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Restored 1960s bungalow with a mindful interior

Colours and scents of the forest and heathland lend this home a relaxing atmosphere

veluwe 1960s house by nicemakers
Alan Jensen

We often leave the Amsterdam office on Thursday evening and, after a one-hour drive, we spot our bungalow in the middle of the Veluwe forest and instantly relax,’ says Dax Roll, one half of the creative couple behind interior design firm Nicemakers. Since founding their studio eight years ago, he and Joyce Urbanus have been incredibly busy, so it’s no surprise they both found themselves dreaming of an escape from the capital.

When it came to what they wanted from their new home, the pair were on the exact same page: somewhere immersed in nature, where they could slow down. So clear was their vision that they both stumbled upon the ideal property separately.

veluwe 1960s house by nicemakers
Alan Jensen

‘Dax was away for work when I came across the house,’ explains Joyce, ‘but as it turned out, he had also spotted it while on his trip. It was perfect – located on a sandy path, in the middle of a large forest, with the special surprise of a heather garden. The way the sunlight fell through the trees, the bird calls and the scents, it was enchanting.’

Dating back to the 1960s, the bungalow was in almost completely original condition when Dax and Joyce first moved in. The atmosphere was ideal, but the layout required tweaking. To create a more natural flow, the couple enlisted the help of family and friends and, in one eventful weekend, demolished the central, glass-walled hallway that once divided the living room from four small bedrooms. Now, the place is airy and open-plan, with framed views appearing like living artworks at every turn.

garden room in veluwe 1960s house by nicemakers
Alan Jensen

‘Everything is connected, but each space still retains its individuality,’ says Joyce, who explains that, apart from a sofa and bed, nothing in the house was bought new. ‘There is still so much to be found in the world that is beautiful,’ she explains. ‘Our choices were never guided by the fact that pieces should fit into a certain era, but we were inspired more by the 1960s way of thinking about design – simplicity, functionality and clean lines.’

An enviable collection of vintage finds, picked up on trips across the Netherlands and Belgium, had been ready in storage at Nicemakers’ Amsterdam office, just waiting for the pair to buy this property. Along with a few items left behind by the previous owners, the furniture, lighting and accessories underline the authenticity of this home.

veluwe 1960s restoration by nicemakers
Alan Jensen

‘Recently,’ adds Joyce, ‘I was listening to the lyrics of Every Age by José González – “Take this seed, take this spade, Take this dream of a better day, Take your time, build a home, Build a place where we can all belong”– and thought how the song perfectly articulated what this house means to me. It has given us a place to rest.’ nicemakers.com

This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration September 2020

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