written by:
photos by:
July 2, 2009
Originally published in Intriguing Interiors

With designs from 14 countries and five decades inside, it may be an understatement to note that in this suburban home, furniture is the focus.

 

Because the Collette residence, although by no means small by Dutch standards, is a compact 2,050 square feet, the inside/outside relationship is important. Glass walls front and back bring the outdoors in. Two-year-old Jort takes full advantage of the gr
Because the Collette residence, although by no means small by Dutch standards, is a compact 2,050 square feet, the inside/outside relationship is important. Glass walls front and back bring the outdoors in. Two-year-old Jort takes full advantage of the great outdoors.
Photo by 
1 / 7
Architect Pascal Grosfeld designed seven houses on this plot of land in suburban Holland. The Collettes worked closely with him to make their residence distinct from the neighboring houses and more in keeping with their personal vision of home.
Architect Pascal Grosfeld designed seven houses on this plot of land in suburban Holland. The Collettes worked closely with him to make their residence distinct from the neighboring houses and more in keeping with their personal vision of home.
Photo by 
2 / 7
Evidence of the children’s burgeoning furniture collection is found in their room, which features an Eames Hang-It-All (not shown) and a bed/crib by Stokke.
Evidence of the children’s burgeoning furniture collection is found in their room, which features an Eames Hang-It-All (not shown) and a bed/crib by Stokke.
Photo by 
3 / 7
The kitchen is the entrance point for the Collettes’ home and its functional core. The warm colors of the house’s wood-and-brick exterior are continued in the felt covers of the Face chairs in umber, red, and rust—a vintage 1983 design for Montis by Gerar
The kitchen is the entrance point for the Collettes’ home and its functional core. The warm colors of the house’s wood-and-brick exterior are continued in the felt covers of the Face chairs in umber, red, and rust—a vintage 1983 design for Montis by Gerard van der Berg. The cupboards are gray (“but a warm stone gray, not a cold corporate gray,” Dedy emphasizes). Dark stone was planned for the countertop but looked far too heavy. The couple chose Duropal, a stainless steel look­alike that’s easier to maintain.
Photo by 
4 / 7
The pumpkin-orange Dordoni Halloween lamp is both UFO- and sun-like—a slightly humorous and cheering sight on a gray day in Holland. It was chosen, says Dedy, “simply because it says ‘welcome home.’”
The pumpkin-orange Dordoni Halloween lamp is both UFO- and sun-like—a slightly humorous and cheering sight on a gray day in Holland. It was chosen, says Dedy, “simply because it says ‘welcome home.’”
Photo by 
5 / 7
In the living room, Caspar educates his young son Roemer about the finer points of modern design. The red leather Gigi is van den Berg’s racy yet refined swivel armchair. Looking at this chair, it comes as no surprise that the designer drives a Porsche. “
In the living room, Caspar educates his young son Roemer about the finer points of modern design. The red leather Gigi is van den Berg’s racy yet refined swivel armchair. Looking at this chair, it comes as no surprise that the designer drives a Porsche. “It’s from the late ’90s, but it’s already a classic,” says Caspar. “I just love the versatility of this one—you can sit forwards or sideways in it.” Van den Berg also designed the stainless-steel coffee table. The purple sofa was designed by Rodolfo Dordoni, and the Glo-Ball lamp is by Jasper Morrison.
Photo by 
Courtesy of 
Justin Reid
6 / 7
Dedy gazes out at the neighborhood from the couple’s bedroom.
Dedy gazes out at the neighborhood from the couple’s bedroom.
Photo by 
7 / 7
Because the Collette residence, although by no means small by Dutch standards, is a compact 2,050 square feet, the inside/outside relationship is important. Glass walls front and back bring the outdoors in. Two-year-old Jort takes full advantage of the gr
Because the Collette residence, although by no means small by Dutch standards, is a compact 2,050 square feet, the inside/outside relationship is important. Glass walls front and back bring the outdoors in. Two-year-old Jort takes full advantage of the great outdoors.
Project 
Collette Residence

Caspar and Dedy Collette’s house looks out onto a brick wall. And that’s just the way they like it. Their home, in one of the new suburbs of Breda, a historic southern Dutch city, is restrained, modern, and easy on the eye. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the neighboring homes, which all too often favor a faux ranch or chalet look—not the kind of thing a pair of modern-design enthusiasts want to see from their floor-to-ceiling windows.

“The concept here was living behind walls,” says the couple’s architect, Pascal Grosfeld, looking askance at the proliferation of gables and columns outside. “Rather like Mies’s patio houses, it’s an introverted way of living, of giving people a sense of their own property.” The lack of a great view is no problem for the Collettes, who find it an advantage to shut out the noise of the mix of building styles, so that they can hear the quiet fugue of their own serenely understated house and the furniture it contains.

Caspar Collette, who works with designer Gerard van den Berg, travels all over the world as export manager for the Dutch furniture company Label. “We have furniture from 14 countries in our house,” he says. “You could say we’re bringing the world within our own four walls.” For Caspar, a tall, jovial figure with an affable worldly air, this makes perfect sense as he lived and worked in the Caribbean, South America, and Spain for many years before returning to Holland to settle down in 1998.

Caspar had known van den Berg for several years before joining him at  Label five years ago. Previously, van den Berg co-founded the company Montis with his brother Ton (it now belongs to his brother Paul), which still produces many of his designs from the 1970s on. Van den Berg’s work past and present marries an abstract, minimal beauty with a profound humanism. Like Caspar, he travels extensively, but lives near Breda.

Entering Caspar and Dedy’s garden through the six-and-a-half-foot-tall brick perimeter wall is like being let in on a well-kept suburban secret. The domestic space feels intimate and secluded, with an orderly lawn tidily bordered by long, thin bricks the color of burned earth and by the bleached-amber cedar planks of the garden shed (which echoes the exterior of the upper floor).

“The materials mean the house never looks the same,” says Caspar. “The brick and cedar change color with the weather. And after rain, the cedar even smells different—it gives off a pencil aroma that I love, because it takes me right back to my schooldays.”

In the living room, Caspar educates his young son Roemer about the finer points of modern design. The red leather Gigi is van den Berg’s racy yet refined swivel armchair. Looking at this chair, it comes as no surprise that the designer drives a Porsche. “
In the living room, Caspar educates his young son Roemer about the finer points of modern design. The red leather Gigi is van den Berg’s racy yet refined swivel armchair. Looking at this chair, it comes as no surprise that the designer drives a Porsche. “It’s from the late ’90s, but it’s already a classic,” says Caspar. “I just love the versatility of this one—you can sit forwards or sideways in it.” Van den Berg also designed the stainless-steel coffee table. The purple sofa was designed by Rodolfo Dordoni, and the Glo-Ball lamp is by Jasper Morrison. Image courtesy of Justin Reid.

The kitchen sits behind a glass wall like a diorama, appearing as if it had grown out of the ground as organically as the grass in front of it. To the left of the kitchen, the view through the house’s several glass doors continues the line of the path unimpeded for nearly 200 feet, stopping only at the brick wall at the end of the rear garden—which is the snaking continuation of the wall at the opposite end. You could call it a wall-to-wall view.

That elongated perspective is what won Grosfeld the competition for the building design. In 1998, Breda’s local architectural association had called for designs for a project of six semi-detached houses for a plot of land. Grosfeld chose to ignore the brief: “The plot was too long and narrow to fit six semi-detached houses,” he explains. “The only thing to do was work with the proportions, so I decided on a plot division of 5.1 by 60 meters [approximately 17 by 200 feet] per property. The houses are in a terraced row, but the individual gardens are divided from each other by the tall slingermuur (garland wall), which allows the entrances to be at alternate ends.” Although adjacent to the next-door house, the Collettes’ house, located at the end of the row, feels totally self-contained because of this enclosing wall.

The Collettes bought the then-unbuilt house in 2001, so “it was a great opportunity to get involved in the design,” explains Caspar. Grosfeld admits he was “surprised, but pleased” that Caspar and Dedy became so involved in developing the design of their house—other buyers accepted his design unconditionally.

According to Grosfeld’s plans, the kitchen, for example, was to have been set in the center of the house (the “functional core” idea of Le Corbusier and Gerrit Rietveld), but the clients thought otherwise. “We both love to cook,” says Dedy. “So why would we want to hide the kitchen away in the middle of the building?”

Instead, “the kitchen became the entrance point [for the house],” says Caspar. “I grew up in the country, and everyone always came in through the kitchen—it makes the house feel friendly, homely.” In such a kitchen, there’s no more important focus—socially, practically, symbolically, and aesthetically—than the table. “Ours is Arctica, a Label piece by Gerard,” says Caspar. “The thin layers of beech sit comfortably with the solid oak floor we’ve used throughout the house. The zinc tabletop is soft enough to show the scratches and marks, the signs of living. We like these signs of use. They humanize the table. Though I’m in the furniture business, my house is not a showroom. I don’t want it to look as if you can’t touch anything.”

In the living room, the architect combated the seemingly inevitable darkness that would have come from the long narrow plan by creating a vertical 21-foot perspective in the central stairwell, with the view up to the skylight left open. Light floods the middle of the house as a result. “With light this intense, we decided on white walls throughout the ground floor, allowing us to play around with color in the furniture and to pick some very strong pieces,” says Caspar, surveying the room’s gray-and-orange-striped rug and vividly colored furniture. “We chose the purple Rodolfo Dordoni sofa and chairs because of the flowing shape, and because you can see around and underneath them. I dislike furniture that ‘sticks’ to the floor. It eats your space. Like the Gigi armchair and the Tiba dining chairs Gerard also designed, a chair can be spacious and comfortable and yet still have a streamlined profile.

Dedy gazes out at the neighborhood from the couple’s bedroom.
Dedy gazes out at the neighborhood from the couple’s bedroom.

“To live happily with a piece of furniture, as with a house, the design has to be straightforward, immediately comprehensible,” he continues. “Take Gerard’s stainless steel Seamless table, which we’ve put in front of our open fire. The finishing of this piece is the ‘one idea’ Gerard talks about, the one special thing that is all you need to enliven a design. It looks as if it’s made from a single piece of metal, which lends it a marvelous integrity and authenticity.” Van den Berg, whose father had a furniture factory, and Caspar, whose father is an interior architect, both grew up in the business. “I was seven when I first went to the Cologne Furniture Fair,” says Caspar. “My mother had a design shop stocking stuff like iittala. We grew up surrounded by modern design. I must admit I am slightly obsessive.”

It comes as no surprise, then, that upstairs, the Collettes’ two children, Jort (two years old) and Roemer (eight months), have already begun developing their first designer furniture collections. Their brightly colored rooms, with balconies and floor-to-ceiling windows, contain such gems as Jort’s bobbinlike table and chairs in beech by the Danish designer Nanna Ditzel (“Now 80-something and still designing,” says Collette admiringly) and an Eames Hang-It-All. “Why should we put up with badly designed kids’ furniture?” Caspar asks. “Take the kids’ beds from Stokke. They’re elegant cribs, and they convert later into a bed, a desk, or even two chairs—good design, with a long life. That’s what furniture design is all about. We chose things for the kids’ rooms the way we chose everything about the house: It’s a question of looking at the range of possibilities and selecting what fits your taste, what you feel comfortable with.

“With this house, we tried to embody pure thinking,” he continues. “A wall is a wall, a floor is a floor—it’s all as simple as possible, no trims or embellishments or distractions. Gerard’s furniture is also the result of pure thinking, and that’s why I never tire of it, and why there’s so much of it in our house—a chair is a chair, nothing more, nothing less.”  

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

San Francisco dining room with chandelier and Eames shell chairs
Brooklyn-based RBW's work—from diminutive sconces to large floor lamps—shape these five interiors.
February 09, 2016
Glass-fronted converted garage in Washington
These garages go behind parking cars and storing your drum sets.
February 09, 2016
Modern Texas home office with sliding walls, behr black chalkboard paint, concrete walls, and white oak flooring
From appropriated nooks to glass-encased rooms, each of these modern offices works a unique angle.
February 09, 2016
picnic-style table in renovated San Francisco house
From chandeliers to pendants, these designs make the dining room the most entertaining space in the house.
February 09, 2016
Midcentury house in Portland with iron colored facade and gold front door
From preserved masterworks to carefully updated time capsules, these homes have one thing in common (other than a healthy appreciation for everything Eames): the conviction that the '40s, '50s, and '60s were the most outstanding moments in American architecture.
February 09, 2016
Modern living room with furniture designed by Ludovica + Roberto Palomba
These oases by the sea, many done up in white, make stunning escapes.
February 08, 2016
A Philippe Starck standing lamp and an Eames chaise longue bracket the living room; two Lawrence Weiner prints hang behind a pair of Warren Platner chairs and a table purchased from a River Oaks estate sale; at far left of the room, a partial wall of new
Texas might have a big reputation, but these homes show the variety of shapes and sizes in the Lone Star State.
February 08, 2016
Montigo gas-burning fireplace in spacious living room.
Built atop the foundation of a flood-damaged home, this 3,000-square-foot Maryland home features vibrant furniture placed in front of stunning views of a nearby estuary.
February 08, 2016
Studio addition in Seattle
An architect couple sets out to transform a run-down property.
February 08, 2016
West Elm coffee table, custom Joybird sofa, and matching Jens Risom chairs in living room of Westchester renovation by Khanna Shultz.
Every Monday, @dwell and @designmilk invite fans and experts on Twitter to weigh in on trending topics in design.
February 08, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment living room vertical oak slats
For the modernists among us, these spare spaces are a dream come true.
February 08, 2016
The square fountain at the courtyard's center is a modern rendition of a very traditional feature in many Middle Eastern homes.
From a large gathering space for family or a tranquil sanctuary, these seven designs feature some very different takes on the ancient idea of a courtyard.
February 08, 2016
stdaluminum 021
Since windows and doors are such important aspects of your home, it’s always a good idea to take the time to evaluate how they fit within the lifestyle you want. Whether you’re in the middle of constructing a new home, or you’re considering replacing your current setup, there are multiple elements to consider when it comes time to make the final decisions. Milgard® Windows & Doors understands how vital these choices are to the well-being of your home and has developed ways to turn the process into a journey that can be just as enjoyable as it is fulfilling. Not sure where to start? We gathered some helpful insights from their team of experts to help us better understand what goes into the process of bringing your vision to life.
February 08, 2016
modern fire resistant green boulder loewen windows south facade triple planed low-e glass
These houses in Broncos Country prove modern design is alive in the Rocky Mountains.
February 08, 2016
french evolution paris daniel rozensztroch living area eames la chaise butterfly chair moroccan berber rug
A tastemaker brings his distinct vision to an industrial loft with a centuries-old pedigree.
February 07, 2016
senses touch products
The haptic impact can’t be underplayed. The tactility of a material—its temperature, its texture­—can make the difference between pleasure and discontent.
February 07, 2016
senses taste products
Ambience is a key ingredient to any meal—materials, textures, and mood all impart a certain flavor.
February 07, 2016
senses smell products
The nose knows: Though fleeting and immaterial, scent is the lifeblood of Proustian memories, both evoking and imprinting visceral associations.
February 06, 2016
design icon josef frank villa beer vienna
Josef Frank: Against Design, which runs through April 2016 at Vienna’s Austrian Museum of Applied Arts/Contemporary Art, is a comprehensive study of the prolific architect, designer, and author.
February 06, 2016
senses sound products
From an alarm to a symphony, audio frequencies hold the power to elicit an emotional call-and-response.
February 06, 2016
Italian Apline home with double-height walls on one facade.
Every week, we highlight one amazing Dwell home that went viral on Pinterest. Follow Dwell's Pinterest account for more daily design inspiration.
February 05, 2016
A built-in sofa with Design Tex upholstery marks the boundary between the two-level addition and the bungalow. Leading up to the master bedroom, a perforated metal staircase, lit from above, casts a Sigmar Polke–like shadow grid on the concrete floor.
From a minimalist Walter Gropius design to a curving sculptural stair, these six stairways run the gamut.
February 05, 2016
distant structure lakeside prefab norway facade stones green roof
Dwell has traveled all over the world, from Tasmania to Indonesia, to report on modern houses.
February 05, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment master bedroom atrium
Get ready for a weekend of rest with these sleepy, little cocoons.
February 05, 2016
lamp show 99 cent plus gallery 0
At Brooklyn's 99¢ Plus gallery, 30 artists and designers re-imagine the lamp in an illuminating light show.
February 04, 2016
Hidden storage stairwell with raw brass hardware
Having ample space to stow items is a daily struggle—peep these modern homes for some ideas on maximizing your square footage.
February 04, 2016
modern fairhaven beach house blackbutt eucalyptus living room Patricia Urquiola sofa
Whether it's along a coast in Australia or the French Alps, wood provides a natural touch in these interiors.
February 04, 2016
Glass and steel sculpture in Printemps store of Paris.
In the Paris' venerable Printemps department store, two Toronto-based firms were tasked with enlivening a new atrium and creating a unique experience for visitors. YabuPushelberg, partnering with UUfie, designed this stunning steel "sail" embedded with vibrant dichroic glass.
February 04, 2016
Monochromatic Master Bedroom in Copenhagen Townhouse
Whether it's to maximize limited light or create a soothing interior, these five projects go white in a big way.
February 04, 2016
EQ3 Assembly quilt by Kenneth LaVallee
The new Assembly collection from EQ3 celebrates up-and-coming figures in Canadian design. Discover this newly appointed class, which debuted at Toronto's Interior Design Show, here.
February 03, 2016