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Portrait of an Artist: A Photographer’s Soulful Cottage in Rural Germany

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Portrait of an Artist: A Photographer’s Soulful Cottage in Rural Germany

November 13, 2019

Berlin-based artist Anne Schwalbe was studying photography at the Ostkreuzschule school when a class trip brought her to a 1,000-year-old village along the river Elbe in Sachsen-Anhalt between Berlin and Hamburg. Anne, who takes photographs of nature, fell in love with the village, and a decade later, bought a small cottage (970 square feet) with a large garden (two and a half acres). So far, she hasn’t done much renovation, and appreciates the excavated look of plaster walls, original timber floors, and the quirky details that come with a forgotten historic home.

“I learned so many new things thanks to this house, like how to make fire in the stove properly and how to repair and replace old window glass,” she says. Anne published her latest photography book, There is a White Horse in My Garden, to support the restoration of the cottage.

Join us for a tour.

Photography by Claire Cottrell for Remodelista.

the cottage is around \150 years old and was last remodeled in the midcentury.  17
Above: The cottage is around 150 years old and was last remodeled in the midcentury. Anne has no concrete plans to remodel. Currently, it doesn’t have a bathroom (Anne built a composting toilet in the garden outhouse) or warm running water, so for now, it’s best for weekend visits and short-term stays.
anne wears a sweater she made out of felted wool. she started making her own sw 18
Above: Anne wears a sweater she made out of felted wool. She started making her own sweaters for practical reasons—starting with one just for herself, then one for a friend, then another for a contact in Japan. She now sells sweaters online (with more in stock this winter). For more of her garden, see the story on Gardenista.
original details include blue tile, a painted staircase, and a door from the ea 19
Above: Original details include blue tile, a painted staircase, and a door from the early twentieth century, adjacent to one from the midcentury-era remodel.
a rail of hooks from the hardware store and two umbrellas from the german flea  20
Above: A rail of hooks from the hardware store and two umbrellas from the German flea market.
the upstairs crawl space sized bedroom is where anne sleeps. 21
Above: The upstairs crawl-space-sized bedroom is where Anne sleeps.
an industrial work light from granit hangs from an s hook above the bed. 22
Above: An industrial Work Light from Granit hangs from an S-hook above the bed.
anne, who likes “simple, good things,” and doesn’t “ 23
Above: Anne, who likes “simple, good things,” and doesn’t “need new things all the time,” has a collection of items throughout the house, each with a different story. The paper-bag-looking tote on the dresser is made by Japanese artist Kazumi Takigawa from waxed canvas dyed with tea and coffee. (Anne and Kazumi are currently working together on an exhibition for Berlin gallery Pavlov’s Dog this November.)
the main bedroom downstairs is furnished with a vintage crib from anne’s 24
Above: The main bedroom downstairs is furnished with a vintage crib from Anne’s sister and a bed frame from a late friend, a toy maker in the north of Germany. It’s very short, Anne explains, so tall guests have to sleep at a diagonal.
a single sprig from the garden in a handmade vase. the vintage lamp was found a 25
Above: A single sprig from the garden in a handmade vase. The vintage lamp was found at the flea market.
the living room resembles a film stage, with two antique armchairs, a midcentur 26
Above: The living room resembles a film stage, with two antique armchairs, a midcentury bureau, and a chest used as a coffee table. The chest is from Anne’s great aunt, who once used it to store coal in her Berlin flat. The funny skinny door, Anne thinks, was used between sections of the cottage back when two families would inhabit the same house; “but I have no idea why it’s so small,” she says.
anne bought the house from the daughter of a stove maker, who lived in the hous 27
Above: Anne bought the house from the daughter of a stove maker, who lived in the house after her father passed away. The man went by the name Poetter Lehmann and built two stoves in the house. Anne had a friend help her reconnect the stove to the chimney to get it working again.
anne mixes a german rustic palette of browns and yellows with bright bits of pa 28
Above: Anne mixes a German rustic palette of browns and yellows with bright bits of pastel enamelware in the pantry-like space near the kitchen.
two aluminum industrial shelves are kitted with found ceramics (“i reall 29
Above: Two aluminum industrial shelves are kitted with found ceramics (“I really have a thing for old stoneware pottery,” she says) and also some hand-built by Anne. All the enamelware in her kitchen is bought from various flea markets.
most of the furniture in the house anne found in the storage shed; some of it w 30
Above: Most of the furniture in the house Anne found in the storage shed; some of it was repainted.
the rack above the stove is custom from a blacksmith at the village&#8\2\17 31
Above: The rack above the stove is custom from a blacksmith at the village’s Christmas market. The pot holders are made a local woman who sells them in the village floral shop.
anne builds a fire in the old stove first thing in the morning to warm up while 32
Above: Anne builds a fire in the old stove first thing in the morning to warm up while she cooks breakfast on the cast iron stovetop. She bought the stove from a flea market vendor she shops with often; a common stove from 1950s eastern Germany called Küchenhexe (they can be found on German eBay).
an array of snacks set out on stalwart cutting boards. 33
Above: An array of snacks set out on stalwart cutting boards.
the mug and the plates are anne’s handmade ceramics and the salt pot is  34
Above: The mug and the plates are Anne’s handmade ceramics and the salt pot is from a friend in Berlin. It’s inspired by 19th century shoe polish pots.
the gray fabric used as a curtain is a moving blanket from the hardware store. 35
Above: The gray fabric used as a curtain is a moving blanket from the hardware store.

For more on Anne and her photography, visit her portfolio, check out her Instagram feed (@anneschwalbe), or go to Galerie f 5,6 in Munich where she’s represented.

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Product summary  

the sweater
Anne Schwalbe

The Sweater

€250.00 EUR from Anne Schwalbe

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