Patrick Overwijk has bravely juxtaposed the period features of his 18th-century home with bold mid-century design.
Seventies-inspired Versace wallpaper, bold lighting composed of oversized lightbulbs, and a porcelain cactus that borders on kitsch may not be what immediately springs to mind when you imagine the interior of an 18th-century Dutch townhouse. It’s exactly these surprising elements though, that make this family home so exciting. While most people would almost automatically team a breathtaking rococo ceiling (thought to be one of the most detailed in the region) with ornate, heavy antiques of the same period, the owners of this home, Patrick and Inez Overwijk, have adopted a more original approach.
Instead, Patrick has fully embraced his love of mid-century design, and statement furniture and lighting come into play in every room. What ties the scheme together is the subtle celebration of the house’s original features. Despite Patrick’s passion for the 1950s, 60s and 70s, since moving here six years ago, he’s been committed to unveiling its floors, ceilings and walls – many of which were hidden under softboard coverings and layer upon layer of paint. ‘The whole house was filled with old elements – from the kitchen tiles to the ceiling of the living room. It has quite the personality,’ he says. It was this rich sense of the past that originally drew Patrick to the house: ‘We always wanted an old house, filled with history. It was our dream.’ Historically, the property has been inhabited by local mayors and doctors, and it is said that one of the former inhabitants would monitor his ships, sailing for business in England, from the balcony at the top of the building. It is these romantic elements that hooked Patrick and Inez. Transforming the house for modern family life was no quick fix, Patrick admits. ‘It took almost four years to get to this point. When we bought it, floors were damaged and original elements had been lost. It was in bad shape.’ The renovation had to follow strict building regulations as the house is included in the register of Dutch protected buildings. Patrick didn’t let this hold him back though. ‘I carried out extensive research regarding which colours to use in the interior – hunting for old photographs of the house and scraping off old layers of paint to reveal the original colours.’ Happily, these shades included a spectrum of greens, which now frame the entrance hall, complement a Morris & Co wallpaper in one of the living rooms, and reflect the rustic feel of the kitchen. Elsewhere, walls are simple and white or – in the kitchen – covered in original Delft tiles. Walking from room to room reveals a potted history of 20th-century design. Key pieces include a desk and coffee table by the Dutch designer Cees Braakman, a leather chair by Norwegian designer Ingmar Relling and one by the British designer Geoffrey Harcourt. The lighting is similarly impressive, with designs by the l i kes of Verner Pa nton, Ach i l le a nd Giacomo Castiglioni and Gino Sarfatti gracing the ceilings. These pieces were created for function as well as form, and so are perfectly placed for robust family life. Despite being a house of historical significance, it’s undoubtedly cool and modern. And that in itself is no small feat.