It is always a great pleasure to discover hidden gems, be it on the web, in a new decorating book or an old magazine. I make it a point to buy vintage design magazines whenever I find them and I was lucky to discover a stack at a garage sale in our neighborhood one weekend.? In it, and earmarked no less, was a gorgeous Belgian country home that I’ve only seen images of the exterior before. The outside is gorgeous but it looks even more delightful on the inside.? Maybe many of you have seen it and remember it. It’s the country home (and by that, I mean castle) of Belgian fashion designer édouard Vermeulen. It is so beautiful that I needed to find out more. Vermeulen’s fashion label, Natan, dresses the royal families of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg and he has been recently? awarded the title of baron by Belgian king Philippe.?The images below are from Homes and Gardens, UK 2005.
“My collection translates itself well with neutral colors, rich materials and fabrics. In fact, these are the same starting points for my home,?Villa Rozenhout, in St. Katelijne Waver, a 18th century gentilhommière located to the north of Brussels.”
“Villa Rozenhout was designed and decorated by myself. For the interior design, I was inspired by the authentic style of this house. That’s why I used such natural and subtle colours, they have the natural patina of old paint. That was it, I hardly changed anything in the last 20 years.”?Judging by the interiors, it’s no surprise Vermeulen originally wanted a career in interior design. I think he would have met with equal success!?
“Vermeulen bought this property—located in St Katelijne Waver, a little town in the picturesque Flemish countryside that is some 35 km to the north of Brussels—in the early ‘90s. The former hunting lodge came with a ‘60s-style interior and all the flooring and panelling were removed, so Vermeulen can start anew. The original house dates from 1790 and belonged to the mayor of Mechelen, according to an old floor tile next to the entrance. Many years later the house had a new extension added to the left of the building that destroyed the symmetry of the facade. Vermeulen “repaired” the look by covering it with green ivy. “
“The whole estate now has five different annexes, along with an orangerie, a place for the housekeeper, and an outdoor terrace for entertaining, complete with an outside kitchen.?Villa Rozenhout can definitely be categorised as an estate. In general,?St Katelijne Waver profited from the property trends in 17th century Brussels, when many members of the nobility bought estates to build mansions and country houses in a quest for the tranquillity of Flemish country life.?“
“Just like them, I love the romantic 18th century country style—a country house with open doors and a magnificent view, where you can step right into the garden. The advantage of this house is the corridor that connects the various rooms. It is just situated along the back of the house. One calls that architectural element an enfilade. In this way, you have a close connection with the life outside, while walking from room to room,” says Vermeulen.
“You see that often with French castles, where you can look right into the back of the garden without any disturbance. I paid much attention to the cosy atmosphere of the living room as well, the panelling was a big job. I love old and weathered patinas and by ‘aging’ Villa Rozenhout, I think I have, in fact, renewed the atmosphere of the house. From that creative process I also get a lot of inspiration for my fashion collections.”
Although the scale and level of elegance of this estate are not something many of us would call cozy, country living, the home ?abounds with simplicity in details and materials used. The elements can be borrowed to any home, any size and shape. Wicker is always chic, so are linen slipcovers and antiques, using reclaimed materials, mixing different periods.?I think this home champions cherishing the old, while giving it a fresh new look and that’s my favorite kind of home. Be it cottage or castle.
Images and excerpts from Homes & Gardens UK and The Hong Kong Tatler.
Have a lovely summer day!