Family home on the coast
This classic villa – with garden designed by Mien Ruys – is the perfect home for an expat family. And so is Bergen, a lovely village with European School, and with nice towns, the sea, and Schiphol Airport around the corner.
Around 15 years ago, the current residents were looking for a place where they could live and work with their family with three school-aged children. Their previous home was a classic Californian ranch in Silicon Valley, so space was an absolute must. They searched in Aerdenhout, Bloemendaal, Amsterdam and in the Gooi region, where there are international schools as well, but they simply couldn't find the tranquillity and space they were looking for. Until they set their eyes on Bergen, the gorgeous artistic village by the sea, and yet still close to cities as Alkmaar and Amsterdam, and Schiphol Airport. It just takes a closer look to see the benefits of Bergen, but whoever sees it, realises that it is similar to the Gooi region, but then including the beach.
'It is very rarely that beautiful houses such as this one come on the market, so this villa from the 1930s was a real find', say the current owners while sitting at the kitchen table with a view over the almost 4,000 m2 (1 acre) garden. The house was built in 1938 on a piece of land that was parcelled out from a larger estate. At the back of the garden, there is still an original 'worker's cottage' from that time. This is now used as a guest annex with its own private garden. The Gorter Sterk family, who built the house, chose a robust building style, with a gabled roof, overhang, red bricks, spacious layout and rich details. About ten years ago, the current owners decided to extend the house to the back, but to maintain the same style. They added a sunny conservatory to the extended living room, a large dining room to the kitchen, an extra office space and a first floor with its own entrance, perfect for teenagers, with two additional bedrooms and bathroom. With its very generous living areas, the original wine cellar and basement larder, the five bedrooms and the original servants’ rooms in the attic, this villa is extremely suitable for a family with children. With good weather, the garden, with the spacious porch and south-facing terraces, offers even more living space. 'This truly is a home for entertainment, a Christmas home, a family home', says the lady of the house joyfully. 'We have held brunches here on so many occasions, the house is perfect for this. Caterers can access the large utility room at the front through the garage, it is made for it.' Working from home is no problem either, thanks to two generous studies on the ground floor, both with great views of the garden.
As the children are flying the nest, the owners are now looking to downsize, maybe to a European (capital) city, and they are putting their beloved home up for sale for a next family to enjoy. 'Bergen is ideal for families with young children. The European School is excellent, there are plenty of sports facilities, the beach is around the corner, and cultural life is great and interesting, as is the range of splendid grocery shops, restaurants, boutiques, galleries and bookshops. Here, in our lane, at a walking distance, we have the Zwarte Schuur, a theatre where they programme arthouse films, which is very nice.'
On top of that, the house is ready to be moved in straight away. Of course, you can put your own stamp on the house, but it has always been perfectly maintained and the new kitchen was done in the 1930s style. 'We’ve always spend a lot of time, effort and care when doing any building and maintenance work and have used materials that approached the original ones as closely as possible.' The garden, at the time designed by Mien Ruys – one of the most important and renowned garden architects from the Netherlands – is still in its original design. 'She chose to design the garden in a natural forest style, using only plants and trees that are originally from the area. From the front, the house looks rather modest, the surprise is definitely at the sunny back. Here awaits an oasis, with all the privacy you could wish for.'