Tag Archives: Amsterdam

Cool office redesign for storage provider City Box


City Box has undergone a considerable transformation. The Dutch branch of the supplier of storage space wanted to position itself as a quality brand and this meant its image of price fighter had to go. This called for a broad approach in which this vision had to be translated into concrete and tangible design ideas and implementations. The logo, pay-off, interior and exterior of the head office; work wear, signage of the branches, as well as the interior and exterior of the pilot branch in Den Bosch have been dealt with. Amsterdam based Studio Babette Porcelijn was hired for this extensive operation.

Sketch for City Box office redesign by Babette Porcelijn

Sketch for City Box office redesign by Babette Porcelijn

The client first
From the first moment customers connect with City Box, usually through the website or at one of the branches, they should feel welcome and that City Box is thinking along with them. In consultation with Babette, City Box’s Online Product Manager and external experts improved the website. The site addresses its visitors directly and offers them the possibility to arrange most things online. This functionality will be gradually extended in the near future. Not only the website, but also the reception area of the branches were improved. Before, clients had to ring the bell so an employee could let them in. Now, the door automatically opens. Babette designed a coffee corner for the pilot branch in Den Bosch where customers and employees can have a quiet conversation, or customers that are in the middle of moving house can recover their breath.

Coffee Corner in one of City Box's branches. Photography - Babette Porcelijn for City Box

Coffee Corner in one of City Box’s branches. Photography – Babette Porcelijn for City Box

 

Recycled materials in the interior design

The customer experience plays an important role in the new service centre that Babette equipped. Next to high-end materials Babette also used second hand products, building materials, and cardboard in the design of the interior. A counter made from stacked up removal boxes, different types of chairs all spray-painted in one colour, lamps made from porcelain cups or cardboard, a table top featuring old record sleeves, and Persian rugs; they all refer to the world of moving house, renovating or storing dear personal items.

Old record sleeves and unicolour painted vintage furniture recreate the world of storage and personal belongings. Photography: Babette Porcelijn for City Box

 

Use of vintage finds, recycled materials and hints to the world of storage and personal belonings in City Box service center interior. Photography: Babette Porcelijn for City Box

Use of vintage finds, recycled materials and hints to the world of storage and personal belonings in City Box service center interior. Photography: Babette Porcelijn for City Box

Babette: “It was fantastic to be able to create an overall concept like this. I got a chance to use all my skills and knowledge. From translating City Box’s vision into a brand strategy, to the design and realization of concrete solutions. To make all this happen I worked with various experts from my network and external companies that City Box does business with. I also received a lot of help from City Box’s own employees. Together we were able to deliver the quality that you can see today.’

Babette has a degree in Industrial Design Engineering at the TU in Delft. She spent ten years working for design agencies as a communication designer. Her clients included Sara Lee, Heineken International, KLM, and E.ON, but also for small and medium sized enterprises. Since 2011 Babette has been working as an independent strategic designer. She develops the strategy, design, and content of communication means. She works cross-media, creating interior design, graphic design and interactive design. Among her clients are ‘dienst Noord/Zuidlijn’, Griph law & tax, KWPS, Urban Resort and Pit4Business.

 

Tall windows


The Dutch like their windows. Maybe because in the old days our winters were cold and dark, so we wanted to let any of the sparse sun light in as much as we could. Visitors of Amsterdam often marvel over the huge tall windows that can be found in canal homes. And with the Dutch not liking closed curtains, they often offer true Home Voyeurs wonderful peaks into what’s behind those windows! It saves on bills too as the warmth of the sun heats up a room pretty fast with large windows. Our own home has three large windows facing the street, each over 7 feet tall, but we live on the 2nd floor. However, I have shown my home here enough I think. So here some other examples to feast your eyes on. Not necessarily Dutch by the way.

Wonderful low budget office redesign


War Child is a wonderful organisation that helps children in war zones. They recently moved offices, and were in need of a low-budget yet representative new home. After offices along the historic canals of Amsterdam and an old church, the new office, a concrete box on top of a small strip mall, was a bit too much of a cold turkey, so they called in help. They really want to spend as much of the money they have on their projects.  So Eckhardt en Leeuwenstein architects, who were commissioned to design the new offices, needed to keep it lean, but mean. And mean it is. I absolutely love the result. Vintage finds from goodwill, all painted in one colour. So simple, so effective.

New War Child offices in Amsterdam. Photo: Evelyn Sanders for Eckhardt en Leeuwenstein

New War Child offices in Amsterdam.
Photo: Evelyn Sanders for Eckhardt en Leeuwenstein

New War Child offices in Amsterdam Photo: Evelyn Sanders for Eckhardt en Leeuwenstein

New War Child offices in Amsterdam. Photo: Evelyn Sanders for Eckhardt en Leeuwenstein

 

 

 

The smallest apartments in Amsterdam


A top three of teeny-tiny apartments in the Amsterdam real estate market.

1. 16m2 / 172 ft2, right on the canal

This very compact refurbished studio apartment on Amsterdam’s posh Prinsengracht offers all you need. A new kitchen with basic appliances, a small freshly retiled bathroom with shower, toilet and vanity. The roof is sloped,further limiting the available floor space. But it has its charm, and I can imagine the view, once one sticks their head out of the window, is quite nice. The studio is in the front of the building, so canal side. It was on the market for €120.000 / $162.000. That’s €7500 per m2 / $942 per ft 2, which is quite steep even for Amsterdam standards. But it sold within 4 months.

A tiny studio right on an Amsterdam canal

A tiny studio right on an Amsterdam canal

Refurbished and move-in ready

Refurbished and move-in ready

2. 22 m2 / 237 ft 2, again on the same canal

Funny enough the second smallest apartment is not far from the previous one. Again, this tiny studio is in a very characteristic and typical Amsterdam building on the canal. However, this apartment is not as refurbished as the other one, and the kitchen leaves a lot more to desire. But it does have double doors opening to a French balcony and I guess it’s bigger. The apartment faces the garden in the back, so no canal view. A big bonus is a storage room on the ground floor and access to a communal garden. This one was on the market for €129.000 / $174.400 and sold in a bit over 4 months. The price per m2 / ft 2 of €5864 / $736 didn’t scare potential buyers.

Another studio on one of Amsterdam's famous canals

Another studio on one of Amsterdam’s famous canals

French doors leading to a French balcony facing the communal gardens

French doors leading to a French balcony facing the communal gardens

View to the gardens in the back. The owner of this studio has shared use of the garden

View to the gardens in the back. The owner of this studio has shared use of the garden

3. A 23 m2 / 248 ft 2 studio with balcony overlooking a canal in up and coming Amsterdam West

This building is a bit of a landmark. It’s right along a canal by a working drawbridge, so many of Amsterdam’s inhabitants have seen it while waiting for passing boats. It’s in a part of town that was not really desirable up until a few years back. Since then, many people have ventured that way for its cheap real estate, and its proximity to the more popular parts of the city. This brought in new shops, bars and restaurants and in turn caused a fast rise in prices and a shift in the area’s popularity. That makes the price of €89.000 / $120.000 surprising.  Only since the crunch have prices dropped slightly below €100.000 for the smallest of places in lesser areas. The owner must have been going for a quick sale. Like the other, this one sold in a little over 4 months. Surprising because flats in this building tend to sell faster. Especially considering this is one of the few with a balcony. Only the first and top floor units have these. The apartment consists of a small living/bedroom, a separate kitchen, nice when you only have one room, and a small bathroom. There are a few built-in closets. The view is quite spectacular. And there’s a shared garden, laundry facilities, private storage and a communal bike storage. The building itself is an architectural gem so all in all a very good deal for €3870 per m2 / $484 ft 2.

The 'Geuzenflat' overlooks a working drawbridge in one of Amsterdam's newer canals.

The nicknamed ‘Geuzenflat’ overlooks a working drawbridge in one of Amsterdam’s newer canals.

The building's official name is Oranjehof, and is listed as a monument

The building’s official name is Oranjehof, and is listed as a monument

The door leads to a balcony overlooking the canal

The door leads to a balcony overlooking the canal

 

What $2.950.000 buys you in New York.. and in Amsterdam


A recent post on one of my favourite blogs, The Real Estalker, featured a modest two bedroom apartment in NYC. I am no newbie to international real estate so know that prices tend to be, well, insane there, but this surprised me. The 1,486 square feet apartment is listed for $2,950.000….

Don’t get me wrong.. it’s a nice place, but $2.950.000? really??

Granted; the views are amazing, and having windows in both the bathroom and kitchen are rare in this city, but still…. $2,950.000???????

Let’s stop and have a closer look. First, let’s get this in metrics; $2,950.000 equals about €2.225.000 and 1486 square feet is about 138 square meters. I am actually wondering if, based on the floor plan, that figure is not a bit of a fib, but let’s say that square footage is a hard fact. Now come join me and find out what that price tag gets you in my home town Amsterdam, shall we?

Schermafbeelding 2013-09-11 om 11.40.38 AM

I give you, the floor plan of just one floor of our soon to be revealed mystery home

I wish I could get a sharper image, but I am confident that you can see that this home (yes home, not apartment) is a tad bit bigger than the NYC listing. It is situated on one of Amsterdam’s famous canals; Leliegracht. It’s listed for exactly €2.225.000 and for that you get 13 rooms spread over a total of 500 square meters (5382 square feet). But the real treat is the garden! The back of the house is double width so the garden is huge with a lot of privacy. It borders the neighbouring gardens so the city seems far, far away.

The House is situated on a lovely, treelined canal

The House is situated on a lovely, treelined canal

The home would not be fully available for use though. The second floor consists of two self-contained studio apartments that are rented out. But this, in turn, gives you a bit of cash each month, lowering the monthly payments. And the current tenant is willing t discuss a move. That’ll cost you a so called ‘oprotpremie’ (severance pay). Mind you, there is still more than enough private space, and the studio’s make use of their own separate entrance. The one downfall really is parking, or rather, the lack there-off. No private parking means you are subjected to the bureaucratic hell that is parking laws in Amsterdam. If you did not leave behind a house in the same area, you might be looking at a waiting list for one spot. But then again, the building fees of the apartment in NYC are a staggering $2668 a MONTH, which is more than enough to rent two parking spots somewhere nearby.

The main floor boasts a wonderful formal living room and eat-in kitchen with doors leading to the garden

The main floor boasts a wonderful formal living room and eat-in kitchen with doors leading to the garden

Lush gardens, with several spots to follow the course of the sun

Lush gardens, with several spots to follow the course of the sun

The house is old, built in 1900. Which is actually relatively young for its location as most homes on Amsterdam canals are from the 18th, sometimes even 17th Centuries. It’s a monument, which does mean that you are limited in what you can change or do with the home. But anything you do, you can do subsidised! Ahhh, the joy of living in a socialist state ;-)

The house actually looks older than it's 114 years.

The house actually looks older than it’s 114 years.

So, I guess it’s safe to assume living in NYC comes with a price. A high price. And here we are, Dutch ‘disgruntleds’, complaining about the price of real estate in our capitol…… I dare not compare the other way around; checking to see what a private residence with garden on Manhattan would cost. I guess it’s more though.

What a budget of €1250 can get you in Amsterdam


Say you are an expat, or a graduate moving from a university town ready to start that new job, but you just need a home. Ideally two rooms, and in a nice are close to bars, shops and restaurant as you are not ready for the ‘burbs yet. Your budget is a mere €1250. What will that get you in Amsterdam? The city know for it’s high rents and frustrated real estate market. Here’s a closer look.

If it’s Amsterdam to the fullest you’re after and you just have to live on a canal within the 101x zip, you might like this little number on Nieuwe Herengracht. Actually, 80m2 is a pretty decent size in a town where square meters come with a price. The apartment was recently refurnished with nifty looking vintage and antiques and has a funky red fully equipped eat-in kitchen and a spacious lounge and bedroom. It even has a balcony and is in the very desirable area de Plantage, home of Artis, Amsterdam’s Zoo. The rent is €1250, but this excludes utilities. So budget at least another €100 to keep the heat and warm water running.

Amsterdam apartment for rent

Amsterdam apartment for rent

Amsterdam apartment for rent

Amsterdam apartment for rent

In another desirable part of town, the old Jewish quarter behind Waterlooplein, this charming warehouse conversion is on the market for €1250 too. Again, furnished, albeit not as swish as the previous place. However, this is a duplex apartment with an attic conversion bedroom. The building seems to share a communal waterfront space which allows for lovely pick nicks and maybe even a boat? The area is lovely with the famous thrift market Waterlooplein, all the bars and restaurants of both Nieuwmarkt and China Town and the Red Light District near by too. This is old Amsterdam for you.

Amsterdam apartment for rent

Amsterdam apartment for rent

Amsterdam apartment for rent

Amsterdam apartment for rent

Amsterdam apartment for rent

Amsterdam apartment for rent

If it’s style you’re after, don’t mind small space living, and want to be in the middle of it all, this is your place. This 30m2 two room apartment is on the top two floors of a lovely house in the Jordaan; another great area. It’s been completely revamped and looks very sleek and modern yet cosy too. It’s a bit cheaper than the other two places, but does not include utilities. It’s furnished however, and the location is quintessential Amsterdam.

Amsterdam Apartment for Rent

Amsterdam Apartment for Rent

Amsterdam Apartment for rent

Amsterdam Apartment for rent

Amsterdam Apartment for rent

Amsterdam Apartment for rent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which one would you pick?

 

Hurray! we have a balcony!


It took some time, sweat and tears, but boy was it worth it!

We have a balcony!

our Tea for Two balcony

our Tea for Two balcony