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The bright side: a vibrant home for a large family

14 September 2016

Instead of moving to a bigger house for their growing family, Annemarie and Rembrandt bought the one next door and joined it with their existing one. ‘It’s a happily imperfect solution,’ says Annemarie. ‘The layout has its challenges – we have a small kitchen for a family of six and another kitchen upstairs that we don’t really use. But the pay-off is that the kids get their own rooms, I get an office-studio for my interiors blog and vintage webshop, and we get to stay in a neighbourhood we love.’

A portrait of Annemarie and Rembrandt

Annemarie and rembrandt’s home truths

WE’RE A BIG FAMILY… with four children – Tommy (nine), Livia (eight), Roos (four) and Julie (two). Life at home can be a bit chaotic, there are always kids running in and out. We have a neighbours’ Whatsapp group to keep up
with everyone’s whereabouts.

IT ALWAYS FEELS LIKE SPRING IN OUR HOME… Who says pastels don’t work for winter? When the days are dark outside, the bright colours inside create a happy mood and remind us of warmer seasons.

JUST LET IT GO… is a useful mantra we come back to time and again. It’s the people and experiences in a home that matter, not the things. So if something breaks, or I sell a favourite item in my shop, we don’t miss it for long.

Mix brights and pastels
Annemarie collects brightly coloured objects
Paper lanterns are an affordable way to add colour

‘I love combining vintage design with new, mixing pastels and brights – I find the contrast uplifting and energising’

Annemarie, interiors blogger, the Netherlands

Customise your workspace

‘Our second living room is now an office/studio space for me and Rembrandt, so we no longer have to work at the dining table,’ says Annemarie. ‘We made our desks from IKEA trestle legs with kitchen countertops, which means we could make them as big as we needed – simple and affordable.’

Love spending time around the table

‘Whenever we eat, it’s always around the dining table – it’s our chance to spend time together and catch up. The food almost takes second place to talking and being together, whether it’s a snack or a proper meal. Everyone has their favourite seat. Rembrandt’s work day finishes early, so he often spends after-school time with the kids while I work. That was our deal for having a large family – we share the responsibilities fifty-fifty.’

Give an old kitchen small updates

Make do with an old kitchen

‘Maybe one day we’ll renovate our kitchen, but for now it isn’t a priority for us. Structurally, it would be a big and expensive job – we felt it was more important to give the children their own rooms. In the meantime, small updates like the hanging rail have made it more organised and easier for all of us to use and share the space.’

Add hooks to make organised living easy
Glass-fronted storage means more organised cupboards
Add racks and boxes inside cupboards

‘I’m not naturally organised and I collect a lot of things, which can lead to everything getting stuffed into cupboards! Being more ordered is something I’m working on’


Choose easy-to-reach storage for kids


With easy-to-reach storage boxes and baskets, kids can get their favourite toys out whenever they want to play. ‘Tommy loves the boxes under his bed and has sorted his things by type – he’s very tidy,’ says Annemarie.

Refresh old furniture with paint


Use paint to give old furniture and accessories a happy new look for kids. ‘I got this mirror for Livia so she had somewhere to get ready in the mornings, but it was too dark for her space. She loves the new pink colour.’

Let kids express their identity in their room


Having a space of their own helps children develop confidence and feel more secure. ‘The kids love to play in each other’s rooms, but can also have privacy if they want it, like when Livia wants to practise her music.’

Make your bedroom a relaxing retreat

‘Rembrandt and I have the smallest bedroom in the house and it’s easy for us to overlook it. But it’s also our retreat – we love relaxing here on evenings and at weekends’


Made by

Photography: Martin Löf
Styling: Abigail Edwards

Follow Annemarie at thuisinstyling.nl