Rembrandthuis – Amsterdam, NL


Rembrandthuis, Amsterdam

One month housesit in The Netherlands. Rembrandt van Rijn was born in Leiden and lived in Amsterdam so it seems fitting to visit the home where he lived for 20 years.

Many successful merchants and financiers bought houses in this area in the 1600s. The house is in the centre of old Amsterdam, close to Waterlooplein square, which hosts a daily flea market, more flea than market. If you are looking for Rastafarians selling cannabis leaf t-shirts and others with blue and white Dutch kitsch, it is the place to be.

The house was built on two lots in 1606 and drastically remodelled in 1625, adding another storey and replacing a stepped gable with a more modern triangular corniced pediment. The house was purchased for thirteen thousand guilders, a huge sum, a mortgage that lead to Rembrandt claiming bankruptcy in 1656.

The house deteriorated over the years until purchased by the city in 1906 and handed to the Stichting Rembrandthuis foundation a year later. Finally in the 1990s, the adjacent premise was acquired to build a modern extension designed by Moshé Zwarts and Rein Jansma. The restoration of the original house was lead by building historian Henk Zantkuijl (who also reconstructed Vermeer’s home in The Hague) based on the bankruptcy inventory, his team was able to figure out the home’s layout and usage of different rooms by Rembrandt.

The house has been refurnished with art, furniture and objects from the 17th century but nothing that belonged to Rembrandt. The art collection contains etchings, drawings and paintings from Rembrandt, his pupils and his contemporaries which have been acquired over the years. Unfortunately, the artwork throughout is not labeled and I hate using the headset provided so I was in the dark to what was what, although, I did enjoy the atmosphere of the house.

Purchase a Museumkaart or I Amsterdam City Card and also visit Van Gogh for free.

You can rent the old kitchen and have a meal catered for up to 18 people. How incredibly cool is that? Here is the menu for your amazing night at the museum.

The current exhibit explores the development of printmaking in the 17th century in the Low Countries and Rembrandt’s role in it. A selection of eighty prints from three private individuals including Lucas van Leyden, Jan Lievens and Hendrick Goltzius is on display.

One of Rembrandt’s most famous etchings, Self-portrait, wide eyed, 1630, from the Rijksmuseum, is available to view. Tiny and fascinating, often considered self-indulgent, this small etching and many like it, were practice for Rembrandt in capturing expressions for his larger paintings.

rembrandt kitchen

Slate floors and sink, tiled walls in kitchen photo: Rembrandthuis

As a kitchen designer, when visiting historic homes, I am fascinated with kitchens and how they were used. In Rembrandt’s home the kitchen was the most comfortable room in the house, even the maid’s bed was present.

My husband is in the midst of renovating our kitchen while I traipse through The Netherlands (yes, he is a keeper) and I am very aware of the details of the historic kitchens which I have visited. The simple beauty and functionality of natural materials; marble and slate floor tiles, sinks, and counters; ceramic tiled fireplaces, and cast iron cookstoves and cooking implements; meant to last (and lasting) for centuries. The patina on a marble counter means that it was cut upon, cooked on, cleaned on, every day to nourish and comfort a family. The kitchen is often the centre of a home and I am proud to be part of its design.

Gemeentemuseum – The Hague, NL

Francis Bacon

Creeped out in the Bacon room, with Man in Blue and Bruce Nauman’s Carousel.

One month housesit in The Netherlands. In The Hague, Gemeentemuseum houses the best collection of modern art, design and decorative arts.

In The Hague’s Statenkwartier near the Peace Palace, connected to the Fotomuseum Den Haag.

Designed by Dutch architect Hendrik Berlage in 1935, in a geometrical modular grid formation in multiples of 11 cm. The specially made 11 cm yellow bricks used to clad the structure were subsequently marketed as ‘Berlage bricks’.

Renowned for the largest Piet Mondrian collection in the world, including his last work, Victory Boogie-Woogie and modern art including Picasso and Degas, as well as Dutch artist, Jan Toorop. The museum also houses a collection of fashion items shown at temporary exhibitions.

Purchase a Museumkaart and also visit Fotomuseum Den Haag (next door), Museum Mesdag and Mauritshuis for free.

The stunning, newly roofed-in Garden Gallery hosts the Grand Café which serves coffee, lunch and snacks. The Gispen Berlage chair by Richard Hutten, was designed for this space, the bandage dress in chair form!

The Art Deco style restaurant, Gember, has an open-air terrace and garden pavilion overlooking lily ponds.

Since my stay in The Netherlands, I am increasingly interested in the De Stijl movement and its founders. As a graphic and interior designer, the concept of artists and architects working together abstractly reducing to the essentials of form and colour is appealing. It makes sense that I have slowly been painting the interior of my home white!

The Mondrian collection depicts his evolution from landscape painter to abstraction, his inspiration and collaborations with other artists and his dedication to his politics through art. The simple energy of the unfinished (perhaps, intentionally), final work of Mondrian, Victory Boogie-Woogie, painted in anticipation of victory in World War II, seems to be the ultimate summary of his joy for life.


Victory Boogie-Woogie, Piet Mondrian, 1944.

Admittedly, I have very little interest in fashion and tend to be fairly utilitarian and conservative in my style choices, but I did find the latest exhibition on Dutch fashion designers interesting. Historically, the Dutch were heavily influenced by Parisian style with their own twists, such as a penchance for blue. But the recent rise of designers such as Viktor & Rolf and Iris van Herpen have given international recognition to the distinct Dutch style, lots of black and white, and emphasis on clean line and shape, origami anyone?

collignon dress

I’d wear that! Wool dress by Monique Collignon.



Target on her back. Dress and cape by Frans Molenaar.