Our friends over at AD Germany recently launched an incredible series called #thirtysomething. In the franchise, the team visits creative people (most of them in their 30s) in their homes. No matter how they live, alone or with family, renting or owning, you’ll be inspired by their spaces. We’re highlighting one of our favorites, the home of Berlin blogger Julia-Ruth Villbrandt (a.k.a. Jules) and her family. Jules opens the door to her 1,065-square-foot apartment in the neighborhood of Wedding. Here is an excerpt from the story.
One day Julia-Ruth Villbrandt received a letter from the property management announcing that the building in which she lived with her partner, Alhadj Diallo, and their son, Justus, was going to be thoroughly renovated. In two of their rooms, management would have to tear up the ceiling and install support beams for the new floor. Instead of despairing, Jules and Alhadj decided to finally upgrade their rented apartment and tackle what had been on their wish list for years.
The renovation meant breaking through the unloved wall between the kitchen and the Berlin room, (a space often found in in 19th-century layouts—essentially an elongated room that connects the front and back of the house) and turning the previous primary bedroom into an open dining-and-living area. “If we hadn’t gotten the letter from the property management company, we’d probably still be fretting about the laminate today,” Jules says.
If the title “Queen of Living Bloggers” existed, no one would be more entitled to it than Jules. The Berliner started her blog during her first pregnancy, in 2008, and today Herz und Blut (which translates to “heart and blood”) produces design and lifestyle content, and collaborates with brands such as Louis Poulsen, Vitra, and Freifrau. “The name comes from the early blogging days. It’s a folly of youth, but tribal tattoos are fashionable again,” Jules explains with a laugh.
“At first, Herz und Blut—as the name suggests—was just a personal blog,” she says. “Then I started photographing people at home or in their studios.” Jules comes from a village near Oranienburg, in the north of Germany, and in 2006 she moved to Berlin to study social and business communication, where she met Alhadj, who works as a logistics manager. She found her calling in photography—“even if I never dare to call myself a real photographer,” she admits.
Alongside her studies she worked “in the tough school of retail.” Then, with the birth of their son, the student apartment Jules and Alhadj lived in became too small. Still, the family wanted to stay in the Wedding district. “The neighborhood is often ridiculed. We love it. This is where the world meets,” Jules says. For five years she has been able to make a full-time living from Herz und Blut and the associated creative studio Maison Palmė, both of which Jules runs with her sister, Maria Villbrandt, and Wilkin Schröder. The studio is just a few streets away, and Justus’s school is also in the neighborhood. His room is hidden at the end of the hallway, from which the bedroom and bathroom (“our next project”) lead off. Jules points to a crack in the ceiling of her son’s room. “We were going to rip out the paneling and...well. Maybe you shouldn’t do everything yourself after all,” she says with a laugh.
“Sometimes I’d like to have an extra room, to work in, for my books and magazines—they’re currently stored in the bedroom and living room. At the same time, I realize what a luxury it is to live in almost 100 square meters [1,000 square feet].” What’s more, the family has a rent-controlled apartment. You don’t give up an apartment like that. “I like things to have their fixed place,” Jules says. She has long since found hers, here, in the heart of Wedding.
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest