Behind the scene

Taking a leap from photography to interior ; my latest project was both a challenging one ( technically) as well as a natural-feeling one, for lots of settings and backgrounds in my photographs tapped into the same themes and so I used some of my own images to enlighten you about my process of transforming a former government Office Building into a Livable Loft with a Cinematic subreality woven in.

The themes I’m talking about are “Hitchcock film-sets” mixed with that almost eery sense of “Departmentstore window-displays” as seen in the 1940ies. (think Bullocks/ Los Angeles or the Samaritaine/Paris. . )

The choice of furniture- mostly vintage-pieces found on E-Bay or garage-sales- adding the sense of ‘forgotten glamour ‘ and the soft daylight that creeps in through glass skylight providing the perfect melancholy one finds in cinematic Painters’ attic studio-sets, making it look both inviting as well as slightly abondened. All that is missing in the Loft are the mannequins resp. actors , but hey! , perhaps YOU can be just that lucky visitor of our Classic Loft , (now occasionally used as photography location ) .

There are Puppy’s and Mannequins…

How much is that puppy in the window? as the lyrics goes , is about a cute doggy no doubt.., but it may well be about that strange desire that one gets – when looking into a perfect window-display … watching a created reality in complete motionless perfection. No puppies , but miniature mannequins below : an example of such a strange world trapped inside a Bonwitt -Teller Bridal window display around 1940.

The window display above looks exceptionally spacious, yet it’s the half size mannequins that play tricks on our dimension perception / Bonwitt Teller Dept. store 1940

The make-belief factor that is found in Cinema as well as Window-displays forms a wonderfull point of departure to base an interior theme upon, treating ‘contemporary Loft’ – reality with ‘Hollywood-themed “‘make-believe reality’ . The true challenge I found was to have the two merge into something people experience as a home-Loft and a film-set at first-impression. The fact that the building once was a classic constructed office-space complete with high pillars and all ofcourse helped tremendously . . Walking through the space with it’s big open portals one already has the sense of wandering through a filmset. Floorplan-Construction was definitely a big part of the process in order to create a livable Loft , but lighting , vintage-hunting and detailing was what gave the Filmset-presence it’s voice.


For a juicy read behind my inspiration: try Martin Turnbull’s Blogs : This writers Blog is complete with juicy hollywood stories, images and archival material of Bullocks Dept. store in Los Angeles. ( and about the ‘Garden of Allah’ Hotel, in case you’d like to crawl deeper into true Hollywood intrigues…)


Apart from a big floating kitchenblock ( with it’s shiny white stone countertop vaguely resembling a large luxurious display-table ) and an oval-shaped wooden conference table; The big space with all it’s pillars should stay sparsely decorated. That way evoking the ‘abandoned’ sensation one gets in a department store after closing time ..

left : Ciro’s Nightclub / Sunset Blvd. – L.A. right : Samaritain loft

Now, with the interior more or less finished ( yes, it never is .. ) , the Loft seems to work it’s magic , being photographed by furniture or Fashion companies on many a day , portraying our house as a contemporary Loft , while in the evenings it is the hollywood atmosphere leaving us wandering around on the set of a ” Film without people'”…

Start of Samaritain

After living for many years in the city-center of Amsterdam – We set out to look outside the city-borders in order to find an industrial living-space with high ceilings , preferably set in a more spacious environment, and after a few visits to the old harbourtown ‘IJmuiden’ on the North-Sea coastline, opportunity knocked in the form of a former Post-office building , facing the Sea-Gates and a huge – still active- Steelfactory ..

With its 340 m2 of floorspace this former-Government-built-Postoffice showed plenty of possibilities , plus the prospect of living right at the edge of an old fishing-harbour – still in reach of the City of Amsterdam – proved the perfect answer to our Lofty desires.

High ceilings and a very spacious Lay out, classic pillars, and view from the back porch on an industrial Steelfactory  and  Oceanliners – majestically gliding through the Seagates spelled three words ; Dream came True.

In their attempt to conform the old Post-office to a livable home-space ,the former inhabitants used fairly light materials ( up to cardboardboxed walls ! ), and the restoring-process  proved not to be a supercomplex one , apart from installing extra electricity hidden inside the walls and underneath it’s wood board-floors.  A 7-headed crew was knocking down walls , replacing floorboards, installing cables ánd dumping cardboard boxes soon after the key was in the door.

view from guestroom
Portside Steelfactory-view from the back of the building.

With it’s Geographic placement on the Harbour in mind , ànd an actual 4meter Long old Belgian Café-bar ( see below) having been left behind by the previous inhabitants,   it was decided upon to trade the ‘Post-office Label’ in for a Maritime Hotel-theme , complete with Café/bar and ‘Hollywood Cantine’-like ballroom.

When the big (former-) Public Office room was stripped and walls torn down ,                  the bare space reminded us of an abandoned 40ties department store. ( hence the name “Samaritain” after the Parisian Department store )                                                                  The two Our chosen themes : that of retro Pacific Maritime-Hotel & abandoned Departmentstore seem to merge happily , when during the final phase of interior-decorating, (white its furniture-choices) the loft revealed a perfect symbioses between filmset and Classic Hotel-style Loft home.

the Old CaféBar being cut & placed as a Room-dividing element

Café Belga
entrance- Room  Bar ‘Samaritain’