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Home story: The radiant lifestyle of Andrea and Max

Andrea and Max (@projekt_hausbau_030) live on the outskirts of Berlin and work as a psychologist and IT project manager respectively. After they left their home town in Thuringia to move to Berlin, they made their dream of owning their home come true in summer of 2018. From the very start they knew that they wanted to build together at some point in their lives and their search for a suitable property took a long time until they finally found the perfect place. In their new home, lighting plays an important role. Read this interview to find out more:

1. Why did you decide to move to the outskirts of the city and what are the defining features of life on the outskirts of Berlin for you?
We consciously decided to live on the outskirts of the city, because it lets us live in a green environment, but if we want to, we can take the urban train and get to the Berlin city centre within 20 minutes. Before we moved here, we both lived in a small apartment relatively close to the city centre. The short distances and the vibrant atmosphere of Berlin remained a big draw for many years. But now we’re all the more grateful to live in what many see as the “commuter belt” of Berlin. This area combines the advantages of the big city, like access to good jobs, a wide range of cultural events and a huge number of options for shopping, with the advantages of a rural, green lifestyle with your own yard, with a laid-back attitude and without all the big city noise. 

2. Why did you want to build your own home and not buy or convert an existing house?
For us, building our own home represented true freedom. The freedom to decide how we wanted to design our rooms, but also the freedom to know that we won’t be discovering the shortcomings of an existing building for a long time. At the beginning, we looked at a few properties on sale and soon realised that there was often no price difference between buying an existing house and building your own. Depending on the seller, location and market it might even be cheaper to build than buy.

3. What role does light / lighting play in your home?
Light plays an essential role in our home, so we designed our floor plan to be light-flooded and have had large windows that go all the way to the floor installed on all sides. On the one hand, we wanted plenty of natural daylight. On the other hand, we also focused on artificial light sources, both indoors and outdoors in the form of direct and indirect lighting fixtures. 

4. You have decided to fill your home with many different light sources. Do you have any tips for the perfect lighting plan?
We tried to adapt our lighting plan to the size of the room and to install spotlights symmetrically or with an even spacing. With the exception of a few pendant lamps, we almost exclusively installed spotlights, because they fit beautifully into our visual room concept. 

5. How did the topic ‘lighting’ influence your kitchen plan? What was essential for you about this topic?
We wanted to ensure that our kitchen was as well-lit as the rest of our home. We decided on a total of nine directly integrated lights in top and wall units, one island light and an indirectly illuminated recessed handle in the kitchen island, which casts a beautiful indirect light. On the one hand, we wanted to have a well-lit space for working, but on the other hand we wanted to be able to create indirect mood lighting to create the perfect ambiance for sitting together and relaxing in the evenings.

6. How did you decide on your current kitchen lighting?
What was essential for our decision was the great advice we got at the kitchen showroom. We showed up there knowing very little about the topic and had the opportunity to look at a variety of lighting options. That’s what made us decide on indirect lighting in the recessed handle; we’re very grateful for that idea and its implementation.

7. Did you know about the different options for illuminating a kitchen before you started planning or did you get the idea during planning?
We only had the idea during planning. We basically allowed ourselves to be inspired, especially where the indirect light in the recessed handle is concerned. Because we installed so many lights in the fronts and wall units, we didn’t have to install any additional lights. That’s very convenient.

8. Does the lighting in your kitchen continue on the inside of cabinets?
No, we did not install any lighting fixtures in cabinet interiors, because our large windows mean that we already have a very well-lit home and in the evenings, the indirect light in the recessed handles is enough for us.

8. How do guests react to your lighting design?
Our guests love our lighting fixtures and some of our friends, but also some of our Instagram followers, have installed similar indirect lighting fixtures in their own kitchens. Of course, that makes us very happy.

10. In general, what did you consider particularly important while planning your kitchen?
One of the most important criteria was a handleless kitchen. Moreover, we really wanted a downdraft extractor fan, because it means more space to move your head while cooking and baking. We had the kitchen island planned so that we have enough storage space all around and so that these cabinets are deep enough for large pots and other kitchen utensils. The open-plan living and dining area is really convenient, because we don’t have to carry the dishes very far, but can just pass them directly from the kitchen to the table. We also wanted to hide garbage bins, the microwave and toaster and any other standalone kitchen appliances. These are all inside sufficiently large cabinet spaces. We also wanted our oven at a comfortable viewing and working height. The surface-level electric sockets integrated in the island are likewise very practical.

11. Cabinets up to the ceiling - a very clever design for maximising storage space. Was storage space an important consideration in your plan?
As we built our home without a cellar or pantry, a ceiling-height line of cabinets was very important to maximise storage space. We’re very satisfied with the way it turned out. There’s a place for everything and we still have plenty of space to spare.

12. What was more important for your plan? Function or design?
Definitely both. We have a fully function-oriented but, in our opinion, very modern kitchen, which fits perfectly into our open-plan living and dining area.

13. The colour combination black & white is the height of fashion. Are interior design trends important for you?
Absolutely. We tried to stick to a single style for the entire house. Our kitchen showroom gave us great advice. We got the opportunity to look at different options on site and visualise our favourites with a 3D drawing. Our kitchen showroom also showed us the latest trends, adapted to the design concept we were planning for the rest of our home. 

14. Your handleless kitchen looks very modern and minimalist. Does that reflect your interior design style? What inspired you to choose this option?
Our kitchen definitely reflects the rest of our style. We wanted a very modern home, but also, as it is frequently referred to, a “clean” home. We always have the option of using decorative pieces or other items to add a splash of colour, so that means we’re keeping some options open for our design. The combination of furniture or items in black/white/anthracite combined with plenty of glass and warm wooden elements is something that you will find in various places in our home.

15. Be honest, what does the inside of your cabinets look like? Do you have the usual messy Tupperware cabinet or do you keep everything neat and tidy?
I’d be lying if I said all of my cabinets were neat and tidy ☺ Particularly the food shelves that we and our guests use every day have a tendency to get a bit messy. But surprisingly we’ve actually got a pretty good handle on the infamous Tupperware cabinet ;-) 

16. What role has your kitchen played in your daily life since you moved in?
The kitchen is the heart of our home. Because of its central location in our home and because we cook every day, it’s probably the place where we spend most of our time. We enjoy the freedom this space gives us and are incredibly happy to have made the exact decision we made, with all its functions and elements. 

17. Do you have a favourite place in your home? If so, what is it?
We love our generously-dimensioned living and dining area. It’s where we spend 80 % of our time at home. Sometimes it’s just the two of us and sometimes we invite friends and family. Because our kitchen, living and dining area are all in one place, we’re never really apart.

18. What is essential for you to feel at home?
Feeling like we’ve really arrived. Mainly, we create that feeling for each other. We don't need the largest or most beautiful house, the most expensive car, the feeling of keeping up with every single trend or even to live in a specific town. For us, it’s the “inner” home that counts and that has nothing to do with square footage. It’s also important that we feel safe and sound where we live. We have definitely created a place like that for ourselves. And we’re very grateful for that.

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