In the Zilverblauw Founders’ Netherlands Home, No Color Is Off Limits
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“I remember cycling past the house on my way for groceries,” says Anki Wijnen. Her design agency and blog, Zilverblauw, which she runs with her graphic designer husband, Casper Boot, was only growing bigger—and so were their two kids. It was clear they needed a bigger home, and this one was love at first sight. Not only was it conveniently located near the city center, it came with an extra space that could become an office, along with an unusually spacious garden that Anki describes as a “little forest.” Even more miraculous: It was only a few yards from their current residence. Immediately upon returning home, Anki looked up the listing . . . and found out the property was way above their budget. Perhaps it wasn’t meant to be after all.
One month went by, then two, until nine had passed—without the house selling. “Our luck was that no one wanted to buy it because of the state it was in. Apparently, most people in the Netherlands aren’t keen on renovating,” says Anki. On top of the house being a bad mishmash of original 1925 architecture and ’70s updates, the electricity was outdated and there wasn’t proper insulation. Unlike everyone else, however, Anki and Casper were undeterred. “In the end, we decided to plan a viewing and didn’t sleep the night afterward. We wanted the house so bad,” she recalls. This time, there was a happy ending. “Luckily, Casper’s father knew the real estate agent and started negotiating the price. It took a lot of time and patience, but in the end the house became ours.”
While the couple planned to keep the original details, “the ’70s elements could go,” Anki points out. Rather than spend money on a contractor, the couple decided to manage the eight-month-long renovation of the main floor themselves while living in another part of the house. “We didn’t work with big, expensive companies, but with small, local companies and independent experts,” she explains.
Out went the retro wallpaper, heavy wood built-ins, and all three walls on the ground level. For Anki and Casper, who prefer loft-like spaces, the floor’s original layout—a large hallway separating the kitchen from the living room and TV room—made no sense. Opening everything up required the addition of a supporting column, but the couple didn’t mind. “It gives the house a bit of an industrial character,” says Anki. Overhead, the exposed ceiling beams are the only remnant from the original floor plan, a subtle reminder of what came before.
The house’s original wood floors might’ve made the cut too, but Anki and Casper discovered that they had started to rot. In the end, it was serendipitous bad news. “We decided to place an entirely new isolated concrete floor with underfloor heating,” says Anki. “Quite an investment, but totally worth it.”
With the ground level now one wide-open space, the staircase stuck out big time, a fact that the couple happily took to the extreme by painting its interior canary yellow. “Since we love color, it just felt like the right decision to choose a striking color,” says Anki. They took the opposite approach in the kitchen. “To keep the balance, we decided to keep the kitchen quite neutral,” says Anki. “I love to work with white; our former home had a white floor. It brings peace.” The walls, covered floor to ceiling in fish scale–shaped tiles, make just enough of a statement.
Even with the walls gone, the location of the staircase still created a nook of sorts for the TV room, and unlike the rest of the house, it’s painted bubblegum pink. “I wanted to paint the room pink from the moment we viewed the house,” says Anki. “It just feels good. We both love pink, it’s such a soft yet powerful color.” Even the fireplace, which the couple gave a brand-new face, is coated in the pastel hue.
Their choices might seem risky to the color-averse, but bright and bold is how they’ve always decorated. Believe it or not, the house has much less going on compared to the family’s previous home, where Anki and Casper layered graphic patterns on top of all the color. (Their bedroom is one of the only places where their print-mixing skills live on.)
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