Shop, eat and sleep at this townhouse temple to Belgian minimalism
Buy anything at Antwerp store Graanmarkt 13 and you’ll be given a carrier bag that reads “Say Hi to Tim and Ilse for Me”, or offers some other familiar, feelgood message in lieu of traditional branding.
The aforementioned Tim and Ilse are the store’s husband-and-wife owners, Tim Van Geloven and Ilse Cornelissens, who used to live in the five-storey townhouse – which is why the whole building has a homey, leave-your-shoes-at-the-door vibe. “Our boys were born here, so it was really our family house,” says Cornelissens. “In a way, everything inside reflects our lifestyle – from what you eat to what you wear to what kind of items you use.”
Their city-centre space, where you can eat and sleep as well as shop, looks onto a historic market square, encircled by grand houses and the imposing Bourla theatre. Ten years ago, the neoclassical building was gutted and redesigned by Belgian architect Vincent Van Duysen, the now creative director of Italian interiors brands Molteni&C and Dada, who brought his trademark stripped-back style to the interior. It has a naturalistic, slightly rustic feel, with polished concrete stairs, linen curtains and whitewashed walls.
In the basement is the restaurant, which leads out to an intimate, ivy-clad courtyard. Chef Seppe Nobels – who learnt to dice, braise and sauté at haute- dining establishments from Brussels to Provence – has been with Graanmarkt 13 since it opened in 2010. “Seppe cooks with the best that nature has to offer at any given time,” says Van Geloven of the vegetable-led menu, which for the past few months has been served as takeaway. “For us, cooking is twin-connected with the environment we live in.” There are even beehives in the building’s rooftop garden, and the honey can be bought by the jar (€10).
On the ground floor, the store – currently open by appointment – is focused on fashion, for both men and women: breezy dresses by CristaSeya (from €550), sneakers by Good News (€131) or sleek outerwear by Kassl Editions (€1,400). “All the clothes are seasonless, in a way,” says Cornelissens. “For example, with Kassl, the designer Camille makes all the styles from one shape and one coat. I really love this approach, just to build all the time on the same idea.”
Scent is also a prevailing element. Perfumes come from boutique brands Salle Privée, Perfumer H and Frama, and you can even smell like Graanmarkt 13, if you so wish. The pair’s signature fragrance (€130), developed with perfumer Lyn Harris, has notes of lavender, patchouli and cedarwood.
For those who want to linger, the short-stay apartment (€1,300 per night) has four bedrooms and a runaround terrace – all adhering to a minimal yet cosy aesthetic. Although Van Geloven and Cornelissens moved out five years ago, the space still bears their imprint. “My books are still on my side of the bed and Tim’s books on his,” says Cornelissens. “It’s still the house of Tim and Ilse. It is very personal.”