A Historic Amsterdam Home Has the Best Wooden Ceiling Beams in Every Room
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Name: Stefanie Archer, Chris Archer, Gabriel (11), James (6), Darcy (5)
Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Size: 1872 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year
Located in the historical center of Amsterdam, the Archer family has created a warm and lively home in a UNESCO Heritage Site built in the late 17th century; an old warehouse that was used to store sugar, coffee, and spices during the Dutch Golden Age. Their family of five (plus two cats, Ally and Molesley) “fills every inch of this brick and beam home.” The Archer family not only fell in love with the charm and character of their home, but the neighborhood full of their favorite markets from which they source most of their furnishings. In a home that’s so rich with history, the family has given it new life not only through their design, but by the warmth and closeness of their bond.
As soon as you walk into the home, the living space is flooded with natural light from their floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the canals of central Amsterdam. The family loves to leave the windows open as the city is bustling with local festivals, making it easy for them to join in on the fun. The Archer family is extremely close; the kids preferring to share a room over having separate ones. “When [the family] started shopping for a new house and asked the kids if they wanted their own rooms, they all emphatically said NO!” Thus they transformed the upper floor into two bedrooms, a master and a room for their three children (with a swing and playground included!). With such a charming house that’s always full of action, you can definitely feel the love and warmth that’s present throughout the home.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: We’ve found our style has evolved over time to be an eclectic mix of traditional French antiques mixed with Scandinavian mid-century modern. Being avid hobbyist antique hunters, we’re lucky our local flea markets, antique markets, and brocante shops are full of unusual items we’ve discovered to style our home. It’s always important to us to buy quality vintage/antiques to keep our home looking cozy, yet unique. With our kids always in tow, Gabriel can now accurately determine mercury vs. silver-mirrored glass on a 200-year-old French mirror and the small kids can spot a Danish teak monkey from across the market.
It’s important that our home decor fits our family, in style, colors, and comfort. We often ask the kids their opinion on a mid-century lamp or a new couch. We want them to feel that they participate in the styling of our home. At this point, the kids still love going to flea markets; giving us a thumbs up or thumbs down when we ask about a new item. When we buy for our home we buy because we love it and we’re passionate about it. Each one of us has chosen something special that has added to our distinctive decor, and ultimately, made our new house a home.
Inspiration: We think our inspiration comes from simple timeless designs and designers. We love things that can cut through design and color trends and could fit into most interiors with relative ease. It’s incredibly difficult for any designer to do this, but when you can look at something that’s not specifically on-trend and still say “that’s a beautiful thing,” you’re getting pretty close. To give some examples of things in our home: We love Arne Norell, his Sirocco Safari Chair will fit into any interior in any decade, anywhere in the world. Hanns-Krafft Meier and his Sheep Foot Stool is a coveted item for us. Sofas by De Sede, sideboards by Johannes Anderson, tulip tables by Eero Saarinen, dining chairs by Niels Moller, kids toys by Kay Bojesen, the list goes on. To be honest, we don’t normally buy our things online or from the big antique emporiums…we’re value hunters. We get much more satisfaction from buying something interesting from someone that just cleaned out their grandma’s attic. We’re lucky with the part of Europe we live in; grandma has a lot of great stuff!
Favorite Element: Our kitchen is by far our favorite place. We love to cook and the kids love to eat. It’s a place where the whole family hangs out, works, reads, does homework. (I’m currently writing sitting at the kitchen island). When we had originally designed the kitchen, we wanted a place that everyone would want to spend ample time together as a family and we feel we’ve achieved that.
Biggest Challenge: Being a UNESCO monument on the Amsterdam canals, all the houses were built on very wet soil and have been moving in every possible direction over the last 350 years. The city and builders go through great lengths to ensure the houses don’t fall over. What that means for us is absolutely nothing is straight. There are no 90-degree angles and the ceiling may be up to a full foot lower on one side of the house over the other. We find it charming and appreciate the character but it can be quite frustrating during a renovation. We overcame this problem by finding creative solutions with our contractors and just accepting that many things just aren’t going to be straight, and that just adds to the charm of this old house.
Proudest DIY: The bathroom as a whole has been a labor of love. It had not been looked at since 1982 so we decided to gut the whole room; we took out a shower and left only a bath. We built a secret compartment on the side of the bath to hide the in-floor heating divider. We converted a vintage teak sideboard into a bathroom vanity; stripping it down, re-staining it and installing the sinks and plumbing. We also made the terrazzo countertop that sits atop the sideboard. Finally, we handpicked all the marble in the terrazzo and with our hammer and chisel, knocked each piece to the desired size.
Biggest Indulgence: Our 18th-century entryway mercury mirror was our biggest indulgence. For this specific mirror, our list of demands for the mirror was quite long. The mirror had to be a very specific size to ensure it fits well in its place under the beams. The mirror had to be made of mercury glass, which means many 19th-century mirrors would not work as many manufacturers moved to silvered glass mid-19th century due to the health hazards of working with mercury. For a crest sitting on top, we wanted something specifically that was nature-oriented. After about two years of searching, we found the right size mercury glass mirror with baby artichokes growing on the vines within the crest. It’s the consummate piece to reflect our style and the home.
What’s your best home secret? We consider ourselves antique market experts. The amount of markets and quality of markets around Amsterdam is incredible. We very rarely visit the markets looking for something specific, and we try to keep an open mind to allow ourselves to fall in love with hidden treasures as we see them. We look for quality goods—the older the better—in beautiful colors and try to get the price as low as possible. If the item happens to be from a known designer or maker, all the better; but we primarily look for beautiful and unique things. When thinking about all the gems in our home, we feel we didn’t find them but they found us. If we love something, it fits our home, and we’re pretty sure we’re not going to find another one, it’s coming home with us!
PAINT & COLORS
- All Rooms — Blauwerk
- 18th Century Louis IV Mercury Mirror — Found in France from a French Antique Dealer
- 19th Century Parisian Mannequin — The Antique Company
- Mom Bag (hanging on the mannquin) — Studio Noos
- Vintage Brass Umbrella Stand — From Antique Dealer Gavezooi
- Sofa — Mid-Century German design, Teak frame with leather cushions
- Vintage Moroccan Berber Beni Ourain Rug — From June & Blue
- Bronze Abstract Sculpture — By Dutch Artist, Edith ten Kate
- Sidetable MidCentury Teak — Dutch Designer A.A. Patijn
- TV — Samsung Frame
- Vintage Sheep Foot Stool — Original design, first production by designer Hanns-Peter Krafft for Meier Germany
- Rosewood MidCentury Safari Chair — Sirocco by Arne Norell for Norell Furniture
- Lamp on Side table, Mid-Century Kashmiri Style India — Antique Dealer Anton Snepvangers
- Early 19th Century Mercury Mirror (On Floor) — Antique Dealer Renee Falkenhagen
- Wooden Balance Board — By Wobbel
- late 19th Century French Brass Bar Cart — Flea market find in France
- Vintage Wine Glasses on Bar Cart — Villaroy & Boch
- Red mid-century lamp — From Antique dealer Ari Hoekstra
- Mid-Century Brass Floor Lamp — From local flea market Ij Hallen
- Swedish Mid-Century Bamboo Plant Cart — Found at local flea market
- Mid-Century Nesting Tables — Designer G-Plan UK, from Antique Dealer Gavezooi
- Velvet Pillows on Sofa — MADE.COM
- 19th Century Marble Solitaire Game — Found at local flea market
- Brutalist Candle Holders — Local flea market find
- Late 18th Century Mercury Mirror (on fireplace) — From local flea market Ij Hallen
- Firewood Bin – Antique (early 20th) French Cheese Vat — Flea market find in France
- Kids Kitchen — Duktig Kitchen from IKEA
- Kids Kitchen Styling Pots, Meat Hook, Copper Backsplash and Toys — All Flea Market Finds
- Dining Table — Late 19th Century Pine and purchased from a 400 year old Dutch Monastery
- Dining Chairs — Dutch designer Ate van Apeldorn
- Ceiling Lamp — Cliff Suspension Light by Lambert & Fils
- Rug — LOHALS from IKEA
- Vintage Nagel Candle Holders in Rose Gold — From Stoff Nagel
- Complete Kitchen — Logic Kitchens via Kookhuis
- Lamps — Brass Alto Surface 10 from Cedar & Moss
- Vintage Moroccan Boujaad Runner — By June & Blue
- Kitchen Sink Tap — 24k Gold by Quooker
- Kitchen Handles/Hardware — From Lewis Dolin distributed by The Hardware Hut
- Zellige (Bejmat) Tiles in White — Imported from supplier in Morocco, thanks to June + Blue
- Bar Stools — Brutalist Marbella stools by Sergio Rodriques for Confonorm via Vivre Interieur
- Vintage School Chalk Board — Local flea market find
- Bed — GJORA bed from IKEA, Waxed with Briwax Brand ‘Antique Brown’
- Floor Rug, Vintage Moroccan Beni Mguild — By June + Blue
- Bed Rug, Vintage Moroccan Boujaad — By June + Blue
- Mid-Century Desk — From Dutch designer A.A. Patijn
- Mid-Century Vanity Table — From Dutch designer A.A. Patijn
- Rosewood Jewelry Hanger — Bali, Indonesia Antique carved hand
- Mirror on Floor (Mercury glass, early 19th century) — From Antique dealer Van Dijk en Co
- Vintage Brass Pharmacy Desk Lamp — By OMI purchased from Antique Dealer Anton Snepvangers
- Desk Clock — Vintage Copal Flip Clock
- Vintage Rosewood Bedside Lamp
- Brass Bedside Clip-on Lamp — Antique dealer Ari Hoekstra
- Terrazzo Bedside Table — DIY Project
- Bunk Bed — IKEA MYDAL
- Rug, Vintage Moroccan Beni Ourain —By June + Blue
- Kids Climbing Gym — By Janssen-Fritsen & De Rolf Groep
- Canopy of Small Bed — By Numero74
- Pillows on Bed — ZaraHome
- Mirrors — Alana Brass by MADE.COM
- Sink Taps — By Wayfair
- Sideboard/Vanity — Vintage Sideboard, DIY Converted into a bathroom vanity
- Wall Mounted Bath Taps & Shower — Luxe by LussoStone Luxe in Brushed Brass
- Towel Rack — French Antique Towel Rack – purchased from The Antique Company
- Vintage Orange Vase — From Noordemarkt Antique Market
Thanks Archer Family!