a renovated mansion in pure style

A property with a soul, which is renovated with respect for the past and which radiates the personality and lifestyle of the residents. That was the task Sylvie Arts and her husband gave the interior designers at Oystr Studio. The result is somewhere between Parisian grandeur and Japanese Zen.

Sylvie Arts spent her childhood in leafy Zoersel, but the family has had its roots in Antwerp for generations. One of her ancestors had the Fashion Palace built in 1882, which at the time housed three shops. Since becoming co-owner of the Antwerp jewelery brand Elliot & Ostrich in 2020, she has combined living and working in the city. Before that, she worked for several years as marketing manager, among other things at Delvaux. She clearly has a love for beautiful materials and craftsmanship.

The first thing that strikes you when you enter her home, a stone’s throw from the renovated Art Museum, is the hall with a floor of different types of marble, as if they were randomly put together as a kind of mosaic. These are types of marble found throughout the house. From the massive sink in the guest toilet to the various fireplaces that have largely been preserved. The original wooden staircase was also preserved, but was sandblasted. The steps are covered with soft carpet in grey-green, which radiates cosiness.

The floor in the hall is a mosaic of different types of marble that repeats itself throughout the house. © Eefje De Coninck and Senne Van der Ven
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The door in the hall leads to the large living room. It is bathed in light. Originally the ground floor consisted of a series of three rooms connected by large double doors. The various lounges have now been transformed into one large room with the seating area at the front and the open kitchen at the back overlooking the garden, the family’s favorite spot.

“We weren’t really looking for a house,” says Sylvie. “A few years ago we had bought an apartment near Kloosterstraat. But when a friend recommended a mansion with an urban garden, we went to have a look. Within thirty minutes we decided to buy it. We were charmed by the high ceilings, the authentic elements in the house, but also by the walled city garden and the location. The house dates from 1875. It had been in the hands of the same family for the last eighty years and had to be thoroughly renovated. We wanted an interior that exudes calm without being cool. We both love Japanese culture. The art of omission appeals to us and suits our way of life. With everything we ask ourselves: do we need this, and if so, can it be cleaned? Japan has a special meaning for us because it was the destination for our honeymoon. At the same time, we wanted to preserve the authentic elements reminiscent of Haussmann apartments, such as fireplaces and mouldings.”

The kitchen cabinets are in a mixture of wood and easy-care, hemp-like textile covering.
The kitchen cabinets are in a mixture of wood and easy-care, hemp-like textile covering. © Eefje De Coninck & Senne Van der Ven
The art of sharing

The white fireplace in the front sitting area was retained. Here we see a mix of modern seating and a vintage coffee table, a discovery made by the interior designers from Oystr Studio, who know the tastes of their customers even. Wood with knots was chosen for the new parquet on Hungarian point, to make it smaller clean to make. A Chinese tobacco pot, a family heirloom going back four generations, was joined by a bonsai, good for an oriental accent. The Wenge dresser features an artwork by Thomas Kratz from his Nudes series, which is inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. The African figure is a nod to the roots of Jennifer Elliot, the designer of Elliot & Ostrich, who grew up in South Africa and passed on her love of Africa to her business partner Sylvie. Their collaboration is based on the ubuntu philosophy – roughly translated ‘I am because we are’ – which revolves around sharing and taking care of each other.

Sitting area with authentic marble fireplace, vintage coffee table and new Hungarian point parquet.
Sitting area with authentic marble fireplace, vintage coffee table and new Hungarian point parquet. © Eefje De Coninck & Senne Van der Ven
hot kitchen

Where the central room’s fireplace used to stand, there is now a work by Charline Tyberghein, bought on the occasion of the artist’s very first exhibition at the Keteleer Gallery, where Sylvie and her husband often buy art. “This is an atypical work by Charline. It seems unfinished, with the fingerprints still on it and the frame not perfect. We bought it when we moved into our first home. At important times in our lives we buy a piece of art. Like getting clients to be a milestone in their lives at Elliot & Ostrich. For our daughter’s birth, her godparents had a piece of art made, which is now in the nursery.”

The kitchen with dining area and bar opens onto the garden.  The rounded furniture and soft upholstery make it child-friendly.  A work by Charline Tyberghein hangs on the wall.
The kitchen with dining area and bar opens onto the garden. The rounded furniture and soft upholstery make it child-friendly. A work by Charline Tyberghein hangs on the wall. © Eefje De Coninck & Senne Van der Ven

With a one-and-a-half-year-old daughter and a son on the way, Sylvie thought it was important that the facility was child-friendly. That is why the kitchen table and the upholstered chairs have rounded shapes. The kitchen is the warm heart of the house. Sylvie deliberately chose wood that played with textures: some of the cabinets are covered with easy-care hemp-like textile in the same warm shade. The bar in the kitchen is the meeting place for friends and family. “We find it important that an interior is not only aesthetic, but also comfortable and adapted to our lifestyle. This is also the way Oystr Studio works: they do not start from a design, but from your lifestyle.”

Sylvie Doctor (33)

He was born and raised in Zoersel and lives and works in Antwerp.

Studied TEW at the University of Antwerp and followed a six month Erasmus program at HEC (Hautes Etudes Commerciales) Montréal where she won the Marketing Award.

Has held various marketing positions, including at Delvaux, in connection with the international expansion of the brand, at The Surgical Company, Parcify and bpost.

Became co-owner of the jewelery brand Elliot & Ostrich in 2020.

Married, has a daughter and is pregnant with another child.

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Looking inside at Sylvie Aerts

© Eefje De Coninck and Senne Van der Ven

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Looking inside at Sylvie Aerts

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Looking inside at Sylvie Aerts

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Looking inside at Sylvie Aerts

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Looking inside at Sylvie Aerts

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Looking inside at Sylvie Aerts

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