The life of a building can go through several growing stages, and this apartment in Amsterdam just so happened to live its previous life in the 1930s as a classroom! While the blue linoleum still hints at the past, the spacious loft space has been redesigned with a new staircase and striking accents throughout.
If every home has a story to tell, let’s start at the beginning for this project. When designers René van der Leest and Sigrid van Kleef from Studio Ruim were invited onto a new project by previous clients, they were delighted to see a space with plenty of potential. This former school building from the 1930s is in Amsterdam’s Oud-Zuid neighborhood, a quick bike ride away from some of the city’s famous museums and parks.
Having worked with the couple before, the duo had a good idea of what to look for and the sort of space required. For the busy businesswoman they considered a floor plan unencumbered by doors, as “a logical, interesting floorplan is key.” For her husband, an artist, they knew that a space with plenty of light was a dream come true. With these things in mind, they recommended choosing this loft apartment, which turned out to be the perfect choice.
Now a spacious duplex loft apartment, the lighting plays an important part in the design. “During daytime this is an entirely different apartment than in the evening,” discusses René van der Leest. Another fun thing to note is the green staircase and striking red steel beams that strike through the apartment to create a sense of strength and stability.
The staircase is a new feature, creating a duplex style of apartment and making the most of the high ceilings. The colors in this living room are well balanced, natural and earthy.
Upstairs is the bedroom and bathroom. The multilayered loft feel was perfect for the project, creating something urban and cool yet cozy and close to its roots.
While some of the rooms in the apartment may seem bare in these photos, now that the couple have moved in, the artist’s colorful paintings hang over the big walls.
Everyone is pleased with the project and a lasting relationship was formed. “She’s very proud of the house,” explain the design duo about the homeowner. “When she’s on holiday we get the change to sleep in her space, we did it once, a unique experience to sleep and stay in your own project.”
“We love most the colors and spaciousness and diversity of heights in the living room – and of course the comic staircase.” — Studio Ruim
The blue linoleum was made from renewable materials formed from linseed oil, rosin, wood flour and limestone. It was chosen as a small link to the building’s former past as a school house; these types of floors were often used in schools because they are easy to clean and have a fairly soft feel.
Along the back end of the living room you can see a long brown colored cabinet and glass wall which separates the living room and kitchen. During the design process this was nicknamed “the chocolate box”. It works as a storage space but also separates the kitchen and supports the upper floor. While many designers like black for a fashionable choice, for a softer option brown was chosen with black elements framing the windows. It pairs well with the blue flooring too.
The long cabinet was one of the building’s original features, now working as the home’s centerpiece.
The Dutch have a word, gezellig, which pertains to the feeling of warmth and coziness. To me, this wood burning stove and small chimney definitely add to that for this apartment. Paired with the welcoming living room area, the rug and comfortable space to lounge, this home is gezellig!
For this story, it’s a happy ending. The original characters featuring the wooden beams and the long cabinets, are joined with antique and stylish furniture pieces. The lighting sets the tone, and pop! — the bottle of wine has been opened for a relaxing evening with friends. Just don’t drink too much on a school night..