De Dietrich
De Dietrich

Belgium - City Mansion

A majestic mansion from the 1920s that's steeped in history serves as a home and clinic to a renowned dentist and his family. Who says you can't strike a perfect balance between professional and private lives?

Living in the middle of a busy city like Kortrijk in Belgium may not sound idyllic, but the easy access to public parking and the convenience it brings make it an ideal location for a dental practitioner.

To combine the functions of a home and office into the same space is not an easy task. Which is why, when the homeowner/ dentist found this historical building, he was ecstatic - the space was large enough to be divided into several different zones to cater to the different needs of his personal and professional lives.

"In order to combine family life and my dental practice, we had to search for a house where both are in harmony yet separate," say the owners. "For us it was very important to have the warmth of a house, yet with different spacious zones for our three children and their friends."

The original house was, according to the owners, a "typical" mansion circa 1922. While they appreciated the rich history and character of the building, they also wanted to inject some modern elements into its interiors. The result? A clever blend of the old and new. The exterior of the mansion is dripping with old world charm, but the interior is anything but. Awash in strong modern design and amenities, one of the most striking delineations is the clinic that runs like a glass tunnel from the front, on the left side of the house, right through to the back garden. Completely encased in glass, the clinic is clearly demarcated from the home, yet seemingly connected. The glass panels also allow ample natural light into the dental clinic - a feature that the owners specifically asked for. All the glass walls can also be pushed open, a unique and refreshing option especially when the weather is good.

The open kitchen, which was specially extended towards the back garden, also reflects the owners' request for natural light and open space. From the original "austere high ceiling" at the back portion of the house, the architects and the team from Emmanuel Fraeye transformed the space into a sprawling kitchen - which also doubles up as a dining area - that spills out effortlessly into the garden's lush greenery. Plenty of sunlight streams into the kitchen through the large dome and the open dining terrace, and the fluid open-concept of the common areas allow the family to move in and out of the areas freely. "As a family we spend a lot of time in the kitchen," share the owners. "We are able to take all our meals together as a family and we really enjoy the spaciousness of this place."

Besides connecting seamlessly with the semi-outdoor dining terrace, the kitchen also joins up with the living room - done up in a tasteful classic design - easing the transition of the contemporary décor of the kitchen into the ornate style of the mansion's architecture.

By retaining the original 1920s architecture, one of the greatest challenges that the homeowners faced was to integrate the original architecture with modern fittings that the owners wanted. One of the décor strategies was to stick to timeless materials and a neutral colour palette - whites, browns and glass finishes are used generously throughout the home, creating a modern yet cosy feel.

In the kitchen, the owners opted for soft white tones, while a massive teak wooden worktable in the middle anchors the entire room. They also wanted a kitchen system that would blend with the unique mix of old architecture and contemporary finish, and found that De Dietrich's materials and colour range integrated the look perfectly.

"The compact design of the appliances gives an extra accent to our kitchen and the contrast with the glass doors makes it even more striking," the owners share.

Avid cooks and hosts, the homeowners add that the De Dietrich kitchen appliances fitted in the cooking area are also great for both daily use and hosting parties. "The steam oven is perfect for whipping up a healthy meal for our family and the ICS colour matrix oven is so easy to use that even our children love it!" gush the couple. "Moreover, when the pyrolitic-system is used to clean the oven, the temperature on the door of the oven remains cool, which makes it safe for our kids."