe though. A most excellent purchase !

I don't know if you've noticed but most of my furniture - including the desk - ended up right back where it was before the last big bedroom overhaul in December 2012. Ironic !

That cushion next to the plant is the cats favourite sleeping spot. You wouldn't imagine the amount of fighting that goes on over who gets to sleep there.

That's June's "don't mess with me" look !

This is also one area where I'm thinking of doing some changes in the near future. 

When Ikea had the good sense to relaunch some of their classic 1950s pieces, I fell in love with their amazing Lillbron low table. And I think I might have come up with the perfect spot for it ! Wouldn't it look wonderful under the window ? I can really imagine it there, with some plants and succulents... and the cats cushion of course !

In that case, I would probably need to get a smaller desk though.

We'll see...

Finally happy about the living room

Sunday, 28 December 2014

If anybody is still reading this blog, I apologize beforehand for yet another "living room" post. Seems like most of my blogging over the last two years has focused on that particular room. Not that there isn't anything changing in the other areas - on the contrary ! But once I get something in my head, it's apparently very tough to let go off.
And basically that meant that I wouldn't rest - or stop spending (!) - until I wasn't feeling happier about that room. Early this year, I had gotten to the point that I really didn't like anything in here anymore. I stopped spending time in here and, for several months, the living room became the dumping room of my flat. Everything that I didn't want in another room got discarded in here, making matters of course much worse ! For a while, I felt like selling everything off and starting over. But luckily I came to my senses. I mean, imagine if I had actually sold my bookcabinets or my Cadovius shelves or my Nathan sideboard... Ugh, I would soooo regret it now !
But anyway, the basic problem still remainded : there was way too much stuff in here (and not just all the crap that got randomly dumped in here); everything was too retro (never thought I'd say this, but there you have it); all the wood was just too much ... and overall is was all too dark and stuffy ! I think this post from last November gives you a pretty good idea.

Maybe I'm just exagerating and it wasn't all that bad. But I think, in any case, I had outgrown the full-on retro look and was looking for something a bit more adult, fresh, modern and personal. So back in April, I started tuning things down in here. I also spent a long weekend in May painting over the black wall with Farrow and Ball's amazing Stiffkey Blue. Still in May I also brought home an Ikea classic in an attempt to mix things up. And then during my summer holidays things really started to get serious : new sofa, new furniture, new layout... And now the icing on the cake...

Ta-da you guys ! I also bought a new dining table !

I went down the (kind of) contemporary route again in choosing the Hay C44 table. It's a recent production, yes! But it's also a relaunch of a Danish furniture classic designed by Jørgen Baekmark and originally made for FDB, the Danish Consumers’ Co-operative Society. FDB’s furniture production started in the 1940s and their main idea was functionalist and democratic design for the people. Well, I can only thank Hay for this truly wonderful table. It's beautiful, it's sturdy, it's very well made and - in true modernist fashion - it's fairly affordable.

Best of all, it comes with a melamine tabletop that is very easy to clean, generally cat resistant and even reversible. It's black on the other side ! I haven't tried out the black look yet - for the moment I'm craving as much light as I can get - but I'm looking forward to experimenting with it in the coming months.

Ok, ok. I admit. That wasn't my only recent purchase for the living room... Yes, the wicker chair is also new. But I have an excuse. Or at least an explanation for this spending frenzy. Ikea recently relaunched - in a (very) limited edition - some of their incredibly awesome designs from the fifties. I mean, look at them ! Don't you want to buy them all ? I certainly wanted to. So all things considered, I think I stayed incerdibly level-headed in only buying one tiny little chair...

Also, Ikea here in Brussels only had a grand total of 12 of these chairs. So I was told by one of their managers when I was trying to figure out if I could reasonably postpone my purchase (I couldn't, these chairs were selling fast !). A lovely chat it was. Indeed the lady thought I should come work for them, since I'm such a big fan... Ha ! Anyways.

Look at it ! It's soooo cute !

It's the cats favourite chair. And mine !

Sorry can't help myself. Just one more.

With all this gushing, I almost forgot to mention that the new-ish sofa is - albeit in serious danger of being scratched to death by the kitties - holding up very well. As you can see, I switched the sitting area around. I had to make room for the new table format (I went from round to rectangular) - and my new Ikea Gagnet chair ! And the old layout just wasn't appropriate anymore.

I really like this. The room looks much more open now that the sofa isn't sitting in front of the window anymore. And has you can see from a few photos back there's also space enough now to indulgence in a cool little 1970s inspired plant jungle.

So to sum up this already very long post. I guess you've guessed it : I'm finally happy with my living room ! So happy that I love chilling in here in the evenings or having a snooze on the sofa during the weekends. And I'm also really looking forward to hosting some lovely dinner parties with friends and family in here.

One thing's missing though. Don't know if you've noticed, but I don't have a light source (yet) next to the sofa and in the evenings it can get hard to read in here, with the closest light being next to those white vases.

I'm thinking : wall lamp ! Any suggestions ?

Summer switch-a-round

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Bloody hell, you guys! Do you know what happened to 2014 ? Spring came and went. Summer came and went. Three weeks of summer holidays came and went.

Pooof. All just gone...Scrolling down on this blog just four posts (four !), I was getting ready for Christmas... 2013.

Man. I've been a truly terrible blogger this year. And it hasn't even been for lack of changes around here. Back in April I repainted the bathroom. Then I changed the bedroom layout. Then I also painted my black walls in Stiffkey Blue. And finally during my last week of summer vacation, I moved a "few" things around in the living room... And maybe added some stuff...

Case in point. A new sofa.

It's a "classic" Ikea Karlstad 2 seater with the grey Isunda cover. After the cats basically scrated my orange vintage sofa to death, I decided I didn't want to take any further risks or spend vast amounts on a designer/vintage sofa that would eventually end up in the skip... So Ikea it is !

Gettting a new sofa had the rather unfortunate side effect of triggering a series of other changes.

The Ikea sofa being way bulkier than the previous vintage one (which was more a bench really than a couch), there wasn't enough space to fit the Ikea PS metal sideboard between the Caodvius shelves and the window (under the Charley Harper 'ladybird' print).

So off it went to the other side of the room.

And since a single one of these sideboards on such a long wall looked a bit lost, I decided to get a second one ! Over here in Belgium, Ikea recently dropped the price on these cabinets (from 80 to 60 eur). So it was an easy decision to make. 

That massive cactus is from Ikea too, btw. 

I must be one of their best customers again...

And before you gasp at the the 'Eames' chair...It's a knock-off. But I found it at the Brussels flea market and I love it.

My sister-in-law helped me sand down the seat. The previous owner had started but not finished (very weird). Plus there was some water damage from being exposed to the elements at the Brussels flea for a while... But after sanding and oiling that chair is looking glorious.

For those of you still paying attention after all these months, you might have wondered what happend to my Nathan teak sideboard

Well, here it is. Looking fanatastic under the Cadovius shelves. And while I was at it, I changed the shelves themselves and everything on them around. I mean at this point, what's one more change ?!

Flo ! Showing off some of the details. And a randomly placed cactus.

Other big news on the homefront. After 3 years of neglect, I finally - albeit partially - replanted the front balcony. The kitties are at least as excited as I am.

I got echinaceas, a rudbeckia, a new clematis, a limonium and a "monk's pepper" bush. And I can't wait to plant more next spring !

So there you have it. The results of most of my last week of summer holidays.

How did you spent yours ? Did you get anything done ? Have you had some exciting thrift finds ?

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