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Between four walls: Catherine Bils

More often than not, the habitants of the homes featured on Roomin happen to be as interesting as the interior stories itself. That’s why we’d like to introduce you to a new series, in which we’ll uncover the lives of all the passionate people we meet. First up? Catherine Bils, the charming architect and habitant of this week’s interior story.

Catherine is much more than solely an architect, and always on the hunt for new projects and experiences to add to her resume. Besides designing homes for Spotless Architecture – the architecture agency she co-founded with her husband Thomas Vanwindekens – she’s now also exploring the idea to become a home coach; to help clients into understanding and harmonizing their interior. Catherine is incredibly drawn to the human and commercial side of ‘homemaking’ – she owned a wedding dress store for a few years, so she knows a thing or two about helping people to make the right choice – and we’re therefore incredibly excited to show you a glimpse of her world…

ROOMIN: Hi Catherine! Can you tell us the short story behind your home?

Catherine: “We purchased our apartment in 2012. We bought it with an extensive renovation in mind; we knew the apartment would become too cramped when we’d grow our family from one to two children. Although our apartment didn’t have a terrace, it did have a flat roof so it was possible to add another floor. My husband and I are both architects, so we don’t shy away from big construction works and decided to just go for it. We constructed a wooden box – as we like to call it – on top of our third-floor apartment, and successfully combined a life in the city with the feeling of being surrounded by nature.”

ROOMIN: How would you describe the aesthetic of your space?

Catherine: “Personal, warm and comfortable. Less is more. I consider a home like an extension of the body and soul – it should be able to change over time.”

ROOMIN: Did your aesthetic change after you had kids? 

Catherine: “Of course it has! Kids change everything, not only your aesthetic. We do have a playroom downstairs so our wooden box stays toys-free.” 

ROOMIN: How can people recognize a realization of Spotless Architecture?

Catherine: “We do a little bit of everything, but our ‘core business’ is vertical expansion, which is a durable and aesthetically-pleasing way to create more space when you live in a densely-populated city. Our own wooden box serves as an attainable example of what we do, and proves you don’t need a lot of money – or time: our wooden box was built in only three days – to completely transform your way of living.”

ROOMIN: What’s it like to run a business with your spouse?

Catherine: “Challenging, but also very interesting. Every project is a lesson in compromising, but we complement each other perfectly. It does help to have the same interior style, though! (laughs)”

ROOMIN: What’s your favourite decor item?

Catherine: “It’s hard to pick only one… Almost all of our furniture and decorative items have a beautiful and symbolic story attached to it. The Eames bird, maybe? Thomas’ mother gave it to us when we moved in here. It’s an excellent example of an intelligent design, and serves as the guardian of our treehouse.”

ROOMIN: What’s your favourite room in your house?

Catherine: “The kitchen! I love to sit on the work top and look outside. We have the most beautiful view on this side of our home, and see the sun set in the evening… It’s the area in our home where I feel most at ease.”

ROOMIN: Would you do things differently now you’ve lived here for a few years?

Catherine: “Of course. As you grow older, your interior style evolves, too. But it’s fun to see how you can be creative, rethink your space and make changes as your family grows and your needs shift over time. We’re still very much in love with our wooden box – it’s an expansion of our home but as we’ve put so much love and effort in it, it’s also an extension of ourselves…”

ROOMIN: What makes a house a home?

Catherine: “I can’t live without background music or the laughs of our children. Candlelit dinners with friends. The memories we make in here.”

ROOMIN: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you like to live?

Catherine: “Somewhere in the south-west of France, in the middle of a pine tree forest but still nearby the ocean. We love the ocean’s roughness, the salty air, the mild climate… If our family wouldn’t live in Belgium, we’d certainly move to Australia’s west coast. It is paradise to us, we can’t wait to go back once the kids are a bit older…” 

Follow Catherine via Instagram and/or visit the website of Spotless Architecture.
Interview and photography by Laura Willems.