It’s all about colour and contrast in this minimal Belgian home

Interior designer Joris Van Apers demonstrates how the contrast of light and dark can add character to compact spaces

modern living room brussels home
Photography Michael Paul/Living Inside

Received wisdom warns us against dark colours in small spaces. But, when one Ardennes-living Belgian couple tasked Flemish interior designer and craftsman Joris Van Apers with transforming this 90-square- metre flat at the top of a 1950s apartment block in Brussels into a serene, one-bedroom pied- à-terre, he threw that myth out of the window. After calling on what he calls ‘the old trick’ of knocking down dividing walls to make an open- plan space, he painted the living area, bathroom, main bedroom and a guest room a luminous off-white, produced using six layers of chalky limewash.

modern dining room brussels home
Photography Michael Paul/Living Inside

But the central hallway? Darkest matt green, almost black. It’s a dusky foil to the rooms that lead off from it on all sides.‘The use of an intense colour emphasises the spaciousness and levity of the rooms directly next to it,’ Joris says. ‘It’s all about creating contrast.’ Continuity is maintained by the upcycled pine floorboards that run throughout. Joris’ interior design studio grew out of his parents’ reclaimed materials company, so the fittings and a lot of the furniture were handmade in his specialist salvage workshops. ‘We like to make,’ says Joris.

‘An intense colour emphasises the spaciousness and levity of the rooms directly next to it’

minimalist home brussels
Photography Michael Paul/Living Inside

And there are many charming one-off additions in this home, from the bespoke-built, green marble-topped cupboard that invisibly houses a new radiator to the re-worked French beams that have been transformed into kitchen units, topped with black slate. It’s very clear from the attention to detail in this apartment that Joris enjoys working on small homes. ‘I think that the idea of “the bigger the better” is just a bit too American for me,’ he says.

For the full house tour see ELLE Decoration March 2018

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