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Homestory: Old building charm meets modern kitchen

Welcome to our (@3.og.links) or, as I should say, to our kitchen. As our Instagram profile name suggests, we live in a flat on the 3rd floor of an old building in Frankfurt. We – that's my husband Flo and I, Julia, are both 38 years young. When we received the offer to buy our 3.og.links in the summer of 2018, we didn't think twice and jumped at the opportunity – it wasn't planned, but as we all know, unexpected things often happen.  The renovation started in January 2019 and we have been living here since March 2019 and are very happy with our decision.

1. Flats in big cities and particularly in old buildings often have the disadvantage that there is not much space available. What tips do you have for planning a small kitchen?
That is a difficult question, if not the most difficult question of all. ;) I think if you don't have a lot of space available, you can be quickly tempted to think big. However, we decided on the opposite: to think small. In other words: concentrate on the essentials and do not overload the room.

2. What were your must-haves that absolutely had to be in your kitchen?
We were lucky in our previous kitchen that our ex-landlord had installed a brand new kitchen with an induction hob – so an induction hob was an absolute must-have for me.

3. What unfortunately didn't fit into your kitchen, but what would you definitely get if you had a big kitchen?
Definitely a kitchen island! I think kitchen island are great, but that would be simply impossible in our kitchen.

4. How do you create as much storage space as possible in a small kitchen?
I would say wall cabinets and use the entire ceiling height, but... See 6 ;) We were aware that by doing without wall cabinets we would of course also have to do without storage space, but it was worth it to us. I think you should be very aware of what is important to you. In this case, we opted for the look and decided against more storage space. :)

5. Do you have any tips for organising the interior to make the best use of the limited space?
I think everyone is familiar with having countless Tupperware containers, but hardly ever using most of them. Less is more ;)

6. You decided against wall cabinets despite the limited space. Why is that?
It's very simple: I don't like wall cabinets. I can absolutely see the advantage of wall cabinets (storage space!), yet wall cabinets were out of the question for us.

7. With an old building, you are faced with many challenges – including when it comes to kitchen planning. For example, you had to incorporate a thermal bath into the planning. How did you manage to fit it in so that the overall look of the kitchen still looks good?
The thermal baths are a subject in themselves – at first I thought they were really ugly and would have liked to get rid of them out, but of course that wouldn't have been possible. In the end, we deliberately didn't cover it up and I now think that it even emphasises the cool look of our kitchen.

8. Were there any other challenges during planning and installation due to the old building?
Oh yes, there certainly were. We don't have a straight wall... there was a lot of swearing by the fitters.

9. Have you also integrated a dining area into the kitchen?
Yes, but really very small, as we have quite a large dining table in the living/dining room. We have built a kind of counter ourselves, with two bar stools. This means one person can sit at the counter while the other cooks – which is usually me as the man of the house usually wields the wooden spoon in our house. 

10. Frankfurt is well-known as a wine region. Does this play any importance in your kitchen, e.g. with a wine rack?
To be precise, Frankfurt is the home of cider.  (Which I personally don't like at all, but we're not allowed to say that out loud here) What we can't do without in our kitchen, despite the fact that we don't drink cider, is a classic Bembel. In addition, Frankfurt is close to several great wine-growing regions and we like to have a glass now and then. We keep our wine bottles in an old wine box on top of the fridge.

11. The kitchen always looks well decorated in your pictures. What's your secret?
I am a real stickler for details and when I find something I like, I like it to stay for a long time. Which means I don't redecorate all the time. And: plants, there's always room for plants!

12. How do you bring cosiness into your clean white kitchen?
We have real wooden floorboards in our kitchen, which I think bring a lot of warmth and cosiness. We also have white linen curtains, which I think are really beautiful as well as also creating a cosy atmosphere.

13. Why did you decide to live in an old building and what appeals to you about it?
We just love old buildings! Our previous apartment was also in an old building and we were simply taken with the high ceilings, the coffered doors, the creaking floorboards, etc. Of course, there are also lovely new buildings and indeed they have some advantages, but we can't currently imagine living in a new building. But you should never say never... who knows what the future will bring.

14. You have renovated the flat yourself. What had to be done?
Everything! We completely renovated the flat before we moved in – we literally tore everything out and redid it. Except for the 120-year-old floorboards in the living rooms, which we were determined to keep, even though they do show their age.

15. What tips would you give regarding kitchen planning to other people renovating an old flat? When is the best time to start?
a. It always takes longer than you think – allow for enough time
b. It will always be more expensive than you think – be sure to plan a buffer here as well
c. We started planning the kitchen almost nine months before we moved in, but it was still only a temporary solution about four months after we moved in – there were one or two "little problems". We were mad at ourselves at times, but getting angry doesn't help at that point. So in conclusion, stay calm! In the end, everything will be fine. :)
d. (Note to you: this has nothing to do with Nolte, of course ;) )

16. How important is the kitchen for you? Do you like to cook? Is the kitchen the centre of your life?
My husband loves to cook, I love to eat – in that respect we are an absolute dream team.  Nevertheless, I wouldn't call our kitchen the centre of our lives. We generally travel a lot and also love to go out to eat.

17. What does life in the kitchen mean to you?
Sure, the kitchen is the place in the home where food is prepared. But the kitchen is so much more than that, as everyone knows this is where the best parties take place. ;) What's more, our balcony is accessible from our kitchen, so for us it's more or less a kitchen and open-air living and dining room in one. :)

18. How would you describe your home and your interior design style? Is your personality reflected in your interior design?
Retro, detailed, cosy, lively – and yes, I think that reflects my character quite well.

19. What inspired you to create this (your) style?
I'm usually inspired by spontaneous inspirations, I'm quite impulsive. :) Of course I also like to flip through magazines and scroll through Instagram, but before I buy an "it piece" I think twice – and then usually come to the conclusion that the trendy it piece just doesn't fit into our home.