January 18, 2010

Guest Blog: brighten up a rental with paint

Welcome to the very first guest blog on 'Palazzo Pizzo':
Text and pics are by Yvalie who has moved with her family of four from the US to Germany just recently.  I have met her through my blog as a dear reader and commentator. Over the time we became friends and each other's "interior coach" (amazing blogging!)
Here is Yvalie with her before and after story of her rented house :


AFTER: the Art Nouveau Style entry after painting

BEFORE: the entry before moving in

Touching up a rental is not always easy if the landlord's answer to all your begging is "no". Well, I guess we were really lucky and were able to do some major changes just with some paint (and some flooring).

The house was built in 1905 featuring the Art Nouveau Style that was so popular in Europe at the turn of the 20th century.

The city of Dresden, located in the very East of Germany was heavily bombed during WW II. Those houses which still existed after the huge destruction had usually been neglected during the socialist reign of East Germany. After the German reunification in 1989 the real estate market boomed and everyone wanted to wake a sleeping beauty for a dime. Well, a lot of people were lured into investing and lost huge amounts of money. Others were more succesful and scored some fantastic architecture.

The authorities placed a lot of those old house under preservation order to protect what was still there. Until today you have to be in line with their rules for renovation. As annoying as this might seem, it does make sense though.

Since our paint color was not the original one we had no problem changing it.

We wanted to apply the same color scheme thru the whole house and started to settle on two different colors to paint the wooden trim and doors. So many people were helpful and offered tours thru their (similar) houses to help us make up our mind how to approach this kind of house.

We achieved another big impact by changing the lighting.

In Germany houses do not come with light fixtures. As a renter you can either bring your own or might be able to snatch a good deal from the previous tenants who don't want to bother taking all their fixtures down. We started our project with bare bulbs in every single room, bath, kitchen, basement, you name it.

Well, and then finally the biggest change was to bring in our furniture we have been collecting over the years and spruce it up with some IKEA and flea market finds.

When entering the house before it felt like entering a cave - so dark (see above 2nd pic). And I also did not like the busy tiles. They were not original anyway so we opted to cover them with a custom seagrass rug to match the one on the stairs. The Chinese console table is from a fleamarket. A guy travels to China three times a year and brings back those treasures to sell at various outdoor markets.

The dining room - before & after:

BEFORE Yvalie's changes

AFTER brighten up with colour

AFTER adding fresh colour

I tried to be very brave here and opted for a floral wallpaper in beige. Once up - I hated it! So after a few weeks we decided to just paint over it, since our budget did not allow to change it yet again. I have to say it turned out fine now. The wooden figures are from the artist Ingrid Wild www.ingridwild.com and represent our family.

The dressing room - before & after:

BEFORE : a bedroom before renting

AFTER: carpet and curtains out - wooden floor in and showing beautiful old windows

Due to it's northern exposure this room is quite dark, so we decided to use it as a dressing room. You usually will not find built in closets in German houses. We were lucky enough to have one spare room, so we would not end up with a huge cupboard in the bedroom. The white cupboards are PAX from Ikea, so is the rug. The sofa is an ebay find that originates from the same period the house was built in. The reindeer is from Pottery Barn Kids and I can not part with him after xmas. So he can hang out there for a while.


Thank you so much to Yvalie for that great before & after presentation as well as for the short introduction to Dresden and the style of your house !
It is amazing what a difference some paint makes!
Talking so much about paint, Yvalie also has a good solution for keeping leftover paint:
Her metallic cans (Hornbach) neatly labeled with paint and location data were featured over at Lauren's Pure Style organization project (photo left).
More before and after pics by Yvalie can be seen today at Pure Style where she takes part in the 'coat closet - reader project'

photo source & guest blog : Yvalie

-->> For BEFORE and AFTER posts of our Italian remodelling project go here. <<--


  1. What a beautiful, bright and elegant change you achieved with the white and grey colour scheme!
    Lucky you that your landlord trusted your taste!

  2. What a difference, it could be another house altogether. Fabulous!

  3. I agree !
    And you know what?
    She has invited my family to spend a weekend at her house! So I will not only see the entire remodelling project, but - even more exciting - our families will get to know each other!

  4. Hi Suzie! So great to see progress on your house! And this is an amazing transformation on your friend's rental house!!! Beautiful. Paint is a wonderful thing.