Welcome to my home
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.’