Wel­come to my home

Ideal Home (UK) - - Real Home - Mar­iëlla Houtsma, an in­te­rior de­signer, lives here with her part­ner, Tunno van der Graaf

THE PROP­ERTY A cot­tage built in 1890 in Fries­land, The Nether­lands.

“My favourite space is the liv­ing room – we spend a lot of time cud­dled up in there, en­joy­ing our cute home! ”

This small-but-per­fectly-formed cot­tage is Mar­iëlla Houtsma and Tunno van der Graaf’s maiden dec­o­rat­ing project. ‘It’s the first time we’ve been able to dec­o­rate how we want and the first time we’ve had to con­sider how to max­imise a small space on an even smaller bud­get.’

Mar­iëlla and Tunno were child­hood sweet­hearts, and at the age of 16 would of­ten pass this house while rid­ing their bikes through the vil­lage. ‘In our teens, we thought it was adorable and we imag­ined liv­ing here,’ says Mar­iëlla. ‘Now we ac­tu­ally do! Luck­ily for us, it was ren­o­vated and en­larged in 2002, so we didn’t have to do any struc­tural work to it.’

In­stead, they fast-tracked to the fun bit – dec­o­rat­ing. Mar­iëlla is an in­te­rior de­signer and she had clear ideas about the look she wanted. ‘The en­tire house was painted in dark colours, so I wanted to cre­ate a more friendly at­mos­phere,’ she says. Her so­lu­tion was to use a fresh, del­i­cate pal­ette of white and pale grey on walls and wood­work, with a new pale wood floor through­out. Slid­ing doors are used as screens to di­vide the kitchen and liv­ing room, or to open it up into one large area.

Fur­ni­ture has been care­fully cho­sen to make the most of the lim­ited floor space – a corner sofa pro­vides lots of seat­ing, yet takes up less room than an or­di­nary sofa and arm­chairs; stream­lined built-in cup­boards add am­ple stor­age; and mul­ti­func­tional pieces, like a stool that dou­bles as a side ta­ble, stop the rooms look­ing clut­tered. ‘Our styles are very sim­i­lar, al­though Tunno has a pref­er­ence for sturdy, in­dus­trial items,’ says Mar­iëlla. ‘I’m the one who fo­cuses on cre­at­ing comfy seat­ing ar­eas and a cosy at­mos­phere.’

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