A Renovated Farmhouse Goes From Dark and Boxy to Calm and Comfortable
Inside the rough and rustic exterior of this renovated Belgian farmhouse is a perfectly styled and clean-lined home, ideal for today’s relaxed lifestyle. Light, bright and welcoming, the charming old structure was rescued from its dark and claustrophobic origins and transformed into the perfect antidote for the frenetic pace of life.
Ghent-based JUMA Architects created a home that perfectly balances the old bones and strong brick exterior with the new, airy interior that homeowners desperately want. The old-fashioned but boxy interior was opened up and given a more free and easy flow that honors the building’s history but provides modern features and comforts. The new design is focused on a huge window at the rear of the home, offering a view of the beautiful garden and bringing in plentiful natural light.
The window actually has sliding doors and it starts in the kitchen space extending through to the living room. In good weather, this allows the main living area to be open to the outdoors for entertaining or just for more enjoyment of the garden space. Architectural framing around the new windows is done in a sleek black metal, distinguishing them from the older, original window frames that are mainly on the front of the farmhouse.
The living room is the grand center of the home, with its huge window and extra-large fireplace. The impressive fireplace was part of the original structure and a key element in the redesign of the space. Not only is the size grand, but the log storage on both sides of the fire are certainly practical but also visually interesting. The existing old, heavy beams were sandblasted, making them a contrasting accent to the white-painted wooden ceiling. This also makes the beams stand out even more. The dark polished concrete floor was installed with underfloor heating and the color also works nicely with the white ceiling. The space is a great example of how clean-lined, purposeful design and deftly used subtle colors transform a home into a tranquil retreat and at the same time and make the huge fireplace the focal point.
The neutral palette keeps the feeling light and bright while the main interest comes from the architectural elements and the various textures used. From cushions in different textiles to the hide rug and unusual accent stool, the room has plenty of variety.
At the other end, the room is anchored by a black wall unit that provides shelving for storage and display space for accessories and favorite souvenirs. The entire thing nicely frames the doorway to the next room, integrating it as part of the shelving construction.
The large open-space kitchen was carved out by eliminating the existing mezzanine and the access to the wine cellar, which opened up a great deal of space. The kitchen is built around a beautiful stone-clad island that houses the sink, cabinets and countertop workspace. The same stone is also used for the shelf above the range, and indirect track lighting illuminates the area. All the appliances are finished with stainless steel for easy cleaning and maintenance and a look that befits the farmhouse vibe. To create warmth, the designers opted. to finish the cabinets in oak veneer to add a wood element to the space.
Once again, focusing on a neutral palette and an uncluttered design, the kitchen area is calming and still super functional. The tall side of the island blocks any view of dishes and necessary kitchen stuffs when viewed from the dining area. Here too, the addition of natural wood cabinetry and leather on the seating helps warm up what might otherwise be a space with all hard surfaces.
The masterful use of lighting in this kitchen design not only created functional lighting while preserving the look of the wooden ceiling, but it also adds ambient illumination. The lighting that comes from behind the stone shelf is a perfect background light and highlights the kitchen counter space nicely.
While the old-school wooden ceiling with its numerous beams is very charming, in practice it limits the types of light fixture that can be included. Over the kitchen island, the architects installed a slim, modern suspended track light that provides plenty of light on the countertop. Over the dining table, the homeowners wanted a fixture that could be adapted for a larger party or for dining at the table. JUMA chose a set of three pendants that can either be hung together as a unified arrangement or can be separated to light up a larger area for a party. For general lighting, the kitchen area uses discreet directional spotlights.
The view from the kitchen to the small workspace offers a view of the desk, where it is easy for a family member to hide away and get some reading or work accomplished.
In what used to be the original small kitchen, JUMA created a small workspace with a desk, which the family also uses as an informal second entrance. there was also enough space in the former kitchen to make a cool storeroom.
Smart and stylish storage is included next to the dining room along the fully renovated staircase, which helps hide necessities and minimize clutter. The tiered wall that runs along the staircase is where the closet space is hidden. The height of the ingenious design follows the flow of the stairs and goes higher every three steps. The stepped height helps keep the space feeling as open as possible and allows natural light into the stairwell area, which would not be the case of the wall were to extend the ceiling. This lovely design also has a practical reason: Having a more open staircase allows the homeowners to more easily move big pieces of furniture upstairs.
What a transformation! JUMA has created the perfect blend of historical elements and modern style in this Belgian farmhouse renovation.