Name: David Bulckaen and partner, Koen De Loos
Location: Antwerpen, Belgium
Type of home: House
Size: 2100 square feet
Years lived in: 8 years, owned
Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: After a search of seven years, my partner, Koen De Loos, and I bought this three-story house in the suburbs of the city of Antwerp in Belgium. We immediately fell in love with the open plan architecture of this ’60s house and the fact that the house still had a lot of authentic and original details. The house has typical modernist features and a quite unique internal organization.
The house has two open spiral staircases: one small spiral staircase going from the entrance hall on the ground floor leading to the first floor living area, and one bigger open spiral staircase in the back of the house, linking the basement, ground floor office, kitchen, and bedroom-floor. Therefore, the house has no traditional separate staircase, which creates a very interesting spatial sensation. A second interesting fact is that the house has few bearing internal walls and few internal doors. Only the bedrooms, toilet/bathroom, and garage have doors. All other spaces are linked with one another. Instead of walls, well- considered/placed cabinets/cupboards help define the different spaces with their own functions.
The house, the former private residence of architect Hubert Semal, was built in 1966. When we bought the house, Semal’s wife, Mieke, offered us also some of his plaster sculptures, which we placed all around in the house as a reminder of the former habitants. When our house has been built, Albert Poels, Mieke’s father, made a bas-relief depicting “the seven free arts” (grammatica, dialectica/logica, retorica, arimetica, geometria, musica, and astronomia), which has been integrated in the façade of the house, next to the front door. The fireplace and bar cabinet on the first floor also have been ornamented with brass drawings made by Albert Poels.
We wanted to adapt the house to the needs and comfort requirements of the year ’21 but without losing its authentic and original touch and feel. As an architect, I always try to find the right balance between aesthetics, functionality, context, and specific requirements. That’s what I did in my own house.
The color and pattern of the wooden steps of the spiral staircases have been used as a reference for the new additional wood-veneer cabinet-finish. The wall-to-wall carpets have been replaced by a new sandy colored carpet. The choice of the marble countertop in the kitchen has been inspired by the existing green accents in the house. All newly added lighting is made of brass, perfectly matching with the open staircase handrail/existing sideboard and fireplace details. The newly added materials perfectly match with the existing materials, adding a contemporary touch.
What is your favorite room and why? The library is my favorite room: a perfect cozy and peaceful hideaway…
What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? A letter box by Michaël Verheyden.
Any advice for creating a home you love? Take your time!
This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.