Hey there, I'm Tatjana and I live in a beautiful loft flat with my husband Bene and our two children (aged 14 and 7). Our house is basically a multi-generational home. My parents live on the ground floor, and our small family lives on the first floor and right under the roof (second floor). The house (formerly just a builder's warehouse) was built in 1937 and my parents put a lot of work into converting it into a residential building. About 2 years ago we took over the upper part, thoroughly restructured the roof framework and redesigned the first floor just as we wanted it. On the first floor we returned everything to its original state down to the building shell and in the roof we started from scratch. In total, we will have a living space of around 330 sqm, a roof terrace of 100 sqm and a roof loggia of around 20 sqm once everything is truly finished. In our flat we have combined two completely different loft styles on two floors, which is what makes it so unique for us. The lower section looks more industrial with free-standing concrete pillars and relatively low concrete ceilings. The upper (roof) section on the other hand, with all its visible wood and high ceilings, is what makes our flat a loft of two worlds. As we are converting and developing the entire loft ourselves, the upper section is unfortunately not completely done yet. With plenty of attention to detail and daring combinations, we are turning our loft into a haven for our family. Our Black Beauty is much more to us than just a black kitchen. It is a highlight of our flat, it was a test of courage when we ordered it, it’s the focal point of our family life, a dream come true and, all in all, simply beautiful. You want to know more? Then visit me on Instagram, I look forward to your comments! Your Tatjana
That’s a really good question. To answer that, I have to backtrack a bit. This actually felt like one of the hardest decisions of our lives. While we were planning the kitchen, my husband set his sights on a black kitchen quite quickly, telling me: “But it’s fancy, though.” I was pretty reluctant for a long time and wasn’t really happy with the idea. Then we went back to white, then to grey, then black again, then we thought “maybe just a little bit of black” and there was a lot of back and forth. Your kitchen stays in your life for such a long time, so this decision was really difficult for us. At the end of the day, we decided on all black, with no accents in any other colour or anything. And what can I say: It was the right choice.
2. How do you think you should design a living space if you have an open-plan black kitchen?
That was basically exactly the challenge we were facing. An all-black kitchen is already an eye-catcher in and of itself. So we had the option of using lighter colours to compensate for the dark colour of the kitchen or else to spread the darker shade to the dining and living space as well. To create a homogeneous image, which we felt was very important, we decided to use the colour black again and again. So we also have black furniture and some black chairs. We focused on the colours black and brown/wood. Walls are always white in our house. White walls in particular make black stand out even more. Once you combine that with our wooden floor, you get a black kitchen that simply fits seamlessly, so we have achieved the homogeneous look we wanted. The kitchen is the highlight, but it’s still part of a whole. Light and lighting are a major factor, especially in the kitchen itself. So all of that made it possible to gently integrate our “Black Beauty”, even though we still think it’s the absolute highlight of the design.
3. How do you keep your kitchen from looking too “gloomy”?
White walls, light-coloured floors (wood helps immensely because it looks friendly) and light. Our ceilings are very low, only 2.25 m high, and on top of that we’ve got concrete pillars in our flat. And yet our kitchen never looks gloomy, quite the contrary. Black is such an elegant, classy colour. I think a lot of people make the mistake of buying a black kitchen and then trying to hide it. That's pointless anyway, we let it be what it is - our pride and joy and a real highlight of our home.
We changed our mind and chose hidden handles that are practically invisible so that we don’t have to touch the fronts to open the doors. In retrospect, we’ve found that this wouldn’t really have been necessary, because the fronts aren’t sensitive to stains at all. Still, we have no regrets. Handles are practical, especially when you have children. And we still got what we wanted – we didn’t want noticeable handles. They’re black on black now so it basically looks like they aren’t there. So we’ve actually found the perfect solution.
I’ve got to admit that I am VERY proud of that. Of course, the kitchen planner helped us with the finishing touches and created the final model. But in the initial planning stages we realised that an island wasn’t the best solution for us, so I sat down to look through the Nolte catalogues and website and designed and planned the kitchen myself on a piece of squared paper. While planning we realised that this shape should work for us and it did, except for a few minor details. So now I have a really well-planned kitchen, in a unique (or rather rare) shape that fits perfectly into our space. It was also extremely important to me to be facing the room while I’m cooking - that’s really nice, especially when you have people over. That really took a lot of time, but that time was worth it. As I said: I’m really proud of it.
6. Did you plan your kitchen yourself?
Yes, like I mentioned just now. The kitchen planner put the finishing touches to it. But I did everything else myself. From the basic shape to which cabinet goes where and why.
7. What difficulties did you encounter while planning?
The planning process was really hard at times, and there were even a few tears. You have an image or a dream in mind when you talk to the kitchen planner. And unfortunately the response to those images in your mind often ends up being: "That won’t work." So that’s why I put a lot of effort into looking into the subject and pushed ahead with the planning. This process was really demanding, especially because, once you’ve decided on a kitchen, it stays in your life for a long time. But the result makes up for all the trouble.
8. What did you consider most important while planning?
Functional design and making the absolute MOST out of the available space. You only ever miss storage space when there isn’t any. I wanted the kitchen to be well-planned and have the space to put away all of our stuff. Of course, and let me be honest about that, I also wanted it to look great at the same time. We wanted the first kitchen we buy to be a real highlight.
9. In one corner you have a kind of 'bar', what made you decide to include that feature?
To be honest, we had to find a solution for the corner that would leave the passageway large enough. There were many ideas. But at the end of the day, this is the solution we chose. The corner turned out lovely and it’s a great place for my children or husband to sit while I cook.
They’re cool, aren’t they? They’ve got lots of storage space and a unique look. It’s the black glass that makes them special. When the lights are off you can’t see the glasses, but when they’re on, it looks wonderfully classy. The wine racks add the finishing touch. And I’ll be honest here: we only added the wine racks to fill the gaps. The cabinets were a challenge, particularly due to the height of our ceiling. But as you mentioned in your question, they are eye-catching and make the kitchen look amazing.
11. What is your favourite item in your kitchen? What did you absolutely have to have?
The larder unit and the hanging display cabinets. We absolutely had to have both of those things. The larder unit because of how practical it is - it’s worth its weight in gold. We chose the display cabinets for their look, but without losing sight of their practical use.
12. Your interior design prominently features concrete and wood - how did you come up with that combination of materials?
Well, the concrete was already there. We considered trying to hide it, but it’s what gives this house built in 1937 its unique charm. That’s why we decided to emphasise it instead and get some concrete benefits - if you’ll excuse my pun - out of what we were given. But because the ceilings are so low, we needed a light-coloured, friendly floor so that the ceiling wouldn’t feel oppressive. As we both love wood and wood-look designs, that’s what we chose. At first, that choice even struck us as bold, in a way. But combined with black, white and concrete it’s simply perfect. It looks modern, but not cold - that was important for us. It looks cosy, but not too cosy - it’s hard to describe what I mean, but that was also important.
13. Does your entire home feature that mix of materials?
Yes, we stuck with that mix throughout. On our top floor we have old wooden beams and we have made sure they are all visible. We didn’t want to hide any of them. In addition to that, we’re combining white walls and a dark floor - the ceilings are much higher, after all it’s a roof. But in our opinion, the mix of materials and the emphasis on wood always create a cosy, warm feeling.
14. How do you manage to make your home cosy, even though concrete often creates a cold effect?
The wood-look floor is an important factor, but so is the furniture. The decoration and lighting create a cosy feeling or can make a place look brighter or darker. It’s important for all the features to work together. Rugs loosen up the appearance of a room and give it a cosy character across the board. Aside from that: Lots of decoration and lots and lots of candles.
That’s a good question. Personally, I actually really appreciate the colour white. I won’t let anyone talk me out of having white walls. I would say that the kind of cosiness we have created reflects my personality. The warmth of wood and the cool look of concrete combined with black and white simply look amazing and are the PERFECT backdrop for decoration and plants. And that’s very important to me.
16. What kind of decoration works particularly well with these materials (wood & concrete)?
Actually, anything - but in my opinion you should make sure that it doesn't get too colourful. But that's just my style. Black, white, brown, gold and bronze hues are a perfect match. Flowers and plants with their green colour fit in great anyway and really get an opportunity to shine. After all, the green of plants always looks more beautiful in a forest, too. If I see decorative items that I like but that don't match, I buy them and simply paint or redecorate them. It’s important to stay true to the design language of the flat and the overall style. And here’s a small piece of advice: A black kitchen is the perfect stage for decoration. Pasta jars, a knife block, spices, plants and herbs - every item draws the eye beautifully and practically shines in a black kitchen.
17. Did you want your kitchen to be practical for family life first and foremost or were you primarily focused on design?
Both! You want the place where you eat to look pretty! But all in all, practical features were important. They just have to be dressed up nicely. And, admittedly, we could have chosen somewhat more practical features. For instance, where the wall units are concerned. But we wanted something that provides practical storage space and
is an impressive eye-catcher at the same time. One does not preclude the other, which is why we chose a Nolte kitchen 😉.
18. On Instagram you say that you like drawers. Why is that?
Because when I pull out a drawer, I can look in from above. When you open a cupboard you always look in from the front and don't even really see what's at the back. When I need something from the back, I always have to rummage around. I love when things are well-organised and I hate having to rummage and search. So, from the very start, I knew: I want drawers, as many as I can get. There are very few places where we don’t have any, because it just wasn’t possible. And in these places we still have to rummage and search all the time - and that’s why I tell everyone: Drawers keep you well-organised and let you find things quickly.
19. You have also presented your great kitchen lighting; do you consider it important to have a lighting concept in your kitchen or was it just a nice bonus?
It’s very important. There's nothing better than great kitchen lighting. If you’ve got beautiful drinking glasses, you can showcase them that way. And the best thing is: It makes things really cosy. Because the light colour is adjustable, you can adapt it to your current mood. When you have people over, the indirect lighting is great. The kitchen is not dark, but also not
illuminated as bright as day. It’s simply perfect.
20. What does life in the kitchen mean to you?
That’s a good question. Not being alone, having space for your whole family. A kitchen is for cooking, but it’s for living, too. We have plenty of space for chopping vegetables, baking or just chatting with each other when we are all home in the evening. But life in the kitchen also means organisation, if I’m honest. I love a neat and tidy kitchen (before and after use).