Little projects and big daydreams

March 15, 2012

Finally - a decent-sized shower! 

In an effort to keep up with my resolutions, as well as regain some sense of purpose after a rather long, unproductive couple of months, I've been antsy to make more home improvements (resolution #5: apartment projects). Since our travels are definitely a priority and budget above and beyond all the places we want to go is limited, I decided tackling some smaller issues would still accomplish a lot for my eagerness to make progress on our place without chipping away too much of our travel funds. Sadly, this means replacing our moldy wood countertops and a cushy new sofa for watching TV will remain on the 'to do' list for awhile.

Something still has to be done about the awful pink-tree tile...

The thing that has been driving me crazy for months is something that didn't even dawn on me to change until just recently - our shower. The tiny enclosure attached above our tub seemed like one of many previous incarnations showering has taken in this apartment, or so said about 10 patched holes in the tiled walls. Our tub is luxuriously large (in fact, it's the only one I've ever been in - swanky hotels aside - that my nearly-6ft/1.80m-tall frame can be contained in, kneecaps and shoulders included), but the tenants before us were apparently fine with a coffin-like shower experience. 

No longer able to stand showers in which the cold plastic liners cling to our skin, we finally went out in search of the proper hardware to turn our shower into a more pleasant and roomy experience. The silver I had originally wanted were found at OBI and Hornbach, but were twice as expensive as the white option at Ikea, so white it was. The result: a shower so spacious that not only one, but two of us can fit inside with ample room. Oh yeah. 

Doesn't look like much, but believe me - vast improvement!

The other thing that made me cringe every time I was in there was the WC. Like the bath, it too had numerous holes - both patched and unpatched - all over the tiled section and was adorned with perhaps the ugliest, cheapest-looking, most discolored plastic bath hardware I'd ever seen. Using the rest of the spackle and tile paint from our kitchen renovation, I was able to make this minimal backsplash look loads better. Then inexpensive but nice-looking silver hardware made the whole thing look totally clean and new. We had also taken down the heinous mini-blinds that hid our little storage space up behind the toilet a few weeks back and swapped it out for a softer, more colorful half-curtain to let in more light to the tiny, dark room. Sure, there's still the avocado sink and toilet, but every little bit helps. 

While we were out running the errands for all these items, we decided to check out the (usually disappointing) lighting selections again, just in case. Lo and behold, the lights we had actually rather liked a month ago, but passed up mostly because of the price, were on sale. And not just an everyday discount kind of sale, a crazy-huge monster sale, the likes of which almost never happens here in Germany (the American bargain hunter in me is rather sad at this).  See for yourself and marvel at the discount we scored:

Yeah, that's right - 91% off!

We talked it over for all of two minutes before a young girl stopped in front of the display and called to her father to come look at it - and with that, we grabbed all three and I ran to get a cart. I felt a little bad that we snatched these out from under a girl who probably just wanted one for her room, but we needed several to light the whole length of our hallway and frankly, we acted faster. Perhaps this is why Germany doesn't normally have sales like this - it'll bring out the worst in people. Just ask any American who has been hospitalized after a Black Friday stampede.

Our lighting score, just waiting for an electrician to come make it happen

Inspired by the impact these little fixes made after our work on the weekend, I decided to try yet another configuration in our office/TV-room/library (this will make the third time). While I'm still not entirely sure what to do about the rest of the room, I think being able to work while enjoying the view and natural light will make all the difference in my day-to-day routine. I'm so inspired, I think I might actually get some plants to share the space with me. Now that I have some herbs that I've managed to keep alive longer than a week, I think I might even be successful! 

sunlight = inspiration

While every project we do on the apartment means we're settling in to our home that much more, I still can't shake the idea of adventure. The massive layoffs that happened at my husband's office recently - he was one of about five people spared - have brought into question not only our ambitious travel plans (read: doing all we can while we are still lucky enough to live here), but also where we have made our home. His new position will, in a matter of months, not be tied to any specific location, meaning that we could realistically live anywhere in the vicinity of the EU. They have already brought up the possibility of us moving to the UK and offered to help make it happen, but that would probably be the least appealing option (although, an English-speaking country is tempting...). Not to mention that Bailey-dog couldn't accompany us without a super-long and super-dangerous stint in quarantine.

Just thinking about all the possibilities boggles my mind - south of France, Amsterdam, Morocco... really, we could go anywhere as long as it's a short enough flight from the head of this department outside of London (and no Mom, the US's east coast doesn't count). The prospect both fills me with excitement and with fear. Before my husband was offered this job, I never even considered Germany as a place I'd like to live. But now, I've come to love this country, especially where we live, and even identify somewhat with its people. We've worked hard at the language, the cultural differences, just everyday life - not to mention everything we had to give up and leave behind to get here (friends, furniture, the ease of communicating in our native language). The idea of uprooting all that, not to mention all the connections we've made here, seems preposterous. At the same time, not taking advantage of the opportunity to immerse ourselves in other European ways of life seems equally preposterous. When we moved, we realized that the 'American Dream' of a hefty mortgage in the suburbs and 2.5 kids just wasn't our dream, so why not live this nomadic, expat life to the extreme while we can? But that's crazy, right? Right...?

*Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische