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Renovating a 400-year-old house is no small task, but how about 25 of them? That’s exactly what creative director Jacu Strauss was faced with when he took on the job of overseeing the top down renovation of the Pulitzer Hotel Amsterdam, which was recently completed. The massive project entailed redesigning more than two dozen interconnected canal houses that make up the property, including all the rooms, event spaces, restaurant, and bar.

“We wanted to highlight the unique beauty of each individual building, but the challenge with embracing each unique characteristic is ensuring that the design overall is cohesive, that it feels like the same hotel throughout,” says Strauss, formerly of Tom Dixon’s Design Research Studio. “We kept the character, quirks and years of history from the old buildings in the new renovation, part of the unique charm of the Pulitzer. The property now embraces its labyrinth of corridors and historical quirks.”

The Pulitzer Amsterdam is located between the city’s two most famous canals—the Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht—and within walking distance of all the notable museums. “We wanted to make sure the hotel from the outside complimented the rhythm of the streetscape, but was also an inviting environment for the locals to enjoy,” says Strauss.

Using an eclectic mix of color combinations and textures inspired by Dutch master paintings, the team worked with a subtle base palette with strong contrasting accents, as well as rough and smooth textures. “The paint and wall colors are a play on dark and light, with a neutral base palette and a contrasting accent palette, like the bright golden yellow on the desk chair against the dark grey walls in the guest rooms,” says Strauss. They mainly used Farrow & Ball paints, including mostly Down Pipe, Railings, Blackened White, and Hague Blue.

No two rooms are the same in this hotel. “I personally stayed in each room in order to feel out the style that fit each one,” says Strauss. “Each room portrays a homey residential feeling in a real Amsterdam apartment with its historical heritage but modern comfort.”

The furniture is an eclectic mix of styles, as if they were left behind from different eras over the last 400 years. These range from custom made pieces, antiques and contemporary items from designers like Maarten Baas, Piet Hein Eek, Tom Dixon, and Lee Broom.

Here, Strauss walks us through the design for each space and how he created these vivid spaces.


For the hotel’s exterior, the team added a natural black oil stain on the bricks. Something traditionally used on old canal terraces. “My first vision for Pulitzer Amsterdam was to do a refurbishment of the interiors and garden that reflected the beauty and history of the 25 historic canal houses that make up the property, and combine it with a beautiful modern interior,” says Strauss.

The lobby features brick walls painted in Farrow & Ball’s Down Pipe with end grain wooden flooring. “The interior finishes in the lobby reflect the fact that those particular buildings were warehouses (wooden beams, brick, end grain flooring, brass reception desks),” says Strauss. “This is contrasted by decadent, elegant, and colorful pockets of furniture and antique art.”

The Classic Queen rooms are painted in Farrow & Ball Lamp Room grey. “I have noticed that I like to combine a mix of finishes, styles, colors, and textures,” says Strauss. “There was some unity overall, but we actually used these differences to our advantage, making sure each room has a unique design.”

“The Collector’s Suites of the hotel are particularly individual so we used this concept to extend the narrative of who may have lived and worked in these buildings throughout the years,” says Strauss. “Each suite gives private entrance to the Keizersgracht, giving it the feel of a real Amsterdam apartment.”

These suites (and all the rooms) come with their own bicycle repair kit by Samson as every typical Amsterdam apartment would need. The custom-designed minibar is made of a 1930s-era drink trolley with gold lead metal work.

For the bar interior, Strauss used dark green walls (Farrow & Ball Studio Green), with natural wood features, silver, navy and green materials, pale blue leather on the barstools, custom print carpets in areas.

For the Jansz restaurant interior, Strauss chose to paint the custom made wall panelling in Farrow & Ball’s Down Pipe, and added green banquettes and black chairs and marble tables. “The renovation has brought quintessential Dutch elegance and style back to the property,” says Strauss.

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