Katie’s Kitchen Remodel

Katie in Berlin, Germany recently wrote me to let me know about their tiny kitchen remodel. I am going to let Katie tell you their story.

We live in a 480 square foot apartment in Berlin.  Our kitchen in Berlin, Germany left a lot to be desired when we first saw it.  It was easy to see why.  At 36 square feet, there were no drawers, counter spaces, or places to store anything.  The last tenants kept a fridge and freezer in the living room with dishes stacked on top of it.  We thought that there just had to be a better solution. We had no idea where to get tools or construction supplies.  

Our apartment also didn’t have any lights except this one dangling hazard.  When people buy or rent in Germany, their homes don’t come with any light fixtures.  People prefer to take their lights with them from home to home.


We were considered lucky, though, most homes also don’t come with kitchens. 

Germans call American homes “cardboard houses”.  I don’t think we truly understood why until we started to tear down our kitchen walls. They were solid drywall, and they weren’t even load-bearing!  Each of those drywall bricks weighed at least 50 pounds.

And slowly, we progressed without breaking the law… What law?  The notorious German law that enforces strict quiet hours every single day.  It makes work for young remodelers nearly impossible; it offers their neighbors a bit of bliss.

  • Our cabinets extend all the way to the ceiling, utilizing every inch of vertical space.
  • Our oven is too small to cook a turkey, which is fine with us.  (We’re vegetarians)  It also happens to be our microwave, too.
  • We picked a two-burner stove.  It turns out we hardly ever use three burners, let alone four.
  • Our dishwasher is half-sized.  It really feels like just the right size for a family of two.
  • Our fridge is a standard German fridge… which happens to be the same tiny size Americans have in college dorms.  It’s covered by wooden panels, which is traditional in German kitchens.
  • Our recycling system is super compact… and still manages to provide us with a way to sort our recycling in TEN ways (required by German law).

We like to think that good living can come in any size.  And so far, so good!

To see more pictures of the project and read more of Katie’s experience go to her blog.





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Greg - March 13, 2009 Reply

Hi Katie,
You and your husband did a wonderful job! What a beautiful makeover. It really opened up your home, and gave it a very elegant modern feel.

It also provides some inspiration to those of us dreaming of making a transition to a tiny home with some ideas of how to creatively “expand” within our own (current/future) tiny spaces.

Congratulations on a job well done, and thanks for sharing your story with us.

EJ - March 13, 2009 Reply

What an improvement! It goes to show what you can do with a sense of imagination and some elbow grease (and some money, of course).

What are the stainless fixtures on the wall to the right of sink?

Greg M - March 13, 2009 Reply

Very nice. Well integrated into the design of the apartment.

One note — you use the term “drywall” to describe some sort of blocks. Here in the US, drywall is a big sheet of paper-faced gypsum. Is a “drywall brick” literally a solid brick of gypsum? If so, that’s a terrible building material — heavy, crumbly and very little weight-bearing capacity.

Katie - March 16, 2009 Reply

Thanks for the great comments on our kitchen! Because we chose to build our kitchen ourselves instead of buying premade cabinets or having someone else custom fit them, the project was far cheaper.

Greg, the wall we tore out was gypsum. It is crumbly on the edges once you start tearing it down. Otherwise, it is a fabulous building tool for non-load bearing walls.

Great eye, EJ. Those funny little silver things poking out to the right of the sink are a standard part of German apartments. As an American, they’re also the biggest pain in the neck until you adapt. They’re water meters that measure our use to the LITER (4.2 cups). I explain them here if you’re interested.

Thank you again, especially Tiny House Blog.


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