New flat, new vision, and a lovely, chunky thing.


Okay, so as you saw in this blog earlier, we have laid our mitts on the future Chez Street & River in Budapest. It was a difficult choice, but also easy in some ways. It was easy mostly because we both fell in love with the pad and the building and the location.

We did, however, have to make some compromises along the way. First of all, it is smaller than planned… BUT brilliantly laid out, light and pleasantly proportioned. Then, it isn’t in the sixth district near the UNESCO World Heritage Andrássy út… BUT it is a short walk from the Parliament and Falk Miksa street where all the art and antiques happen. And you can see the river from the window.  The river beats rock, paper and scissors (and maybe even lizard). Finally, the whole feel of the place is very different from the grand nineteenth-century townhouse we had in mind… BUT its cool 1950s boxiness, the three large French windows, and original checkerboard floor tiles stole our heart.

Not to mention the fact that it’s an almost identical twin of my grandma’s flat, where I had so much fun raising hell with cousins and exploring grandparently treasure troves during my long long childhood… Or the fact that the previous owner was selling because he moved to Leeds permanently. How weird is that?

For the last week we’ve been buried in Mad Men stills and Pinterest searches. You’d be surprised how hard it is to wipe clean the slate that was already filling up with visions of high ceilings, plaster detailing and herringbone parquet! It took a couple of days to cleanse our palate and change direction, but now we’re ready for the next big step: making an empty and slightly shabby flat a welcoming home.

Here’s the new plan. We decided not to go full retro. 1950s retro, in the American version as it is now fashionable, would look fake and the layout is not suitable for the architecturality of that style.  Sorry Mad Men. On the other hand, 1950s retro in the Hungarian version would be depressing; think grey post-war austerity, bullet holes, rationing and mustachioed men in creaky leather coats asking for your documents in the middle of the night.  So we will have to find an in-between solution, something that fits the space, but isn’t too musty or contrived.

Of course, first we’ll be dealing with more admin and general maintenance and refurb, but planning ahead is essential, especially with regard to where all the sockets and lights, plumbing, heating and other fixtures will be in the new plan. While we should keep our heads clear and logical, accidents do happen. Like accidentally buying a full 1960s kitchen suite, just because it is made of awesome.

While it seems crazy, especially after establishing that we’re not doing full-on retro, I always find it easier to create something out of nothing if there is a little peg to hinge new ideas on. Something that you can’t change, something that forces your mind to be inventive from the very start.

This little peg in our case is a large mushroom coloured wooden sideboard with all the trimmings, which presently reside in a lovely old dude’s suburban kitchen waiting for us to pick its four-hundred-pound butt up and haul it up on the second floor in a downtown street where parking is only allowed to unicorns with special licenses.  It is yet unclear how this is going to happen. I might have to recruit my son’s superpower, whereby he can open garage gates and mesmerise dogs with his extended hand and growly sounds (no he can’t, but please don’t tell him, he’s only two).

You can imagine how much we liked this beast if we bought it before the flat! Here is a bad photo of it before all the TLC that is bound to happen soon.

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A little history and etymology. Such kitchen cabinets were the thing in 1960s. This set was made by hand by a local joiner, and still has the original paintwork and all the floral glass panes. This type of furniture was either called konyhaszekrény (kitchen cabinet) or kredenc. The word kredenc is a little more exciting than konyhaszekrény, as it comes form the Italian credenza, which means ‘belief’. According to wikipedia, in the sixteenth century, the act of credenza was the tasting of food and drinks by a servant for a lord or other important person, such as the pope or a cardinal, in order to test for poison. The name passed then to the room where the act took place, then to the furniture.

While in the English-speaking world credenza came to mean a low sideboard, in Hungary it denotes the main freestanding piece of furniture in pre-pre-fab kitchens, used to store crockery, cutlery, ceramics and smaller cooking utensils. Most of them tend to be symmetrical and have fewer non-glazed compartments, but this one is a burly, one-of-a-kind piece and we hope it will prove ideal for hiding all unseemly household supplies, such as vacuum cleaner and cleaning stuff.

It will look just right, and if it doesn’t… well, we’ll still love it to bits, like a large, placid dog that makes you want to sit in the kitchen and bask in the sun with a cuppa. And chocolate biscuits.  Or some home-made cake and a good book.

Yeah, I guess we like it.

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One Response to “New flat, new vision, and a lovely, chunky thing.”

  1. Picking up the pieces | Street & River Says:

    […] you can see, the kredenc, which we purchased back in October (read all about it here), has made it to the property and it seems it already has a resident pixie in it. We promise to get […]

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