Paul Vanrunxt Drafts His Dream Dwelling
Having spent the past 30 years conceiving and building residences for others across Europe, Belgian designer Paul Vanrunxt finally got the chance to create a dream home for his own family. Although the property he and his wife, Kim, homed in on, located halfway between Antwerp and Brussels in Mechelen, was a bit charmless, the designer immediately saw its potential. “The house at first glance looked nothing special—gray facade, dark rooms, aluminum windows—but it was 46 feet wide and had a courtyard garden, both rarities in the city,” Vanrunxt recalls.
He completely overhauled the 5,000-square-foot, three-story structure, parts of which were built in the 1960’s, with the aim to create openness, raising ceilings on the ground level and instating “vertical and horizontal see-through axes” to forge a strong connection between the interiors and the garden. Throughout, a limited palette of colors and materials imparts airiness, such as white lime–finished walls and reclaimed pitch-pine floorboards; the 15-inch-wide planks were once used as platforms for drying Dutch fromage. “In many spots you can still see the outline of the cheese wheels,” Vanrunxt says. “We maintained the patina by chemically cleaning the planks’ surfaces with soap instead of sanding them down.”
As for furnishings, pieces by the designer’s studio, such as the solid-oak coffee table and the poplar dining surface, intermingle with family heirlooms and works by the likes of Radboud van Beeckum and Faye Toogood. “We love a lived-in atmosphere,” Vanrunxt says, adding that he favors mixing chairs and stools of different styles.
While most of the artworks in the living spaces are by Vanrunxt himself, the airy top floor houses an appointment-only gallery in which he hosts shows by abstract artists. “It doesn’t have a separate entrance but is accessible from the house,” Vanrunxt clarifies. Perhaps the residence’s biggest achievement is the balance struck between family, work, and creative life.
Inside the Home of Belgian Designer Paul Vanrunxt
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