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Collective Spirit: An Appealing Mix of Vintage Stuff and Artful Storage in an Amsterdam Kitchen

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A few weeks ago Remodelista took a tour of the vintage-filled 1880s Amsterdam home of stylist, cook, and cookbook author Helma Bongenaar (see A Collector’s Vintage-Filled Home in a Former Tavern in Amsterdam). What first captured their attention on Instagram, though, was the kitchen, formerly a tavern frequented by the city’s dockworkers, now fitted with Helma’s trademark found, thrifted, and collected finds. Even the cabinets were salvaged.

The space is awash in two shades of palest blue—traditional in Dutch interiors for making the most of the light. Plus, Helma adds, “flies don’t like this color.”

Join us for a closer look at this unique and layered cook space.

Photography by Helma Bongenaar (@helmabongenaar).

Helma Bongenaar Kitchen in Amsterdam
Above: An entryway (at left) leads into the classic corner house. The former tavern space, now kitchen, is painted in two shades of blue with a decorative oval on the ceiling and oversized windows looking out at the Amsterdam street.
Helma Bongenaar Kitchen in Amsterdam
Above: The kitchen runs along the opposite wall. Helma and her husband found the mix-and-match cabinets at construction sites and in dumpsters: “We always ask if we can take them,” they told The Guardian. Note also the chandelier made of ceramic spoons, made by Helma.
Helma Bongenaar Kitchen in Amsterdam
Above: Helma is a collector and thrifter by nature, and a glass-fronted cabinet holds one of her most prized assemblages: vintage French coffee bowls, “more than 100 different designs, blue and white, 50 to 100 years old,” she says, collected when she worked in Paris at the age of 18 as an au pair.
Helma Bongenaar Kitchen in Amsterdam
Above: The floor is part geometric tile, part well-worn painted boards. The hard-wearing wooden counters feature built-in drainboards.
Helma Bongenaar Kitchen in Amsterdam
Above: Copper rails and simple s-hooks keep Helma’s collections of cooking accoutrements within reach.
Helma Bongenaar Kitchen in Amsterdam
Above: The house, built in 1800, follows the format of a traditional Amsterdam commercial building: “shop in front, stock in the basement, and living upstairs,” Helma says. Double glass doors—given to the couple by friends in exchange for a seven-course dinner, according to The Guardianlead from the kitchen into the living area.

Above: The kitchen has a more-is-more feel, with curios on every ledge.

Helma Bongenaar Kitchen in Amsterdam
Above: “There must always be a sense of humor in the house,” says Helma. “Like the chandelier with spoons from China or a lamp with the Eiffel Tower. It has to make me smile.”

For a look at the rest of Helma’s house, see Dutch Light: A Collector’s Vintage-Filled Home in a Former Tavern in Amsterdam.

And for more lived-in kitchens we love, take a look at:

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