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Marrakech meets the Cotswolds: when a traveller renovates an Amsterdam home

Marrakech meets the Cotswolds: when a traveller renovates an Amsterdam home

Maartje Diepstraten is a freelance producer and the creative mastermind behind the Dutch lifestyle website Barts Boekje. Writing and travelling is what she lives for, but her home and heart remain in Amsterdam with her husband Dirk and pug Willem. “Live somewhere first before buying stuff” is her motto which she stood by when she moved into her home while renovations were still underway. The final result? A surprising interior shaped by a traveller.

Home suite home

“I find inspiration when I travel. I love New York - I’ve come across the most amazing hotels there. I just want to cut and paste the designs I see into my own home. Hotel owners usually go all out on their lobbies, so I think they’re the best place to spot great art and furniture designs. I tried to convey the spirit of a luxury hotel suite downstairs. Upstairs you’ll find a Marrakech meets the Cotswolds mash-up. I love that English pub feeling.”

Stow away

“A standard kitchen isn't for me, so I put something together myself using two Stow storage units from MADE.COM. It's perfect because I only have this small corner to create storage as well as working space. I've put cheese boards on top of the units to add worktop space and the drawers are so spacious. I still haven’t managed to fill all of them. I love how the golden Newberg cutlery matches the brass drawers as well.”

Cotswolds Scott

“From the very beginning, I had my mind set on a dark blue wall and a green sofa – a small one, because we don’t have a lot of space upstairs. I discovered the colour combination in the Cotswolds and simply needed the green velvet Scott sofa to make it work. The rest of the upstairs interior was built on that.”

Come together

“The flat looked terrible when we bought it. The walls and ceilings were made from straw and slats, everything was painted in primary colours and there were teeny tiny doors and funny little rooms. We tore everything down and worked toward fulfilling a couple of basic wishes. Dirk wanted a bath and space, I wanted light and an open-plan living room and kitchen with a terrace. If we wanted daylight, we had to get rid of all the walls. And the kitchen had to move upstairs because that’s where the terrace was. The puzzle was solved.”

Through the roof

“We have an open rooftop terrace with a view over the city, but there's no risk of Peeping Toms. And above all, you can just walk out of the kitchen out onto the terrace. I don't think I need to explain why this is my favourite spot.”

Pretty little things

“I hope to be tastefully different. Not the umpteenth hipster home or Nordic interior, but something I put my stamp on through my use of colour and things like cheese boards, throws, and vases – which you’ll find throughout the house.”

Picture it

“If I come across a cool interior idea on a trip, I’ll take pictures, though chances are I’ll just remember it anyway if it’s that amazing. Then I look for something similar back home, because I don’t buy stuff abroad – my suitcase can’t handle that.”

Privacy policy

“We live in an open apartment, but that doesn’t mean there’s a lack of privacy. Because there are two floors, Dirk will sometimes retreat upstairs while I’m downstairs. Or the other way around.”

Stairway to heaven

“My husband left the interior design completely up to me. I don’t think we really have different tastes. Okay, maybe a millennial pink staircase wouldn’t have been his first choice, but he thinks it looks nice.”

Style clash

“If he really doesn’t like something, he’ll tell me. I have to tone it down a bit when it comes to throws and rugs for example, and he isn’t a big fan of the abstract paintings.”

Great divide

“The entire home is about 90 square metres (approx 970 square feet), divided over two floors without any actual rooms. That’s how we tried to open everything up and create space. Upstairs there’s an open-plan living room and kitchen with a terrace, downstairs the living room moves into the bedroom – just like a hotel suite – and there's an open bathroom.”

In ruins

“You have to live somewhere first, then buy stuff. It’s tricky, but it’s the best interior advice I’ve been given and can give to others. We moved into a ruin while the renovation was still very much going on. Luckily that was during the summer, so we didn’t have to deal with the cold. And we had a bed and a working television – what more does one need?”

Power of travel

“Travelling influences your interior unconsciously. You see so many things on the road, there’s no way it doesn’t leave a mark on your taste. Because it’s difficult to bring home material stuff from my trips, for me the effect becomes visible through my colour choices.”

No space? Make it

“In a small apartment, you really want to get the most out of that limited space. Remove a part of the wall and use the cavity for storage – you can store so many things in there. Add a couple of sliding doors, et voilà you’re done.”

Pinterest-free living

“Let your home be your guide, not Pinterest. All those pictures of things you can’t afford or don’t suit your space will drive you mad. When we bought the flat, people told us ‘great, now you can do whatever you want with it.’ But there’s not much choice really. Some things are just logical. And besides, nothing beats your intuition: what you like or saw ànd remembered from someone’s interior, a trip or a magazine - that's way more important than pretty pictures – there are loads of those.”

The hood

“For five years, we lived just 300 metres away from here, just across the bridge. We were done with renting, but not with the neighbourhood. The Jordaan is the cosiest bit of Amsterdam. Also the prettiest and the most fun, and it’s close to the Central Station. If you’re ever around, I have all the hotspots from the neighbourhood on my website, Barts Boekje.”

Article written by: Wided Bouchrika
Photography by: Jordi Huisman

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