Friday, July 31, 2009

Open-plan living on a budget

Above: It’s amazing what you find in a nearby skip. Photograph: Luc Roymans

There is stylish decluttered living, and there is photographer Leo Ribbens's Antwerp warehouse. With its prison-issue beds, nailed-together sofa and a bath that resembles an agricultural feeding trough, it is a brutally industrial space – all bare concrete, exposed brick and raw wood. "I like functional materials," Ribbens says. "But my home never feels cold." His house is an example of recycled living at its most extreme: he rummages in skips, begs timber merchants for their leftovers and scours demolition sites. "It's a game for me to spend as little as I can."

The bedroom has floor-to-ceiling wardrobes are made from industrial pallets nailed on to a plywood frame and decorated with a stencil borrowed from a shipping company. "I love lying here looking at all the destinations – Sri Lanka, Russia, the Commission of Electrical Goods in Iraq," Ribbens says. "It looks more like a wall than a wardrobe." The single guest bed was from a Salvation Army hostel that closed down, and the blanket is vintage 50s from the same sale.

In the kitchen the distressed, painted wood of the cabinet doors was once a wall in a neighbour's garage. Ribbens let the size of the wood dictate the cupboards' shape, rather than the other way round. He made a plywood frame for the found wood, and cleaned it with soap and water. Uniform tones and neat lines stop the cabinets looking too messy, and the rest of the room is spare save for a wall display of kitsch religious icons found in flea markets.


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