Best of est | Belgian Coastal Homes

  • Seaside Retreat by Stef Claes

    Following our round-up of Belgium’s best countryside homes, we’re off to explore our favourite Belgian homes by the sea.

    Spanning a mere 65 kilometres, the Belgian North Sea coastline is home to over ten quaint seaside villages. We’re turning our attention to one in particular; the coastal town of Knokke in Knokke-Heist, West Flanders. Close to The Netherlands border, Knokke-Heist is one of the most sought-after Flemish municipalities in Belgium, known for its charming heritage architecture, evergreen hinterland and Zwin Nature Park.

    These five Belgian coastal homes lift subtle and unexpected cues from their coastal surroundings through refined materiality, neutral tones and considered restraint.

    Belgian Seaside Retreat by Stef Claes

    The aptly named ‘Seaside Retreat’ by Switzerland-based architect Stef Claes is oriented directly towards the North Sea, lapping up views of the water on one side and salt marshes and mudflats that make up a nature reserve on the other. Located in a 1970s banana-shaped building, Stef took a Mid-century modernist approach to redesign the once-tired holiday home, with birch-clad walls and ceilings and terrazzo floors –hardwearing materials that draw on the beachside location.

    Birch shutters with horizontal louvres allow for complete transparency between the seaside outlook on one side and the dunes on the other – or privacy to shut off the bedrooms when desired. The kitchen, living space and dining nook are placed at the back of the home overlooking the beach, backing out onto an outdoor entertaining area at the water’s edge.

    Zoute Apartment by TJIP

    TJIP were called on to refurbish a petite accommodation space by the coast with their quiet, pared-down aesthetic. Designed as a place to retreat, the Zoute Apartment is surrounded by luxury retail stores, cafes and restaurants – all within walking distance of the Het Zoute beach.

    The studio apartment is embrued with a warm palette of cream, beige, linen and rattan, reflecting the light and sand of one of Belgian’s most renowned beaches. TJIP co-founder Thomas Meesschaert says that the reasoning behind the home’s flexible colour palette is its ability to tailor to the season. “The home embodies a sense of freshness during summer. However, it remains warm during cold winter nights,” Thomas adds.

    Belgian Apartment by Thomas Geldof and Carmine Van der Linden

    When approaching Belgian designers Thomas Geldof and Carmine Van der Linden about their new home, the client proposed the question: “how can you respond to such a view that is shaped by nature and tranquillity?” With this in mind, Thomas and Carmine embarked on a mission to imbue the two-storey apartment with a palette fitting to its Knokke location, reminiscent of seaweed, sand and Marram grass banks.

    The architects opted for clay-finished walls for their honest, tactile appeal, letting the apartment feel reflective of the surrounding green fields, sand dunes and harbour. Painted in a muted seaweed green, the birch cabinetry in the kitchen is a direct reference to the water below, while the terrazzo flooring is a subtle nod to the appearance of wet sand. The apartment also includes a timber-clad sauna with full height glazing, providing views of the beach and coastal villas.

    Midan Penthouse by Frederic Kielemoes

    Frederic Kielemoes has redefined the traditional Belgian beach house vernacular in the Midan Penthouse, cultivating warmth with little reference to the sand or the sea. Instead, the designer drew inspiration from the industrial materiality of the fishing boats on the water. Robust materials like Muzillac Veine Travertine, sandblasted larch timber and Mystic Brown stone form the base of the interior palette – materials chosen for the natural patina they will develop over time.

    Grey sheers, linen furniture and pastellone-style walls and ceilings soften the industrial elements of the home. Catering to the small space, woven metal cabinet doors promote openness while a sheer curtain conceals the walk-in pantry. “Just like my Italian grandmother’s storeroom, the pantry has a curtain rather than doors,” Frederic says.

    Residence DVB by Dries De Malsche

    The coastal influence couldn’t be more pertinent in Dries De Malsche’s Residence DVB. “Since the residence is located near the coastline and surrounded by dunes, each material and shape refers to the colour and feeling of sand and sea. The flooring is textured, referring to the feeling of walking on sand, while the finer details are rounded and soft”, the Belgian interior designer explains.

    The home is characterised by bespoke details, seen in the sculptural marble island bench and dining nook in the kitchen and curvaceous walls. The prominent use of travertine, oak and mineral plaster cultivates a calm and soothing sanctuary, letting the coastal locale take precedence over the architecture.

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