Spontaneity is something that that Selina and Jurjen van Hulzen have absolutely no trouble with. While most people go to great lengths to plan a move to Ibiza, it was a much more fluid process for this family. The architect and interior designer and his teacher wife came to the island with their two children for the first time in 2014 to visit friends and decided right then and there to move. While a heavily pregnant Selina waited in Amsterdam Jurjen returned to find a place to live – almost signing a lease on an expensive villa.
Back in Amsterdam he received a call from a friend telling him there was another place he simply had to rent and quickly. So, sight unseen he signed the papers and a few months later the family arrived in the middle of the night to a house on a hill in the north of Ibiza. By now baby Ziggy had joined his big brother Mads and sister Lou and when they all woke on that first morning they stepped out onto the terrace to be greeted by the most amazing view across the Morna Valley to the distant sea. They had arrived home.
It wasn’t long before Jurjen started to take a more critical look at the house he had signed up for and his architect’s mind started to whir. The first project was to convert a disused and rather dirty storage area into a guesthouse. It was a small place but through the decades thick grime Jurjen had a vision and coming from living in Amsterdam in a 60-metre square apartment with three kids, his concept of transforming small spaces is nothing short of magical. The project soon became a way for Jurjen to showcase his metier and the brands he works with closely through his design company Ibiza Interiors, his design and architectural firm Standard Studio and his specialised furniture store Modern Vintage. “I’m always looking at spaces and thinking about what I can do with them,” he says. “At first the plan was to do something simple and cheap to host guests here, but then I started to think about it more and… well, I am a perfectionist and I became a little bit obsessed!”
Obtaining an interior design degree followed by studies at the Amsterdam Academy of Architecture led to a job at prestigious architectural firm Concrete Architects. There, Jurjen designed hotels worldwide with projects in New York, London and Paris. One challenging project was the CitizenM hotel chain. The brief was to design a luxury hotel room that was only 14 metres square – the result is masterful and shows his fixation on perfectionism regardless of the constraints. “I can never compromise on functionality, that’s the architect in me,” Jurjen explains. “When you design interiors, it’s for five, maybe ten years and then you change it again. But in architecture it’s for 30 years or a hundred years and that’s how I approach it. Even with my design work, I approach it with the mind of an architect.”
Jurjen’s perfectionism is evident in every aspect of the guesthouse. Oversized iroko wood and glass doors open on to a double height dining and living space. A ladder reaches up to the loft bed where a super luxe Coco Mat bed awaits. Jurjen is the sole distributor of these luxuriously comfortable all-natural beds in Ibiza. Through a small passage is an Eginstill kitchen, a friend’s brand he also represents on the island. Being both designer and client was an interesting experience for Jurjen. “I could have chosen a cheaper wood for the door frames, but I just couldn’t,” he says. “I have to tell my story. You know, I couldn’t just put an Ikea kitchen in here!” The result was well worth the perfectionism.
Some discoveries were made along the way that Jurjen adapted and incorporated into the final design. Rustic stone walls were concealed by old plaster and a long, arduous process of cleaning and re-grouting them ensued. The ancient stones then required a change to the original colour pallet and Jurjen put in a black, steel kitchen to act as a counter balance to the warm stone and woods. Brushed cotton curtains introduce the expansive sky outside into the living space. Furniture is mid century with a heavy Danish influence – two Eames rocking chairs, a long wood dining table and a stunningly curated selection of objets finish off the space. Unlike most guesthouses in Ibiza Jurjen’s is also a concept store – everything inside is from a brand he respects and represents and everything can be purchased.
Inspiration comes from all corners of the globe. “I am really interested in different cultures,” Jurjen says. “I love to look at abstract things, to mix things, to develop a global style or taste. I think with our generation the whole world is open to us. Some projects I’ve done in Amsterdam could be in New York or Japan because they are individual and authentic. And yet, not every project can be universal, because the location and context is so powerful.” Ibiza has clearly influenced Jurjen’s choices for the guesthouse, where he has melded traditional architecture and the ancient landscape seamlessly with a modern a sensibility.
Next, the main house will experience a full overhaul followed by a slew of other projects Jurjen is in the process of dreaming up on the rest of the property. But a lot of that will have to wait, because he’s heavily booked to design other people’s homes as well as continuing to run his businesses in Amsterdam and represent several Dutch design brand here on the island. For now the van Hulzen family are happily ensconced in their island paradise, taking full advantage of a much more outdoorsy existence – and while the kids soak up the sun and fun, Jurjen sits back on the terrace and dreams of design.