Listed building nestling between the Nijmegen hills
After years spent travelling the world, he craved the familiarity of the place where he grew up: Nijmegen. The current owner discovered this extraordinary 19th-century villa, which served as the coach house to the Waalheuvel country estate, nestling between the hills of Nijmegen. The hills were formed by the lateral moraine and bear silent witness to the Ice Age.
The Koetshuis, the colloquial name for this villa, is quite literally built against the hillside. At the front of the property, Rijksstraatweg, once elected the most beautiful street in the Netherlands, is at the same level as the front door on the ground floor, but at the rear of the property, this same floor is well above ground-level. A balcony gives a stunning view of the garden and the Ooijpolder nature reserve beyond. Sloping uphill, Rijksstraatweg conjures up images of a mountainous landscape. Not without reason: an enormous ice cap once covered this area and squeezed and folded the ground to form what is known as the ‘land of the seven hills’. It is fascinating to see how streams of clear water forge their way from the moraine down towards the Waal river. It is a unique area comprising undulating, shady and park-like scenery, as well as flat polders and bubbling brooks, a haven for birds. And for people who love walking and cycling. The imperial city of Nijmegen is just a stone’s throw away.
The Koetshuis was built in 1870 and in the following 150 years, this iconic villa has been used for a variety of purposes. The current owner was keen to buy it, despite its status as a listed building. ‘I always intended to retain the authenticity and original style of the building. So I asked an architect with an understanding of history and a passion for monumental buildings to oversee the project.’ The property underwent a total renovation in 2007 under his watchful eye. It was modernised and made comfortable, with due respect for the villa’s original character. New elements were chosen to form a sleek interior that goes hand in hand with authenticity.
Throughout the project, a historian was in charge of ensuring that the work would not damage the listed building. ‘She was very passionate about retaining the original features of the coach house, both inside and out. This wasn’t a problem, as we were both singing from the same hymn sheet. I’m very proud that we managed to create a warm, homely feel to the house, despite the oceans of space. This is what makes the house so special. Our guests tell us that they feel at home as soon as they walk in,’’ explains the current owner. ‘How did we manage it? I think it’s partly thanks to the colours and materials we used. The main shade is white-with-a-whiff-of-grey. Then there’s a lot of wood and natural stone, but no frills. They wouldn’t be in keeping with the sober Dutch neo-renaissance style of building. As an art lover, I adore the gorgeous oblique light in the living room. I’ve formed a deep emotional attachment to the Koetshuis. I know every stone and every joint of the building, as it were.’’ The roof, walls, and floor have been insulated wherever possible. The energy bills are surprisingly low for a villa of this size. Both the villa and the gardens are illuminated (LED lighting), and there is a professional security system.
The rear entrance, closed off by a metal gate, leads up to the villa via a wide cobbled path. Here, you will find a wooden garden house and parking space for ten cars. There is also a hexagonal arbour close to the rear entrance. The landscaped garden blends in naturally with the surrounding protected landscape. Mature trees were integrated into the design, and various hedges (including an apple hedge) give the garden a whimsical feel. Borders with flowering perennials have been arranged according to colour. There is also a small vegetable/herb garden: you don’t get much fresher than that. Seating areas are dotted around the garden, including some beneath the trees, so that you can choose whether you want to sit in the sun or the shade. The plot is enclosed by metal fencing, set in stone pillars with metal gates at the front and rear. ‘‘The garden provides total privacy. As you sit here and look at the road heading uphill in the distance, it’s like being in a remote French village. ‘You can hear the silence’, is something we hear from our guests.’’
The shell of the villa has retained its authentic appearance. The ornamental bands of pale natural stone, the grey roof slates, elegant dormers and ornaments, Louvre-shutters, bay windows, panes divided by muntin bars. Wide double doors on the ground floor are a reminder of the horses that walked in and out in days gone by. And a floor higher, to the right of the front door, the double doors of the carriage house have been preserved. The interior door and window frames have ornamental mouldings, and every room has deep skirting boards. In addition, panelled doors have been hung throughout the property. Some of them are original, while others were replaced with exact replicas.
The city of Nijmegen is a 20-minute walk from the coach house. This friendly, vibrant university city on the Waal river has a rich history and a countless amenities. ‘‘It’s a great city. I’m still a regular at the bar I went to as a student,’’ admits the current owner. ‘‘To be honest, I’ve hardly used the car since we moved here. But we’re very accessible. The Ressen junction, close to Arnhem and just 15 kilometres away, takes you onto the A50 and A15 motorways. And you can be in Germany (Kleef) in next to no time.’’
Since their children left home a few years ago, the current owners have lived in the villa on their own. Although it is still a cosy home, it is certainly very big. Too big for two people. So they are looking for something smaller. They would like something in the same area to stay close to their roots. ‘‘This has been a fabulous place to live. We’ve made great friends here in the neighbourhood, there’s a great vibe! Our neighbours always pop in for a drink at New Year, for example.’’
The villa has four full-fledged floors. The lower-ground floor, which is partly underground and partly above ground (at the rear), houses a parking garage with room for three cars. This used to be the stables. There is also a wine cellar on this floor, with a stylish natural stone floor and metal wine racks where wine can be left to age. At the rear, above ground, you will find a studio apartment with its own entrance. It comprises two large offices (also suitable as a living room/bedroom), a modern kitchen, and a double toilet area.
You enter on the street side of the property, through the grand front door with ornamental wrought ironwork. The stairwell in the tower is a joy to behold. Walls and banisters painted in pale shades, wooden stairs. ‘‘Isn’t it magnificent? It’s the jewel in the crown of this house!’’ A basalt floor has been laid in the hall and the adjoining corridor, which leads into the other rooms. The huge office is accessible via the main entrance but also has a separate side door with its own hall, which features a fully modernised toilet and cloakroom.
In days gone by, the current living room was the carriage hall. It has a solid oak plank floor. The sturdy natural stone mantlepiece around the fireplace dates back to the early days of the building, as do the two stately pillars. The living room is spacious, but not alienating. It exudes a warm, tranquil atmosphere. And the angle of the light is simply amazing.
Measuring over 80 square metres, it would be safe to say that this kitchen/diner is colossal. The floor is once again basalt, with underfloor heating. ‘‘The kitchen is really inviting. We spend a lot of time in here.’’ A creative wall divides the space into a semi-open-plan cooking area (with every conceivable appliance) and a dining area. The cooking island features an XL gas hob and plenty of work and storage space. The worktop is made from dark natural stone, edged with a band of stainless steel. The matching wall unit houses all the fitted appliances. The kitchen is flooded with pleasant daylight thanks to the bay window. Double doors open onto a covered balcony (with wooden decking). As mentioned previously, at the rear of the property, the ground floor is well above ground level so there is stunning view of the garden. Next to the huge kitchen/diner, you will find a small, cosy room, perfect for me-time.
The walls of the landing are pale and like the four bedrooms, it has smart wooden flooring. This floor has a separate laundry room and a second luxury bathroom, featuring a walk-in shower, a wide vanity unit with a basin and a closed-off toilet area.
There are few words that describe just how large the master bedroom is. It is simply enormous, and quite unique. ‘‘It’s a joy to wake up here every morning. You draw the curtains and see the path sloping upwards on one side, and the Ooijpolder on the other side.’’ The bedroom also has a huge open-plan bathroom. A smart tiled floor has been laid in the wet section. The dividing wall in the middle serves two purposes. There is a spacious walk-in shower behind the wall, and two washbasins in front of it. The bathroom also has a stand-alone bath and a separate toilet area. A huge walk-in closet completes the comfort.
Bedroom number two is smaller but can still be termed large. Then there are two more bedrooms of much the same size. These used to be the children’s bedrooms. Both have a mezzanine floor for the bed, accessible via a sleek, modern floating staircase (wood, stainless steel and glass), leaving the floor clear for playing, working, studying or chilling.
The fully insulated top floor features a landing leading to a separate storeroom. The attic is one huge open space (over 90 m2), with smart wooden floorboards. The impressive roof beams are exposed, and the entire area is nicely finished and decorated in pale shades. The dormers provide plenty of natural light, giving the space a nice feel. The possibilities for this attic are endless. Sport, relaxation, living space, work space, playroom, spa area.
All in all, we can safely say that the Koetshuis is the perfect place for lots of people to be together comfortably. But it also provides opportunity to escape and immerse yourself in the peace and tranquillity that this extraordinary house has to offer.
|Asking price||€ 2100000 K.K.|
|Kind of house||villa|
|Building type||detached house|
|Year of construction||1870|
|Construction type||existing build|
|SURFACE AREAS AND VOLUME|
|Living area||591 m2|
|Plot size||3536 m2|