Design Notes Archive

Boulevard Leopold

Boulevard Leopold

Weekend warriors looking for a place to decamp this summer should try Belgium’s perennially cool city of Antwerp. A bastion for creative types (counting everyone from Peter Paul Rubens to Dries van Noten among one time residents), it’s even caught the eye of interior designer Ilse Crawford who includes Boulevard Leopold, a quiet bed and breakfast just outside the city center, among her favorite hotels. As far as we’re concerned, anything appealing to Crawford’s particular brand of cool is worth paying a visit. A mere stone’s throw from Britain, accessible by Eurostar or an hour’s flight from London, it’s an easy destination for a summer getaway.

Boulevard Leopold, tucked in a 19th century townhouse on a leafy thoroughfare in the Jewish quarter, is a beautifully time-stamped retreat from the more touristy parts of town. Step inside and lofty ceilings house a menagerie of Belle Époque furnishings that are strewn about in a way that feels collected over time, like the living room of a friend who does eclectic the right way. It should come as no surprise then that an especially grand bathroom is our favorite spot in the house.

As decor goes, there’s something about square ceramic tiles that feels very fresh right now and we love how this room flips conventional wisdom upside down. Rather than tiling the walls and floor, owners Bert Verschueren and Vincent Defontainers painted the floorboards the same milky white as the woodwork and then tiled the walls and ceiling to dramatic effect. Historic references abound, like the double pedestal washstand with separate hot and cold taps and period lighting. Not to mention the always covetable claw foot soaking tub – perfect for sinking into after a day trekking around town.

Photograph © Ben Lambers