3 Children • Alphen/ Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Tessa, Menno and their 3 adorable boys Mees (10 years), Polle (7 years) and Guus (4 years) welcome us in their wooden dream house. I am so in love with this house and Tessa's natural style - enjoy!
Dear Tessa, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your family?
Tessa: Hi, I am Tessa, I live with my love and our three children in our self-designed wooden house in a small city in Holland. I graduated from art-school in Rotterdam. This is also where I met Menno. I stopped working when our first son was born. I am so happy to have the possibility to stay at home with our children, I still enjoy this every day. It feels like a great luxury to me.
Your house is absolutely stunning! What was important for you when you planned it?
Tessa: It was such a great opportunity to design the house ourselves, to be absolutely free in the design, there were no rules or restrictions. The most important thing for us was to create a huge living room. We longed for enough space for the boys, who are taking more and more space while growing up, and all their friends and our family. Because they still love to be around us, the living room is the centre of our house. Another important thing was the choice of materials. We wanted to build an energy neutral home with sustainable and natural building materials. I think we succeeded in that: our house is completely wood based, and our electricity demand comes from the solar panels on the roof. Living with a family of five brings a lot of noise and stuff, so another very important thing to me was that the house would be peaceful and quiet, and also offer enough space for all family members to do their own thing.
How does your typical day look like?
Tessa: We start our day with breakfast together; it always contains lots of fruits. After the boys are off to school I have some time for myself. I usually start with the housekeeping but around eleven I take a break, enjoy a cafe latte, check my emails and take a look at Instagram, or just read some magazines. Since they are all three in school I also go to the gym two mornings a week. I love photography and when the weather is good, I try to take some pictures. I also spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking, even only for myself I prepare a fresh, healthy lunch every day. Around three I pick up the boys, and most of the time they want to have friends over. Since we live in our new home there’s space enough to let all three of them have a friend over at the same time. Fortunately, they interact very well with the playdates of their brothers and most of the time they play nicely all together.
And your favorite day? Do you have any family rituals?
Tessa: A perfect day for me is when the weather is good and we can all go outside. (And to start it with a quiet coffee, that is a little moment I cherish so much.) I love to walk along the beach or in the woods. The boys are not so much into long walks, they prefer to play in our large garden, watch the chickens and jump on the trampoline. We do have some weekend rituals. Every Saturday morning Menno goes to a huge organic store in The Hague with one of the boys to do our weekly shopping. When he is back, he makes us a fresh slow juiced vegetable smoothie, and helps the two bigger boys with their homework. Menno really is the best man I can think of. On Sunday mornings the boys take a long bath together, while I use our sauna. After that we watch a film together.
You live in Alphen aan den Rijn, a small town near Amsterdam. Have you always lived here? What do you love most about this area?
Tessa: We used to live in Rotterdam. Our oldest boy was born there, but when our second boy was on its way we moved to Alphen where I was born and where my mother and oldest sister live. About a year ago we moved again, within the same town, but this time into our dream house!
What I do love about living in Alphen is the silence and the green surroundings. The boys can go to school, visit friends or play on the streets all by themselves, it is very safe. And of course the ability to build a home like this was a fantastic opportunity for us. I don’t think we could have done this the way we wanted in a bigger (more expensive) city.
Since Amsterdam and also Rotterdam are only about a half hour drive away I regularly go there and visit my sister or friends or enjoy the cultural life.
What would you say is typical Dutch in your family life?
Tessa: A typical Dutch thing is that we bicycle a lot. The boys ride the bike to school and I do most of my shopping by bike or I just take a ride in the polder near our home, because I enjoy cycling a lot (at least when the sun is shining).
How would you describe your style? Are there any common values between how you dress yourself and decorate your home?
Tessa: It’s always hard for me to describe my style, I don’t have a word that defines that best. I choose furniture when feeling something special for it. It can be either old or new things. Our home is a mix of both, but natural materials are always leading my choice. I have a big love for linen, wool and wood. So this is what you can find a lot in our home - inside and outside.For my clothes I choose the same materials. I love to wear wool, linen and simple basics that are well made, and don’t have to be changed every season.
important to you when choosing clothes for your children?
Tessa: For my boys I also choose natural materials and as much organic clothes as possible. They wear organic cotton, linen and also a lot of wool and silk - I really have a love for woolen jumpers.
They all have their favorite colors, and if possible I buy their clothes in these colors. We did the same by letting them choose the colors for the wall in their rooms (although we did quit some pre-selection).
Your 3 boys seam very close. Looking at your pictures I can feel their love for each other. What do you think is important when raising siblings?
Tessa: I try to teach them to be sympathizing and caring for each others wishes and feelings. That it’s a good thing to share things and make someone else happy instead of only yourself. I also try to teach them to listen to their own feelings and emotions, so they can develop their own unique personalities.
What is your biggest wish for your 3 sons?
Tessa: I hope they all grow up as happy empathic and caring human beings. And of course I hope they will grow up healthy.
Thank you Tessa!