Home Tour: High Contrast in Amsterdam

Hello! It’s Holly Marder here with another Homes With Heart column for you to feast your eyes upon. This month I’m taking you on a tour of the Amsterdam home of Desiree Groenendal of the Dutch blog Vosgesparis. Let's go! Oh and please click on any image to enlarge or pin to your Pinterest boards! des27 "Pure, simple, industrial and tough" are words that Desiree uses to describe her 85 m2 Amsterdam abode, which she has called home for the last 25 years. The blogger and stylist prefers to keep her Scandinavian style space uncluttered, clean and minimalistic, with strong Northern European references that rely on tough materials and high contrast. “I am really fond of the clean uncluttered look,” Desiree says. des1 des4 des2 des7 des5

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When Desiree moved into her apartment, it was apart of the newly converted former Eastern docklands, where she and her family were some of the area’s first inhabitants. With two small children, the house offered a practical, large space for a young family. With her children grown and out of the house, Desiree has took the opportunity during the summer of 2011 to create a more open plan living, starting with the removal of several walls and doorways. The removal of a wall seperating the kitchen and living room, as well as one between the bedroom and hallway, was a decision that has resulted in one of Desiree’s favourite features. “I love to see through from the kitchen to the living room and hall,” she says. At the same time, Desiree had her kitchen remodelled, featuring sleek white cabinetry, a built-in fridge and storage unit, and a black chalk painted wall. “I liked the combination of black, white and a touch of wood, and the black wall brings in some depth,” Desiree explains. She is now working on ideas for a light fixture above the dining room table, which will incorporate several pendant lights she has been collecting over the years.

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The renovation was a swift process that was carefully considered, ensuring that Desiree wasn't met with any challenges along the way. “I think a lot and very long about things,” she explains. “I had designed everything so I wouldn’t come up against any challenges. You have to be very sure when you start breaking down walls.” Though some 37 bags of stones were removed during the renovation, the efforts were well worth the results - a spacious home that offers stylish, open plan living in one of Amsterdam’s most up and coming areas. “I love to have space,” Desiree says. “I am fortunate to have an affordable home in a desirable area - the best of both worlds.”

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As for colour, Desiree prefers to keep things monochrome cool, relying primarily on black and white as the basis of her interior. “I used to have more colour in my home when my kids were at home, but over the years my style has changed.” Against a high contrast canvas, Desiree combines old, industrial items with design pieces and Scandinavian made furniture. “Scandinavian furniture is simple but well made. Clean design combines beautifully with craftsmanship, but what I love most is the strong emphasis on family businesses and their clean, contemporary take on old craftsmanship,” she says. But one of Desiree's top tips when it comes to decorating is choosing pieces that are versatile. “I like to be able to change the look fast, so I am attracted to pieces that are versatile and can easily be moved around the house.”

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Desiree applies the same decorating ethos to art around her home, preferring interchangeable, inexpensive art that can be quickly and easily applied. Some of this interior’s most striking features are the exposed concrete areas on otherwise white plastered walls. “I love the contrast between the concrete and the white,” Desiree says. “It is almost like a work of art.” This feature can be seen in the living room and also continues into the bedroom, where crisp whites dominate. “It feels good to wake up in a white and light space. I like my bedroom to be uncluttered,” Desiree says. A coatrack displays items worn on a daily basis, while the rest of Desiree’s wardrobe remains behind closed doors.

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So what is Desiree’s style secret? “I love imperfection. Walls don’t have to be perfectly finished; it’s the rough edges which I love most about my own home. A bit of the unexpected, with nice combinations of various materials. All a bit unpredictable.” So what did you love about this space? Could you have the discipline to go all black and white? I would love to read your comments, and look forward to seeing you back here next month for another fabulous home! - Holly

(text/images: holly marder)