4 Major Style Lessons I Learned from Amsterdam

Amsterdam is one of those cities that just makes you feel good the second you get there. It’s picturesque, that’s true—with the canals, houseboats, and everyone (and I mean everyone) on bikes. If you’re lucky, tulips are accenting everything in sight. The city is also a mecca of Dutch style, with elements that make it uniquely its own. I’ve traveled to Amsterdam a handful of times, most recently in April, and can never get enough of its eclectic, yet refined, style.

Curious to bring the look across the pond? Here, some decor takeaways from the beautiful city.

1. Open Up Your Home

In the Netherlands, and particularly in Amsterdam, curtains are merely a formality—you don’t close them very often, if at all. Leaving them open shows you have nothing to hide, and honestly, lets so much light in, particularly on ground floors that do not get a ton of it. It’s also a way of welcoming others and showing off your home.  (Don’t believe us? Check out Tolga and Tomi’s house tour! )

I brought this Dutch trend back home—and gave it my own stateside spin. You see, I rent on the ground floor of an apartment building, and it must be said, I have weird blinds that I have yet to remove (it would be a hassle, let’s just say that). But instead of using those or keeping them closed, I hung a double-rod, placed patterned curtain panels and sheers underneath, and keep them open most days to enjoy the light. My street is particularly quiet with not a ton of foot traffic, so it works for me. On the days when I’m not feeling particularly welcoming (er, my apartment is a mess), I just close the sheers. At night, it all gets closed for a bit of privacy, but that’s just me—I’m still working on that Dutch mentality.

2. Make Function an Aesthetic

Amsterdam canal houses (and houseboats!) are beautiful, but they’re narrow—meaning storage and style have to go hand in hand. Bike racks become wall art, in a very real way. Even the Pulitzer Amsterdam , one of the chicest hotels in the city, co-opted this aesthetic by placing a bike on the wall in some of the rooms as true art. Think of the things you have to store or have the impulse of hiding and celebrate them. Place your beach bags or purses on the walls or on shelves, stack sports equipment as art… you get the gist.

3. Don’t Be Afraid of Color

Amsterdam is not afraid of color, one bit. While some of the newer styles have trended towards a black-and-white or neutral theme, the city’s love affair with color is well documented in the colors of the houses on the canals, the local artisan’s wares in the market, and the Dutch artists’ work in the galleries. Use color and don’t be afraid to be bold with it—layering colors also creates a fun and playful touch that transcends style trends.

Not a big fan of brights? Take a cue from Tim and Ren’s house tour with pops of moody color.

4. Go for Finishes That Age Well

As Desiré van den Berg’s house tour proves, Amsterdam and Dutch style is full of industrial details. Metals and leather take center stage, and just like the storied tradition of the city, these finishes age well. And while these finishes may be on the more expensive side, they’ll stay with you for quite some time, aging and showing your story that becomes part of your decor; something that I personally love.

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