For many of us, having a regular escape from the hustle of the city is wishful thinking, but for Derek Van Heurck, artistic director of Belgian fashion house Bellerose, that dream is now a reality.
‘I live in Antwerp, work in Brussels and spend weekends at the seaside – it’s the best of all worlds,’ he says, neatly summing up his enviable arrangement, which happened serendipitously when his father decided on a change of scene.
‘He was living 10km away in the Belgian town of Knokke but wanted to be in the country, completely surrounded by nature and with no neighbours, so six years ago he bought an old farm.’ As well as the main property, the hectare of land in the Dutch province of Zeeland came with a barn and a second, smaller house, which is now Derek’s retreat.
The original red-brick façade and two-bedroom layout remains largely the same, but Rotterdam-based architect Maartje Lammers was tasked with making one crucial change: adding a ground-floor extension on one side of the building. This would become an open-plan kitchen-diner with folding glass doors that lead out onto the garden.
‘We wanted it to feel almost like an outside terrace,’ says Derek of the space, which took two years to complete and has been kitted out with bespoke, industrial-style steel units. ‘The island has been designed in a modern, geometric shape to provide a nice contrast with the old house,’ he adds.
The effect of using such strong, solid materials throughout – lacquered mahogany ceilings, terrazzo and wenge flooring – is uncompromisingly masculine, yet the interior also takes its cues from the leafy surroundings.
‘I like natural colours, so we used a green cement mix on the walls and a lot of wood to reflect the outdoors,’ he explains. The other element that lends character is the cherry-picked collection of vintage furniture, including the Hans J Wegner ‘Heart’ dining table and chairs, and the Jean Prouvé desk in the study nook.
Many items were sourced from Morentz, a specialist mid-century dealer and gallery in Waalwijk. Derek has also introduced a large selection of second-hand lighting, including the quirky 1970s ‘Palm Tree’ lights by Maison Jansen. ‘It’s important to have lots of lamps but only a little light, especially in the living room, so it feels cosy at night,’ he continues.
While Derek hunkers down in the evenings, during the day he’s outside, making the most of his surroundings. ‘Cycling, playing golf and kite surfing are the three things I do when I’m here,’ he says. ‘I have lots of friends in the area, so I often cycle to visit them or head to the beach for a barbecue and beers with my dad and older brother. It’s important to spend time with family.’ Which, of course, is just one of the many upsides to having such an idyllic, back-to-nature weekend bolthole. bellerose.be; maartjelammers.wixsite.com/earthbound
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