cool but cosy

The Kolen­bran­ders trans­formed an his­toric cow­shed into a stun­ning fam­ily home with a very dis­tinct sense of style – even at Christ­mas


With its quirky vin­tage touches and rus­tic de­tails, this con­verted cow­shed in the Nether­lands has in­di­vid­ual good looks – es­pe­cially at Christ­mas time

For the Kolen­bran­ders, Christ­mas in the fam­ily home is the cul­mi­na­tion of a dream. ‘Our job is to cre­ate in­te­ri­ors that tell the story of a com­pany,’ says An­dre. ‘ With this house, we could do it for our­selves, and tell our own story. That’s why Christ­mas here is so spe­cial.’

And An­nemarie knows ex­actly how to bring out their con­verted cow­shed’s best fea­tures. ‘As well as cheese, the city of Gouda is fa­mous for its can­dles, which I fill the house with at Christ­mas,’ she says.

Hang­ing the Christ­mas tree from the beams in the ceil­ing was an in­no­va­tive idea that per­fectly suits the eclec­tic feel of their new home.

‘I like the sim­plic­ity of it, and the long rope of lights keeps the look nat­u­ral and a bit raw,’ says An­nemarie. ‘ We don’t like fuss, so our tree has no baubles. Our Christ­mas theme is cop­per with lots of green­ery – it’s a good bal­ance be­tween cool and cosy.’

Four years ago, the cou­ple were look­ing for a prop­erty to ren­o­vate when An­nemarie spot­ted an his­toric, listed cow­shed for sale. ‘I saw it on­line on Wed­nes­day evening and by Fri­day, we’d put in an of­fer. We hadn’t even seen it – talk about im­pul­sive!’

The prop­erty is two kilo­me­tres from Gouda’s cen­tre, and orig­i­nally housed cows that pro­vided milk for the fa­mous cheese. ‘What ap­pealed was the his­tory and size – around 750sq m of floor space and over 6,000sq m of land – plus it gave us the chance to cre­ate some­thing unique,’ says An­nemarie. ‘ We re­designed it from scratch, in­side and out.’

The cou­ple, who have two chil­dren – Jip, 16, and Lotte, 14 – re­built the en­tire space. ‘All we kept were

LES­SON LEARNT ‘You’ll never stay within your bud­get, but try not to let that stop you do­ing things. Some­times you just have to go with your in­stinct’

the outer walls and the roof – noth­ing else of the old build­ing sur­vived the de­mo­li­tion,’ says An­dre.

The cou­ple run a de­sign agency, Op­tie A, which de­vel­ops store con­cepts for in­ter­na­tional brands, so they were used to cre­at­ing some­thing from noth­ing. But this ren­o­va­tion was never go­ing to be easy. The shed was de­signed so that the cows would stand at the sides, with room for the farmer to walk in the mid­dle, but An­nemarie and An­dre wanted to walk down the sides and live in the mid­dle.

The shed had been owned by the lo­cal coun­cil and was only li­censed for com­mer­cial pur­poses, not res­i­den­tial, so the cou­ple also had to get per­mis­sion for a change in use. That meant dis­con­nect­ing the elec­tric­ity, wa­ter and gas, and re­con­nect­ing it to a res­i­den­tial sup­ply on the other side of a river, be­neath a main street. ‘You can imag­ine what a has­sle that was,’ says An­dre. ‘Then our con­crete floor was made with the wrong mix, so we had to do it again. But we knew we could turn it into par­adise.’

The fam­ily moved in dur­ing Novem­ber 2015 when the shell of the build­ing was com­plete, and lived with the builders work­ing around them un­til the job fin­ished in early 2017. The prop­erty is now a warm, in­dus­trial-style home with quirky vin­tage touches, like old vault­ing horses, hang­ing chairs and rubbed­out paint­work on rus­tic cup­boards.

The Kolen­bran­ders are de­lighted with their new home. ‘But we’re al­ways think­ing of chang­ing things,’ ad­mits An­dre. ‘ We’ll keep this place for­ever, though.’ Which means the fam­ily can en­joy Christ­mas in this unique prop­erty for many years to come.

DE­SIGN TIP ‘We like to set up con­trasts: leather with wool, con­crete and steel teamed with wood, or cop­per and green­ery with can­dles’

Sit­ting room A hang­ing chair, fluffy sheep­skins and mistle­toe bring cosy touches to this el­e­gant con­ver­sion. HK Liv­ing rat­tan hang­ing egg chair, £249.95, Cuck­ooland. Try the Ti­betan sheep­skin, from £119, The Swedish Wooden Horse Com­pany. Gold mini bunt­ing, £ 4.77m, Etsy, has a sim­i­lar look

sit­ting room Un­der­floor heat­ing be­neath the poured con­crete is topped up by an ef­fi­cient wood­burner, which keeps the huge, open-plan space warm and snug dur­ing win­ter. The Aga West­bury wood­burn­ing stove, £1,330, Twyford Cookers, is a good op­tion. Ter­mat­ech re­cy­cled tyre log bas­ket, £72, Coun­try Heat. Off-white knit­ted pouffe foot­stool, £59.99, Homescapes

Lotte’s bed­room Painted floor­boards con­tinue the rus­tic theme, while Crit­tall-style black steel win­dows used as in­ter­nal di­viders add a chic in­dus­trial edge. rust-oleum’s chalk floor paint in win­ter grey, £29.99 for 2.5L, home­base, is a good al­ter­na­tive

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