PHOTOGRAPHY HANS FONK | TEXT IZABEL SPIKE

This is Hilverbeek, an estate in a wooded area in the central Netherlands. The estate dates back to the Golden Age of the 17th century, when wealthy Amsterdam citizens moved there, building country residences as an antidote to inflation. Many such residences remain, thanks to the efforts of Natuurmonumenten (an organisation preserving nature in the Netherlands). That also applies to Hilverbeek, where the interiors specialist Suzanne Loggere has transformed the old coach house and orangery into a comfortable home, where light and dark rooms alternate.

Suzanne Loggere has spent her entire life in the world of interior design. Having finished her studies at the academy of art in Geneva followed by a short stay in Paris, where she worked for an architect’s office, she returned to the Netherlands to throw herself into the furnishing fabrics world with her company, Loggere Wilpower. Today the list of fabrics houses she represents has grown into a veritable ‘who’s who’ of leading houses, famous for their innovative drive. “Because we are in direct contact with the fabrics ‘éditeurs’, we are right at the front of developments in this particular sector”, she told us.

Suzanne Loggere has another passion: furnishing and revamping private residences, hotels, bars and restaurants which takes up more and more of her time these days, in the Netherlands and beyond. She conducts her operations from her impressive showroom at Gooilust estate, set amid leafy woodland, parks and water. For years she ran the furnishing store ‘Half Moon’ with Olivier Nourry, in Rue du Bac, Paris where, as she put it, she could “give vent to her creativity”. It led to the design of complete interiors. The Paris business was sold at the beginning of 2000. Her progress from representing companies producing interior products to more creative elaboration was pretty well simultaneous with developments in the European interiors sector. The days when decorators enjoyed considerable prestige for their expertise and taste, and were able to dictate what was good for clients, have receded somewhat, making way for a more American approach, with interior designers and architects visiting major showrooms together to make their choice. Suzanne: “I believe interior design has become more open and transparent, meaning that the role of a showroom like ours has grown. Designers and their clients can visit and discover the endless possibilities. And that, with the architecture and a few items of sleek furniture, a house isn’t really finished. The economic crisis has had a great impact in that respect. It has meant that people want to get back to basics. They are looking for security and don’t just buy something new – they prefer something of lasting beauty. Accordingly, people go for attractive antique pieces, attractive furniture and art. Also, richly patterned fabrics are being used more and more after a period in which everything had to be plain. The days of the Zen interior and very Spartan are past.” Her house is part of the Hilverbeek estate, a stone’s throw from her showroom.

The estate dates back to the Netherlands’ Golden Age. Suzanne’s home is beside the original villa. It was built at the beginning of the 19th century and used to be the coach house. Later a large orangery was added. Suzannne and her family started off living in the coach house and her parents in the former orangery. When she moved in, she did nothing to the structure. It was mostly a matter of painting and taking care not to hide the architectural details. She has been using the entire building for some time now, having first pulled down the dividing walls and doors to make a totality in which natural light enters freely into almost all the rooms. “When redesigning the house, I wanted to make maximum use of the natural light, especially the evening sunshine. There’s sunlight all day long indoors, but it is at its most spectacular when it sets and transforms the large sitting room into a dramatic space. I need lots of light and where possible, I’ve made the interior walls white. I alternate the light spaces with dark ones – the alternation of light and dark is my signature and provides essential variety and interest between the rooms. It’s found in my residential work as well as in my projects. With fabrics always adding the finishing touch: from plain fabrics for the upholstery to opulent for the curtains.” The darkest part of the house is at the entrance at the rear. That is where the coach house stables and hayloft were located. Today they form a large entrance hall with a pool table at the centre. From there, doors lead to various rooms including the guest bedroom, the small sitting room, the corridor and stairs to the bedrooms on the first floor, and the kitchen. The kitchen adjoins the dining room, which in turn leads to the large sitting room with a formal dining recess. This used to be the orangery and it extends along the entire side of the house. The large windows on all sides provide high levels of light. The decoration of this sitting room – and of the entire house – is down-to-earth, with a feminine touch. Suzanne proves to have a predilection for large objects and pieces of furniture. “I always go for a few large items in an interior rather than a whole lot of knick-knacks. That’s reflected in my own house. I haven’t got photos all over the place – just in a few spots, like inside the kitchen cupboard door. They’re my little treasure troves – I don’t share them with just anyone”, as Suzanne put it.