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Belgian Inspired Interior Design

Design, Inspiration

May 29, 2023

Are you looking to add some unique flair to your home? Drawing inspiration from the Belgian interior design world could be just what you need. From modern minimalism to traditional interior aesthetics, Belgian designers bring an unmistakable character and charm that transcends its borders. In this blog post, we’ll introduce some iconic designers from Belgium as well as their interior design point of view and how you can utilize these elements in your own space. If you’re ready for a delightful journey through Belgium’s most exciting interior designs, let us begin!

What is Belgian Interior Design and the Characteristics of the Aesthetic

Belgium interior design is a bespoke style that is highly regarded for its attention to detail and understated elegance. The aesthetic is marked by a blend of classic and contemporary elements, resulting in a timeless and sophisticated feel. The focus is always on quality. Luxurious materials and expert craftsmanship playing a key role in creating a space that is both aesthetically pleasing and functional. As one of Sacramento’s best interior design studios, we have worked with clients who appreciate this relaxed and refined style. We have seen firsthand how it can transform a home into a sanctuary that is both welcoming and inspiring. We select and purchase our furniture directly from manufacturers throughout the US and Europe, including Belgium. The level of craftsmanship can be seen and felt; it is a key feature in quality interior design.

How We Can Incorporate Belgian Aesthetics into our Projects

Belgium is known for its unique aesthetics, and incorporating them into your projects can add visual interest and depth. There are several ways to achieve this. One approach is to use Belgian materials and textures in your designs, such as brick, wood, and limestone. Another option is to embrace the fluidity and asymmetry of Belgian design, featuring unexpected angles and organic shapes. Consider combining different styles to create a harmonious balance that is uniquely Belgian. Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment with color and contrast. Belgian design is known for its use of rich, warm tones and contrasting shades. By incorporating Belgian aesthetics into your next project, you’ll add a touch of artistic flair and intrigue.

Oftentimes, we find Belgian interior design is mistakenly considered “neutral” and lacks color. That doesn’t have to be the case. You can create a very colorful home, just be mindful of the overall palette and practice restraint.

Notable Belgian Interior Designers

Despite its small size, Belgium wields significant influence in the world of interior design. Among the notable Belgian designers who are making a name for themselves in the industry are individuals whose unique, innovative styles are creating ripples. These designers have left a permanent imprint on the world of design, inspiring future generations with their memorable, distinct styles. See below a small selection of our favorite Belgian interior designers. When designing custom homes, we’re constantly drawing inspiration from these interiors. If you’re looking for an interior design team that will guide you through the process of home renovation or building a custom home, we’re here for you.

Dieter Vander Velpen

Allow me to introduce you to one of my favorite heavy hitters in the design world. Dieter is a prolific interior designer who’s worked on projects located around the globe. In this post, I’m sharing just a glimpse of his work, focusing on a project based in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Bel-Air. The expansive home is influenced by the vibrant Californian lifestyle.

The Bel Air project boasts a spacious open kitchen uniting three essential materials of the house: Travertine stone, Oak veneer and patinated bronze. The kitchen features custom stained Oak cabinetry with streamlined appliances and numerous small countertops. Thin bronze shelves complement the living room detailing, complete with integrated lighting.

At the center sits an extra-large island holding pride of place in the kitchen, crafted from solid blocks of Travertine. Elegant curves on the island’s side and corners, fluted Travertine finish on its base allude to thoughtful design details paying homage to the space’s three elemental materials. The beautiful patinated bronze custom hood and curving backsplash complete the timeless appeal.

Vincent Van Duysen

Vincent Van Duysen Architects was established in 1989. Today, the firm has grown into a team of more than 30 collaborators with work ranging from product design for numerous international brands, to commercial and large-scale architectural projects, with a focus on high-end residences both in Belgium or spread across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the USA.

His use of pure and tactile materials translates into clean, timeless design. With respect to context and tradition, it’s an approach within which the senses, and the physical experience of space, textures and light place the integrity of the user at its core. Functionality, durability and comfort are the prime components of the work, an architectural language not shy to convey aesthetics, but prone to eschew fashion and trends.

During his career, Van Duysen has received multiple awards and his work has been appearing on a number of prestigious international publications. His name has also been included in the AD100 survey by the Architectural Digest network and Elle Decor A-List multiple times. Van Duysen has been the creative for various brands, designed flagship stores, exhibition stands and a series of new products. 2022 marks the beginning of a collaboration with Zara Home, which I am personally excited to see where he’s taking it.

A generous living room is opened to an (or a) adjacent hillside through a huge wall of sliding glass panes. Slipcovered sofas and chairs in Larsen and de le Cuona fabrics by Molly Isaksen Interiors, vintage slipper chairs by Gösta Jonsson, cocktail tables by Sven Larsson, and carpet by Mansour. Painting by Mary Corse through Kayne Griffin. Lighting design by Sean O’Connor.
Photography by Stephen Kent Johnson

Soon-to-Be Iconic Interior Design of Jenni Kayne Home in Los Angeles

With a nod to midcentury California architecture, the house interweaves indoor and outdoor spaces to play with shadow and light. The structure is a series of interconnected solids and voids that pinwheel around a central courtyard garden, creating a dramatic blending of interior and exterior. The lofty living room is the pinnacle of this effect, with a massive sliding glass wall opening up to the outdoors and inviting nature inside. Sprawling California oaks and Sycamores dot the adjacent hillside, adding to the home’s charm and allure.

The house in L.A. redefines indoor/outdoor living, sculpted with a nod towards classic European modernism. Architect Van Duysen’s appreciation of brickwork is highly visible in the building’s design, with vertical and horizontal shifts of planes and volumes inside to out. The interplay of flawless white lime wash softening the brickwork evokes an ethereal, yet grounded vibe. The balanced aesthetics of strength and solidity of sources that come from a rich Belgian culture are on full display in this masterpiece of architecture.

For Kayne, the limited palette of interior materials is a relief from the constant visual stimulation of her work. The Dinesen oak, textured plaster and French limestone create a tranquil and neutral atmosphere that allows for clear thinking. Interior designer Molly Isaksen worked with Kayne to create this calming space featuring vintage Scandinavian furnishings, midcentury pieces, and finely tailored seating slipcovered in linen. Each piece shares a similar economy of form and unpretentious bearing.

Axel Vervoordt

Influences: Lucio Fontana, Eastern philosophies, Wabi-Sabi

Notable Clients: Calvin Klein, Kanye West, Robert de Niro, Bill Gates, Sting

Axel Vervoordt, whose parents were an antiques collector and a horse dealer, was born in Antwerp in 1947. His early exposure to timeless beauty influenced his later sense of style. With over 50 years of experience in the art world, Vervoordt has become one of the most respected tastemakers for his unique approach to design- the minimal yet sophisticated “Belgian Look”. He was inducted into the AD100 Hall of Fame and has been hugely influential in the world of design. Vervoordt’s talent lies in his mastery of blending Eastern elements with Western designs whilst harmoniously mixing old with new. As he puts it, “we’re all products of the past, but we must also take inspiration from the present”. He believes that to build a new society, we have a responsibility to embrace both and create something altogether new.

He’s one of the most inspiring interior designers to me; even when I was growing up in Europe, he’s designs connected to him on a deep emotional level.

Belgian interior decorating is often associated with linen drapes that drape elegantly on the floor; or is it rather casual. It’s that casual elegance if I might say. However, this living room sets itself apart from the traditional style with its use of lively yellow upholstery.

Personal Expression in Interior Design

Axel Vervoordt believes that a home is a reflection of one’s soul – a personal expression of the way we want to live, our tastes, perspectives, and connection to the world. As such, private spaces should be designed to restore and uplift, with interiors that are both refined and timeless. Even photos of his work radiate an air of Eastern calmness, as if imbued with a mystical power.

Vervoordt’s fascination with Eastern philosophy and sacred geometry has inspired him to create a distinct visual language. His interiors incorporate natural materials, muted colours, distressed plaster walls, and bare boards – all elements of wabi-sabi, a Japanese philosophy that accepts transience and imperfection.

As one of his clients put it, Vervoordt “creates with his heart.” He eschews flashy decorations in favour of a more understated, soulful aesthetic that is intended to improve with the passage of time – like all true works of art. He calls this approach “harmonious living,” where the goal is not to impress, but to create spaces that are warm, welcoming, and inspiring. It’s the opposite of the aesthetic that most people crave: something that looks expensive but is really cheap.

A Holistic Design Approach

For Vervoordt, a home is much more than just a collection of furniture; it’s a reflection of the people who call it home. And it’s his ability to tap into this essence that makes him one of the most sought-after designers in the world. Axel Vervoordt’s philosophy is that homes should be a personal expression of the soul. They should represent the way people want to live and reflect their tastes, perspectives, and connections to the world. With this belief, he creates timeless, restful spaces with refined interiors. His spaces are where people share private experiences with family and friends; they restore and give energy. As a client said, “he creates with his heart.”

Fascinated by Eastern philosophy and sacred geometry, he has developed a distinct visual language. Even a glance at photos of his interiors evokes a sense of Eastern calm. His designs are minimal, but warm and soulful, with a concept that time is the real artist that makes them more interesting and beautiful.

An Interior Designer Incorporating Wabi-Sabi Influences

Axel Vervoordt incorporates the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi – acceptance of transience and imperfection – in his interiors. His designs showcase muted colors, natural materials, distressed plaster walls, and bare boards. He defines his interiors as “harmonious living,” favoring understated items that have a mystical power. “It looks poor, but it’s very costly,” he affirms. “It’s the opposite of what most people want, which is something that looks expensive but is cheap.”

A TriBeCa penthouse designed b Axel Vervoordt.
Renovated with a soft color palette of reds and oranges, the TriBeCa home exudes warmth and style.

Benoit Viaene

Originally from Kortrijk, Benoit Viaene currently resides in Ghent. He is a distinguished Architect, having graduated from the Henry Van de Velde Institute in Antwerp. With over 15 years of expertise in residential house-building, condominiums, small transformations, and interiors, Benoit is a master of his craft.

Benoit’s style fuses contemporary and historical elements, demonstrating a profound respect for traditional building techniques and materials. The entire process from design to completion is a “creative journey” and I can see that deeply reflected in every interior and every piece of collectible furniture design he creates.

The essence of his creations captures a profound sensuality that speaks to the soul – a strong tactile quality that is so very characteristic of Belgian Design. Both his interiors and furniture are inspiring to our Sacramento interior design team.

The before-mentioned Wabi Sabi influences in Belgian Design are very much evident in his interior designs. A minimal paired down design style that lends itself very well to the design of yoga studios and wellness salons. If you’re in need of commercial interior design in Sacramento or San Francisco, we’d be thrilled to collaborate with you to create a space that fosters wellbeing. Don’t hesitate to reach out – let’s work together to bring your vision to life!

Plastered walls and a concrete floor create a calming zen space in this very minimalistic bathroom design.

Hélène Van Marcke

Hélène has offices in Paris, France and Ghent, Belgium. She splits her time between the two cities and directs an ever-growing team. With a focus on high-end residences, restaurants, hotels, and (shared) office spaces, she specializes in high-profile commercial projects.

Hélène Van Marcke and her team approach each project with a unique perspective, drawing inspiration from the building’s historical context, architectural structure, client personality, lifestyle, location and building techniques. This ensures a fully customized, functional and aesthetically harmonious result. Ultimately, Hélène aims to create warm, timeless designs that incorporate a well-balanced contrast between light and shade, optimize the architecture’s perspectives and highlight outdoor surroundings with pure and generous materials. Tailored detailing and custom furniture often grace her final concepts.

Photography by CAfeine

The Marceau

This exquisite penthouse, situated in a typical Parisian 8th arrondissement building, has undergone a remarkable transformation. Attic rooms, known as “chambres de bonnes”, were connected to the existing apartment below via a fluid plaster-clad staircase, creating a seamless link between private and residential spaces. Expertly designed to balance classical Haussmannian details with modern touches, this home boasts bleached “pointe de Hongrie” oak floors, open plan perspectives and plaster molding and detailing. Panoramic views across Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower and Montmartre are seamlessly integrated into the design.

Strong Focus on Interior Architecture, Sight Lines, and Spatial Relations

The architecture remains understated yet timeless, allowing the owner’s art and design collection to add a vibrant pop of color to each room. The eclectic mix of African pieces by Maison Intègre, cutting-edge designs by Van Severen, Paulin and Charpin, and vintage fixtures by Gino Sarfatti and Paavo Tynell, along with Sheila Hicks tapestries, emanate a mesmerizing appeal. Every room features exclusive bespoke designs by Hélène Van Marcke’s studio, including sofas, desks, and even a custom headboard with Sam Kasten hand-woven upholstering. This residence is an eloquent fusion of classic Parisian architecture and modern design touches, showcasing the perfect harmony between art, elegance, and comfort.

Dries De Malsche

Incorporating authentic materials, such as wood, marble, and stone, elevates interior design projects with a sense of purity, harmony, and tranquility. The hallmark of Dries De Malsche’s work is an unwavering attention to detail, exemplified by use bespoke handmade furniture and traditional building techniques. Free from the confines of trends and fashion, his designs possess a timeless quality that endures.

Skillfully Blending Elegance of Arts, Design and Craftsmanship

Dries De Malsche is a favorite Belgian interior architect and interior designer for me. Modern clean lines converge with classic elements in this dining nook. It portrays a lifestyle in my opinion. Dries designs interiors without overstated luxury but rather focuses on simplicity, materiality (not materialism), understated elegance, and the inclusion of collectible design.

The classic yet modern design in the Antwerp city apartment is a wonderful example of Belgian Design where travertine, natural oak, smoked wooden floors, and marble all play together. These design elements, including framing the walls, take inspiration from the building’s history. The meticulous attention to detail resulted in the creation of a timeless interior.

Photography by Piet-Albert Goethals

Modern Minimalism for Your Kitchen Design

Interior designer Marie Lecluyse, known for her minimalist approach to creating sophisticated homes with historical architecture, believes that “environments, spaces, and personality” are the key elements of genuine interiors. For her recent Light Play project, Lecluyse meticulously designed each unique, often sculptural space in response to its surroundings and in reverence to the history of the building. Lecluyse’s belief that beauty can be found in simplicity is showcased against the backdrop of rural Belgium.

interior designer for kitchen remodels and home renovations; modern kitchen and off-white plaster walls in a modern Belgian design style
A modern kitchen with dark wood cabinetry and marble countertops. Design by Marie Lecluyse. Photography by THOMAS DE BRUYNE. The kitchen features two Mater High Stools by Space Copenhagen.

Avoid recessed lights!

Consider using none or only a very limited number of recessed lights. Rather opt for spot lights. Recessed lights are not always the right choice. Once you open up your ceiling as part of your home renovation, adding decorative lights might be the better choice. Maybe even go without pendant lights above your kitchen island, which often times restricts the view from the kitchen to the common living areas. Having no pendant lights will make it easier to watch TV from your kitchen (besides looking cool).

Another view of this modern kitchen design shows off the clean lines.
An open back kitchen hides more necessary kitchen appliances, which keeps the front kitchen nice and clean.

California Interiors Influenced by Belgian Interior Design

Clements Design is a Los Angeles-based studio that boasts an esteemed reputation. It’s a hot favorite among Hollywood celebrities, renowned for crafting exquisite nature-inspired interior designs that incorporate carefully selected rustic antiques. The design team at Clements understands the personal story of each client, seamlessly integrating it with the architectural landscape and reviving it with modern interiors of understated elegance.

Design by Clements Design.
Photography by Shade Degges.

The style of this Los Angeles interior design studio, oftentimes, draws upon Belgian influences thanks to the use of antiques, natural materials, and layering of heavy textured and linen fabrics. It’s an understated elegance taht comes intuitively to our interior design style. You might recall another project by Clements Design that we highlighted in another post about Sacramento Homes and how our interior design studio approaches them.

Natural Materials

The use of natural materials is one of the main characteristics in Belgian interior design. They can add a tremendous amount of warmth and cozy to your interior design. A warmth that should carry throughout the interior of your home, even when the design otherwise very modern. For many homeowners, contemporary interior design feels cold but using natural materials can change that.

Understated Chic Belgian Inspired Interior

As Belgium has experienced multiple influences from around the world. so has its interior design throughout hundreds of years. You will see that reflected in all Belgian inspired interiors, no matter if they follow a traditional or modern aesthetic. This home was a gut-renovation of a 9,000-square-foot home located in Coral Gables, FL. The couple employed Manny Angelo Varas, CEO and president of luxury home builder MV Group USA, to work with interior designer Briggs Edward Solomon.

We design similar homes in El Dorado Hills, Granite Bay, and Loomis. This elegant Mediterranean-style home boasts double-height ceilings and expansive windows that bathe the interiors with natural light. Make sure to use high quality wood flooring or tile that can withstand sun-fading.

The kitchen features a stainless steel range by La Cornue and faucets by CEA Design. Ceppo di Gré stone countertops and white oak wood millwork cabinetry emphasize the ode to natural materials. Industrial brushed steel swivel stools, Flos structure lighting by Vincent Van Duysen, and Swedish wooden bowls by Briggs & Co. add to the restrained but well curated and refined characteristics of this kitchen design.

Wooden Floors Carry an Important Role in Belgian Interior Design

The European elk wood flooring installed in this custom home lines every room. Cream colored walls add a serene ambiance to the living room, which features white linen sofas as its focal point. Accessories include tasteful leather Pierre Jeanneret lounge chairs, cast bronze side tables, and a midcentury Jean Prouvé daybed. Sophisticated and comfortable, this interior design is a masterpiece in its own right.

Another view of this Belgian inspired interior, highlighting the range view. Interior styling yet to come :)

This interior features a living Divani sectional and pillows, iron tripod table with bronze edging, and Daphine Terra floor lamp are by Interior Deluxe. Vintage Kilim rug, log coffee table, and custom linen lounge chairs in Fortuny fabric are all from Briggs & Co., as are two mid-century woven rush wood chairs. Fortuny has some of THE most luxurious fabrics in the world; sitting in a chair covered in one of their fabrics will feel like a hug from a morning robe.

This moody family room is in stark comparison to the bright living room above, yet located in the same home.
You can use very different moods in one home as long as the style converges to one cohesive vision.
The custom sectional in Perrine Rousseau fabric is from Briggs & Co. Antique table lamps are by Venini. The ancient elm wood coffee table, custom petrified wood side tables, antique leather armchairs, and pedestal are all inspired by Belgian Interior Design.

Raw Edges and a Limited Color Palette

One of Belgian Interior Design most important characteristics is the use of raw natural materials and a restraint color palette. A similar style characteristic to Japandi design (see our journal entry on 2023 Kitchen Trends). For example, try giving your countertops a chiseled edge rather than a squared edge detail. It will instantly give a modern interior a warmer more rustic appearance. We love this interior design detail when working on mountain homes and lake homes around Lake Tahoe.

The world of Belgian interior design has been an inspiration to our Sacramento interior design studio for a long time. From contemporary minimalism to classic traditional aesthetics, Belgian designers infuse character and charm into every element. These interiors exude a deep historic connection yet allow a look into the future. Come be inspired as we introduce you to our favorite interior design icons from Belgium! It goes without saying that we shall show you lots of kitchen design.