I am Sarah, 27 (@rooftopflat) years old, and I live in Munich with my partner in a 3-room penthouse flat. In 2019, we decided to escape the crazy rental prices in Munich and put our money into property instead. In January 2019 we found our dream flat, which was still under construction at the time. We bought the flat ready for occupancy from the developer and were allowed to have a say in the floor plan, the electrical planning and the furnishings. Then we received the keys in December 2019.
Our flat is on the 2nd floor – this is the top floor of the apartment building. In addition to the 3 rooms, which comprise approx. 70 sqm of living space, we also have two roof terraces to ourselves. The large terrace borders directly on the kitchen and covers 28 sqm. It is our spacious living room extension in the summer. The small terrace is also quite large at 14 sqm. We currently mainly use them to grow our own vegetables.
Despite the generous outdoor area, the living space is small – as is typical in major cities. We have accommodated our kitchen, dining area and living room in an area of just under 26 sqm. With the right planning, however, you can also furnish a small flat beautifully and functionally.
1.Black fronts, black worktop – rather unusual. How did you decide on this look for your kitchen?
Quite simply, because we like it. I'm not personally a fan of "ordinary". I think black is timeless but still has a wow factor. I wanted to give our flat character and recognition value and really make it "our" flat. With our own signature. The black kitchen contributes significantly to this and is the centrepiece of our flat.
2. How do you think you should arrange the living space if you have an open-plan black kitchen?
I kept the rest of the living space light and kept using black accents to round out the room as a whole. I deliberately combined warm tones and wood because I wanted the open space to be warm and cosy. Basically, however, there is no "right" or "wrong" when furnishing or designing. You should stay true to yourself and do what you like best. And not what the architect, the craftsman, the family or the neighbour says.
3. How do you keep the kitchen from becoming too gloomy?
The magic word is: light! Our kitchen is right next to a 3.20 metre wide and floor-to-ceiling window front. During the day, the kitchen is the brightest area of the whole flat. When it gets dark, we also like to switch on our lights. We have installed a dimmable light strip under the wall cabinets, which indirectly illuminates the washbasin and the worktop.
4. What decorating tips do you have for a black kitchen?
Less is more. I don't really like it when there's loads of things on the worktop. A black kitchen speaks for itself, so you don't need much decoration. I like to put a vase with fresh cut flowers on it, and there's always a pretty trivet on the kitchen island in case you quickly want to put something hot down. I also see it as decoration 😊 In my view, this is perfectly adequate.
5. What advantages does a black kitchen offer you that a white one cannot?
The black kitchen offers me the advantage of being more visually appealing than a white kitchen. But that's it 😉 Personally, it was important to me to choose a kitchen based on what I like, what fulfils me and what I can be happy about every day, not what is best to clean or what is easiest to maintain. I'll be honest: you really have to WANT a black kitchen.
I often get comments like "It's nice, but you can see every speck of dust" or "You constantly have to clean the fingerprints". Dust in itself is not such a problem. You don't see dust on a matt and textured worktop (unlike the glossy black hob). You also have to take into account that we cook almost every day – and the kitchen is cleaned every day. However, you can already see fingerprints on the fronts. If you're picky about them, I would advise against getting a black kitchen. If fingerprints bother me, I clean them off with washing-up liquid or glass cleaner and kitchen paper. It's quick and easy and only takes around 10 minutes each day. I've made a conscious decision to do this and I also put up with the 10 minutes it takes to clean the fronts – in return, I enjoy the sight of them every day 😊 However, the decision of "cleaning" vs. "appearance" is something everyone has to make for themselves.
6. Which fronts and worktops are installed in the kitchen?
We opted for fronts in SOFT LACK Black and the Black Pro worktop.
7. What did you absolutely not want to do without in your kitchen?
I really didn't want our microwave on the worktop. That is why we have included a microwave cabinet. We also didn't want a large extractor hood, so we chose a hob with a hob extractor – i.e. an integrated extractor.
8. How did you get the maximum storage space out of your kitchen?
We planned the kitchen larger than the architect had envisaged. When you buy your own flat, you often get a floor plan that already shows how you could furnish the flat, or what the architect had in mind when designing the floor plan. According to this plan, the dining table should be in the place where our kitchen island is. But we knew immediately that we wanted an island and needed more space for the kitchen. So we looked for another place for the dining table and had a power cable laid for the island. So my first tip would be to always question the floor plan you are given and consider what better solutions there might be. Other than that, we tried to use a lot of pull-outs instead of hinged doors and had the oven installed at working level, which created a bit more storage space above and below the oven.
9. Living in a flat in Munich means you have limited space. What advice would you give to others who also only have little space available for a kitchen?
If you have little space, you should start by not hoarding unnecessary stuff. The motto is: as much as necessary, as little as possible. For example, if there are only two of you, do you really need 20 cups, 30 glasses and 3 different sets of crockery? We treated ourselves to a (slightly more expensive) tableware set that we use all the time. Why do you need a tableware set for special occasions? Every day you live is a special occasion as far as I'm concerned 😊 Therefore, I would have a proper sort out before moving and only keep as much as you really need. The same applies to supplies. We don't have a pantry and only buy as much as we consume in a short period of time.
10. How do you mainly use the counter element on the kitchen island? – for friends to watch you cook, for a quick coffee from time to time or do you use it as a dining area for your meals?
We use the counter element frequently and in many different ways. Most of the time, we use it as a dining area for convenience, because then we can eat directly at the place where the food is cooked and you don't have to carry everything to the dining table again 😊 When we have friends over, the counter is usually too small and we move to the terrace, the dining table or the couch.
11. The disadvantage of open-plan kitchens is often that it can be noisy in the living area or the smells can be annoying – how do you cope with this?
We don't mind if it's noisy while we're cooking. We just didn't want it to be really noisy after cooking, so we chose quiet appliances. Our dishwasher has 42 dB – you hardly even notice it's on. Smells have never been an issue for us either. Firstly, because our hob extractor neutralises some of the smells and, secondly, because we have a large sliding door to the terrace that we use to ventilate the small room in no time at all, and last but not least, we even have a central living room ventilation system that ensures a regular exchange of air too.
12. What is your favourite detail in the kitchen?
We are extremely happy that we were able to fulfil our dream of a kitchen island. Not only because of the additional storage space – the counter and the hob with the hob extractor are also highlights for us.
13. Why did you decide to buy a flat in Munich of all places?
We both come from the countryside – about 80 km from Munich. Work then brought us to Munich. Sure, we could have gone for a cheaper flat a bit outside Munich, but at the moment we enjoy living in a city where you can reach everything in no time using the underground and suburban trains. This way we can go out sometimes without one of us having to drive 😉 The 3-room flat will definitely not be our last home. But the flat is currently perfect for our situation and preferences.
14. At what point during the construction process did you start planning the kitchen?
We bought the flat when it was already under construction. That's why we started planning the kitchen right away – but it took a long time. We had four kitchens planned by four different vendors. It was only with the last vendor that we felt comfortable in terms of their advice and offer.
15. As a Munich girl, do you ever cook Bavarian food in your kitchen?
Of course! There's nothing like roast pork with potato dumplings or beer goulash 😉
16. My husband cooks and you take care of the furnishings – how has that affected your kitchen planning?
That's right, although my husband does the cooking in our house, I was in charge of the kitchen planning. However, he was also really happy about this because he doesn't like dealing with these types of things. We still made all the decisions together and I would never have implemented anything he didn't agree with.
17. What does life in the kitchen mean to you?
We have an open-plan kitchen that is integrated into the living room. Our lives largely take place in this area. The kitchen is the central hub, which is also always the most admired by our guests (mainly because of the colour, of course 😊). We use the kitchen constantly every day. We have our main meal in the evening – we usually just have a snack at lunchtime and in the morning. Because of the short distances, I still look in the fridge and the sweets drawer two thousand times between meals 😉
18. How would you describe your interior design style?
It's all a mix: a bit Scandi, a bit minimal, a bit natural.
19. Black, white, grey – why exactly are these your colours?
Currently I would add beige and generally natural tones to the list. I find that with a neutral base, all doors are open to you in terms of design – even if your tastes change. This way, you don't have to commit to one design and you can transform the whole flat by changing small details.
20. In your pictures, I can see lots of plants as decorative elements – does nature play an important role in your life?
Without a doubt. I don't just love natural materials like wood, marble or wool – I also think that plants make a living space really cosy. They loosen up, take the "austerity" and "emptiness" out of a corner and stand out without being too obtrusive. They also ensure a pleasant living climate.