We often share historic homes here on Design*Sponge, but rarely get the opportunity to share ones dating all the way back to the 16th century. Author, blogger and interior stylist Julia Ballmaier’s home in central Germany was built in 1548, and is located in the second oldest building in town. The apartment, which Julia shares with her husband Horst and their three sons Joshua, Oskar and Otto, is a quirky old abode with some truly unique details. Should you want to visit, you would most likely struggle to find your way in — the home doesn’t have its own entrance! To enter, you first have to walk through the traditional bakery, a local tourist attraction run by Julia’s father-in-law. On her way home, Julia sneaks in between the visiting tourists and continues to the back, where a doorway leads to her family’s colorful and vintage-inspired home.
The family’s apartment was Horst’s childhood home. After living elsewhere for several years, Julia and Horst eventually decided that it was time to return to their hometown and settle above the bakery. This meant taking on the project of renovating the historic home to meet their modern-day needs. The couple set out to transform the home into an eclectically decorated sanctuary, where history is lovingly preserved without feeling stiff. Making alterations to a home that is over 500 years old was no easy task, as renovating historic buildings is heavily regulated. Julia and Horst worked hard to achieve their goals, and completed the renovation of the 1,340-square-foot main level in 18 months. The end result is a lovely family home with surprising details and a feel-good vibe.
As an avid decorator, Julia’s process of creating a home is never-ending. She loves to update rooms with happy new paint colors and eye-catching wallpaper designs. Color and pattern are everywhere, from bold sofa covers to gallery displays of thrifted art. It’s all about creating fun, energetic and personal spaces that feel welcoming and have a story to tell. The perfect example of Julia’s playful decorating mentality is a swing that hangs from an old structural beam in the hallway — a great conversation starter for guests who visit for the first time! The post-and-beam construction is certainly one of the most unique highlights in the 16th-century home. To create an open-plan feel, Julia and Horst chose to expose the posts, beams and braces between the living and dining areas. These structural elements now create a one-of-a-kind space divider that reminds of the long history of the family’s home.
Although the major work on the apartment has been completed, Julia dreams of one day converting the storage attic into two new rooms. For now, Julia is more than content with her family’s happy home above the bakery, and invites you to take a peek into her whimsical world of DIY and decor. —Sofia
Photography by Julia Ballmaier
Image above: A swing chair greets guests in the hallway. Julia built it from a chair without legs that she found in the garbage. The large painting is one of Julia’s many flea market finds.