Our apprehension about the bare walls and subfloor, along with not knowing exactly what our finished apartment would look like was met with reassurances that we would be able to choose the professionally-finished tiles and wall colors, as well taking our advice on putting in a small pantry in the kitchen for that coveted Berlin apartment storage space. Waiting anxiously for photos, and more importantly, an update to know when to schedule our next trip up to make decisions and take final measurements to order our kitchen with, we finally saw the progress... and my heart dropped. All those concessions we had made in exchange for the opportunity to really make this place our own were were now just negatives in an apartment that was looking less and less like what were expecting with each photo we saw.
Instead of allowing us to choose the tiles as promised, the wall ones had already gone up - and are the cheapest-looking tiles I've ever seen and are clearly meant for a floor, not a kitchen backsplash. They are perhaps even uglier than the old ones in our current dilapidated apartment that I painstakingly stripped and painted. Even worse, the tiles before - especially in the bathroom - were much nicer. Instead of these new massive, bargain-bin-looking tiles, they were carefully chosen and of better quality. There were nice details, like a tile border and the tub even had a mosaic tile front. What were they thinking of with these changes other than budget? We were told that for a Prenzlauer Berg apartment, everything would have to be top-notch quality. My personal aesthetic is all for simple, but this is kind of a joke. Well so far, I think it's looking more like a cramped, cheap hotel than a new apartment undergoing a 50.000€ renovation in one of the nicest parts of town. Maybe I'm just not seeing the whole picture yet...
Poor aesthetics aside, there's also the issue of how the actual space has worked out. Yeah, that pantry we were so excited that they were on board with putting in? It's so big, it could qualify as a fourth room! Great for storage, but it has eaten up so much of the space in our third room, that having overnight guests has gone from cramped to impossible. The bare minimum of furniture we had planned to bring with us for the room will now not even fit.
So I sit here, the majority of my hopes and expectations for this apartment fading fast, and try to decide what to do next. Do we push back and insist they take down those horrible kitchen tiles? Do we just ignore that we were mislead and pay to have them re-done upon moving in? And how are we expected to make flooring and paint color decisions in the next couple days, with minimal notice and no time to travel up there to see the choices in the space and convey our wishes in person? My head is spinning around all these issues I thought were sure things I had already checked off my 'stress list', but it appears they are back with a vengeance and requiring immediate attention. While it's far from a disaster, I'm currently experiencing some major renter's remorse at choosing this apartment.
While we try to sort all this out, I'm trying to breathe deep and focus on the positives... like that sunny, gorgeous balcony view that made me fall in love with the apartment in the first place.