The latest thing to confuse me has been the walls. Now sure, that sounds stupid - a wall is a wall and I'm not stuck in some giant rat maze - but I'll explain.
When we first moved into our new place, we marveled at how quiet the apartment is. We live on a very busy road in Tilburg, but when the doors and windows are closed, you hardly hear anything go by except for an emergency vehicle with a siren. We don't hear our neighbors next to us or above or below us. Everything is well insulated. So far it sounds great, and it is. My confusion developed during the first attempt to put something ON the wall.
I'm not super-handy, but I know how to use a hammer and a drill. In our last place, the walls were tough, but you could hang a picture using a regular drill, a little brace, and a screw; and I had been pretty successful getting everything set up. So imagine my surprise when I tried using the drill and didn't make a mark deeper than what I might have done with a toothpick.
I made a call for help through Facebook, and learned that not only are most Dutch walls made of heavy-duty cement, but most people own a concrete rated drill for regular home use. And the other foreigners were just as dumbfounded by the walls as I was. Command strips wouldn't work because all the walls have a stucco-ish texture on them, so we were going to have to find a drill solution to get anything up.
We borrowed a concrete drill from a friend and got to work. At first, things did not go well. We tired to install a cheapo IKEA light to the ceiling in Little Man's room and even with the concrete drill, it was almost impossible. We were reluctant to try again, but we also didn't want to live with all these pictures sitting on the floor forever. It turns out that with the proper equipment, the job is easier to do (you're welcome for that earth-shattering realization). We got several pictures up and the place started to look truly lived in and not just occupied by squatters with an IKEA fetish.
|Ta-da! Things look normal!|
Initially, we planned to surround that cute little rectangular window with our pictures. Then as we started under the window, we somehow melted the drill bit. Maybe it was rebar, or maybe it was a different harder cement. Either way, it scared us enough into calling it "good enough" for the living room and looking into a replacement drill bit to hang the curtains I made for Little Man's room.
|Go ahead and marvel at my DIY skills - just don't look at the seams. And stop trying to stare at the neighbors.|
In the process of all this fun we discovered that the interior walls (that we're connecting to the outside or to a neighbor's unit) were mostly like good ol' American dry wall. In particular, this means that the water closet (a.k.a. the toilet room) is now covered with pictures we couldn't hang elsewhere.
|Hang all the things!|
Now that everything is hung, it will stay put. I appreciate the insulation, but I really hope we don't have to deal with the cement walls again - at least not without a spare set of drill bits handy.