Curtains aren’t an easy call in the kitchen. True, they’re a quick DIY alternative to cabinet fronts. And they hide your holdings. But a skirted sink runs the risk of looking country kitschy. Not, however, in the hands of Christien Starkenburg.
A Dutch interior designer who wears many hats, Starkenburg has her own firm, Interieur-Plus, as well as furniture workshop, SlowWood. And she’s the creative director and fourth-generation owner (with her brother, Henk) of Jan de Jong, a Scandi-accented interiors emporium in Leeuwarden, capital city of Friesland, that her family opened back in 1899. Thanks to Starkenburg, the business has one of the best-looking kitchens around, and those humble curtains make it especially memorable.
Above: The kitchen is located in a section of the Jan de Jong three-story complex that for decades was used as living quarters by various family members. In need of an update, it was stripped down to the beams and reinvented by Starkenburg as Interieur-Plus’s homey workplace, furnished with a mix of her own designs and pieces straight off the Jan de Jong selling floor.
Above: The new open-plan setup revolves around a kitchen with a tight palette of white, charcoal, and pale gray offset by the pale oak of Starkenburg’s SlowWood designs and the soft curtains. Shown here, SlowWood’s Grut 8 Oval oak table surrounded by Jean Prouvé’s Standard Chairs of plywood and powder-coated steel.
Above: Stained wood cabinetry with cutout drawer pulls is crowned by a concrete counter that was poured on site. The handmade backsplash tiles are by local Friesland tile specialists Albarello. As for the curtains, they’re 100 percent linen and conceal shelves lined with pots and pans. Linen, Starkenburg points out, is “both soft and strong”; woven from flax, it’s biodegradable, naturally wrinkly, and lends, she says, “a sense of life.” (Read more about linen in our Object Lesson.)
Above: The adjustable sconces are French classics by Lampe Gras.
Above: The curtains have a simple gathered top and can be easily removed for washing. Like the linen, the mottled concrete balances the otherwise straight-edged lines of the design.
Above: Black-stained pine paneling matches the kitchen millwork. Vitra’s oak Jill Chair stands next to a Smeg range. The fridge (not shown) is set in a cabinet near the stove.
Above: Starkenburg grew up in the business and says she’s been sketching plans since childhood. Her father, Pieter Jan de Jong, an interior designer, inherited the company from his father, Henrik de Jong, who introduced the shop’s modernist focus. Of her aesthetic, Starkenburg explains, “As a northerner, I have an affinity for simple, sober Scandinavian design.”
Above: A vintage bakery display case sits on SlowWood’s Grut 5 Skraag Table of solid ash with an oiled finish. All of SlowWood’s designs are fabricated locally of sustainable woods and available in a range of natural finishes and mineral paints.
Above L: The room opens to a sun-filled living area. The chair in the foreground is Hans Wegner’s Sawbuck Chair from Carl Hansen in walnut and oak. Above R: Finnish designer Ilmari Tapiovaara’s Pirkka Stool, a midcentury reissue, and Nelson Sepulveda’s White Z1 Lantern, available from HomeStories in Brooklyn for $540 (see it and others in 10 Easy Pieces: Fabric Pendant Lamps).
Above: The back of the room is anchored by a vintage Pelgrim gas stove on a modernist hearth. Starkenberg created a hangout vibe by pairing a round sisal rug and pouf with an Eames Lounge and Ottoman and Vertigo Bird’s steel Funnel light. Note the outlet in the floor, a workplace necessity (see more floor outlets here).
Above: Color is introduced via flowers and leafy plants in terracotta pots. Starkenburg takes design commissions and sells her SlowWood pieces throughout the Netherlands, and in London, Paris, Belgium, and Osaka, Japan.
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