Once a house-share with friends, this historic Amsterdam pad has grown naturally to reflect its owner. Now, it’s a soothing, contemporary home for a couple, as Hans Blomquist discovers in his book, The Natural Home
CHUNKY SHELVES MAKE THE MOST OF THE DEAD SPACE IN THE RECESS. IMAGE: DEBI TRELOAR © RYLAND PETERS & SMALL
Stella and Tim live on a narrow, tree-lined street in the centre of Amsterdam. Tall and narrow, the couple’s house is very typical of the area. There is a villagey feel to this historic part of the city, with its winding cobbled streets and network of canals.
When you enter this relaxed, comfortable house, it comes as no surprise to learn that Stella works in interior design for an international clothing company. Tim is a restaurateur, and his restaurant, around the corner from the house, has been designed and decorated by the couple in the same contemporary but soothing, natural style as their home.
Like their neighbours, Stella and Tim have plants at the entrance to their house. They have also added a small bench, which increases the sense of welcome and is a lovely spot for enjoying a morning coffee.
THE KITCHEN/DINING AREA IS BEAUTIFULLY LIGHT, THANKS TO LARGE PANED WINDOWS AT THE FRONT OF THE HOUSE. IMAGE: DEBI TRELOAR © RYLAND PETERS & SMALL
Once inside, the kitchen/dining area has a minimal, contemporary feel. With a large window looking onto the street and another overlooking a tiny courtyard, the space is light and airy. Light streaming in through the windows is reflected in the polished concrete floor. Mismatched dining chairs, stools and a long antique bench surround a simple dining table with metal legs. The pale wood of the bench and table add to the contemporary feel.
Built-in cupboards and drawers with stainless-steel fronts run the length of the wall opposite, providing plenty of space for cooking and storage. These are supplemented by chunky open shelves, which lighten the atmosphere. The stainless steel imparts a modern edge to the space and contrasts with the traditional sash windows. The custom-made work surface is crafted from polished concrete and extends beyond the length of the base cabinets, to create an additional area for food preparation. A grid of framed pictures taken by Stella hangs above the cabinets, revealing her passion for photography. The white-painted walls here, and throughout the house, are the perfect neutral backdrop.
THE FITTED UNITS WITH STAINLESS-STEEL FRONTS GIVE A PROFESSIONAL LOOK TO THE KITCHEN. IMAGE: DEBI TRELOAR © RYLAND PETERS & SMALL
An open staircase leads up to the living space on the first floor. The room is simply furnished, with comfy seating for relaxing and watching television. The sofa resembles a day bed and is covered in a slubby vintage French linen. Heaps of cushions in muted shades from grey to fawn increase the comfort levels. Customized shelving provides ordered storage and display spaces for books, family photographs and collectables. It’s the perfect place to hang out.
THE SOFA IS AN OLD MATTRESS COVERED IN VINTAGE LINEN AND HEAPED WITH SCATTER CUSHIONS. IMAGE: DEBI TRELOAR © RYLAND PETERS & SMALL
Another flight of stairs takes you up to the second floor, where the guest room and home office are located. As elsewhere, everything is spick and span, with books kept close to hand on fitted shelves, and papers and documents filed away in boxes. Above the desk hangs a cluster of framed photographs of friends, family and trips she and Tim have taken together.
Follow the stairs up one more flight, and you reach the top floor and Stella and Tim’s bedroom and en suite bathroom. In keeping with the rest of the house, the bedroom is simply decorated, with little more than a bed, dressed with linen sheets in dusty pastel hues, and two metal bedside tables. In the bathroom, the wooden sink set in a custom-made unit was originally an old trough that held animal feed. The open shelves beneath are piled high with towels, while attractive boxes keep more mundane bathroom paraphernalia out of sight.
The house has been through many structural changes. When Stella first moved in 12 years ago, she was sharing the house with friends. When they moved out and Tim moved in, the couple rejigged the layout to make it workable and comfortable for the two of them.
Slowly but surely, they set about replacing stairs, moving walls and adding rooms, and now, nine years later, their home is just as they want it: functional and contemporary, but with a relaxed, personal touch.
Extract taken from The Natural Home by Hans Blomquist, published by Ryland Peters & Small (£19.99). Photography by Debi Treloar © Ryland Peters & Small
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