Reader Q: German Tapete - Help!

Cry for help from Germany! I hope that those of you tuning in from Deutschland and other countries where installing thick tapete (wallpaper) is common in rentals can help. For those of you unfamiliar with tapete, in Germany you are not allowed to paint directly on the walls, but you can paint on this thick textured paper called tapete. Yeah, really. I think most that rent in Germany hate this stuff.


All the tapete I've come across is textured, which makes it a pain if you prefer the look of a smooth surface like I do. Reader Juliette recently relocated to Germany from the Boston area and absolutely hates it. She painted it a pretty blue, but she's not keen on the texture and is curious if she could apply wall decals on it to give it life. From my experience with textured anything, you cannot apply decals to it as they will not adhere.

I do have a question to all you Germans in the haus. Is tapete available without texture? Certainly it must be. I'd hate to think otherwise, as I can't bear textured walls with paint, I agree with Juliette when she said in her email, "It's just something I really hate hate hate!".


Although at a distance, it's not so obvious...

Juliette asked for help decorating her living room, if you're up for it. You can view the apartment that she'll be occupying for the next two years on flickr.

Her challenge room is the living room. Since they've had to start at zero when they relocated, bringing almost nothing with them from Boston, they've already spent their bank account on all the necessary things, and since they can't afford Habitat right now, IKEA is their only option. Juliette is scared that her home will soon take on the look of an IKEA catalog, so she needs some advice on ways she can warm it up and add personality without breaking the bank.


This is what her space looks like today. Some points to consider:

1- The green sofa will be relocated to their office when they have the money to purchase a new one. In other words, don't design the room around the sofa, it's not staying. Any advice on what color sofa she should go with?
2- The lamp and coffee table need replaced since she doesn't think they work. Any tips?
3- The chairs... Any advice? They are really comfortable so Juliette hates to toss them.
4- She loves the rug but it "only covers half the floor and we need to cover the whole floor (long story) and I'm not sure what would be in harmony with it and not divide the room in half. It would fit perfectly in the office, which is where it will likely end up as well. I wish we could just super-size the rug since I really love it with the blue and it pulls in an old look that I adore."
5 - She plans to place the map shown below over the sofa.

Do you have some advice for Juliette? What would you do if this apartment belonged to you? I'll chime in as well here are my first thoughts:

Relocate the rug to the office and use the map as inspiration for the color palette. Blues, greens, creams, and a bit of mustard yellow as your accent color. I'd love to see you play around with the current floor plan, move the sofa to the wall facing us in the photo.

I can imagine a textured rug on the floor (maybe the Tarnby or the Indo Berber), curtains that aren't so dark and heavy - opt for something light and bright, and I'd keep the sofa table and chairs and put your money into a rug and sofa -- those are most critical in my eyes. The table can be dressed up with a tray, some books and accessories, or you can paint it, and the chairs with a few throw pillows in fun patterns.

Add texture to the space with pillows, a soft blanket, a natural basket beneath the coffee table with magazines stacked neatly. Add candles for soft light, perhaps sconces on the wall or candles on a floating shelf, find a lamp with a shade that is linen or perhaps faux bois or in a soft pretty pattern. Think relaxing, calm, warm. Your walls read very cool right now, so you need to add texture to the space and a few warmer tones to balance things out so that during the cold winter months, you wil want to hang out in this space.

View more apartment photos here.

(images from juliette)