When Nicole Dohmen first encountered this 19th-century property in a tree-lined enclave of south Amsterdam, her imagination immediately leapt. Where some people would have seen a dismal, deserted office building with cable-strewn floors and merciless strip lighting, the interior designer and founder of Atelier ND envisioned an inviting family home.
It’s this ability to realise the true potential in spaces that first appealed to her clients, Bastiaan and Carlijn Emmer. ‘We met Nicole through friends and I was impressed by the way she’d transformed her own home,’ says Carlijn. ‘She instinctively knew how we wanted things to look. It had to be liveable, practical.’
With a shared background in fashion, both women have the same aesthetic taste: colourful, artisanal. ‘Nothing’s too perfect or serious,’ says Nicole, gesturing to the tutti-frutti parquet floor in the hallway, made from 10 different varieties of marble.
Set on a corner, with a garden tucked behind, the four-storey townhouse is unusually deep. ‘As we tore down the partition walls, we also realised just how bright it is,’ recalls Nicole. Making an almost completely fresh start, she redesigned this home’s layout to capitalise on its 550-square-metre floor plan.
A nifty guest area is tucked into the eaves, with a study and light-saturated yoga room below. The main bedroom, with its own relaxing lounge, walk-in wardrobe and bathroom, sits beneath the beams on the next floor, while the basement has a gym and a playroom for Bastiaan and Carlijn’s young son.
It’s on the ground floor that you get a true feeling of the size of this house, though. In the living room, arched glass doors open up a view through to the large, family-friendly kitchen. ‘They divide the room, adding a sense of privacy without compromising the light,’ explains Nicole. Their design is a nod to the original arts-and-crafts ceiling, uncovered during the renovation.
To offset the drama of this discovery, Nicole has layered texture on texture – a distressed leather chair by the fireplace, tactile raspberry velvet for the sofa – creating a feeling of cosiness. Built-in shelves sparkle with chunks of rose quartz (known as the stone of universal love) and amethyst (purported to relieve stress), both chosen by Carlijn to produce ‘good energy’.
She also worked with Nicole to align the layout of her home following the principles of feng shui. ‘It’s hard to define, but the house has balance and calm,’ she says.
Despite its scale, it’s not an overwhelming place. The reason, believes Carlijn, is ‘because Nicole included so many smaller, enticing corners’. In the kitchen, where original French windows lead to the garden, the designer included a reading nook, complete with a chubby 1960s armchair and slouchy sofa.
A banquette curves like an embrace around the ‘Opium’ table by Van Rossum in the breakfast area, facing vintage Ettore Sottsass chairs. ‘They’re low, but we couldn’t resist them,’ says Nicole.
While researching the history of this building, Nicole uncovered the fact that, long before it became a corporate headquarters, the house belonged to leading 20th-century Dutch weaver and textile artist Wil Fruytier. Today, Fruytier’s tapestries are prized for their innovative design and imaginative style: qualities which, in a neat twist, make this home so appealing. atelierndinterior.com