Convert It: Villa Augustus

Good Morning!

Hey, remember when I used to write for my blog?  No?  It’s ok, I had sort of forgotten too.  It’s been awhile, but I have a some posts lined up for the next few days so hopefully this is the beginning of more consistency over here. No promises but I’m feeling good about it 🙂  Today, a new installment in my Convert It series and I’m sharing Villa Augustus, a water tower turned hotel, garden and market in Dordrecth, Netherlands.

The water tower and associated high-pressure water main system for Dordrecht was designed in 1881 by the director of the Public Works J.A. van der Kloes and consulting engineer A.G. de Geus.  It was constructed in 1881 and 1882 and consisted of four octagonal towers surrounding a large, round water basin and stands 33 m at its tallest. Beneath the tower were the clean-water basements. One tower contained the chimney for the steam from the engines, two towers had the  a spiral staircase which once connected the 5 staff apartments to the reservoir, and the last tower was used as an outlet should the pressure inside the reservoir get too high. The small towers were removed in 1938, and  new pump building was built next to it in 1942.

An aerial photograph of the water tower from the 1930’s, which was shown at a town hall meeting attended by various entrepreneurs inspired the idea to convert the building into a hotel, garden and market.

The hotel has 37 rooms, 20 of which are in the garden tower, and 17 in the garden. The coolest room in the hotel must be the top floor which boasts the rooftop glassed sitting room.  And in the garden you have a room in an area called the secret garden.  Who wouldn’t want to say they they stayed in a secret garden?


The gardens are exceptional and they are the centerpiece of the Villa.  Not only do they have beautiful flower gardens, they also have an extensive vegetable garden and greenhouses where they grow much of the food served at the restaurant and sold at the market.

The restaurant is in one of the garden buildings, and has a fresh and fun interior design and a beautiful patio nestled within the gardens.

And then there is a market where you can find find fresh garden produce, bread, preserves and home-made pasta to name just a few.

All photos via Villa Augustus

Unfortunately, my research into this beautiful conversion did not produce which companies were involved in the restoration or redesign of the Villa Augustus, which is too bad as they did a wonderful job. I’m not planing any trips to the Netherlands in the near future, but if I find myself there again someday I definitely think it would be worth a visit.


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Backyard Changes


There are some big things happening in my backyard this spring.  First and most notably, I’m gaining some sunshine.  A portion of my deck used to be covered by a second floor deck .  However, this past weekend the owner ripped down the upper deck (long story), which means I’ll be getting ALOT more sun on the deck.  Woohoo.  Here is a little before and after…

deck Still lots to fix up where the deck used to be but a big improvement. Also, I had a wooden shelving unit which was left from the last person who rented this place which I decided to keep for deck storage.  Four years ago it looked like the picture below, but it has deteriorated significantly since and so I had it removed with the other deck materials.  (Also, this was taken EARLY in my blogging days and wow, my photography and photo-editing skills were weeeeeak).

(you can see more of my 2010 backyard reveal, here)

However, now that I’m rid of it, I’ll need to get something store the things that were in it. Enter mi familia.  My parents are coming to visit this week for Easter and they always like to have a project when they come.  They also like to give me practical gifts. So, for my belated birthday present they have decided to get me new storage unit of some kind .  Now, I’m pretty sure they are thinking that it should be for ON my deck but I may not want a big storage unit on my deck.  Firstly, my deck is pretty small so now that I’m rid of the wooden monstrosity I might want to use that extra space for seating or planters. Secondly, most big storage units are pretty unattractive, particularly ones that can survive the winter elements.  So, I’m going to propose a little combo of sorts.

First, I need something to store my cushions in.  I like this one from Ikea because it has wheels on it.

While this one (Keter from Home Depot) looks a bit more durable for winter and could fit all my cushions. However, it  might be harder to move around if I wanted change things up.,

I also want something to store my small gardening tools and supplies. A small practical potter’s bench of sorts that will withstand the winter.  Perhaps something similar to this Rubbermaid storage cabinet which has shelves and a standing height usable surface.

I know what you are thinking.  What about rakes and shovels and all that tall stuff?  Well, there is a tall storage unit at the back of my garden.  It doesn’t work fabulously, and lacks shelving, but it works ok just for the tall stuff.

Would it be nice to have a large storage unit that would store everything in one place?  Sure.  But not at the expense of a huge chunk of my deck space. Maybe if I found a gorgeous one that could also withstand our brutal winters I’d consider it. But I don’t suspect that is something I can find within a reasonable budget. But I’m ears if you have any suggestions!

What do you use for deck storage?


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My weekend + a Giveaway !

Good Morning!

You know when you are coming up to a weekend and you don’t think it’s going to be busy but then it is? I had one of those weekends.  As some of you math-y types like myself may know, Friday March 14th was Pi Day (3.14….get it?). My friend hosted a little impromptu dinner party for Pi Day where we ate all things Pi (or pie).  There was Sheppard’s pie, tortiere and pizza pie (complete with the Pi Symbol made of pepperoni).  We nerds really know how to let loose…..

Pi Day copy

On Sunday I went to a fashion lecture by Danielle Meder at the Drake Hotel called “Silhouettes and Signals”. Danielle Meder is a fashion illustrator specializing in live runway sketching. The lecture was about how various things such as politics, economics, and sex has shaped the fashion silhouette over the years. The cool part was that while she presented she live-sketching on her iPad which was projected on the screen. It was really engaging format and the topic was really interesting.  Not to mentions her sketches are absolutes gorgeous.  You can check out her work on display in the lobby of Drake right now.  Her are some shots I took at the lecture:

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And I also attended the National Home Show and Canada Blooms at the Direct Energy Centre on Saturday.  It was really busy and I didn’t have a lot of time so my focus was on the Canada Blooms side since I am so excited to start my garden this year. I’ve already started some of my seeds.  Canada Blooms is the perfect spot to find inspiration for your garden.  They also have tons of experts presenting throughout the week on the main stage  providing great gardening advice.

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There were lovely walking gardens and a series of runway fashions made from flowers. And I bought some new seeds to try out this year.


On top of it the National Home Show portion has hundreds of exhibitors as well as a ton of design, DIY and renovation experts presenting on the main stage this week/weekend including, Brian Baumler, Glen and Jamie Peloso, Jane Lockhart, Leigh-Ann Allaire Perrault and more.   You can see the whole schedule here. The show is happening all week until March 23rd.

And the good news if you were hoping to go this weekend I have 3 pairs of tickets to giveaway! All you have to do is submit a comment below to enter!  Contest closes Wednesday, March 19th at 5 pm EST. Winners will be selected at random using  Good Luck!


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