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The good kind of bad taste: take a tour around Leen and Kurt’s eclectic townhouse

The good kind of bad taste: take a tour around Leen and Kurt’s eclectic townhouse

“A splash of bad taste is needed” – that’s writer Leen Van Severen’s unconventional approach to styling her unusual home. She shares the 160-year-old mansion with her partner Kurt Overbergh, Artistic Director at the Brussels concert venue Ancienne Belgique. Here’s how they combined fashion, music and self-expression to revive their four-storey townhouse in Antwerp.

 

Feeling it?

“Before we buy a piece, it has to be love at first sight. Then we figure out how it’ll fit in our interior,” says Leen. That’s how they chose the pink velvet Margot sofa. “The colour matches the walls, and the style suits the style of the house.”

Buried treasure

“My love for interior design started at an early age. As a kid I’d always redesign my room with treasures I found in our basement – a sort of flea market!”

Creative license

“The Panos bench seems to be designed for the hallway, but we used it as a natural border in this enormous space that makes up the living and dining room. Instead of shoes, we showcase our coffee table books on it.”

Getting high

“It wasn’t easy hanging up that chandelier. And not just because of the rosettes on the five-metre high ceiling.” But Kurt didn’t let his fear of heights hold him back: “It’s a modern piece, but the copper works perfectly with the antique, brown ceiling, and it highlights the fine details.”

Feline fine

Making sure their home captured their personality was a priority for the artistic pair – Kurt’s record collection is spread over the space’s four floors. “I once started collecting records with cats featuring in the artwork. That collection became so big that it even got its own exhibition.”

Heaven sent

“The living and dining room are my favourite spaces,” says Leen. “Sometimes when I come in I can be like, ‘wow’. The angels on the walls, the painted ceiling, the height of it, the light that comes in. And then that view of the garden…”

So bad it's good

“I like to remind myself of this quote by Diane Vreeland when designing my interior: ‘We all need a splash of bad taste... No taste is what I’m against’. Sometimes we forget to have fun – it’s okay to let yourself go. Some elements in our home are on the edge of what’s considered ‘good taste’, but that’s what makes it interesting.”

Pursuit of happiness

“Our home’s what we’d want the world to look like, really. A sort of cocoon – a warm hug every time you enter.” Leen’s advice on achieving the warm-hug feeling? “Surround yourself with the things that make you happy. For us, that means an eclectic style full of humour.”

IRL

“I get inspiration from real life, like an interior in an old painting that catches my eye. We once chose a paint colour based on the interior of an antiques shop.”

Best-dressed

“I feel that saying I have a ‘passion for fashion’ sounds a bit highbrow, but dressing myself truly is an important hobby. It’s one of my favourite forms of self-expression,” says Leen. “That doesn’t mean I shop ‘til I drop – you can get a lot out of different combinations of what you already have. The same goes for your interior: it’s also a form of dressing.”

Article written by: Wided Bouchrika
Photography by: Jordi Huisman

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