New York-style in Ghent
LAURENCE MAES LIVES WITH HER FAMILY AND THEIR TWO CATS IN A LOFT APARTMENT IN THE GHENT VOORHAVEN DISTRICT. LAURENCE HAS BEEN INVOLVED WITH THE SCAPA HOME COLLECTION FROM THE VERY START. SHE USES HER FAVOURITE ITEMS EVERY DAY IN HER HOME. 'MY INTERIOR IS SLEEK BUT SOFT.'
Laurence and her husband Rik used to live in an apartment in the city centre of Ghent – a home they quickly outgrew with the arrival of their two children. After hearing about the new loft apartment project in Ghent's Voorhaven district, Laurence was instantly sold. 'We were immediately intrigued by the unique environment and location and bought our loft apartment while it was still in the planning phase,' explains Laurence. Situated just two kilometres from the city centre of Ghent and near the Ghent-Dampoort railway station, this area bears a strong resemblance to the waterfront neighbourhoods of New York City. The old cranes and old warehouses that line the banks give this neighbourhood a unique look and feel rarely encountered in Ghent. Situated behind the family's loft building is the company run by Dirk Valvekens, a passionate local project developer since 1989 who has attracted dozens of start-ups and young entrepreneurs to the original waterfront loft building.
For Laurence and Rik, living in a loft apartment near the city centre was a more logical choice than finding a home in a greener area, like many young families tend to do. When it came to the interior, the couple had full design freedom and opted for a large living room and an open-plan kitchen that looks out onto the spacious terrace. 'There's also a communal garden, which gives us a view of the surrounding greenery,' says Laurence. The loft apartment features a master bedroom with en-suite bathroom, a dressing room, a seating area for the children, and one bedroom each for their sons Gaspard (18) and Louis (15).
Shades of white, beige and grey
Laurence and Rik both have busy careers that require them to commute: Laurence to Antwerp and Rik to Brussels. 'We like coming home to a quiet and organized house. I don't like clutter. We have several built-in cupboards throughout the house. Order gives me peace of mind.' That peaceful atmosphere is also reflected in the choice of colours. 'A lot of people like colour in their interior, but I prefer more retrained shades with a lot of white. My kids often joke about it and say: as long as it's white or beige, mum will love it.'
During her student days, Laurence worked part-time at the Scapa shop in Bruges. After graduating with a law degree, she wanted to work in the private law or banking sector. 'I called Scapa to see if they had any vacancies, because I really loved the brand. They were just starting the Scapa Home line and were looking for someone to help them roll out the collection.' Laurence was therefore involved with the Scapa Home collection from the very start. As head of the department, she has been overseeing the Scapa Home team for nearly two decades now, from production to sales. In fact, she helped to develop many of the items in her home. She also saw the collection transform from a textile-based line that primarily included bathroom and bed linens, blankets, and cushions into a mature interior design collection. Her oak dining table is surrounded by extremely comfortable 'Davi' chairs that rest atop a lovely grey-white 'Scarlett' area rug.
The living room features a beautiful family heirloom passed down from Laurence's grandfather: an old bergère chair that beautifully complements the inviting 'Michael' sofa. Laurence tailors the blankets and cushions to the season.
In keeping with many contemporary homes, the kitchen is part of the main living space in Laurence's loft apartment. The kitchen island is the centrepiece of the room and is where the family gathers in the evening. 'After a long day, we start our evening here with a good glass of wine and tell each other about our day while cooking dinner.' Rik likes to cook and enjoys picking out delicious ingredients. His go-to recipes for a dinner with friends are lobster in cognac sauce and ossobuco. He's also a fan of dessert, particularly merveilleux, a small Belgian cake that consists of meringue, ice cream, whipping cream, and chocolate. 'I guess you could describe us as real epicureans,' says Laurence with a laugh.