Morning is Yasmina van den Oetelaar’s favourite time of day. It is when she sits in her garden, reads a book and breathes in the calm of her courtyard oasis while taking in the sweep of her industrial-style home. There is little inkling that on the other side of the front door, you step straight into the thrum of the city centre of Tilburg, in the south of the Netherlands. It’s an unlikely oasis, yet moving to the heart of the city where her husband, Maicol, spent his childhood was exactly where they sought to embrace urban life after their daughter, Vivian, had grown up.
Not that their home was easy to find – or in its current incarnation, even existed. When they started their search, they mostly found houses that were either too expensive, too tall, too narrow or spread over too many floors.
“That’s when we decided to change our search criteria and lower our price to see what else came up,” explains Maicol. It was only then that the couple chanced upon a dilapidated steel factory that had also served as a community centre on one of the most beautiful streets in the heart of Tilburg. It was in a ruinous state, but Maicol, who co-owns Vervoort, an interior design company that designs hotels, restaurants and holiday homes, was able to see its potential.
“Friends and family thought we were absolutely crazy at the time, but we were both so impressed by the opportunity it afforded in terms of light and volumes,” says Maicol.
Yasmina, who works as a manager at a hotel school and teaches students who want to work in the hospitality industry, nods in agreement. “We could see how the space could be used to create an open city loft with a great inner-city garden that could offer a high level of privacy and calm. It was not located directly on the street itself, but hidden.”
Crucially, it also met with all of the couple’s stipulations for a house project: the ability to create light, open-plan areas to ensure optimal living; a space where they could build an inner patio garden; that they would also be able to park their car next to the house in an indoor garage as parking in the city can prove challenging; and that there was space enough to build two ensuite bedrooms.
Despite the couple’s interest in design, their home was not influenced by the work of other architects or hotels but rather created along with their architect Henny Guyt from StuiOzo, whom Maicol had worked with before.
Yasmina says: “He understood exactly what we wanted, he brought light inside and, like us, loved incorporating a wealth of different types of materials, such as wood, iron, concrete and marble.”
The result is a spacious, industrial-style city loft that is flooded with light and configured around a patio garden that is accessed through four large doors. It offers a haven of quiet yet supports an easy American west coast feeling of indoor/outdoor living.
On the ground floor, the garden room, kitchen and living areas are adjacent to the patio. On the first floor, two bedrooms are separated by a void to allow for a double-height ceiling on the ground floor and to let light into the centre of the house.
The demolition process took five months and they did much of this themselves with the help of Maicol’s father and friends. In the process they also unearthed old wooden beams from the original building, which they were able to repurpose, acknowledging the building’s heritage.
The rebuild took a further seven months and also marked a new chapter in the couple’s lives, so when it came to furnishing their home, they agreed on starting afresh. “It made sense,” says Yasmina, “as this home is more modern and industrial and very different to the home we lived in outside Tiberg when Vivian was growing up.”
The pair both appreciate well-designed pieces of furniture that retain their value and are also highly functional.
For Maicol, it was also the opportunity to road test pieces that he sells: “It was interesting to try them out and see how they work in a home: what it’s like to sit in a chair, how it interacts with the other bits of furniture you have and the rest of your space.”
Everything in their home is a movable feast and set against a framework of polished concrete flooring, raw brick work and green or timber-clad walls, the family enjoys colourful jolts such as the blue round carpet by Simone Post and the green Pierre Paulin cushions. Other injections of colour come via the Sigrid Calon riso prints or the blue circle and stone object by Debbie Wijskamp at Paperpulp art.
“We love the challenge of bringing together many different materials that together form a whole,” says Yasmina. Indeed, they have created such a comfortable, spacious and enduringly stylish home – and one that is only a stone’s throw from a night-time tipple – that it’ll be a wonder if Vivian, now 24, will ever want to leave.