You won’t just find antique dressers and Greco-Roman busts in Maarten Boomker and Sharvin Ramjan’s Classical-style home in Rotterdam, the Netherlands—the star of their Instagram account, Happy Village Interior. You’ll also stumble upon life-size porcelain dogs standing guard, a robot-shaped table from Pols Potten holding cocktails, and a round pink rug grounding the living room. The decorating rules here are simple: There are none.
Going against the grain in the hopes of avoiding design clichés comes natural to this duo. In their day jobs, Ramjan works in talent development for a cultural fund securing grants for on-the-verge designers and Boomker is an interior stylist at forward-thinking interiors brand Pols Potten. “Both of our jobs provide us with endless inspiration,” says Boomker. “Our lives are full of color. Why shouldn’t our home be?”
Many of the brazen design choices they’ve made since moving in last fall involve a rainbow’s worth of paint. From the walls to the floors, no surface (or piece of furniture for that matter) was off-limits, and the results have quickly turned the couple’s previously all-white apartment into a Technicolor showstopper. Here, Boomker and Ramjan walk us through exactly how their traditional home breaks the mold.
“Our lives are full of color. Why shouldn’t our home be?” —Maarten Boomker
A Blushing Baseline
At 900 square feet, the home offers more than enough room for the couple’s pottery collection, plant babies, and mismatched seating. Before they painted the wood floor, however, these memorable accessories were being upstaged by its distracting knots. When it came to choosing a color, white was too expected, so they landed on a barely there pink paint from Dutch brand Flexa that surprisingly matches everything.
“While the floors are a very easygoing hue, it was a hell of a DIY,” Boomker says. “We did it after we moved in, so we were constantly shuffling furniture in and out of each room as we sanded and painted. Plus it took three coats of paint to make sure every knot was properly covered. All that work and we still have to do the occasional touch-up when furniture scrapes the paint off. Regardless, we love the results.”
Follow the (Natural) Light
The pair’s relationship with color is far from scientific—if they like it, it works. That said, they always keep a certain trick in mind when picking out paint colors: They let natural light guide them. “We purposefully chose an enveloping green color in a matte finish so it wouldn’t reflect light,” Boomker says. “This helps the space feel extra-cozy at night.”
A Style Jamboree
The couple’s spin on the circa-1935 space doesn’t take any cues from its original stained- glass doors or ornamental molding. Instead each room mixes styles and references. A few of their more unique vintage finds have even been customized. “We both love to be experimental and make bold decorating choices, like the dripping column in the lounge,” Ramjan says. “It’s from an old theater, and I thought it would be funny if we made it look like it had been dipped into a big pot of paint. Luckily, it turned out just as I had imagined, and I love the nonchalant, Neoclassical vibe it exudes.” Just like that, what’s old is new again.
Turning Leftovers Into the Main Course
Ramjan and Boomker’s apartment resides on their building’s first floor and half of the third, so a long stairway passes the second floor where their neighbors live. In a bid to unify the disjointed layout, the pair (unsurprisingly) let color be the connective tissue.
The living room, for example, hosts a handcrafted mural made up of leftover paint from the maroon dining room, pumpkin-hued lounge, and verdant bedroom. “I was inspired by graphic designers and artists whose pieces feature simple yet colorful forms,” Ramjan says. To make the mural happen, first he sketched out the configuration, then he re-created his drawing on the wall using tape, which made it easy to subtly tweak the layout in real time. Finally, he used his trusty laser level to ensure his lines were straight. Painting it took about a week, he says—every night after work, he’d paint one shape.
Before the couple moved in, their friends and family told them that owning a home means the work never ends—and they were right. Now that the bedroom and living areas have been improved, the DIYers have their sights set on the kitchen. Surprising no one, their plan is polychromatic: They’ll be pairing terracotta paint with blue tiles.
The object in our home that gets the most use: We installed a projector and binged a lot of shows and movies while quarantining. We’re definitely going to be putting it to use when the days get colder.
The most affordable thing in our home that gives us the most joy: The plants! We buy them at a local garden center called Eurofleur—it has unique greenery we can’t find in Rotterdam.
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