The exterior of Graanmarkt 13 is so fresh, white and deliciously clean it makes me want to lick it. Is that weird? It sounds a bit weird when I say it out loud. Let’s gloss over it. The lovely old house is in Antwerp, Belgium, and it’s a house in the real sense – its top-floor apartment described by the owners as ‘their best kept secret’. Initially earmarked as a bed and breakfast, the apartment is a vast and beautiful space, available for up to six adults at €1,300 per night. The rest of the house serves as a restaurant, fashion and lifestyle retail business spread over four implausibly attractive floors.
Vincent Van Duysen was the architect in charge of the project, rightly claiming that the building is at the heart of what Graanmarkt 13 stands for. The interior, having been “wasted” by previous tenants, has been restored in a purposely unspectacular way. Another key player on the transformation was Belgian studio Base Design, responsible for the look, feel and branding. Parts of the retail floors are laid out in a traditional manner, while others are more like a show home, but one in which everything is for sale. Food is available at lunch and dinner; the man in the big hat is renowned young chef Sepp Nobels.