25 Beautiful Homes
An uber-stylish apartment – carved out of a converted piano factory in a trendy Berlin quarter – becomes a lesson in modern sociable living
For Amy Brandhorst, an enterprising young interior designer, Berlin has always had a strong pull. Brought up in London, Amy first fell in love with the city when she was a student on her exchange year. Upon graduating, she returned to embark on a career in property, which swiftly morphed into interior design services for her agency’s clients. ‘I’d learnt to speak German and I was attracted by the low cost of living and lifestyle well suited to artistic temperaments,’ says
Amy. ‘If you’re a creative person and you work hard, you can get where you want to go.’
Attracted to the buzzing Kreuzberg district, Amy’s first rental was a traditional altbau or ‘old building’. ‘My heart was set on a period property and Berlin’s older architectural style had a romantic appeal,’ she explains. However, when a room became available in an apartment in a renovated piano factory, Amy was quick to act. ‘I used to visit a friend there and I knew the owner so I got in touch,’ she
says. Several years of contented living later and Amy is one of the oldest members of the flat, now sharing with three Germans and one Scot. ‘It was a real change living in a modernised building, but I appreciate the functional style and the way light comes in,’ she says.
The piano factory was built in the early 20th century and the exposed brick walls and barrel-vaulted ceilings recall its original use, while floor-to-ceiling windows look out onto a leafy courtyard. The apartment is arranged around one huge living area that contains the living, kitchen and dining areas, with bedrooms on either side. ‘Despite the size, it can actually feel like an intimate social space,’ says Amy.
When Amy moved in, much of the furniture was already in place, but she was eager to add her stamp. ‘What was missing was colour, so I included injections of it everywhere,’ she says. ‘Especially with plants and vases.’
Amy, whose distinctive style can be seen on Instagram Amy@amybhorst, is interested in
best buy ‘The Louis Poulsen pendant lights above the dining table. They drastically change the setting, bringing a 1980s feel’
the effect design can have on mood, and reveals that the blue tones in her bedroom were chosen for their soothing qualities. ‘Anything that represents water triggers a calming sensation,’ she says. The photo above her bed chimes with the scheme’s aquatic hues. ‘It was taken from the top of a hotel in Singapore and although the ships are huge, they look miniature. I treasure it.’
Much of Amy’s creativity begins in the numerous flea markets of Berlin. ‘I find colour inspiration in old book covers and magazines. People had a different relationship with colour in the past, so often you can create something quite unique,’ she notes. With a canny knack for unearthing furniture design classics online, the thriving second-hand scene has enabled Amy to bring a chic yet affordable look to the apartment. Having moved into the flat-share unknowingly on a trial basis, it’s obvious to see she has become a permanent resident.