A Dutch home filled with bold colours and eclectic antiques
The Dutch home of Sandra Könings-Blokdijk reflects the trend forecaster’s love of old pieces and bright, bold hues. Photographs Barbara Groen / Features & More. Styling Joyce Van Den Heuvel / Features & More
When Sandra Könings-Blokdijk was a child she was known for her mismatched socks. Why would she commit to one colour and pattern when she could choose two? While her schoolmates were made to stick to a pair, Sandra’s mother encouraged her to be creative and experiment with colour – and the socks were just one quirky embodiment of this. ‘My parents also gave me free rein with decorating my bedroom. This once resulted in the discovery that dark brown makes a room appear very small,’ she says. ‘I’ve never had a brown wall since.’
Her love of colour – and interiors – she believes, stems from growing up in homes filled with brightly hued stuffed birds and vibrant paintings. ‘My parents lived in Indonesia when they were children and being surrounded by colour was the norm in that country. I remember being fascinated by a particular painting that hung above our sofa – I marvelled over the artist’s use of colour,’ she says.
Fast forward to Sandra’s current home, a former farmhouse in a leafy Dutch village, and colour now plays a starring role. The living room curtains are yellow, the sofa bottle green (chosen before the hue became fashionable) and the vintage decorative bottles bright apple green. ‘I was never a fan of the taupe trend,’ she laughs. ‘That’s too boring. I need energy – I like to be stimulated by colour. If I crave a peaceful environment, then I’ll go into the garden and surround myself with nature.’
Sandra works as a brand creator for businesses in the food, interiors, fashion and horticulture sectors. It’s a role that isn’t easy to define but, in brief, she develops the creative vision for her clients. Interiors are a big part of her world. And, as fashions change, so do the colour palettes of her home. A new scheme can be sparked by something as small as a couple of artworks. ‘I recently bought two paintings at a design fair that feature black, red, blue and yellow. The combination of colours inspired me so much that I re-covered the sofa in a red fabric and painted one wall blue.’
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Although Sandra’s job means that she’s always looking to the future, she admits that, when it comes to her home, she loves old more than new. She’s always been one for rooting around flea markets. It’s a habit that was born from necessity when she and her husband Dick were starting out and ‘didn’t have a dime’. Now, her decorating ethos is all about balancing the heavy, Victorian antiques that they inherited with the house (such as the chandelier in the living room) with her collection of flea market finds (her green glassware and pastel crockery are favourites) and design classics.
‘When we moved here, the house was starting to look like a museum with all the Victorian furniture. We love having an eclectic mix and the balance was all off – so we invested in contemporary and mid-century pieces, such as the chairs in the living room.’
Sandra and Dick had admired the former farmhouse for years before it came onto the market and bought it even though, when it finally became available, it was ‘ready for demolition’. Luckily, Dick is an architectural restorer, so was well-placed for the epic project, which involved working on everything, from foundations to roof. The couple also added the striking conservatory, which quickly became Sandra’s favourite space in the house.
‘It’s always summer in here, even when it’s cold outside,’ she says. ‘Having a glass room brings so much light to your life.’ Sandra can often be found working in the conservatory, surrounded by her pastel-hued mid-century crockery or part of her 500-strong collection of vintage scarves. ‘I often delve into my vintage collections to illustrate certain colour combinations and shapes,’ she says. ‘Understanding the future means embracing the past and seeing where trends came from. It’s fascinating how much inspiration can be taken from these old pieces and translated into something fresh.’
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