This Is What It Looks Like To Move To Europe For Love

Shirley Erskine-Schreyer is a busy woman. With two daughters — Michaela, 19, and Bella, 17 months — and a new business about to launch, she and her husband, Jakob, have their work cut out for them.

We caught Erskine-Schreyer and the girls at home in Berlin, where they've lived since 2011. But, deciding to start a new life abroad with the German-born Jakob wasn't easy. The family moved between two other apartments (one too big, one too small) before settling on their home in the historical neighborhood of Schöneberg (just the right size.) The space features beautiful high ceilings — a detail that more readily calls to mind Paris than the perennially grey German capital — and classic herringbone parquet flooring. Only fitting for the queen of such a gorgeous brood and all the more amazing when you find out that the couple found the place on Craigslist.

Click through for more photos — and tell us your Craigslist success stories in the comments.
1 of 16
Photo: Courtesy Anna Rose.
"I was in the last month of my pregnancy and we were looking for a new apartment," remembers Erskine-Schreyer, seen here welcoming Refinery29 into her home. "Out of desperation, I looked on Craigslist — which no one does in Berlin because everyone uses Immobilienscout24 to search for apartments. I saw the perfect-sized space with beautiful architectural details and thought it was too good to be true."
Advertisement
2 of 16
Photo: Courtesy Anna Rose.
The apartment features high ceilings and crown molding, as well as classic herringbone parquet floors. Bella's playhouse takes pride of place next to the dining table.

"We went to see the apartment and fell in love, but then, the owner decided to sell [the place]," remembers Erskine-Schreyer. "We debated buying, but weren't ready yet. We told our good friend about our situation — and she decided to buy the apartment and rent it to us!"
3 of 16
Photo: Courtesy Anna Rose.
"Berlin is a really cool city and changing so fast," says Erskine-Schreyer. "We have really great restaurants — Grill Royal, DuDu, Shiso Burger and Der Imbiss are some of my favorite places to eat. We love to bike ride through the Tiergarten and visit flea markets on the weekend. Mauerpark, 17. Juni, and the flea market at Rathaus Schöneberg are great."
4 of 16
Photo: Courtesy Anna Rose.
Bella plays with her toys, which Erskine-Schreyer keeps organized in an Ikea shelving unit in the living room. The Moroccan rug is vintage.
5 of 16
Photo: Courtesy Anna Rose.
Framed photographs and coffee table books on fashion and design dot the living room. Erskine-Schreyer's favorite photographers include Mario Testino, Lyle Owerko, Slim Aarons, and Amy Arbus. "It's an eclectic mix," she says with a laugh.
6 of 16
Photo: Courtesy Anna Rose.
"My main concern living in an older building is the lack of an elevator, which makes it hard with groceries, a stroller, and a baby," says Erskine-Schreyer. "Otherwise, the beautiful decorative details more than make up for the lack of convenience."
Advertisement
7 of 16
Photo: Courtesy Anna Rose.
"[This] was her first home after she was born," says Erskine-Schreyer of Bella's nursery. "I worked hard on creating the perfect baby room." A branch clothing rack is an unexpected and adventurous accent for the nursery — a look we're eager to try in our own homes.
8 of 16
Photo: Courtesy Anna Rose.
Erskine-Schreyer and Bella play in the unabashedly girly nursery, where pom-pom decor and a stuffed swan head (similar here) add to the irreverent energy.
9 of 16
Photo: Courtesy Anna Rose.
A multicolored, tasseled garland (similar here) hangs below a shelf of Bella's books, which face outward — another great idea to steal! (Who knew a nursery could be full of inspiration?)
10 of 16
Photo: Courtesy Anna Rose.
"I had Michaela when I was 22 and she was like my sidekick for many years," says Erskine-Schreyer. "We have such a strong relationship. When Bella arrived, Michaela was so excited to finally have a younger sister. They get along so well — and we are blessed with the perfect live-in babysitter!"
11 of 16
Photo: Courtesy Anna Rose.
Michaela's bedroom is a teenage dream, complete with "Smells Like Teen Spirit" embroidery and a Grease album.
Advertisement
12 of 16
Photo: Courtesy Anna Rose.
Erskine-Schreyer's passion for photography extends to her daughter. In Michaela's room, a framed Barbie portrait sits above a shelf dedicated to sunglasses.
13 of 16
Photo: Courtesy Anna Rose.
"Wunderhaus came to fruition because I was hanging out with another expat mother from New York," says Erskine-Schreyer of her soon-to-launch business with partner Stephanie von Behr. "We would go to kinder cafes and mommy-baby classes together and be so dissatisfied with the atmosphere. We brainstormed and started to dream of a place that was aesthetically pleasing to the parent's eye; a place that was an extension of your own home."
14 of 16
Photo: Courtesy Anna Rose.
Unframed vintage paintings occupy a top shelf in the master bedroom. "I really like vintage and he likes modern," says Erskine-Schreyer of she and her husband's tastes. "He's probably happy we don't live in New York anymore, because for the first few years when we were dating he had to carry vintage chairs I found on the street back to my house!"
15 of 16
Photo: Courtesy Anna Rose.
A metallic woven basket corrals throws and blankets in one corner of the master bedroom.
16 of 16
Photo: Courtesy Anna Rose.
Wunderhaus will offer classes, events, breastfeeding support, and infant massage, as well as an imaginative play space featuring BPA-free and wooden toys.

"Children's birthday parties and baby showers will also be offered, and we will work with the parents to create a stylish soirée for their little one," says Erskine-Schreyer. A smart solution for busy moms — and their adorable little ones.
Advertisement