Modernist restoration in Brussels, Belgium

A 20-year love affair with a Bauhaus-influenced property has finally given one Belgian couple the home of their dreams.

By Ifeoluwa Adedeji | 22 September 2017

A 20-year love affair with a Bauhaus-influenced property has finally given one Belgian couple the home of their dreams.

Modernist restoration in Brussels Belgium 3

Xavier and Pascale de Breucker had just finished working on a home renovation in Brussels and were ready to stay put for the foreseeable future when they heard that their dream house might be going up for sale. ‘We were having dinner with a colleague who knows the previous owner’s son,’ says Xavier. ‘She knew all about our love for Maison Berteaux and told us he was thinking about selling it.’

The house was built in the late Thirties by Modernist architect Louis Herman De Koninck, and the couple had first seen it in a coffee-table book on Belgian architecture more than 20 years earlier. They had often caught glimpses of it while walking through the city and although they hadn’t built up the courage to ring the doorbell, they had asked their mutual friend to request a visit. Since they had never received a reply, the couple had all but given up hope of ever setting foot inside the building that had captured their hearts. ‘I had read all about the house, which was very innovative at the time that it was built, and I knew the floor plans like the back of my hand,’ laughs Xavier. ‘So when we found out that the owner was selling it, Pascale and I knew that it was time to move again.’

Modernist restoration in Brussels Belgium 4

Unfortunately, the owner wasn’t forthcoming about arranging to visit the property, nor was he very decisive over the negotiations for the sale. The process was long and complicated. ‘We waited six weeks to hear from him, after which he said he had decided not to sell,’ says Xavier. A year later, Xavier decided to call the owner to increase his offer. ‘It wasn’t a question of money, it was just that he was reluctant to part with the house,’ he says. What the couple didn’t know was that the owner’s son had also been trying to bring him around, and their combined efforts eventually proved successful – Xavier and Pascale agreed a deal in 2006. They signed a contract stating that the owner could remain in the property for a year, and during that time the de Breuckers would be able to assess what work they would need to do to make the house suitable for them and their son.