The study features a custom desk and, through a window at the base of the bookcase, a view of the living room a half-flight below.
The study features a custom desk and, through a window at the base of the bookcase, a view of the living room a half-flight below.

i29 Reinvents a Historic Canal House in Amsterdam

The archetypal Amsterdam canal house constitutes much of the Dutch city’s residential landscape. Dating to the 17th century, these four- or five-story waterfront row houses were conceived as hybrids: part living space, part warehouse storage for goods transported along the canals. They were built sturdily of wood and masonry construction with heavy beams, i29 co-founder Joeren Dellensen explains, “which is why they still exist.”

Albeit not always in the greatest shape. Take this compact 1675 house near Amstelveld square. Though designated a state monument, it had fallen into ruin before new owners initiated a meticulous two-year restoration and update. “From the start we knew i29 had to be involved in the project, to instill their out-of-the-box, serene, and perfect design,” notes the client, who first hired the firm nine years ago to craft an “invisible kitchen” for the family’s Paris apartment that was entirely concealed behind sliding wall panels imitative of decorative molding.

Here, architectural interventions were strictly limited by mandates protecting heritage houses. “We were not allowed to demolish any walls,” co-founder Jasper Jansen says, noting that the project was a collaborative effort among firm members. “And we couldn’t build any, either, even though very few existed in the space.”

Instead, color performs the role of spatial demarcation. “We used color as a tool to expose the architectural shell to the fullest and to make interventions that define functions,” Dellensen notes, adding that the classic hues chosen “are in sync with the monumental quality of the building.” Complementary blues, greens, and grays are muted and somewhat smoky, contrasting with swaths of crisp white.

Related Post: i29 & Chris Collaris Evoke High Contrast for a Summer Residence in Vinkeveen, the Netherlands

a custom desk in green matches the walls in an Amsterdam home
The study features a custom desk and, through a window at the base of the bookcase, a view of the living room a half-flight below.

The 1,240-square-foot interior of the Amsterdam canal house, adjoining a rear garden, offers long sight lines and elements of delightful surprise. A steep, curving stairway, every bit original, connects the three full floors plus three intermediating half levels. The entry opens into a cozy seating alcove with wide steps down to the ground floor, which had to be lowered for foundation repairs. Occupying the majority of this level is the eat-in kitchen, where custom oak millwork is coupled with chairs by Naoto Fukasawa and lighting pendants by Ludovica and Roberto Palumbo. At the far end of the space, a green glass volume marks entry to a pass-through bathroom leading to a hidden bedroom with garden access.

Fittingly, the living room on floor two retains its characteristic plaster walls and bas-relief ceiling ornamentation, painted creamy white, and restored pine flooring. Behind the rotating bookshelf lies a surprise: a moody blue cocoon in which to read or relax. On the opposite side of the room is another surprise: Interior windows provide a split-level view of the entry seating nook below and the study a half-flight above, where a swath of springlike green frames the built-in desk.

Up on the third floor, “sleeping quarters radiate comfort like a true hotel experience,” Dellensen remarks. Exposed beams trace the peaked ceiling in the main bedroom. Two-way mirrored panels enclose the WC/shower stall, offering sight lines out (into the wet area’s Japanese-inspired soaking tub and beyond) but not in. Up a ladder, an additional mini level is squeezed in below the roof’s bell gable to function as the daughter’s bedroom. So enamored are the homeowners by their pied-à-terre’s charm that they are spending even more time there than they envisioned.

Related Post: i29 Updates Classical Interiors of Landmarked Enlightenment Building in Amsterdam

a white winding staircase in a historic Amsterdam home
The steep original staircase connects all three main levels of the 1675-built row house, plus three interstitial half-levels.
a split level view of an Amsterdam home's study and living room
The living room has a split-level view of the entry seating alcove below and the study above through interior windows.
a blue walled reading nook with a bed
Like a wagon-lit, the hidden reading nook off the living room is just big enough for a bed.
a reading nook in an Amsterdam home with sofa and fireplace
The nook is accessed via the living room’s rotating shelving; the marble fireplace and plasterwork were restored.
concrete floors in a kitchen with a countertop that extends to create a long dining table
The concrete-floored kitchen has a custom oak counter that extends beyond the base cabinets to form a dining table; the wall separating the space from the entry is gray-stained oak.
a pane of green-tinted glass separates a guest suite from a kitchen in this Amsterdam canal house
Green-tinted glass signals the garden-side guest suite at the far end of the kitchen.
a shower stall with views of the outdoors
The main suite’s shower stall is constructed of two-way mirror offering views out but not in.
an a-frame bedroom with white bedding and soft pendants
The main bedroom has custom cabinetry and, like the rest of the Amsterdam canal house, Gregg pendants by Ludovica and Roberto Palomba.
a bathroom with a Japanese-inspired tub and vanity
The main bathroom’s Japanese-inspired tub and vanity were custom made in Germany; the WC/shower stall is hidden behind the mirrored panel on the right.
Sigma: paintwork (stairwell)
kvadrat: acoustic wall fabric (living room)
Aleksandra Gaca: pillow fabric (reading room, living room)
norR11: lounge chair, ottoman (living room)
maruni: chairs (kitchen)
concraft: concrete flooring
quooker: sink fittings
blumenberg: custom tub, custom sink (bathroom)
glas xl: two-way mirror
water revolution: taps
Foscarini: pendant lights
schneinder interieurbouw: custom furniture and woodwork
seasons parket: oak flooring
G.K. Visbeen & Co: general contractor
kodde: restoration architect

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