James van der Velden enjoys the look of surprise he sees on his guests' faces when he opens his garage door. The architect from Bricks was searching for an extraordinary home, when he came across the abandoned commercial building from the 1950s. From the Amsterdam street, you see only an unassuming rolling shutter door and small parking space, but click through to venture inside the timeless modern retrofit to see its surprising sustainable features.
In 2012, Van der Velden bought the building for around $600,000 with clear ideas about how to turn the 1450-square-foot building into the perfect home. A year later, with the $200,000 renovation complete, he was able to park himself in the comfortable bachelor pad.
Directly through the double doors, a stylish black-and-white kitchen greets you, the centrepiece of which is a self-designed table positioned beneath two huge industrial lights, harking back to the building’s working past. One step beyond, the double-height living room features a glass atrium that brings natural light into the space. A central courtyard garden brings nature close to the living quarters and makes use of rainwater harvested from the roof to water plants.
The garden links inside and outside separate the living space from the sleeping quarters. In the master bedroom, a suspended vintage motorcycle gives the room a “wow” factor. Overall, the stunning array of second-hand furniture and collector’s items lead to a relaxed, bohemian feel. Standing out above the eating space is a beautiful old station clock, passed down to Van der Velden by his father. The designer scoured Parisian flea markets and online auctions to furnish in unique style “I wanted a place where I could showcase my collections. Like a museum, but where people aren’t afraid to touch things.” His home certainly argues the case for shunning new furniture, and creating a home full of stories and history.