Wed. May 29th, 2024

Belgian antiques dealer turned self-taught house design expert Jean-Philippe Demeyer is looking to move, yet he knows it won’t be far from his current West Flanders home. ‘All of my artisans and craftspeople are here. I can’t do without them; they are my hands,’ he explains. 

‘I can make everything and anything within a 50-mile radius.’ Jean-Philippe of JPD Meyer & Co is clearly passionate about having such creativity on his doorstep. While Jean-Philippe loves silk from Venice and velvet from Lyon, he says he doesn’t need these in his work.

A19th-century French chopping block serves as an island. Range cooker, Lacanche. Flower cabinet knobs, Juliette Dieudonné.

(Image credit: MIGUEL FLORES-VIANNA/THE INTERIOR ARCHIVE)

‘I believe you are so much more relaxed when you limit choice, and it makes you happier. Of course, we should be open to other sources but, for me, buying outside this region is the exception; it’s almost the seasoning on a dish, rather than the main ingredients,’ he confesses.

Jean-Philippe describes himself as a ‘vivid transformer’, which is certainly evident in his current home. Built in 2012, in a 17th-century Flemish style, the steep roof, clad with curved clay tiles, and a brick-red painted exterior, mask a coordinated riot of color and pattern waiting inside. 

Dining area of kitchen with inbuilt bench, white tiles and high shelf displaying plates

Table, chairs and wall cabinet; all antique. Ceiling in Sang-Dragon, Emente. Cushions in outdoor fabric, JP Demeyer & Co.

(Image credit: MIGUEL FLORES-VIANNA/THE INTERIOR ARCHIVE)

Bought during the pandemic with his life and business partners, Frank Ver Elst and Jean-Paul Dewever, the house was a quick buy after the leasehold on their previous home, a 15th-century farmhouse, came up for renewal. 

‘I loved our old house,’ says Jean-Philippe, ‘but it was costing us more and more to look after.’ It was also listed, which was hindering the Bruges-born designer: ‘The building took over because I couldn’t change it; it started to change me. It was time to move.’ 

dining room with dining table with white cane chairs

French rattan chairs, Antique. Screen painted by Pablo Piatti. Table, JP Demeyer & Co.

(Image credit: MIGUEL FLORES-VIANNA/THE INTERIOR ARCHIVE)

Change is something Jean-Philippe brought in abundance to this house, described previously as ‘horrible inside’, with every room a shade of beige or grey when they bought it. But Jean-Philippe could see the potential. ‘Even an ugly house can smile at you,’ he says. 

With 505 sq m of space, the rooms were classic in design, even though it was a recent build. ‘It was copy architecture,’ says Jean-Philippe, ‘but for me, a new house should feel modern and “now” and not pretend it’s in 1780. I don’t want to feel as if I’m in my grandmother’s house.’

living space with big white modern fireplace and chairs and flowal sofa and lots of books and sculptures

Bust of Hermes, Florian Tomballe at Studio23. Bespoke fire surround; curtain fabric; bespoke modular curved sofa; upholstery fabric, all JP Demeyer & Co.

(Image credit: MIGUEL FLORES-VIANNA/THE INTERIOR ARCHIVE)

Jean-Philippe goes on to comment, ‘People tell me I have a certain interior design style, but I don’t – I have a method. I’m a maximalist but in a minimalist way. There’s always something that stays the same – the structure – and if this is good, then you can go wild.’ 

To give this house its ‘structure’, the flooring was ripped out and replaced with straw-colored terrazzo downstairs and floral carpet upstairs. Walls and ceilings were painted in a ‘make-up foundation shade’, using a sand-based exterior paint to give the impression of limewash – the type of twist Jean-Philippe always seeks. 

bathroom with big sink area with fabric curtain and red walls

Fabric skirt, JP Demeyer & Co.  Terrazzo, Terrazco.

(Image credit: MIGUEL FLORES-VIANNA/THE INTERIOR ARCHIVE)

The biggest success is the drawing room, with its new fireplace created by a Bruges plasterer, towered by two mirrored walls, and flanked by a vast curvaceous sofa in large-scale blooms, with Empire Revival mahogany chairs from Bruges City Hall, today finished in sunny yellow and a patchwork of fabrics. 

‘For me, there is no interior without recycled antiques,’ says Jean-Philippe. ‘You need something from yesterday and today to make something for tomorrow. I’m always recycling, transforming, and changing what I have.’ 

Hallway in peach collour with stairs and curved striped upholstered bench

Sofa fabric, JP Demeyer & Co

(Image credit: MIGUEL FLORES-VIANNA/THE INTERIOR ARCHIVE)

For now, this house is finished and an exciting new chapter awaits. Unsurprisingly, it’s not the interior of a potential home that matters, but rather the land it sits on. Jean-Philippe explains, ‘I would prefer to find a horrible house on a huge plot, where I can plant an orchid with 300-plus fruit trees, for I know I can change the house and make it ours.’

Bedroom in attic with orange walls and bed with navy velvet curtain, patterned floral carpet and bath in room

Floral carpet; terracotta stool in shape of a flower, both JP Demeyer & Co.

(Image credit: MIGUEL FLORES-VIANNA/THE INTERIOR ARCHIVE)

Meet the designer and owner

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