Home grown - Issue 118 - Magazine | Monocle

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Valentin Loellmann’s home faces the River Meuse on a desirable residential street in Maastricht. A former stable, it had endured a shoddy home conversion before the graduate of the Maastricht Academy of Fine Arts acquired it in 2013. Loellmann, who at the time was establishing a name for himself as a furniture-maker, saw its potential. He was mulling over plans to step into the world of interior design and thought, “What better way is there of showing off your skills than the most personal project of building your own home?”

“When I bought the house it was really run down – no electricity, no windows and the roof had fallen down – but it was still a top-tier listed building,” says Loellmann, noting that securing permission to make major modifications on the building was tough. Rather than follow the rules he decided to take matters into his own hands, setting to work on upgrading the space before permission came through. Thankfully the city of Maastricht was won over by his plans, allowing him to go full out with a renovation that would revitalise the home.

The overhaul has seen the walls, door frames and ceilings all coated with white plaster, creating a cave-like effect similar to a Mediterranean stone home. Even on a rainy day the atmosphere remains cool, with light bouncing around the bright space and onto the timber fixtures (the other key material employed here).

The main bedroom has flooring made from timber slabs (formerly used in the designer’s exhibition at Art Basel); long and wide and slightly burnt, they add raw warmth. The wooden tables, benches and stools across the house have come directly from Loellmann’s atelier but almost everything else is custom-made, including the oak kitchen work surface and brass cabinets. Loellmann lives here with his partner and their one-year-old daughter; the latest development is his daughter’s bedroom, containing a hand-carved crib and wooden ladder. “I think it is a nice kid’s room because you can hide in a lot of spots,” he says, pointing to the concealed storage spaces.

The most radical addition is a massive curving window jutting out from an extension on the first floor at the back of the property. “I wanted the shape to reflect the hill so it’s just lying on here like a wave, like the wind pushed it in a bit,” he says. The statement window looks out over the garden, landscaped to allow for a patio. It also features a single-lane pool (installed by Loellmann himself), which reflects dappled light onto the extended ceiling of the main bedroom.

Following the transformation of this building, Loellmann has gone on to design and build the top floor of the Blue Mountain School (a cultural space in London), as well as a wine bar in Spain’s La Palma; he is also in talks with Maastricht city about developing a botanical garden. Getting your house in order, it seems, pays dividends.

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