The small Belgian town of Wevelgem in West Flanders was once devoted to flax cultivation (weavers would soak their crop in the De Leie river running through town). Today, the area, within biking distance of the French border, is known for its old churches, WWI cemeteries, cycling and walking trails, and Heerlijkheid van Marrem, a historic farmstead available to rent.
When owners Natalie and Dominque purchased the farm in 2007, they leaned on their remodeling and interior design experience to renovate the property, which was built in the mid-18th century but has parts that date to the 15th century. First, they tackled the caved-in stable walls in the gatehouse, then the carriage house, the square main farmhouse, and so on, preserving all of the original features and artfully mingling them with spare modern rustic designs. Heerlijkheid van Marrem, Dutch for "The Glory of Marrem" (marrem refers to the marshland in the area), accommodates 20-23 people in four buildings—it's available only to one group at a time and is ideal for families or groups of friends. The couple, who live at the farm with their three young sons, have also added a flock of floppy-eared black and white British Suffolk sheep, some donkeys, and a Belgian draft horse. Come have a look.
Above: The arched entrance opens to the main house and farm buildings arrayed around a cobblestone courtyard.
Above: The main house has an integrated dining area and new kitchen. (Refrigerator, microwave, washing machine, and dryer are all stored in a room off the kitchen.)
Above: A fresh interpretation of the farmhouse kitchen: concrete countertops, a gas range, and pale wood paneling.
Above: Rustic wood cabinets framed with concrete. Interested in recreating the look? See our Remodeling 101 post on concrete countertops.
Above: In each building, Natalie and Dominque adhered to a palette of raw natural materials (concrete, linden wood, and linen) and pale colors (chalky white and gray).
Above: Ladders, stools, and other rustic antiques were sourced from France and Italy.
Above: Set up for families (or groups who like togetherness), the sleeping loft in the farmhouse has multiple beds and an en suite bath tub. "The playful original architecture has led to a fascinating sequence of living, sleeping, and relaxation areas connected by stairs, walkways, and mezzanines," explain the owners.
Above: The building known as the Hayloft has a spacious dining room and sleeps six.
Above: The farm's answer to the home office. For those who are interested, the owners sell some of their farmhouse antiques and decorations.
Above: An all-white bedroom in a 17th century barn with a towering ceiling.
Above: No need for a spa—Heerlijkheid van Marrem has its own wood-paneled sauna and shower area in the main house.
Above: Olive oil toiletries by Compagnie de Provence.
Above: The sauna has room for six.
Above: Canal-side picnicking. The Heerlijkheid van Marrem farm is available to rent from a Friday to Sunday, or Monday to Friday. For more details and reservations, go to Heerlijkheid van Marrem; also visit the farm's main site.
Location of Heerlijkheid van Marrem Guesthouse in Wevelgem, East Flanders: