Living in a monument with Marleen from @leens_living

Ever wondered what it’s like to live in a monumental building? Marleen from @leens_living knows all about it as she lives in a Dutch national monument from 1680. It’s amazing to see how she combines old elements of the building with new interior design. She for example added loads of color, modern furniture and combined that with wall decorations of famous Dutch painters. In this Interior Interview Marleen shares more about her favorite wall art, how to mix old and new interior design, and what’s it like to live in a monument.

What’s the story behind your account?

Good question! My real name is Marleen, but friends often call me Leen, Lenie or Leentje. On my Instagram account @leens_living I share pictures of our house and how we live, but my account’s name has an even deeper meaning: it also stands for ‘Leen is living’. In recent years I have worked insanely hard and in corona time I realized that I was actually too busy with my work. There was too little time left for fun things and to enjoy life. I decided to change course and free up more time to pursue my passions, which are interior styling, interior photography and dance. During that period I also started sharing interior photos on Instagram and finally, after years of deliberation, I decided to become self-employed, which has been such a pleasure!

Garden couch with colorful pillows, arch with door

What’s it like to live in a national monument?

It’s very special! Our house was built in 1680 and has all kinds of unique and old elements. We have various stained glass windows. The most special ones are located in our living room, which are ensuite doors with stained glass. Besides that, we have no less than four fireplaces and each of them has something special. For example, the fireplace in the living room has very unique ornaments and the fireplace in our daughter’s room has tiles that are forerunners of Delft blue tiles (that’s what the previous homeowners told me). Sometimes all those details, crooked walls and unusual corners also bring challenges in terms of furnishing. That has sometimes cost me quite a few headaches, but slowly the pieces of the puzzle are starting to fall into place. And that makes me very happy again!

Beautiful that you also kept some original elements of the house! How do you mix old and new interior design?

Thank you! Although I must add that we are obliged to preserve the house and its historical elements; we are not allowed to change anything just like that and we handle it very carefully. We have been living here for almost 5 years now and in that period I have discovered that sleek design furniture and items combine very nicely with the historic character of the house. I used to always buy everything I liked, but now I am a bit more selective with new purchases. The house also easily looks messy with all kinds of trinkets, because of the many ornaments. Now I increasingly opt for things that are timeless and of which I know I will like for a long time. I enjoy those acquisitions the most and it’s also a bit more sustainable.

Living room with fireplace, old tiles on fireplace

Your wall decorations are really stunning! How do you find the right pieces of art for each room?

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve really liked the art of the old Dutch masters. That’s why I’m a real fan of Muurmeesters. We now have four large art pieces and I think they are so special! They also fit very well with the historic character of the house and take you back to the atmosphere of that time. I also like modern art and art prints with an abstract or botanical look. For example, I absolutely love the lino prints of the Danish Monika Petersen. I believe that I now have at least 20 of her art pieces at home. They haven’t even all got a place on the wall yet. What I love is that, wherever you hang them, the room really comes to life.

What inspires you?

As a little girl I devoured the vtwonen magazine that was always on my grandmother’s coffee table. I still really enjoy reading it as well as various other home magazines that are out there. In addition, I can indulge myself in beautiful interior stores and concept stores. To be able to admire and touch the products in real life… that is still the most fun. When we are on vacation or a weekend away, that’s usually the first thing I look for!

From which Instagram accounts do you get inspiration?

Since I discovered that there are a lot of interior enthusiasts like me on Instagram, a world has opened up for me! I get inspired every day by all those beautiful accounts, which also turn out to be the nicest and sweetest people behind them. Unfortunately I can’t list them all here, so I’ll just limit myself to the accounts that caught me from the first moment and that still inspire me: @finntage, @theobertpot, @prchtg, @lotsoffun.interior and @keekshuis (check out her Interior Interview here).

Dining table with vase with flowers, wall art

Did you get inspired by Marleen’s answers? Follow her on Instagram @leens_living for more inspiration.

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Ivyosa candle with white rose

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