Inside Supermodel Frederique van der Wal's Stylish Amsterdam Apartment



Frederique van der Wal in the living room of her Amsterdam home.“Amsterdam is like stepping back in time,” Frederique van der Wal says. “It’s always home for me, like I’m going back to my roots.” It’s a telling statement, as the Dutch supermodel has led a peripatetic life, traveling the world for work and living principally in New York City for 28 years. But Amsterdam is where she feels most grounded.

In 2012, she found her condo pied-à-terre here in a converted 17th-century canal house, a onetime warehouse dating from the city’s Golden Age. “I had always hoped to be on the water,” she says of the location on one of Amsterdam’s best canalside streets. The interior hadn’t been changed since the 1980s and featured dated colors (brown meets orange) and yards of wall-to-wall carpet. She left the layout much as it was, merely opening up the space a bit, especially in the kitchen. She painted the massive original ceiling beams glossy black, even though “they say it’s hard to live in northern countries where the light is gray and it gets dark at 5 p.m.”  

Her solution: lots of candles. “Candles are very important to me, and they’re everywhere,” particularly in the living room, which is softened by a “big deep couch and lots of thick carpets.” Offsetting the graphic black-and-white palette are touches of her favored “muted, dusty colors,” like gray and mauve. “And I like putting together antiques and newer pieces,” she says. “If it’s too modern, it’s not inviting to me.” There are also lots of plants and cut flowers—she’s Dutch, after all—and natural wood in abundance. “I love wooden tables because they’ve lived—they’re not all perfect and shiny. They’re organic and grounding and warm up the space. A house should be a sanctuary.” A window seat provides her with a quiet perch for gazing at the houses across the canal, and every morning, birdsong emanates from the courtyard-like garden in the back of the building, where her bedroom lies.

Frederique van der Wal designed the kitchen runner and painted the wooden ceiling beams, which date from the 17th century, glossy black.During her lengthy career, the 49-year-old model has graced magazine covers (Cosmopolitan, Vogue, Sports Illustrated’s famed swimsuit issue) and been the face (and bod!) of campaigns for Revlon, Guess, and, most famously, Victoria’s Secret. “It was an amazing journey, and I’m so grateful to have seen the world—including lots of fantastic islands,” she recalls. “But it’s so different now. It’s a business, and so . . . instant, though I like a lot of the fashion today—anybody can have a voice.” Her 16-year-old daughter, Scyler Pim van der Wal Klein, is considering giving the field a try, which the elder van der Wal is okay with, although she herself has now transitioned from modeling mostly to TV, hosting and producing the Discovery Channel show The Invisible Journey, which traced the route of flowers—from fields in Africa to Dutch auction houses to vases at Manhattan galas. She also co-hosts Homegrown Makeover with Frederique and Carter (Oosterhouse) on the FYI Network, where the pair demonstrate how beautiful flora can give life to interiors.

“I’ve always lived with flowers,” says van der Wal, citing the famously Dutch preoccupation. “In Holland, they are a part of your everyday life. They can change your mood.” In 2005, her home country even named a flower after her—the Frederique’s Choice lily. (“Did you know it takes 10 years to create a flower?” she says.) On her lifestyle site of the same name, us.FrederiquesChoice.com, she blogs about the joys of beekeeping and planting blackberries and has taken her green thumb even further with a line of gorgeous mail-order bouquets. The biodegradable bamboo vase and canvas tote that ship with the cut flowers are part of her green (read: environmental) ethos, an overarching goal to shorten the path from field to customer. Having recently linked up with a California farm, the Sun Valley Group, she will soon be selling her bouquets in the U.S. (she already does so in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, and other European countries).

The chief aim: bringing a little Gezelligheid—a Dutch term that loosely translates to a sensation of contentment and well-being—to a broader world. “New York is a great city, where you can realize your dream,” she says. “But in New York, people live to work, whereas in Amsterdam, people work to live. Here, the scale is so small, people are on bikes all the time and can go everywhere they want. It just feels balanced.”

A version of this article appeared in the December/January 2017 issue of NYC&G (New York Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: Frederique's Choice.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags

Architect Spotlight

Edit Module
Haver & Skolnick Architects
Haver & Skolnick Architects creates award-winning homes of timeless design, providing personal service & impeccable attention to detail. For 22 years, Charles Haver, AIA and Stewart Skolnick, AIA have offered a single source for architecture, interior design and landscape architecture, creating seamless environments which are a reflection of their clients’ personalities. The firm has been nationally recognized for comfortable, classic country homes and elegant apartments which reflect history while responding to a contemporary lifestyle.


Edit ModuleShow Tags

Builder Spotlight

Consiglio Builders
Consiglio Builders is a luxury residential construction company located on the East End of Long Island. We have developed a unique method of residential construction in the Hamptons—we call it "The Considered Approach." It stems from our experience which demonstrates that meticulous planning and transparency throughout the process, combined with our expertise and emphasis on perfection, enable us to deliver consistently the best-constructed homes on time and within budget to our discerning clientele.


 

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Architect Spotlight

James Merrell Architects 
From our perspective in the 21st century, all styles are historical. Even Modernism is now a century old. So, we are free to interpret, and interweave the minimal with the decorative to find new expressions for our own era. Our house celebrates this new design freedom. It brings a contemporary sensibility to the architectural covenants of this otherwise traditional neighborhood. Floor to ceiling glass on the ground floor, for instance, yields modern interior spaces. While above, divided windows sit comfortably in second floor dormers. And the style that results is both unique and timeless.


Edit ModuleShow Tags

Architect Spotlight

Bates Masi + Architects
Bates Masi + Architects LLC, a full-service architectural firm with roots in New York City and the East End of Long Island for over 50 years, responds to each project with extensive research in related architectural fields, material, craft and environment for unique solutions as varied as the individuals for whom they are designed. The focus is neither the size nor the type of project but the opportunity to enrich lives and enhance the environment.

Bates+Masi Architects
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
 
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module