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A 1636 Former Spice Warehouse Turned Family Home in Amsterdam

A 1636 Former Spice Warehouse Turned Family Home in Amsterdam

A former spice warehouse built in 1636 might not be the first thing you picture when you think of a family home. But, located on an almost-too-beautiful-to-be-real tree-lined street in Amsterdam, in a neighborhood where everyone knows each other and canals lay just outside of the front door, that’s exactly what it is for Manon Hanssen — a freelance journalist, life coach, energetic healer and founder of Naramatisho, a Kenyan handicraft label — her husband Michel, their son Micah and their dog Vos.

As the fairytale story goes, Manon decided to see the unit, converted to apartments in 1976, on a whim. Despite the unappealing pictures she had seen, her curiosity had been piqued. And, of course, when she went to have a look at the space she got that feeling; even before stepping foot inside the building she knew it was the one. Her feelings were confirmed inside the apartment where she was instantly enamored with the energy, natural light, and original beams. She immediately called her husband Michel, a senior manager of global compliance solutions, and told him she’d found their new home. Luckily, during the next visit with Michel in attendance, he agreed.

The couple immediately got to work renovating their home — opting to salvage as much of the existing materials as possible. Among the updates included the removal of a wall on the first floor, giving the space a loft-like feel and an industrial trowel floor was put in — uncommon for homes back in 2004. But it was their time spent recently in Kenya that not only informed their more recent renovations, but also changed their lives in an even greater way. “We moved to Kenya to become parents to Micah… we found it very important to start there as a family, get to know the country on a deeper level… and make our first memories together as a family in Micah’s birth country,” Manon says.

After over a year in Kenya, when the family returned to Amsterdam they decided to make some updates to their home to better fit their growing family. They turned to interior architect and friend, Rik Alkema, to design a new plan for their first floor. “His style is clean, simple, yet full of refined details and strong lines… we thought that Rik’s signature style combined with ours, which is more earthy/natural, bohemian and eclectic, would create a nice balance of both worlds,” Manon shares. The couple’s travels around the globe and time in Kenya also inspired much of their interior. The result? A home that is still open and airy, but with more thoughtful storage space, both concealed and open, for the growing family. And while future renovation projects include painstakingly removing decades-old paint from the original beams and “small things like hanging a lamp above the table…” Manon recognizes their home is constantly evolving. “I can be a real perfectionist, but over the years I have learned to be content and not to take things too seriously as well. My son teaches me this on a daily basis.”

So no, while a 380-year-old former spice warehouse turned historic protected building might not sound like a “typical” family home, it’s perfect for this family of four. “I moved to Amsterdam when I was a teenager with one mattress and a suitcase full of clothes,” Manon recalls. “I remember daydreaming on the bridge of this very canal and fantasizing living here with my family one day, looking at the block where we are living now. The universe really took good care of that!” —Kisha

Photography by Emma Peijnenburg


Living Room
Two framed paintings – by Dutch artist Sjan Brok
Masks – from Kenya and Bali
Zebra head – Anthropologie
Black and white antique face plate – Fornasetti
Sequinned wedding blanket – from Morocco
Mud cloth – bought in Kenya, originally from Mali
Cushions – from Bali and Kenya
Orignal 60s wire chair – by designer Cees Braakman for Pastoe
Rug – from Kenya

Dining Area
Custom dining table – designed by Rik Alkema
Wooden dolls – from Kenya
Ceramic vase – by Margit Seland
50s fiberglass chair – Herman Miller
Ghost chair – Kartell
Panton chair – Verner Panton for Vitra

Countertop – Cesar stone in London Grey
Large white vase – ‘Coral’ from Pols Potten
Handprinted dish – from Bali

Master Bedroom
Original 50s Knoll wire chair
Carpet – Vintage from Pakistan
Watercolor painting of Java – by Dutch artist Leo Eland
Indonesian wavang dolls – gift from Manon’s late grandmother
Wood wall chandelier – from India
Linen pillowcases – Merci in Paris

Michah’s Bedroom
Original 50s Herman Miller rocking chair
Duvet cover – Naramatisho
Large blue vase – ‘Coral’ from Pols Potten
Zuni doll (in cactus pot) – from Santa Fe
Praying ceramic monk – from Bali
Flowerpot head – De Weldaad

via Design*Sponge