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Project KWIK: The Restoration of House De Belder by JOE Design Studio


JOE Design Studio was founded by Antwerp-based interior architect Jody Eeckhout in 2020. Working with private clients on high-end residential projects, the studio creates bespoke spaces in collaboration with skilled craftsmen, to seamlessly blend natural materials, personalised touches and innovative design elements. For Project KWIK, this involved an extensive renovation of House De Belder, located in Kwikstaartlaan, in the Elsdonk residential villa district of Wilrijk, Antwerp. Designed by renowned architect Renaat Braem for the photographer Alfons De Belder, with whom he collaborated, this incredible home was created with a spacious photography studio and darkroom and features a striking asymmetrical roofline that gives the house a distinctive, church-like aesthetic.

Completed towards the lated 1970s, the rest of the design leaned more towards that of a bungalow, comprising a compact two-story brick volume, and a unique staggered gable on two external walls. Further architectural details include an impressive free-standing brick fireplace, a circular wall opening, and remarkable stained-glass windows designed by Braem at the client's request.

In 2021, the property was acquired by a client well-versed in the flooring industry, who enlisted JOE Design Studio to oversee a comprehensive renovation. This involved expanding the original layout, which had three bedrooms and two bathrooms, to accommodate five bedrooms and four bathrooms, as well as incorporating the addition of a swimming pool. All of which needed to seamlessly integrate modern updates while preserving the home's distinctive '70s aesthetic. Alongside the client installing as much of his own parquet flooring as possible, the studio replaced old flooring in the entrance hall with natural stone. The bright white brick was then softened with a chalk clay finish.

Herringbone parquet has been installed in the formal living area, while original details including stucco walls, wooden ceilings, fireplace and the elliptical stained glass window, have been retained. The woven rug is custom-made, and the sofa and coffee table are by the Japanese furniture manufacturer Karimoku Case.

The dining area features a beautiful round, bespoke table which echoes the stone of the raised terrace and wenge veneer of the interior doors. The kitchen underwent a complete custom redesign, with an expansion of the space and the introduction of luxurious new finishes crafted from stainless steel and natural stone. This homage to the prevalent material aesthetic of the 1970s extends beyond the kitchen space, manifesting in elements such as the pendant lighting above the dining area, as well as in the meticulously selected tapware, switches, and various accessories throughout the home.

The large studio space on the first floor has been converted into an informal living room with original ceilings, plastered walls with the circular opening to the staircase, and a stunning mix of furniture, old and new. These include vintage armchairs and coffee table by Tobia Scarpa, and rich velvet sofas by German brand COR. A hand-tufted rug grounds the space.

Natural stone carries through to the bathroom, and the new master bedroom features a bed custom designed in the same veneer as the doors. The skylight and original staircases, including a spiral one, have been preserved, with new landings providing access to the children’s rooms and bathrooms.

Standing as a reflection of meticulous restoration and thoughtful redesign to accommodate a family, Project KWIK harmoniously merges a timeless materiality with character, modern comfort and functionality.

Image credits

Photography: Piet-Albert Goethals

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