Mad About . . .

10 Beautiful Rooms

18th June 2018

This week I was sent a press release about a new Bed & Breakfast in Belgium and the pictures were so pretty I wanted to share them with you for 10 Beautiful Rooms. And then I noticed they were from Vipp, the bin people. At least they started out with pedal bins in 1939, but have grown to make some of the most gorgeous accessories for the home. And some of the most covetable kitchens I have ever laid eyes on.

These first three pictures are from a new B&B which has just opened in Belgium, in West Flanders, near the Dutch border. The Bunkers is a former army fort that has been turned into a family home and place to stay by a firm of local architects, Govaert & Vanhoutte.

The bunker, which was built in concrete on the eve of WWI, has been converted into a five bedroom residence with the addition of a wooden extension and metal-framed windows.

It’s close to the Dutch border and separated from it by a vast nature reserve. It is also known for beautiful beaches and shoreline according to the press release. There were originally four buildings, including the barn, which is now the B&B. Underneath that is pool and spa, which is connected to the main house via a tunnel so you don’t have to brave the cold weather should you be there in winter. I already quite fancy going and I can’t say Flanders was on my bucket list if I’m honest.

The kitchen is black powder-coated steel by Vipp which seems to have become their trademark look. Their kitchens are expensive but, as they say, are for life. There are four basic modules to start with and you customise as you go along. And there is even a Vipp Hotel where you can spend the night and take it for a cooking test drive as it were.

The next images are taken from the Vipp site and show some of their other kitchens and the buildings they are in. Above is a gorgeous house in Nantes, in France. So yes, there is a strategically placed bin in the picture but look at the depth of colour in that bathroom. The walls, the skirtings, the ceiling and even the bath have been painted in it (try Vardo by Farrow & Ball for something similar).

And imagine how it would look if the trims – skirtings, architraves, ceiling and bath were all in the more conventional white. My opinion is that it would look less modern and the blue would have much less of an impact. I imagine some of you who are clever could photoshop the details for comparision. Perhaps that’s something I should learn to do so we can all see…

This is the kitchen of the same house and although the floor is concrete and the units are black again, the rough and ready concrete contrasts with the sleek finish of the kitchen. And that little rack of vintage wooden boards just warms it all up perfectly. The green trees through the window also helps. You do have to think about the context of the room you are decorating and if your view was more urban then you might need to consider more indoor plants or herbs to soften this look.

Which is what the owners of this Tel Aviv loft space have done with their black kitchen. Don’t you love all those rows and rows of storage? Plants have been added to the island and there are some visible outside too which helps warm all that black and concrete – which won’t be to everyone’s taste I imagine, but it’s instructive to see essentially the same kitchen in two very different environments.

This is the bathroom in the same apartment. I’m sure you’ve seen alcoves behind mirrors that open to reveal cupboards but this has been done the other way around – a mirror that opens to become shelves with another mirror behind that so you don’t have to keep swinging the door open and shut to get the thing you need and then dodging back to see in the mirror. It’s a clever little design detail that makes the whole thing more efficient and better to use.

It’s no wonder that the Danes deeply believe that good design makes you happy. And that is a subject I shall be returning to tomorrow  – so do drop in again.

This is a bedroom in a former pencil factory flat, which also has a fabulous black Vipp kitchen, but I wanted to show you this bedroom. We might not all have this much width to fill but the giant headboard incorporating shelves and lights and filling the whole wall makes for a seamless and clutter-free look – another issue that we will be looking at tomorrow.

And finally back to the house in Nantes. Soft green, wooden panelling and comfortable furniture. This is a room to relax in. And ultimately, whatever your style isn’t that what we all want? A place where we can feel comfortable away from the stresses of the outside world?

Of course it’s much easier when your house has good bones like these ones do – plasterwork and high ceilings are always easier to decorate than modern boxes but it can be done. You just have to work a bit harder with the latter. And in the meantime we can take a virtual stroll through these 10 beautiful rooms and see if there are any ideas which would work in our own spaces.

Have a happy Monday everyone and I’ll see you tomorrow.

These images all came from Vipp – in addition to kitchens and products, the company came up with the idea of the Vipp Hotel – not a conventional hotel but a series of rooms in different places so you can stay there and experience the products. This post wasn’t sponsored but they sent me the press release about The Bunker and allowed me to use their beautiful photographs so it seems only fair to tell you about them in return.

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  • Anna 23rd June 2018 at 2:11 pm

    Have made a note of the Belgium hotel because we like to stay in places that are different and stylish. Recently we stayed at a converted Barracks in Leiden. In the centre of everything plus a car park nearby. A “Hip Hotel” !

    In our experience, we have felt that the Architect/Designer rarely sleeps the night in these places. There are flaws that a “helpful guest” could easily point out. At Oudemorsch ground floor rooms had slamming doors, glass partitioned bathrooms had showers that roared as they operated, so that who ever was left in bed could not sleep on. Good design is to be admired and enjoyed but often the practicalities are overlooked.

  • Glyn Latham 18th June 2018 at 4:33 pm

    Hi Kate speaking of people who live in box type houses or just modern properties. It would be nice to have some inspirational pics to light the touch paper of the imagination of the owners of such homes. Can you help?

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 19th June 2018 at 9:41 am

      I have just designed a show flat on the 15th floor of a new block of flats in Wembley. I will be writing about it as soon as the photographs are ready. It has a long hall with lots of doors, low ceilings and square rooms. Hopefully it will give some ideas.

  • Elizabeth 18th June 2018 at 3:38 pm

    I love the black kitchen cabinets and the concrete floor. Good architecture doesn’t need loads of embellishment so it’s nice to see a ceiling which hasn’t been vandalised with dozens of downlighters.

  • Jane Dale 18th June 2018 at 9:40 am

    LOVE the colour on the wall in the second to last image….annnd that wonderful, genius, mirror cupboard!

  • sue luckin 18th June 2018 at 8:44 am

    Great post Kate, always such a pleasure, and so many inspiring ideas hitting me full-on this Monday morning.
    Can you tell me please who supplies the wonderful mirror/cupboard…… I have been looking for this all my life!

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