Belgian beauty: updating a classic 70s home | Interiors

Fashion designer Eva Maria Bogaert never thought she’d swap the city for a village. But, after living in Brussels, Berlin, Antwerp and then Ghent, she left for the countryside with her husband, Pieter Van Hoestenberghe, and their two young children, when the couple’s dream home came up.

The house in question was designed and built in the 1970s by the renowned Belgian architect Hendrik Scherpereel. Eva Maria and Pieter bought the house from Scherpereel, a friend of Pieter’s parents, and it was still in its original state.

“We wanted to change it as little as possible, so nowhere did we touch the layout of the house,” Eva Maria says – although she admits to having been tempted because, after living in a sun-drenched city loft, it took a while to get used to the heavy brick architecture.

‘We wanted to change as little as possible’: the living area, where brick predominates, with pops of colour in rugs and furnishings. Photograph: Luc Roymans/Living Inside

“In the beginning, I felt I had to stand up to the architecture,” she says. “For instance, the living space is quite dark, because of the low pent roof and the canopy on the garden side. But we refused to add skylights as it would violate the architecture.”

Contemporary renovations tend to remove any wall that separates the living room and the kitchen, but the couple opted to keep it in place and instead cut a small triangular internal window to connect the two spaces, almost like a serving hatch. “It’s a subtle connection.”

The kitchen and bathroom did need an update to the 21st century, and the kitchen received a shot of colour. “I don’t like white kitchens,” says Eva Maria, “so we opted for a green colour scheme, adding a fresh touch to the space that harmonises with the surrounding countryside visible through the window.” The colour also seamlessly complements the luminous white of the concrete countertops. “Plus, white and green make a fabulous pairing.”

The organic shapes of the island and the countertop stand out. “These round shapes work instinctively. You spontaneously start leaning against it.”

Mellow yellow: the Barbapapa-style bath. Photograph: Luc Roymans/Living Inside

In the compact bathroom, the standout feature is the fluorescent yellow bathtub. “Some liken it to a Flintstones tub, but my inspiration actually came from the cartoon character Barbapapa, known for its ability to transform into various shapes. Yellow happens to be my favourite colour by far. Taking a bath or shower in it in the morning gives you an instant energy boost.”

Creating the bathtub was quite a project. First, Eva Maria worked with a friend to construct a wooden framework, then she meticulously sculpted the right shape and slope with many layers. Finally, it was coated with polyester – this was a rather toxic job, so she outsourced it. The result is a bright yellow tub that sits with a mint green washbasin. “In this dark house, you really need colour,” she says.

Eva Maria and Pieter transformed the previous owner’s architecture studio into a multifunctional area to play, study and watch TV. It also has its own bathroom, enabling the space to be converted into a compact apartment, so this can become an intergenerational house. Here, too, colour splashes off the walls – pink dominates. The iconic Togo seats and the sink tap are also bright pink. Eva Maria let the lotus wallpaper continue on to the ceiling. “I carefully cut out a few blossoms from the wallpaper pattern and arranged them into a composition that I fixed to the ceiling.” She sometimes uses this room for photoshoots for her fashion label, Eva Maria.

In the bathroom adjoining the guest room, which includes a toilet and shower, the couple opted for blue grout. “I have a fondness for the grid pattern of a lined notebook, so the basin we found at a thrift store complemented the theme perfectly. With simple fixtures, we achieved an uncomplicated setup, directing attention to the play of lines within the space.”

Eva Maria created her fashion studio in the old garage. She has been running her own fashion label since 2018, after a career as an artist. “I find that there is really no difference between painting, sculpture and fashion. The ideas and tools are the same: colour, material and composition. For me, craft and ecology are very important.”

Fashion designer Eva Maria Bogaert never expected to leave city life behind for a village, but after residing in Brussels, Berlin, Antwerp, and Ghent, she and her husband, Pieter Van Hoestenberghe, along with their two young children, made the move to the countryside when they found their dream home.

The house they purchased was originally designed and built in the 1970s by the renowned Belgian architect Hendrik Scherpereel. Despite the temptation to make changes, they decided to leave the layout untouched to preserve the original architecture. Eva Maria initially struggled with the darker, brick-dominated living space, but she adapted to the unique design over time.

While many contemporary renovations involve opening up the living and kitchen areas, Eva Maria and Pieter chose to maintain the separation and instead added a small triangular window to connect the spaces discreetly. The kitchen and bathroom were updated with a touch of color, opting for a green scheme in the kitchen to complement the surrounding countryside views.

The standout feature in the bathroom is the fluorescent yellow bathtub, inspired by the cartoon character Barbapapa. Eva Maria meticulously crafted the bathtub with a wooden framework and layers of polyester, creating a vibrant focal point in the dark house.

The couple transformed the previous owner’s architecture studio into a versatile space for play, study, and relaxation, with pink accents and a compact apartment setup. Eva Maria’s fashion studio is located in the old garage, where she creates pieces for her fashion label, emphasizing craft and ecology in her designs.