When they took on and reworked the family home, the owners of this country property had to respect the building’s heritage and win parental approval
When they took on the family home, this couple had to respect the building’s heritage and win parental approval.
The house was not only where her husband had grown up, it had been built for and has remained in his family since 1892.”
Renovating a property can be demanding at the best of times, but spare a thought for Frieda Dorresteijn, who recently took on the task of updating her new home in the Dutch town of Leersum. The house was not only where her husband, Jan, had grown up, it had been built for and has remained in his family since 1892. Added to that, Jan’s parents were living just a few miles away and keeping an interested eye on everything that Frieda did. For Frieda, however, it was an opportunity not to be missed.
“We took over the farmhouse when Jan’s parents decided to move to a smaller home,” she says. “There was a lot of work to be done, taking down walls and building new extensions, as well as replacing window frames and even the roof.” Fortunately for all concerned, Jan had decided to break with the family tradition of working the farm and gone into construction. Although the family still cares for a small number of livestock, it was Jan’s building skills that really proved their worth throughout the renovation.
The farmhouse is a two-storey, Dutch vernacular building and, when the couple moved in, its ground floor was a claustrophobic warren of small and very tired looking rooms that were more than ready for a new lease of life. Frieda and Jan were keen to modernise, but they were also very aware of the history of the house and had no desire to erase all trace of it. “We wanted to keep its original character and for it to fit in with the other properties in the area,” says Frieda, but with two young children, Jasper, now three, and Fleur, six months, they needed more space and better access to the garden.
They decided to keep the arrangement of rooms upstairs as they had been originally laid out, with warm, cosy-looking rooms tucked into the roof and each lit by a dormer window. However, on the ground floor, they finally resolved to knock down some of the walls, and it has proved to be a liberating move. The new open-plan space flows easily between kitchen, seating and eating areas, and the garden is visible and accessible at every turn, through large-paned windows and a matching pair of French doors.
SEAL OF APPROVAL
An interior designer with her own interiors shop nearby, Frieda created the subtle decorative scheme as an immaculate finish to the renovation. “I don’t like to use too much colour and I prefer old materials,” she says, adding that “every piece of furniture in the house has to have a country feel to it”.
The result is certainly fit for the latest generation of Dorresteijns, but what do Frieda’s parents-in-law think of it? “Oh they come to stay a couple of times a week, even though they don’t live far away,” says Frieda. A sign, clearly, that the older generation approves of the way in which this Dutch farmhouse has been revived.
I don’t like to use too much colour and I prefer old materials. Every piece of furniture in the house has to have a country feel to it.”
The beauty of this scheme is in its simplicity, with a subtle palette creating a relaxed mood. This pared-back approach allows the bold silhouettes of the furniture, table lamp and candlesticks to be fully appreciated.
The property’s redesign also extended to the outdoor space, which includes a sheltered verandah (right), a traditional feature of Dutch country houses, and an alfresco dining area
(far right) with a generous table that seats eight.
The dark grey chimney breast provides a striking focal point for the open-plan living area, with the stag’s head underlining the fact that this is a country home.
Frieda and Jan decided to leave the main supporting beams (below left) in their natural state as a nod to the property’s rustic past.
Similar desk, Gustavian writing desk, £3,900, gustavian.com. DINING AREA
The choice of an upholstered sofa and armchairs (below) brings a sense of luxury to the dining table, while the monochromatic scheme ties it in neatly with the rest of the open-plan space.
Similar armchairs, Fenice chair, €499, Flamant, flamant.com.
Frieda and Jan designed the cabinetry (above) and had it built by a local company. This part of the house also features a more informal eating area (this picture), with bench seating to make the best use of space.
Kitchen, Van Huigenbos Interieurs, vanhuigen bosinterieurs.nl. Similar floor tiles, Belgian Bluestone, from £100sq m, Stone Collection, thestonecollection.co.uk.
Similar dining chairs,
Camargue dining chairs, £174 each, Oka, okadirect.com.
The couple opted for relaxed, neutral hues enlivened with classic blue and white checks for their baby daughter’s room (above right).
Interior design, Frieda Dorresteijn, friedadorresteijn.nl.
The traditional sloping roof of the farmhouse gives the bedrooms a particularly cosy feel. Frieda made all the bedlinen (right) herself as sewing is one of her many talents.
Similar bed, Claudette bed frame, from £825, Barker and Stonehouse, barkerandstonehouse.co.uk.
The open shelves of the marble-topped washbasin unit not only provide useful storage, but also make an attractive display area and enhance the sense of space.