Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A few more steps...

Image: www.schilde.be

Continuing the open house tour of May and Axel Vervoodt's Kasteel s-Gravenwezel, I followed the wide cobblestone path across the castle's moat, into to a paved courtyard.

Image: www.chateauxdebelgique.eu

The courtyard, on the castle's face, looks across the moat towards the beautiful grounds, with a small lake on the property visible in the distance through the trees.

Image: ?

Nine-foot long, lattice-back garden benches from the Axel Vervoordt Home collection faced the courtyard from the castle's outer walls, seen above just below the first floor windows. Visitors to the open house enter through the cellar door, seen here just below the landing at the top of the double-sided staircase to the home's first floor. The steps to the cellar appear to be original to the castle, as the are made of a beautifully worn dark gray stone. Once inside, a few steps to the right leads to a large gallery...

Image: axel-vervoordt.com

This room, empty except for the large refectory table and painting, evokes the kind of serene sensibility that is synonymous with 'Axel Vervoodt'. It is connected by a doorway to...

Image: axel-vervoordt.com
the original kitchen, with this large hunt table as its centerpiece. The table was very simply decorated for the open house, with evergreen branches and votive candles, placed around the tabletop in a casual arrangement, which was the inspiration for this year's Thanksgiving table at Garvinweasel. The candles were not in any sort of holder, just dozens of white votives sitting directly on the scrubbed pine table, placed in what seemed like a  random pattern between the branches. The simplicity and confidence of this approach was one of the first such surprises throughout my tour.

To the left of the table, old gas burners were set into a black delt tile counter top, with simple holes cut through the tiles on the counters front side for plain black knobs to control the gas. The lower cabinets beneath the knobs were covered with simple curtains; plank shelves lined the walls above. Live plants, woven baskets and  ceramic pots, filled with utensils or live cuttings, added to the simple and elegant charm .

So many modern kitchens are over the top. Nothing here gave the appearance of being  'updated', though you know it must have been, as I don't imagine that the Vervoordts found the kitchen this way when they purchased the castle, yet the restraint and respect with which they have revived it gave me a new perspective on what it means to be custodian of a historic property. Had I experienced being here prior to purchasing Garvinweasel, I'd like to think I would not have taken delivery of a truck-full of stainless appliances. Thinking about it now, I may put them on eBay.

In a few days, I'll take you upstairs, to the first floor. In the meantime, don't forget about the contest to win a copy of Axel Vervoordt: Timeless Interiors.