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Architects Convert 807 Sq. Ft. Historic Townhouse into Minimalist Home

A 200-year old townhouse in the historic Leiden, Netherlands lands a make-over and is turned into a modern minimalist home with history.

The original structure remains the same while the interior has been stripped and re-vamped with multifunctional furniture and a twisting staircase to get to each of the three levels. 

Total square footage on this 17th-century neatly stacked townhouse is 807 square feet.

Wooden furniture is built-in on each level to provide storage, seating, desk, lounge areas, bedding, and more.

This open plan three story townhouse is functional, yet simple, which keeps the house’s original character.

Three-story townhouse Turned into Minimalist Home

I encourage you to enjoy touring the rest of this inspiring little house in the Netherlands below:

Rendering of Entire Townhouse


Ground level


Office on ground level


Custom built-in wooden desk, storage and hidden guest bed (rolls out)


The guest bed rolls out from the box underneath the table (shown above and below).


Cupboard in Kitchen


Kitchen – “Heart of the House”


Exposed timber ceiling beams in kitchen


Custom kitchen table built-in


Top level – Bedroom

Images: Raoul Kramer

Minimalist and Modern Design

The original timber ceiling beams were purposely left exposed to add a touch of character to the new modern/minimalist additions.

Pull Out Guest Bedroom AND Office

The ground level can be used as an office or guest bedroom with the raised seating and storage area that incorporates a fold-out guest bed.

Kitchen Gathering Area in Middle Floor

At the request of the owners the architects used the entire middle floor for the kitchen as the main hub spot or gathering area.

Where’s the Loo?!

I love this townhouse but you are probably thinking the same thing as me, “where is the bathroom?”

Let’s assume there is one but it’s just not pictured.

I bet it’s just as cool as the rest of the house.

How do you like this historical, modern and minimalist townhouse?

What do you think of this 17th century three-story townhouse?

We would love to hear what you have to say. Please leave your comments below.


If you enjoyed this 17th century townhouse with modern multifunctional furniture you’ll love our free daily tiny house newsletter with more!

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Andrea is a contributor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the Tiny House Newsletter! She has a passion for sharing tiny and small house stories and introducing you to new people, ideas, and homes.
{ 14 comments… add one }
  • john
    March 19, 2014, 9:30 am

    I love europes small spaces, most larger homes and apartments were divided into more modest apartments during lean times…what were once large homes became apartments with odd and quirky shapes and spaces. The divisions often left strange spaces to become homes, strange entranceways and staircases built to fit in those odd spaces have become almost an art form of their own.
    I imagine most of those larger homes belonged to people of means or those who made a good living in shipping and lost their fortunes or who died and left the buildings to family members without the income to sustain them, hence the dividing into apartments and a living being made from rents collected…whatever the reason once large homes became europe’s quirky flats.
    Buildings should have history, new builds feel empty, lacking in character to me…they sure aren’t built with the same quality materials or the craftsmanship as they were back when buildings were meant to last. A new home today won’t be around for very long, a few decades and it’s torn down…Even in america you can find buildings from a time when style and craftsmanship were as important as permanence.
    I would no more enjoy a home with drywall and 2×4 stud work than i would a root canal, not when there are better alternatives to modern crappy build materials. Give me stone walls, lime plaster, timber frames, and a structure that will be around for hundreds of years or already has been around that long…i’ve seen them demolishing those old buildings…it takes wrecking balls and jackhammers, they weren’t meant to come down. Modern homes come down and apart in wind storms…i’ve seen ancient ruins with walls still standing, those people knew how to build. In the future archeologists will find plastic toys and wonder why there are no structures left that housed the children who played with them, they’ll find landfills with the shattered remains of our homes disposability.

    • Alex
      March 19, 2014, 1:01 pm

      Thanks John

  • March 19, 2014, 9:34 am

    I wish there was a video. I find it really hard to visualize the space by looking at the pictures. First impression would be, How many tables and chairs do you need??!! However it’s possible that the table is transforming and there is only one? Interesting looking but definitely wouldn’t want to live there, especially without a bathroom.

  • Comet
    March 19, 2014, 9:50 am

    I am glad they left the beams and wood exposed as this is the ONLY way you would know that this was NOT some new sterile modern plaster board box.

    This is quite possibly the coldest design I have ever seen and reminds me more of an office where they are trying to impress everyone with how “hip” they are rather than a place where anyone LIVEs. Maybe they use the “hidden bed” for clients staying in town?

    What a shame that they felt the need to rip EVERYTHING out of this historic home and felt the need to make it look like an operating room.

    I stayed at a hotel in Montreal this weekend that was ALSO 200 years old made of gorgeous stone blocks with beautiful exterior carved moldings and roof dormers–and yet inside was completely GUTTED and rooms made from plasterboard. While I appreciated that there was an elevator there–most of these do NOT have lifts—I wish I could have seen what it looked like for the FIRST 200 years of it’s life. These places too are disappearing to be replaced by sky scrapers and parking lots—in fact the opposite side of the street WAS a parking garage where it had once been similar houses—and if laws are not passed and no one RESPECTS these types of buildings they will ALL surely vanish.

    I get that real estate is expensive but—surely there ARE people who love this sort of structure.

    • Alex
      March 19, 2014, 1:00 pm

      Thanks Comet- valid points!

  • David Ridge
    March 19, 2014, 3:03 pm

    The raised dinning knook needs a regulation railing!

  • CathyAnn
    March 19, 2014, 3:48 pm

    I agree that it is too sterile. It really looks like no one lives there. However, it could be made to be quite livable. The table and chairs on the ground floor could be replaced by a comfy sofa and chairs, pictures or some such hung on the walls, etc. I’m not talking about clutter, but added color and comfort. The same goes for the kitchen and bedroom (that shows no bed).

  • Cahow
    March 19, 2014, 6:55 pm

    If that kitchen is “The Heart of the Home”, then this home is in cardiac arrest!

    And the “Bedroom” should be relabeled “The Chair Room”.

    Honestly, as an architect, myself, there’s Minimalist and then there’s just plain Clinical. This place with it’s rich historical background and neighborhood, falls into the latter vs. the former.

    When I showed the photos to my husband, his first response was, “It can’t be finished, right?” I asked him “What do you mean?” Now, even as a proper “dude” with no desire to become the next Tim Gunn or Bob Villa, he said, “WHERE’S the colour? WHERE’S the comfort? WHERE’S even a simple rug or cup or vase or the smallest piece of art?” And that’s coming from a man who’s never picked up a decorating magazine in his life!

    I’m going to lean on the positive side that they temporarily tossed some furniture and a spare chair in the bedroom just for these photos, and that later down the road, it will be personalized by a PERSON rather than Hal 9000.

    And let’s address the Elephant in the Room: that woebegone, dangerous, utterly unnecessary elevation change in that “?office?” With stair treads normally 8″ tall and a 1″ high tread, that means that two chairs are DANGEROUSLY CLOSE to a 18″ drop onto their heads!!!! Nine will get you Ten, that when four people are positioned around that table, the two chairs securely placed against the WALL, are the very first chairs chosen!

    Now, let’s address the weight issue: there’s supposed to be a bed under the table that pulls out. Beds are BIG. HOW in the world does that flooring support over 600 pounds of human flesh (based on four people weighing 150 pounds each), and NOT cave in? You need structural supports every 18″ to support the table’s weight and occupants; otherwise, everyone goes Humpty Dumpty on their arse!

    I’m the first one to blow the trumpet on Alex’s Modern Picks of Tiny Homes, but the only notes THIS place hit are off pitch and sour. 🙁

    • lionel
      March 19, 2014, 10:30 pm

      very interesting and pertinent comment!

  • Dominick Bundy
    October 14, 2014, 3:22 pm

    I love the concept of minimalism, But this appears a little too empty, sterile, and lifeless.

  • Andrea Hardy
    October 14, 2014, 8:35 pm

    A little stark and sterile for my taste. doesn’t come across as warm and inviting, but the wood/wood beams is nice.

  • Trish
    October 15, 2014, 10:39 am

    You couldn’t pay me enough to live in this environment. If they were trying to impress people, it didn’t work with me. This isn’t a home, it’s an institution. I expect to see the men in the white coats appear any time now.

  • Liz
    October 15, 2014, 12:26 pm

    Boring, with a capital B!

  • Denise
    October 30, 2014, 7:15 am

    I love it, especially the staircase. As one who took a tumble down one of those steep Dutch staircases, those are much easier the way they have revamped them, and much safer. However, I need to point out someone’s math is a bit wonky: If these are from the 17th century, that would be the 1600’s. We are currently in the 2000’s so that would be closer to 350-400 years, which is the typical time period for this steep style of stacked Dutch housing.

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