Listen to the tale of Paul Linse, who started out in textile design—and went on to renovate this sprawling house near the Hague
Rineke van Duysen -- Interior Design, 8/1/2006 12:00:00 AM
What happens when your boss becomes your client? Such was Paul Linse's situation with regard to Rattan Chadha, the founder and CEO of the fashion label Mexx and one of Holland's most prominent collectors of contemporary art. "Mr. Chadha gave me my first job out of university. He's more or less responsible for launching my career," says Linse, who began designing textiles for the retail magnate before advising on worldwide store-design concepts for him.
Linse eventually went out on his own, founding Studio Linse, but there were obviously no hard feelings between him and his former employer. Almost two decades after that textile-design job, Linse's firm has completed a renovation of the interiors at Chadha's 13,000-square-foot residence in Wassenaar, a suburb of the Hague. The stucco and brick house, built in 1938, had received a significant, decidedly postmodern update in 1991, and the interiors had something of a split personality.
While Chadha has lived in Holland for much of his adult life, his aesthetic reveals the influences of his Indian heritage—which was clear in the house's abundant color and ornate furniture. On the other hand, because he occasionally uses the house for business meetings and dinners, he'd installed frosted-glass doors and partitions downstairs. "They were strongly corporate and out of place," Linse explains.
One of his main goals would be to refine the interior, so the competing sides of its temperament would be writ a little less large. He would also have to create an appropriate showcase for Chadha's art collection—which includes work by David Lachappelle, Julian Opie, and Elizabeth Peyton—and maintain a livable comfort level. (Chadha, who has six residences in Europe and India, considers this five-bedroom house his home.)
Interior architecture was Linse's first order of business. He started by repaving the entire ground level in oatmeal-colored Spanish marble and redoing the staircase in stainless steel and bleached oak. Next, by removing those ' frosted-glass doors and partitions, he fully exploited the natural light and views afforded by the rear facade's unbroken band of windows, part of the 1991 renovation. Then, however, he added a few partitions—these ones lacquered—for art display as well as structure. "Spaces are separate but fluidly connected," he explains.
The foyer and main hall flow into the living area, where Linse chose neutrals punctuated by vivid color as well as custom furnishings interspersed with high-recognition pieces. Patricia Urquiola's one-armed pedestal chair, in lipstick-red and chestnut-brown leather, sits across from Linse's own 23-foot-long sofa in putty-colored suede. His black glass cocktail table is surrounded by Gordon Guillaumier's toffee-toned suede-covered ottomans. Marcel Wanders's oversize white Shadow floor lamp stands ' next to a trio of female faces, rendered in ink on paper by Andy Warhol.
A slight Asian influence permeates the dining area, separated from the living area by open shelving that displays Hella Jongerius resin vases, among various objects. Lacquered Chinese red, this ingenious unit rises through an aperture in the ceiling to reemerge in the master bedroom on the second floor. In another marriage of furniture and architecture, the dining area's wengé-stained armoire was specially built to fit a gold-leafed alcove. The piece's turned legs and classical proportions are, Linse continues, a "nod to the client's more traditional sensibilities."
Ditto for the oval dining table, its black marble top veined in silver and gold, and—blacker still—the Louis XVI–style dining chairs, with their lacquered frames and leather upholstery. Another dining chair backs up to the foyer's black-lacquered partition, a dramatic backdrop for an Opie vinyl of Kate Moss in a cap.
In a nod to the baroque, a monolithic gilded bureau plat dominates the master bedroom. But near the bay window overlooking the 7-acre grounds, there's also a pair of vintage Gerrit Rietveld armchairs upholstered in caramel felt with cream-colored reverse stitching. Linse tied the two styles together by relying on a warmer variation on the neutral theme: taupe walls, sand-colored wool carpeting, fawn-toned cotton sheers. Instead of a conventional headboard, he built a run of shallow white-oak cabinetry.
In the bathroom, Spanish marble covers the walls, the floor, and the vanity. And the shower enclosure's glass panels are back-painted a luscious pinkish-brown that, illuminated by LED cove lights, perfectly matches the petal-and-coffee tones of the marble. "I went through at least 10 permutations of that color to make sure it was the exact shade," Linse says. That's the kind of perfectionism only a client—or a former boss—can demand.