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

Homes & Gardens - - CONTENTS - Words Sarah Far­ley Pho­to­graphs an­neke Cam­bon

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.


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.”

FLEUR’S BED­ROOM 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. MAIN BED­ROOM The tra­di­tional slop­ing...

KITCHEN 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...

LIV­ING AREA 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. STUDY AREA Frieda and Jan de­cided to leave the main sup­port­ing beams...

LIV­ING AREA 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. GAR­DEN The...

BATH­ROOM 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.

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