Back to Black: Inside Studio Niels’ Monochrome House

When Amy Winehouse sung of returning back to black, she left her audience in no doubt about how she was feeling. For Winehouse, black was the colour she gave to the prospect of life without her lover, the dried out emotional well we call rock bottom. However, despite its sombre associations in life and literature, the return to monochrome interiors in 2020 has been anything but.


Egged on by the vogue of Crittal-style windows and the desire for a do-over at the dawn of a new decade, monochrome interiors have proven themselves to be rich, confident and uncomplicated — an enduring idea that can adapt to any context or setting.


No home demonstrates this quite as clearly as the Monochrome House in Maastricht — a lofty 13th century monastery that has been reimagined into a contemporary home by the creative souls at Studio Niels. With Black Friday underway, and our feeds awash with all things monochromatic, we couldn’t resist a quick tour.

Saarinen Tulip Dining Table

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Our first impression on stepping across the threshold was that it was the kind of home that Karl Lagerfield would have loved. During his reign as Creative Director of Chanel, Lagerfield was tasked with imbuing the chilly world of Parisian fashion with newfound feeling and warmth.


It’s a challenge that was also faced by Studio Neils. How do you take a building that was formerly a monastery, laced with ornate cornicing and double height ceilings and make it feel like home?

Eames Lounge Chair

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If you ask us, you start by selecting furniture capable of rising to the challenge. Unsurprisingly, Monochrome House is a haven for iconic design. In the circular conservatory we find the swooping silhouettes of Eero Saarinen’s Tulip collection, complimented from high by the adjustable shades of Gubi’s futuristic Multi-Lite.


If the conservatory is all about circular lines and communication, then the lounge is the perfect spot for the after-dinner flop. Generous modular sofas line the perimeter of the space, forming islands of comfort that allow for the together yet apart feeling that so many families crave. Tucked away in another corner is a squishy Eames Lounge Chair in black ash, the visual counterpoint to the all-white sofas and walls.

Capitol Complex Office Chair

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Utrecht Chair

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Things get more structured as we move into the more formal areas of the home. Le Corbusier’s Capitol Complex Chairs pepper the corridors and dining room, immediately recognisable by their power lines and confident V shape.


Of course, no fashionable Dutch home would be complete without the inclusion of an Utrecht Chair, two of which can be found as part of a breakout space beyond the dining table. Designed in 1935 by legendary Dutch modernist, Gerrit Rietveld, it sought to distill the armchair down to its very essence. Their inclusion is a thoughtful flourish, one of the many ways the architects seek to connect the property’s interiors to its wider sense of space.

AJ Floor Lamp

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As we came to the end of our tour, we were reminded of how a strong and consistent colour palette can be used to tie together styles from all eras. Monochrome House is a mish-mash of the best of the Bauhaus, mid-century and seventies, and yet its internal logic feels entirely coherent from start to finish. A true triumph of contemporary design, it’s a home whose warmth is derived not from the use of colour, but from a sense of history, context and place.

LC2 Armchair

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Discover Cosy Poufs & Footstools

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Love the styles featured above? For a limited time only, you can shop them all with 20% off in our Black Friday event. Savvy shoppers will also note the Eames Lounge Chair in black ash in our luxury outlet, now currently available with a matching ottoman with 30% off. You’ll have to be quick though! Our sale ends midnight on Cyber Monday. 


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