Before Annie van der Heide dared make any improvements to her country home in the tiny village of Hornbæk, Denmark, she talked to various craftspeople to ensure she found one with the right skills and experience. The solution turned out to be Brian, a skilled carpenter, and his assistant Mike.

‘My plan was to open up the house, removing the dividing wall between the living room and kitchen to create a large, light, open living area with views of the garden, and raise the ceiling height in the living room to further increase the sense of space,’ Annie explains.

As well as being a learning curve for Annie, the project offered new experiences for Brian and Mike, too, who had to turn their hands to several tasks that they had never tried before, such as when Annie asked for a huge trompe l’œil of a window above the brick daybed in the living room. The shutters, which she had once found at a Copenhagen antiques store, came to frame the painted window, completing the illusion.

The project

Owner: Annie van der Heide, a nutritionalist specialising in veganism and raw food. She also teaches meditation

Property: A small country cottage built in 1889 on the outskirts of Hornbæk, North Zealand, Denmark

Essential repairs: The property was in good repair, with a recently fitted kitchen, so Annie added decorative touches and opened up the space

Layout: By removing the walls between the living room and kitchen, and adding eight new rooflights, Annie increased the sense of light and space

kitchen garden in a rural danish retreat

Annie transformed the outdoor space from a paved courtyard with tiny flowerbeds to a lush country oasis, filled with edible plants that she uses in her recipes.

rural danish retreat with a lush green garden near the seaside

Stepping stones lead from the garden gate, past a wisteria-covered arbour, all the way to the front door

the hallway and an open air kitchen living area

The hallway opens into an airy open-plan kitchen/dining/living room, which Annie has filled with plants. Rooflights and floor-to-ceiling glazing make it feel even more spacious

rural danish retreat kitchen units

Annie updated the existing units in the kitchen with a few inspired touches, adding a concrete sink and covering the worktops with French tiles; for similar, try Cathedral limestone from
Fired Earth

danish country retreat office

The home office, at one end of the dining room, catches the afternoon sun. Annie’s drawings and cuttings span the whole wall

country kitchen and dining table in a danish rural retreat

The dining room combines simple and elegant pieces, but nothing to detract from the fabulous view

brick day bed in a country rural danish retreat

A daybed, piled with cushions and surrounded by plants and candles, makes an inviting place for a nap in the living room. Builders Brian and Mike created the window trompe l’œil on the back wall

danish country retreat with skylights and a panoramic windowA run of rooflights and large windows along one side of the room allow the forest and home to merge

country style bedroom in a danish rural retreat

Muted grey and olive marbled walls, combined with upcycled shutters and an old chair, give Annie’s bedroom a sense of vintage charm

roman style sunken bath in a country retreat

The sunken bathtub brings to mind classic Roman designs. For similar tiles, try Fired Earth, and for a similar chandelier, try Laura Ashley

concrete bathroom sink in a danish country retreat

Annie found this unusual basin at a French market. For similar taps, try The Water Monopoly, and for a similar mirror, try The Chandelier & Mirror Company

Author: Iben Ahlberg/Gap Interiors
Photographer: Neils Ahlberg/Gap Interiors