OVER THE RAINBOW

This family house in The Netherlands has been transformed with colour and pattern

This colourful house in the south of The Netherlands is home to Belle, Erik and their daughters Holly, eight; Lotus, six; Juniper, two; and Hazel, eight months. ‘Colour is my way of life,’ says Belle. Not only do you see this in the decor, but also in the family’s clothes. There is not a single colour that Belle doesn’t like. Whenever she sees something pretty, she doesn’t think about whether it will fit with the rest of her interior as she always makes it fit somewhere. She buys a lot of things in secondhand shops and often adapts the things she buys to her own taste. ‘Usually we carry the secondhand furniture to the third floor, where we have an attic. There, we give it a new, fresh colour or add a nice piece of wallpaper. I do not like new cupboards very much. I prefer an old cupboard that I can give a new life by painting it a new colour. I like it when there is a story to my furniture.’

Belle and her family feel at their best surrounded by bright colours. ‘I love colour and decorative patterns. They cheer up our house!’

Despite the colourful interior and the fact that there are a lot of things and people in a relatively small space, the house does not look messy. ‘To keep our home liveable, I tidy up very often. Fortunately, the eldest girls help me do it. When they come home from school, I do not have to ask them to hang their coats where they should be and to put their shoes in the cupboard; they have learned to do this. We have made the double hooks on our tree-shaped coat hanger ourselves, because we didn’t have enough hooks for all the coats of our large family.

‘I once tried to furnish my home in a “grown-up” style, but somehow it became a colourful picture again very quickly. It happens spontaneously! I love to tinker and create things myself. I love to do it when the children are in school and Hazel is having her afternoon sleep. I love this little time for myself, with a nice pot of tea and some candy.’

VINTAGE STYLE

Almost every wall in the family’s house is covered with wallpaper. Belle is not afraid to paste rows of different wallpapers next to each other. She especially likes vintage wallpaper and doesn’t only put it on the walls, but also on tables and the insides of cupboards. A layer of transparent lacquer protects the paper and keeps it shiny and new. Belle also preserves leftovers of old designs. They are always convenient to use as gift wrap or to cover a book. And it’s not just wallpaper that decorates the walls. ‘For years, I have collected old cups and saucers. At some point, they were just sitting in a cupboard, without anyone using them. I thought it would be nice to put the saucers up on the wall, according to the pattern in the dining room wallpaper. I like the way they are presented now,’ says Belle.

WE ARE FAMILY

When Hazel was born, Belle wanted to have a portrait of their family. The website Etsy.com led her to a Swedish artist who painted a colourful picture based on a photograph of the family. However, Erik didn’t always embrace colours: ‘Erik comes from the metal scene and used to wear only black clothes. It is a huge contrast to this sea of colours and our women’s household! I think the house would have looked very different if we had had four sons, but for now, Erik is as happy with the colours as I am.’

WHAT’S IN A NAME

Belle and Erik gave all their daughters special, botanical names. ‘This was not on purpose. We named our first-born Holly because we thought it was a beautiful and cheery name. When we found the name Lotus for our second child, we were thrilled because it was again the name of a plant. When I was pregnant a third time, we decided that we were going to search for another plant name and found Juniper. Our fourth daughter was named Hazel, also a botanical name.’ With so many children, online shopping is ideal for Belle, as it is not easy to go out and take time to look around. ‘I love a mixture of old, retro accessories, but I also keep a close watch on new designs. As long as the products have a colourful and cheerful appearance, they are good for me!’

You could say that the house could not be any fuller or more colourful, but it can! Each time Belle finds something she really likes and tells Erik, he knows what to expect. ‘When I buy something for our interior, I do not think about whether it will fit in with what is already there. Often it just does! Contrasting colours add spice to your home,’ says Belle.

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