Decorating Ideas

I’ve started a pin board of ideas for the bathrooms, I think you can guess the theme

I guess a basin seated on top of a traditional vanity, a panelled or free standing bath, would be nice, a decorative or checqured tile pattern-or wood, if I can convince my builder and husband to restore the wood floor, plain white wall tiles with a decorative ceramic border, ideally hand painted, but think that might be stretching, and my favourite so far the Hemnes range ( solid wood classic style) from sad to say, Ikea, they have great stuff.

Bathroom and Kitchen


Apart from a great holiday, the trip in July had an important purpose. The plans we have are not correct in terms of doors and window placing. A point we should have checked last time, but alas there was always so much to do and see, to learn and decide on. And I think we only received the plans late in the trip.

I’ve now fiddled with the bath/shower placement to ensure the shower doesn’t have a window in it, and on working with the kitchen people, decided we had far too many cupboards, and could leave some space for either dining or a possible second entrance.

Our next trip will have to be fully dedicated to selections on flooring and bathrooms.

Paint Decisions

My worst nightmare, we had to commit to a paint scheme without seeing it on the house.

They didn’t like the colours I’d painstakingly picked out, and painted on the wall. Nor could we guarantee that they could match them correctly (as they were using a different paint type), by eye, and it did not seem they were interested in¬†finding out more, as they were “not ones they’d worked with….not from the right palates that go together….the monumental approval board may not like it….) Argh, wish I’d had my hands on their paint samples to begin with!!! I don’t know if it is because we were speaking different languages but it seemed an awfully long conversation where we were not getting each other’s message.

I’d sent this picture to give them an idea what we were looking for:


I don’t think they looked at it.

They ensured us that a digital photo of the paint to be used on a mock-up house would be the best way to proceed.

After a little to and from with the shades, we have this:


It’s close – but without seeing it who knows. They’d decided against our suggestion of a¬†different colour for the wood at the top, only the grey for the bottom wood, dark grey for frames and beige for concrete and top wood will be used.¬†Well at least¬†we have here, on the digital image, close to what we need. The paint samples on the paper look completely different, so only hoping that the digital image is representative.

Ah -the joy of absentee renovations.

Back from our 3rd Visit to Oderwitz

We’ve just got back from our third visit to our house in Oderwitz.

I’ve nicknamed it ‘By the Berg’, ¬†(as per the Blog title) since we have Swanlamer 12, nicknamed ‘By the Beach‘ in Swakopmund, and¬†¬†it’s¬†is close to the Zittau Hills (Zittauer Gebirge, hence by the ‘Berg’ part.

The unfortunate part about the Zittau Hills, despite being stunningly beautiful, this part of Germany is less known by those outside Germany, and English is spoken, occasionally, but not well, my task of eventually marketing the place as a daily rental will need either my German to improve or my marketing (i.e to the English speaking public) to improve.

Despite that, and despite our first accounts being slightly over what I expected, I love the place.

On this trip we had the following great experiences with the kids and family:

  • We introduced Sascha to the steam train, routing from Zittau to Oybin, we took the leg from Jonsdorf to Oybin ¬†– his best day ever.
  • Wandered through the ruins of Oybin castle and the still operational church, Sascha fully energised from the train trip led the way, never once asking “I want up”. Amazing!
  • Zehnya had her best day ever when she held butterflies¬†in her hand, at the Smetterlingshaus (Butterfly house) in Jonsdorf, amazing. They also have reptiles and other insects, including a rather hairly looking spider, and some very pretty chameleons, lizards and geckos.
  • We met some friends at the airport in Gorlitz, and had a great time, both finding out about the flying scene, and visiting Gorlitz, (Gorlitz¬†is¬†an historic town, one of the few that survived the war, and has amazing churches, buildings, restaurants, and a beautiful bridge to walk across to Poland).
  • We found a great airfield where you can hire an aircraft for around 200 Euros as a¬†club member.

From my side we achieved some good moves forward, on plumbing, paint colours, flooring choices.

What we thought was quite a¬†strange custom, in Germany it is not compulsory to rent a property with a kitchen. We debated the whole issue in and out, upside and downside; on one side it seemed wrong for us to leave it out, and on the other side people tell us, don’t put a kitchen in, it’s not the done thing, the renters will not look after it.

Well, we found a wonderful kitchen, from a really great¬†kitchen company in Oderwitz.¬†Amazing really as Oderwitz is pretty small, with what seems like only around 15 shops/businesses total, all¬†in the main street.¬†It was perfect, and a showroom model at a very good¬†price, and¬†they will keep it prior to delivery¬†for a bit we said great, no rush, as kitchen ETA is only Early 2015. ¬†So we will see how¬†it fits upstairs, and if the tenants do not like it,¬†we’ll move it downstairs.

Asides from a slightly higher bill than expected on the upgrades, on the upside, we found so many new treasures in town, and will hope it all works out okay in the end.

Ricco’s made a decision we likely need to come back in December,

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Umgebinde Windows

We’ve now received all the quotes, and with a little to and from with our real estate agent, that makes all this possible from afar, we have made a plan of attack to get the bulk of phase 1 completed on our Umgebindehaus.

We’re only stuck with a question of, windows – restoration or rebuild?

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A friend sent me a few links

Umgebinde refers to the special wood structure of these houses, google translates it vice binding, however the website above, probably more technically correct translates it as

“The Upper Lusatian Half-timbered House”


We’re quite cool with Umgebindehaus, I think it translates, that is, it’s a word in it’s own right, beyond languages.





About Our Umgebindehaus, So Far

I’ve just started this blog to talk about our family project, an Umgebindehaus renovation in Oderwitz Germany.

In July last year, after finding a couple of houses for sale in East Germany by an English couple (which meant I could do the contact), we made an offer pending viewing.

Convincing my husband it was my dream to renovate an old house, preferably historic, but over 100 years was okay, and myself convinced that the children and I desperately needed some German influence to improve our language skills, so we went to see it.

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The properties were in the Zittaur Gibirge region, or Zittau Hills, it is closest to Dresden, and the nearest hubs are Prague and Berlin, close to equal distances for travel by road, but with train from Prague one must come up to Dresden first.

We travelled via Prague the first time, since we wanted to see Prague too, and spent a few days there.

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Arriving in the Zittau surrounds, I fell in love with the area – the people, the houses, the countryside, the culture. It was refreshing.

We had booked into an amazing hotel at the top of the hills in Waltersdorf, and just loved sitting looking at the view.

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And loved the kids play areas…

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A long story short we met a great agent, Christine, at Dr Thomas Immoblien, and bought our very own Umgebindehaus, built in .

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The property transferred in November, and we returned in February to make arrangements for starting the renovations with Dr Thomas’s rental division.

Our German family, Ricco’s aunt and uncle joined us, driving the 7 hour trip across from Dussledorf, and were not only an enormous help on the technical German stuff, but great company too.


In February it was winter and even more amazing. Zehnya saw snow falling for the first time (Sascha did too, but he didn’t really know what was going on).

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I forgot to mention they had lots of chances to meet friends, and for Sascha,  the car deserts were just in his element. We even made friends with a friendly ice cream shop owner who we just loved visiting, great people, shop, toys, ice cream, and 5 minutes from our house. And Ricco found a model train shop half way to the ice cream shop.

After a few days in a holiday rental flat, we bought a few items of second hand furniture, and some new bedding, and moved into the house.

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After a long discussion with the agent about what needed to be done, we left for home.

A few months later we received the quotes. After a little two and from, some work that was overlooked by both of us, a few conversations by Ricco in German with our helpful rental manager, Torsten, also from Dr Thomas,  we received some more quotes and okayed the works.

We’re now preparing to go back to arrange the finishings (bathrooms and kitchen) for the upper part of the house, more on the plans in another post.

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UNSERE UMGEBINDEHAUS PROJEKT: Family Adventure Renovating a Ferienwohnungen in the Zittauer Gebirge, Sachsen, Germany