the best part about owning a historic home
is knowing that you are creating a new chapter of history for it. Carla van Lingen and her partner, Ed, certainly feel that way. “I loved the house at first sight,” Ed says. “Even though it was obvious the maintenance had been poor over the years, I loved the historical characteristics and the atmosphere.”
The fact that the turn-of-the-century brick cottage was in the heart of the city also called to him at the time. “[My then wife and I] both wanted to live in the city again, and be closer to family and downtown,” he adds.
“The fact that the property was historically designated was really exciting for us—though we didn’t realize at the time how much of a setback that would be for renovating. It took us a year of negotiating to even get our renovation plans approved by the department for the preservation trust. But with a lot of give and take, we came to an agreement.”
Ed and his wife had to tackle a lot of the foundational elements to modernize the house for living. This included new roofing, new floor beams and flooring; and all the walls and ceilings were renovated. Some of the old window frames had to be replaced as well, and of course everything was under the supervision of the trust. “Our biggest challenge was the staircase leading to the first floor. The existing staircase was too unsteady and not safe, but to be able to build a new, more contemporary one, we had to break away a part of one of the authentic floor beams,” Ed says. “It was a real challenge to find a compromise between saving authentic details, our modern wishes for a safe staircase and getting permission for our new staircase design from the preservation trust.”
Many years later when Ed remarried and Carla moved into the house, they both saw it as an opportunity to update the home again.
REVAMP AND REFRESH
“Although I loved much of the interior decoration as it was, Ed and I agreed that changing some of it would be good for both of us,” Carla says. “We brought in some new colors like fresh orange and blue, and refurbished some of Ed’s furniture, like the two antique
|BELOW LEFT| SIMPLE ELEGANCE. A shabby white ottoman stands in as an occasional table in the dining room. An antique wooden tray allows Carla to display flowers
in a wrought-iron urn atop it.
|BELOW| MADE MORE MODERN. Carla chose a striking modern African mudcloth-inspired fabric to reupholster the two
French antique chairs next to the counter.
chairs in the living room next to the window. Of course, I brought some of my own furniture and stuff with me as well when I moved in, so you could say our interior is now a mixture of styles.”
Carla, who owned a small fashion business before she retired, has infused the home with a few glam touches, including antique chandeliers and some bolder and more modern patterns. Ed, a retired geologist traveled often throughout his career, so his treasures give the home its global flair. They both have been able to blend and complement their styles to create a unique interior.
“We both prefer a classical country style, mixed with contemporary details and bright colors like the orange details in the kitchen,” Carla says. “A lot of the decoration came from all the places Ed has lived and is now nicely mixed with my stuff. It has grown to be a fine mixture of both our lives.”
The house isn’t only beloved by the couple; the neighborhood too is involved in its history and shares in a bit of its past. “From about 1940 until 1970, this house served as the local grocery store. Many people in the area remember that and therefore know our
house from the inside as well,” Carla says. “Also the former owner was an artist and a builder of harpsichords, a well-known figure around here. He used to entertain a lot of guests, and because of that, a lot of our neighbors know the house from that period.”
Some of the couple’s favorite features are beautiful details from other hands, like the wall painting on the large gray former shop doors at the entrance and the beautiful woodcarvings on top of the large wooden doorframe between the garden room and the kitchen, both added by the harpsichord maker.
There’s also a small outbuilding that had been outfitted as a studio apartment. Ed and his late wife lived there during most of the early renovations. “It is now part of our little bed-and-breakfast,” Carla laughs, explaining that she rents out that room and an upstairs bedroom occasionally on Airbnb. “We spend a lot of time in that garden room: it’s so cozy and practical as well, because it is next to the kitchen. And it has a lovely view of our garden.”
|RIGHT| SIMPLE & STUNNING. The couple keeps things pared back and elegant in the garden apartment, which they occasionally rent out. The sofa came from New York and an old bench serves as a coffee table. On top is a wooden Makonde bowl with large shells that were found on the beach near Ed’s house in Tanzania, where he lived for four years.
|LEFT| A WELCOME DISPLAY. Just inside the entryway of the house stands a large glass-fronted cabinet that commands attention with its elegance and grace. The softgray cupboard holds Carla’s collection of Wedgwood tableware and other pretty items. On top of the cupboard are two gypsum fruit bowls. Next to the cupboard is one of four French chairs that were also given new upholstery.
|ABOVE| RENOVATION CHALLENGES. From the home’s entrance you can see the corridor that leads to the garden room and the back door into the garden. Through the small window you can peek into the kitchen. Here you also see the newly built staircase that took a lot of negotiating. The painting on the back door was made by the former owner.
|ABOVE| COLLECTED STYLE. The old stairs that lead to the loft came from the attic of the house. Against the wall an antique English table, covered with a cloth from Borneo, holds an African wood-carved chess game and some bird feathers from France in a cupper vase.
|ABOVE RIGHT| FEELING SPACIOUS. The couple added a mirror wall to the master bathroom for an enlarging effect. The wooden bar serves as a towel rack. Ed made the washbasin by hand out of an existing wooden cupboard.
|RIGHT| ADDED HEIRLOOMS. During the initial renovation, Ed sought out salvage architecture to add age back to spaces that had been modernized for functionality. The living room on the first floor with an antique Chesterfield sofa is one example. The antique doors came from a trading company that specialized in antique building materials. The flooring is French oak.