WORDS Holly Jean Brooker IMAGES Filip Dujardan
Down a long winding road, nestled in the trees beside the sparkling green Linge river in Geldermalsen, The Netherlands, lies a 115-year-old brick barn house, with mystique and standing constitution.
From the outside, it’s what you would expect in the country. But once you step inside the threshold you quickly realise, is that this is not your typical barn house at all.
Maxwan Architects took the brief to a whole new level when the owners asked them to help realise their dream of creating a functional and flexible home, focused around a large combined kitchen and living space where they could relax and enjoy entertaining friends or alter for their wine tasting sessions for their customers.
Lead designer, Hiroki Matsuura explains “In the past, the previous owners had already undertaken an extension by simply extruding the high barn, adding 10 metres, to add in a second floor.” The result was a converted barn with a mismatch layout. Inside, the dark home didn't allow for an easy flow and it was disconnected from the stunning landscape outside. Matsuura explains, “At our first visit we found the house difficult to inhabit.
Most strikingly, virtually no relation existed to the beautiful landscape surrounding the house. All of the façade openings were too small, in the wrong place, or both.”
Thinking outside the square, Matsuura proposed a unique design. “We suggested inverting the layout of the house, moving the offices and storage space to occupy the recent extension and the private spaces to the old barn.”
The solution was to create a wide open space downstairs, divided and framed with bespoke shelving and moveable custom furniture which are cleverly combined to create different living spaces with the flexibility to be moved to suit different needs. “The final touch was a large piece of furniture on wheels that would serve as kitchen, storage, stairs and library all at once,” Matsuura explains. With the space flowing out into the courtyard, they have achieved the ultimate in at-home entertaining, which can be adjusted depending on the amount and type of guests.
Downstairs the wood burning fire place offers a cosy area to mingle around during the winter months. A floating staircase engineered using white metal rods and stunning ash wood timber flooring leads upstairs. Here the A-frame layout is enhanced by the century old exposed timber beams, and a breathtaking view out into the country side. This separate living space provides the perfect spot to relax and retreat in solitude.
Along with a new layout the architect created alternative ways to inject light into the dark building. Natural light was incorporated into the open space with a unique concept. Matsuura says, “A large slit was cut into the barn roof to bring in light and create a brighter space.” Getting rid of the randomly placed facade openings and doorways, the open plan home is now dramatically devoid of internal walls, with spaces enhanced by clever furniture positioning. Designer light fittings were installed to add extra levels of light into various places around the home.
The light, bright style is partnered with stunning finished timber joinery, industrial metal features, polished concrete flooring and raw exposed beams which give credence to the historical origins of the stunning abode. In fact as an act of respect to the original abode, the main structure was left as it was with only the corbel (wooden support) being replaced by metal braces. The original 100 year old internal beams where braced to add additional support and ensure another 100 years of use.
The home encompasses all that we look for in Scandinavian design, with simplicity, minimalism and functionality in its element. And for the owners, the redesigned 113m2 space offers the exact lifestyle they were wanting to achieve.
Read more like this in Issue 22 of Renovate Magazine.
All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change. Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.