Monochrome Magic in Holland

On the recent blogtour trip to New York, I met Dutch blogger Desiree, of Vosges Paris and she has kindly allowed us to have a nose around her fabulous home in Amsterdam, which like Desiree herself, is dressed almost entirely in black and white. As fellow lover of monochrome, I am delighted to welcome her to Mad About The House.

Desiree's black and white kitchen
Desiree’s black and white kitchen

I began by asking Desiree which came first – the black and white clothes or the black and white house?  She said the clothes: “I have nearly have no colours in my wardrobe but in summer I do like to wear nice worn-out light or white jeans and some blue next to the black and white But I was wearing black long before changing the colours of my home.”

the studio/workspare at Desiree’s flat

A long time fan of monochrome, Desiree used to combine it with a few colours but these were gradually edited out. “I also used to paint a wainscott in my hallway for years. It has had all kind of colours from yellow to purple. The hall slowly changed from a coloured board to a blackboard door and then a stripe of black with black and white pictures on it and a dark grey wall in my living room. When I renovated my kitchen about a year and a half ago, I painted the rest of the home totally white.”

Desiree’s home is now entirely black and white

Despite the rather severe colour palette, Desiree says she finds the lack of colour relaxing.

“I am not afraid of colour at all and in my day job [at a parent child centre]  I am surrounded with more colour then you could imagine. But I think that having not too much colour in your home is just really relaxing… everything kinda flows into each other.”

Desiree finds beauty in shapes rather than in colours

“I can get really happy by the shape of things. Wheres someone likes a coloured tray with funny cups on it. I prefer seeing a wooden table with beautiful shaped white cups or a white plate with a few pieces of beautiful; looking bread. Color kind of distracts me from seeing things the way I like them.”

even the accessories of Desiree’s home are black and white

Instead, she uses magazine cuttings to add interest and arranges picture frames against the walls.

a black and white picture fixed with black tape in the hall

But despite her black and white palette (with no discernable hint of colour), Desiree insists that she would have colour if she felt like it.

“Living with B&W is not a religion for me; I once bought a yellow velvet cushion, but I just get very easy bored with it. I prefer to work with images or clippings from magazines and make a colored spot with those instead of buying things. I am not a big spender and maybe really picky on what I bring into my home.

layers of black and white and wood add interest

When she bought the apartment it had three bedrooms and a small kitchen. One of the smaller bedrooms has now been knocked through into the kitchen to create one large room.

“I slowly changed my home into what it is now. After a trip to Paris I started with my bedroom. I sorted out all my clothes and throw out lots of little knick knacks.

“I started with an empty canvas, a concrete wall and I painted all the other walls white. I only added a locker and designed a hanging clothes rack that I got made by a blacksmith.

the hanging clothes rail was specially made to Desiree’s specifications

“I loved the empty base and then slowly went on with the rest of my home Every room in my home has white walls and one bare concrete wall (the original walls) This project took some time as I did everything myself and ended with the big kitchen.”

a detail from Desiree’s studio wall 

Finally does she have any tips for any readers who feel inspired to live the monochrome way?

“I think the most important thing is to start from zero, a blank canvas and then only add things back in that you really love or which have a function. The less is more principle. If you have some small things that you love, put them together in a group and do not spread them around your home too much.

“Also when you shop, if you do not have an idea where to place that new accessory or what to do with it, why buy it? Many little things clutter up your home.”

Visit Desiree’s lovely blog VosgesParis and see more of her ideas. All the photographs were taken by Desiree and should only be reproduced with her permission and full credit.




Tags : black and whiteconcretegreymonochromepaint
Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.