ISSUE 15  |  The Indoor-Outdoor Life

Next-to-No-Cost Decorating: At Home with Two Amsterdam Creatives

April 17, 2015 9:00 AM

BY Margot Guralnick

Illustrator Maartje van den Noort and furniture designer Ruben van der Scheer have the haute-bohemian touch. Just about everything in their serene East Amsterdam one-bedroom rental, they either found or made themselves: “We have a classical mirror from the side of the road, crockery I just couldn’t leave on the shelves of a secondhand store, thrift shop chests. I think the only new thing in our apartment is an Ikea sofa (from the sale corner),” says Maartje. 

Photography by Jeltje Janmaat via House of C.

Above: The apartment is in a 1918 building situated above a Protestant church and has a small balcony off the living area. Maartje and Ruben’s one splurge was their floor, which they made affordable by ordering the wood with three other neighbors in the building and painting it palest green themselves. Their Ikea sale sofa is shown here; an “older woman from the church” gave Ruben the comfy armchair by the window. 

Above: The focal point of the room is Maartje’s patchwork globe light. She made it from fabric scraps–”some pieces are old bed linen from my family”–and the patterned panels are screen-printed with her artwork. Maartje specializes in drawings and paintings of birds and plants–see her portfolio and stationery and print shop at Maartje van den Noort–and the stitched shades are a side specialty she makes on request.

Above: The couple bought their midcentury cabinet from a cabinetmaker who found it in an old house. “It’s a bit of a canvas where I put  books with cool covers, presents we want to remember, and pictures,” says Maartje. The print of hands and feet–a birthday present to Ruben from Maartje–is by 18th-century Italian artist Giovanni Battista Piazzetta. Maartje re-covered the chair, a trash find, in vintage fabric: “I am not an upholsterer, but this one worked.”

Above: Ruben made their dining table from a door; in the recess where the doorknob used to be, he hid a matchstick with their names on it. Ruben specializes in using Dutch woods and frequently works on commission; to see his designs, go to Ruben van der Scheer. The collection of “adopted chairs” inspired Maartje’s collection of Chair Postcards.

Above: “Our kitchen is a standard Brabantia kitchen–the kind that’s as plain, simple, and cheap as possible,” says Maartje. “It was placed here five years ago when the whole building was renovated.” Ruben customized it with wooden shelves and a triangular extension at the end, next to the coffeemaker.

Above: Vintage wallpaper–a thrift store score that they hung themselves–patterns the wall outside the home office. The stoneware lamp was a housewarming gift, a 1970s relic that came with its branch-patterned towering shade.

Above: Maartje and Ruben both have studios nearby and share their study for administrative work. The high shelves hold “a little collection of things we found or kept from our childhoods.”

Above: Another of Maartje’s fanciful globe lights hovers like a hot-air balloon over the bed. “Our bedroom is very plain: The curtains are from a thrift store as is the bedding (although I made the duvet cover).” The vintage school poster came from a flea market in Maartje’s hometown of Zeeland, the westernmost province in the Netherlands. “It’s a place with a lot of water and beach,” she says–and one where artists and artful scavengers are born. 

Some of our favorite rooms have lantern-style lighting. For DIY ideas, take a look at:

For readymade paper lanterns, see: