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Home Tour | Knokke by Benôit Viaene

  • A Belgian beachside home transcends seasons to become a calming year-round family destination.

    A family’s desire to escape city life to something that felt distinctly different resulted in a brief for interior architect Benôit Viaene to create a getaway from the everyday; where kids, friends and family could gather in a warm and cosy interior.

    This feature originally appeared in est magazine issue 47: Creative State of Mind (pp. 60-73).

    Working within an existing, heritage-listed structure, Benôit conceptualised an extension grounded in a unity of spaces oriented according to the sun’s movement and bearing his signature hallmarks of materiality, light and craftsmanship. “Light is the first element you experience when entering a space, and in this home, the light brings materials to life as it plays with the structures and overall tactility,” he says. “The main idea was to create a home for the holidays where you enter a relaxing place, taking you out of the everyday comfort zone, with a lot of light in different areas.”

    An interaction between the home’s interior and outside garden and swimming pool has been created through a covered terrace that can be open or closed and used all year long, regardless of the season.

    The ground floor was conceived as an area for entertainment, with a large kitchen and dining area featuring distinctive wood flooring and panelling. “The tropical wood has a special patina we created in our atelier, and all planks are exceptionally wide,” Benôit explains. “The massive wooden slabs we used in the dining room were placed vertically and utilised the full width of the tree. We treated them with a bleaching process and combined them with a brass detail to refine the materials’ tactility and interaction.”

    The focus on materiality also extends to the walls and ceilings covered in custom-colour lime plaster. “You can feel the hand of the craftsmen,” Benôit says.

    Paradoxically, the detailed materiality of the home is a blank canvas for the selection of beautiful furnishings. Benôit explains that he didn’t want to create an interior that felt ‘brand new’ but instead an atmosphere with materials that felt as though they’d been there for many years. “To me, the result is like a reminder of overseas destinations, southern cultures, that give the inhabitants the energy for reflection and new ideas. The furniture pieces – a mix of existing and new pieces owned by the client – have the characteristics to open up the mind and trigger curiosity,” he says.

    “We didn’t want to create an interior that felt ‘brand new’, but an atmosphere as if the materials were there for many years, creating a cosy and warm interior.”

     

    – Benôit Viaene

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