Get Ready for Gezellig

Here are five ways to introduce Dutch-style elements into your decor.

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The Netherlands is known for its colorful flowers and renowned art from painters including Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Piet Mondrian.

But if you think you must head to The Netherlands for design inspiration, think again.  A surge in Dutch art, design and floral exhibits is on display across the United States, from the 2017 Philadelphia Flower Show’s celebration of Dutch culture to futuristic fashion designer Iris van Herpen’s first North American tour.

And here’s the great thing. The Dutch lifestyle concept, referred to as “gezellig,” is easier to say (pronounced heh-SELL-ick) and to attain than other recent trends, like hygge.

Modern Living Area in Converted Warehouse

Modern Living Area in Converted Warehouse

DiMase Architects designed a modern living area in a converted warehouse in Australia.

Photo by: Trevor Mein

Trevor Mein

It’s simply about togetherness — people having a good time, socializing and being comfortable in a cozy but upbeat setting. Gezellig doesn’t demand that your interiors are strictly traditional or contemporary, or even perfect. What’s enjoyable for you and your guests may be different from your neighbor, and that’s OK.

Another great thing about gezellig is that you can love simple, clean lines or richer contrasts between dark and light. You can enjoy a bit of humor in your home.

"Gezellig is a feeling that brings together good things in people and place," says Australian architect Antony DiMase. "In the home environment this could mean a vase of flowers, friends enjoying a coffee or a house that is warm and friendly."

Here are key elements for making Dutch-style design a “do” in your decor -- just choose what works for you.

Drawing from the Dutch Masters

Channel the natural inspiration, aura and lighting of paintings by Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Vermeer.

Interior designer Martin Kobus’ library in the 2017 San Francisco Decorator Showhouse began with Rembrandt. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston gave Kobus, a Dutch native, permission to render the work into a light box, which inspired his firm to create its own take on the Dutch Masters.

Modern Eclectic Beamed Library with Artwork

Modern Eclectic Beamed Library with Artwork

A library by Dutch-born designer Martin Kobus was inspired by the use of an original Rembrandt. His firm installed crisp white plaster work on the ceilings in between the beams and on the upper walls, then stained the wood paneling a rich dark espresso.

Photo by: Douglas Friedman

Douglas Friedman

Kobus’ firm created the style of the Masters in two other photographs, but in a humorous way.

Modern Eclectic Library

Modern Eclectic Library

The Dutch masters inspired the artwork in designer Martin Kobus' library in the San Francisco Decorator Showhouse.

Photo by: Douglas Friedman

Douglas Friedman

The tulip hat was made with real tulips to mimic the white caps of Dutch ladies, and the paper cake doilies are a nod to the collars the subjects are wearing in the Rembrandt paintings.

Lovely blooms

Bring back the florals, through artwork, patterned upholstery, and depending on your budget, fresh or artificial arrangements of tulips, or even wildflowers.

Bold and Colorful Floral Wall Art and Accessories Above a Table

Bold and Colorful Floral Wall Art and Accessories Above a Table

Florals abound in a Houston, Texas, home designed by Olasky & Sinsteden with photography by Oberto Gili and a Bunny Williams console.

Photo by: Read McKendree

Read McKendree

Also, consider using more contemporary color palettes, like the reds and blues, which modern artist Piet Mondrian of the De Stijl movement used (it’s even on a city hall in The Hague), and hues such as greens and yellows.

Then, let the florals fall where they may in arrangements. Often, they have an abstract, almost imperfect quality, says Atlanta designer Nina Nash.

“The florals are more dramatic, but in an artsy way, like a painting,” she says.

Light-filled Breakfast Room with Floral Arrangement

Light-filled Breakfast Room with Floral Arrangement

Dana Wolter Interiors used a grouping of florals to accessorize a wood breakfast table.

Photo by: Graham Yelton

Graham Yelton

Lately, she’s been loving floral prints on items such as lampshades or covering entire pieces of furniture.

Traditional Library with Floral Sofa and Still Life Artwork

Traditional Library with Floral Sofa and Still Life Artwork

Catherine Olasky and Maximilian P. Sinsteden with Olasky & Sinsteden used several works from artist Martin Mooney, an English oil painter fascinated with and influenced by the Dutch style of still life, in a traditional library.

Photo by: Read McKendree

Read McKendree

Catherine Olasky and Maximilian P. Sinsteden with Olasky & Sinsteden, which has offices in New York, Houston and London, used several works from artist Martin Mooney, an English oil painter fascinated with and influenced by the Dutch style of still life, in a library.

Multi-colored Floral Tablescape

Multi-colored Floral Tablescape

A multi-colored floral tablescape by the Norristown Garden Club was created for the 2017 Philadelphia Flower Show.

Photo by: Philadelphia Flower Show

Philadelphia Flower Show

And don’t forget to use the national color of Holland – orange — in your florals and accessories, like this tablesetting by the Norristown Garden Club for the Philadelphia Flower Show.

Multi-colored Light Mobile

Multi-colored Light Mobile

Dutch designer Frederike Top captures light through her “window danglings,” which cast various colors throughout the day.

Photo by: Frederike Top

Frederike Top

Meanwhile, Dutch designer Frederike Top captures light through her “window danglings,” which cast various colors throughout the day and appear to also evoke a palette of blooms from The Netherlands.

Moody yet crisp

Modern European-inspired Library with Espresso and White Walls and Ceiling

Modern European-inspired Library with Espresso and White Walls and Ceiling

A library designed by Martin Kobus in San Francisco has a massive fireplace sheathed in a clean white plaster and a custom sofa wrapped in pleated folds of leather.

Photo by: Douglas Friedman

Douglas Friedman

Emulate the Dutch Masters with your own study of light and dark. Kobus installed crisp white plaster work on the ceilings between the beams and on the upper walls, then stained the wood paneling a rich dark espresso. The massive fireplace was sheathed in a clean white plaster finish to match the plaster work. In the rug, lighter tones meet darker shades in a patchwork of texture and smoky navy, charcoal and gray.

Leather, wood and materials that age well also are elements of Dutch style.

Modern Decor with Copper Light and White Vase

Modern Decor with Copper Light and White Vase

The copper light is designed and made by Dutch design firm Vij5.

Photo by: Vij5

Vij5

Design studio Vij5, with its minimalist copper lights, was among the Dutch designers exhibiting at WantedDesign Manhattan during NYCxDESIGN 2017.

Big brushstrokes

Chic Farmhouse Entryway with Artwork and Bleached Floors

Chic Farmhouse Entryway with Artwork and Bleached Floors

Dana Wolter Interiors created an elegant entryway with bold brushstroke artwork and bleached floors.

Photo by: Graham Yelton

Graham Yelton

Large brushstrokes of the art in the foyer contribute to the Dutch feel in a home designed by Dana Wolter Interiors, based in Birmingham, Ala.

But the brushstrokes needn’t be limited to  paintings on the wall. Light wood with a limed wash or whitewash can also bring in an European mid-century look that identifies with Dutch lifestyles. Meanwhile, Nash also loves how the design of Kimpton Hotels are turning attention to Dutch design elements.

Bicycle Lifestyle

Minimal Living Room with Chairs, Blue and White Rug and Bicycle

Minimal Living Room with Chairs, Blue and White Rug and Bicycle

In this minimal living room, Dutch designer Dirk Vander Kooij's innovative "Endless Chair" provides the seating while a bicycle also is part of the decor.

Photo by: Dirk Vander Kooij

Dirk Vander Kooij

Bicycles are an essential part of Dutch culture, so don’t hide that bike. Make it part of the decor, treating it almost like a piece of art.

Modern Converted Warehouse with Brick Wall

Modern Converted Warehouse with Brick Wall

DiMase Architects converted a warehouse to a residence with features such as a brick wall.

Photo by: Trevor Mein

Trevor Mein

The gregarious and relaxing feeling that DiMase Architects’ clients wanted in their converted warehouse fit with the phrase: “As long as it’s gezellig, everything’s good!”  

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