At home in Amsterdam

Posted on Thu, 18 Jun 2009 by KiM

It’s been a pretty rough week for me. My mom has been in the hospital since Monday and luckily she’s ok (relatively). Despite this being a crappy week, a ray of sunshine plopped itself into my inbox when Alice Jane sent along some photos she had promised me. Alice Jane, a Canadian now living in Amsterdam, recently renovated some rooms in her home and had a professional photographer take some unbelievable photos of her new spaces. I absolutely adore what she’s done to her home so far, and the photos show all the wonderful touches she’s included. Alice Jane added some descriptions to her email which I will include below. I’ve got to start with the kitchen, as it is BY FAR my favourite room.

– The kitchen — The man you see in one of the pictures is Dion Roosen of Timmerbedrijf Roosen. He is the carpenter who worked with me to create the kitchen units. In the picture of him, Dion is sitting on the window seat. In addition, Dion (and occasionally his son Willem) did all of the tiling in the bathroom and kitchen (floors and walls). The plumbing and electrics were done by Dion’s project partner, Bram de Mooij of Legend. To match the white-waxed, natural wood found throughout the house, Dion went to a wrecker’s/restorer’s warehouse near Amsterdam (a place called Schijf) and found used floor planks that more or less matched. He then created a sculptural design that looked right, bringing
me samples and drawing lots of pictures with me before going ahead. When the units were complete he found a white wax to apply for the right finish. Smells nice, too.
P.S. That’s her in one of the photos. 🙂

– The master bedroom — The cats you see in a couple of these pictures are Paillette (the orange queen) and James Bond (the black tom). We had the door, walls, and ceiling painted by local artists, Louise Vines and Caroline Trew, a few years ago when we moved in. The ceiling is a Dutch sky in the golden hour before dusk.

– The bathroom — Large by Dutch standards, this is a wonderful bathroom to have because of its natural light, spacious bath, and separate WC/shower area. The door and spaces above the windows and door are inset
with painted lozenges done by an American artist who now lives in France, J. Henry Kester (I might have misspelled his surname, but I think/hope it’s right). He used to own the house with his now-husband, Harm van Duin. We had the bath repaired and painted with the same motif by local artists, Louise Vines and Caroline Trew. Incidentally, J. Henry is responsible for the white-waxed natural wood throughout the house. It is his vision that we love, and try to respect, as we make changes to our home.

– The WC — This room was more or less completed by a random Polish team. They were nowhere near as experienced, quick, and helpful as Bram and Dion, though, so I decided not continue with them once the WC was near

The images are by the Amsterdam photographer, Ula Mirowska ( Her sensitive gaze captures the architecture and the mood of the house beautifully. Ula specializes in portraits and interiors.

All of the art in the house is meaningful in some way, but I won’t bore you with long explanations. Much of it is Canadian, brought by me with my household goods when I emigrated. Weirdly, we might have the larges collection of Canadiana in the Netherlands. Many of the small ceramic scultures are by my partner, Jonathan’s father, Christopher Hart, who are British.

(Thank you AJ!)

I'm smitten by that kitchen. All the gorgeous crockery and glassware at your fingertips.

Sharnel says:

OMGoodness that home is just beautiful. It's so full of love too, you can just tell.
My favourite image is the one with all the glasses and crockery. And the kitty and Alice pissing her pants laughing.
Thanks for sharing this gorgeous, gorgeous home.

Also, sorry to hear about your Mum. I hope she is on the mend.

kim. says:

Thanks to those who wished my mom well. She was able to leave the hospital yesterday around supper time and is recuperating at home.

Quick recovery to your mum.

Thanks Kim for always bringing us so much beauty.

Mariss says:

I never comment, but love your blog and it brings me great joy on a regular basis. I'm sorry that your mom is not doing well. She's in my thoughts for a recovery.

This kitchen is one of the most amazing ones I've ever seen. Although I'm usually drawn to bold hues, the colorful details in the glassware and utensils with the subtle shades is stunning.

AMR says:

SO very beautiful and that organized/efficient-looking kitchen! Wowsa. Love it.
I also love how Alice Jane matches her dishes – brilliant. 🙂
Oh, and Dion's eyebrows – super fetching.

I'm glad your Mom is home Kim. May good health & wellness sprinkle down all over her.

Emily says:

What a beautiful house. It put a huge smile on my face. I hope your mother is ok. I am sorry to hear that she is in the hospital.

Nessje says:

Kim, I hope your mother is feeling much better now, and that the recuperation is going well.

Alice Jane, oh I am just drinking it all in, the detailing in your kitchen is fantastic and the amount of thought you've put into it has clearly paid off. I am dying to ask one thing… what tiles did you use? They set it all off so wonderfully, very subtle but very good!

Thanks for all your lovely comments. Wow!

Nessje: We went to every tile shop we could find in Amsterdam looking for the tiles that would be right for us, and we kept coming back to Intercodam. (We also tried Schijf and another quite posh re-use warehouse, both of them outside of Amsterdam. But we did not find what we wanted.)

So, from Intercodam, my partner, Jonathan Hart, chose the floor tiles, which are tumbled Italian marble tiles called, I think, Gaiti. We chose veined grey-blue and veined off-white in two sizes, 10 sq cm and 30 sq cm. The larger ones cost more so we only used them in the bathroom. Dion Roosen worked very closely with us on this, too, because he created several tile designs that we went through before we finally settled on what we did. Then Bram de Mooij gave us the option to put under-floor heating in the kitchen and we did it. (Love it, btw. Wish I could afford it for the whole house.)

Again, Dion Roosen and Bram de Mooij were real stars throughout. They gave us options and let us choose. They understood that it was a project for them, but a home for us. So many builders just don't get that, at least in Amsterdam. Another thing about Bram and Dion is that they have solid experience with old houses. This was a major plus for our project. We have learned from bitter experience that we cannot use someone who does not know old buildings, old techniques, and ways to do the right thing for the space. What's more, these two guys have what is so lacking in builders and carpenters: Integrity. I would trust either of them with my life (and the lives of my cats).

Also from Intercodam, I chose the wall tiles, which are a soft-multi-shade made-to-look-old style tile called Snow. The tile edges and shades are slightly variegated, so that the tiles look like the old tiles you see in this part of Europe. I cannot remember the manufacturer, but they are from the UK. I don't think Intercodam carries them any more, but things do change, so check around. You might find them. I adore them.

Also from Intercodam (I promise you that this is not a paid announcement), Jonathan chose the pebble tiles for the shower area in the bathroom. We had something like them in a house we rented in Dublin and loved them there. Jonathan saw them and said, "It has to be these pebbles in this colour for the shower area!" I've never seen anyone chose so fast in my life. He was spot-on with all of his choices, too. (Yay!)

To finish the marble tiles and the pebbles, we cleaned them with a special cleaner, then daubed a special oil treatment on them. We have to do this ritual once or twice a year, but it is so worth it.

Because I have mentioned Intercodam so much, I'd like to say openly that it is pricey, but the service was, for us, very good. Everyone was helpful, kind, and patient. It was a pleasure to shop there as opposed to many other places we went. I would especially like to mention Bertie. She was a great help and always kind.

I really like that well stocked kitchen.

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