Although this Amsterdam rental already had sufficient character, interior designer Rosa van den Kerkhof and Dirk van den Wijngaard turned into a cozy home that oozes with personality. A composite of antique bits, new industrial furniture along with cultural treasures mixed in from world travels gives this little, light-filled home a playful and diverse appearance.
in a Glance
Who lives here: Rosa van den Kerkhof and Dirk van den Wijngaard
Size: 65 square meters (699 square feet); 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom
Van den Kerkhof dwelt at the apartment upstairs for nearly six years before this one became available. The hardwood flooring and the flat’s charming original features, for example, marble fireplace surround and high ceilings, instantly attracted the couple. “There was also central heating!” she laughs. “If you have ever spent a winter at a high-ceilinged, drafty old apartment in the Netherlands, then you’ll know that is an instantaneous selling point”
The founder of her own interior design business, Studio Nest, van den Kerkhof loves to mix several design styles. “An interior is an extension of your personality,” she says. “I think it’s boring to stick with just one style.”
This cognac leather armchair was a lucky find on the Dutch secondhand website Marktplaats. Piles of magazines within arm’s reach plus also a large pouf turns the formerly empty space between the living and dining rooms into a comfortable dining room.
In the living room, the couple paired a contemporary charcoal grey sectional with a classic chair, graphic black and white rug, and an array of textured cushions.
Van den Kerkhof initially studied theater design until she realized it wasn’t the ideal match. The correlation between theater and home design led her into the world of interiors. “If you style theater, you’re translating a story into scenery, so it is quite like designing an interior, except that it is a more tangible and durable kind of design,” she says.
“I like things that are utilized, that have a story inside them,” van den Kerkhof says. “I feel it enhances the appearance and feel of a room.”
This lotion classic leather chair was her very first classic purchase, and, to this day, it is one of her favorite pieces.
“Working in the interior design industry has certainly influenced my style,” van den Kerkhof says. During her interior styling studies, she worked in Baden Baden, the former showroom of the iconic Dutch designer Piet Boon, whose style combines modern elements with renewable materials. “I heard a lot about styling out of my colleagues and has been highly influenced by Piet Boon’s symmetrical style. I have since tried to let go of a bit so as to produce my own style.”
The tray table is a gift from her father, who has traveled extensively around the world.
This collector’s item classic armchair is another bit awarded to van den Kerkhof from her father. When he was young, he painted it without recognizing its own value. It’s one of her favorite bits — here, she has paired it with an inexpensive classic stool she recuperated.
The few latest purchase is that their Foscarini Diesel Fork floor lamp, which adds a bit of functional chic to the room while adhering to contemporary lines.
Shelving unit: Expedit, Ikea
Van den Kerkhof gave a classic French cabinet a fresh lease on life with charcoal grey paint and some new grips from Zara Home. The item now provides functional storage for the couple’s TV.
The apartment sports a warm color scheme of black, white, gray and neutral tones, with the exception of a couple of well-placed bursts of color. “I adore gray combined with timber for a warm appearance,” she says.
A low console is home to books, music, artwork, drinks and another one of the few favorite items — a lovely lamp that van den Kerkhof purchased while functioning at Baden Baden.
Above the console, a gallery screen features framed artworks by South African artist Marlene Dumas, a Matisse print, an Etsy artwork print and functions from an assortment of artwork called “Vita Brevis Ars Longa” (translated: “Art Is Long, Life Is Short). Van den Kerkhof painted the dog picture when she was 15.
Even though the apartment doesn’t offer much in the means of space or storage, the couple love their home for its own authenticity and original detailing.
At the dining area, bright tangerine lamps draw the eye up, toward the high ceilings, and highlight the stunning original sash windows with stained-glass detailing.
Pendants: Arne Jacobsen for Louis Poulsen
Van den Kerkhof has carved out a very small workspace at the corner of the apartment, which is where she does each of her design work and meets with customers.
The desk chair has been found abandoned on the side of the street near a trash bin. “It was dirty and old, and it has a paint mark on it. Most people would say it is trash, but I really like it!”
Drawer unit: Alex, Ikea
This cherished sideboard spent nearly all of its life in van den Kerkhof’s parents’ living room. When she went away to study, the cabinet went with her. Having experienced a few facelifts, from white to deep red, its fresh pale grey hue and fresh knobs create the perfect addition to the dining room.
In addition to the classic sideboard,a wooden tray is used as a foundation for a vase, a little book bought during a weekend in Paris, brushes and pencils used during her studies, along with a stone her father gave her when she was young. A candlestick out of Ikea gives the arrangement height.
Renting can be a limiting design factor, so the couple made the kitchen their own by accessorizing it with pretty and practical items. Wood cutting boards provide a soft accent contrary to the kitchen’s white tiled walls.
A single shelf holds a collection of decorative blue and white china bowls, crisp white kitchen accessories and some of their favorite cookbooks.
A silver Moroccan sugar cup and pot are a part of a group given to van den Kerkhof by her father. The matching tray table is in the living room. When her father was young, he worked on a ship and traveled a lot, collecting bits and pieces on the way. Van den Kerkhof pairs those treasures with functional utensil storage beside the stove in kitchen.
Floor to ceiling drapes in a soft latte color accentuate the bedroom’s large ceilings. Crisp white bedding is a soothing background for a contrasting black ring lamp.
Outdoor space comes with a hefty price tag in this portion of earth, so the set was happy to have this balcony to enjoy warm weather.
A comfortable sofa in the balcony overlooks the enchanting Dutch style architecture where Amsterdam is famous.
“The place we live in is really beautiful, with lots of cafes and stores, along with also a food market on Saturdays,” van den Kerkhof says.
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