Het Venetiaehofje is hidden behind discreet doors amidst the Amsterdam canals. Set up in the 16th century to house Protestant widows, the space lives up to its empowering past — today, 28 independent women call it their home. We meet with resident Rubia Heyer as she hosts a lunch for her neighbours, to find out what makes this place so special.
"I'm bi-cultural and grew up in the South East part of Amsterdam — a diverse neighbourhood. Caring for others and hospitality were key values in our home. And here, we look after each other; we bring soup to each other when we're sick," she tells us. "It's also really cool that everyone is so accepting of my queerness here, no matter what generation they belong to."
All in the details
When it comes to decorating her room, Rubia considers the small details to strike the right atmosphere. "I want it to reflect my personality. I like gold, and although I'm not a great fan of colour, flowers add the perfect pop of brightness."
Rubia has worked at an international fashion recruitment agency for over seven years. "I really enjoy scouting, curating and working with all this talent. It may sound cliché, but it gives me so much energy to be surrounded by talented, passionate people."
Sharing is caring
"Chicken used to be my signature dish, but I barely eat or prepare meat anymore. Now I usually make Ottolenghi-style veggie dishes for my guests to share. To prepare food for someone is like taking care of them; it's nourishing. I tend to prepare things in advance because I want to join the table conversations when I have guests over."
When Rubia invites loved ones over for a dinner party, she offers more than food. "Sharing food should be an experience, an evening's entertainment — not just nutrition. I talk to my best friends every single day. But to share thoughts and stories while sharing food, that's love."
"The garden is an absolute pleasure. It's quiet, peaceful and green — especially in the summertime. Our retired neighbours usually have wine and snacks in the garden, and they always invite us to join. A summer's day like that is just perfect."
"Food is definitely the most important part of my table setting, preferably an abundance of it. Growing up, there was always a lot of food on the table — I think that's why my biggest fear when hosting a dinner party is not having enough. So I always overdo it."
"Flowers are essential to my table setting, just as they're an important part of my interior. I love a table that's well styled, but nothing too fancy; just some good tableware, golden cutlery and nice glasses."
"It's a privilege to live in a place like this. We're all different, but because of that we can learn from each other. One of my neighbours actually intends to make a podcast with the older ladies to discuss life with the younger generation," says Rubia. "The thing we have in common is being independent women. And I think that sort of binds us together." It seems that, just as the sign above the entrance says, love really is the foundation in het Venetiaehofje.
Article written by: Gwen Gassler
Photography by: Nicole Bachmann | Art direction by: Laura Cumming