To come back from the holidays without really leaving them behind, that’s just what we wanted here at The Socialite Family! Farewell Paris, France. We’re not ready yet. It was towards Amsterdam that our heads turned this Tuesday. A capital where the green expanses are many, the canals refreshing and the architecture like one of those cinema backdrops that remains imprinted on the retina for a long time. Cinema. That word has a particular resonance with our hosts today. These highly successful filmmakers live in a house that they have totally renovated themselves and where Ruben van Leer and Juliette Stevens choreograph a happy family life, guided by simple pleasures: good colour, good light and the right accessories. Second nature for these two aesthetes. Taking care over the slightest detail, committed to showcasing young talents, intrigued by the mixing of eras and styles, the couple ended up creating a decidedly modern ensemble where a surprise is never far away. Dutch heritage, like noblesse, oblige, the – omnipresent – brick walls and the vegetation are an integral part. A delicious pause in which you can willingly imagine yourself, entranced by the soft light that emanates from the imposing volumes of this space that was expressly created to welcome guests.
Ruben, tell us your story.
I’m a film director and a visual artist. And the dad of Gaia (almost 2 years old), and of a baby that is on the way, with my love Juliette.
How did you find your house?
After searching for a year in Amsterdam, we found this house through Funda, the Dutch website for renting and buying houses.
How long have you lived here?
For a year and a half, after 6 months of renovation. The house was an absolute mess when we bought it.
Do you have a favourite colour at the moment?
We love dark-green with a blue tint and grey-pink tones. Pastels and natural colours. We’ve applied them to all sorts of elements in the house and the garden.
Your favourite item in the house?
We love the painting in the extension of the house; it’s the graduation work of an art student at the Rietveld Academy Amsterdam. A group of rebel youngsters around a table… We have a large white wall we still need to find a piece of art for. We’ve started collecting art, but Juliette and I are both very critical about choosing good pieces.
Which room is your favourite?
When friends drop in, they first enter by the kitchen and sit at the island for a drink. The house is perfect for having people over, we love that it is a social environment for sharing ideas.
Do you work alongside your wife?
Juliette is a documentary director. My work is more on the nonfiction side. In productions we always help each other; sometimes Ruben produces my documentaries, other times I make a documentary about his work. This creates a greater understanding and respect for each other’s process
Who made the furniture choices?
We shared Pinterest-boards for each room in the house when we first decorated the house. Most of the time I’d collect 10 of our best ideas and then Juliette would narrow them down. We have the same taste which makes it easier.
Where do you go when looking for furniture?
We did a lot of online second-hand buying (in Holland it’s the Marktplaats website). And we have a couple of old construction material shops in the country to buy old doors etc. The market next door is very good for curtains and other hand-made designs for the house.
What is your favourite period in contemporary design?
We like to mix eras, 50’s with industrial, space age with antiques. For us, there needs to be something timeless and surprising in the material and design.
What would you say is your life motto, Ruben?
My motto is not only about figuring out what makes me a ‘good’ person, but also what makes a ‘happy’ person. Every day there’s a new balance to strike!
Could you name a great restaurant in Amsterdam?
We love a small restaurant called Mana Mana just behind our house. It’s Israeli cuisine with beautiful sharing dishes. When our daughter is asleep, we sometimes sneak out and have a quick glass of wine there…
Where do you spend your weekends?
We go to the beach house, to the local market or the playground in the park. Sometimes we take family visits to a museum or a movie.
Give us 3 words that describe your lifestyle.
Burgundy, science non-fiction and zen.
Photography: Valerio Geraci – Text: Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefamily