The Bakery

With his company The Mall, Floor Heijn is a concept developer with a difference . He longs to make combinations that are different, functional and pleasing to the eye. It was therefore no surprise that he came to Pieter van der Aa when he had an idea to combine a Grand Café with a bakery in a large building in Drachten, Friesland and that he wanted it to be special. Pieter’s answer was simple and no surprise: wood, wood and more wood.

The concept was to use wood as the central theme of the whole building with which all the different areas with different functions should be connected and therefore flow into each other effortlessly. The eye of the viewer should be transported so to speak by the ever present grain of the different woods from one area to the next. Where does the bakery flow into the Grand Café and from there into one of the many different function rooms that are also incorporated into the building? That is for the visitor to decide.

The ceilings are made of roughly hewn wood that has been attached to large panels that fit together forming a seemingly seamless ceiling. The handmade Beech wood racks for bread run up far higher than is practical for the use in the shop but with this little trick they are given the dual role of shelf as well as ornament. The lower layers hold bread that is for sale, the higher ones fake wooden bread for show. The bakery is separated from the Grand Café by large doors made of Red Cedar that give a barn-like effect to the otherwise modern interior. The reading table has been made from one massive plank sawn from a rough log. All other tables as well as the stairs have also been made by Pieter van der Aa, using carefully selected wood with matching grain and colour.

The result is a modern, functional building which, despite its size and open spaces, has been given warmth by the use of clear varnished wood throughout.


The design brief that Pieter van der Aa had compiled together with architect Frans van der Horst was simple and to the point: create a home for himself, his wife and three daughters that would combine all the features of a modern house but would radiate the atmosphere of a  19th century mansion. That from day one would not feel like something newly built but have the warmth and “lived in” feeling of a much older residence.

To achieve this goal Pieter used, wherever possible, recycled building materials from demolished older buildings and also incorporated antique objects in many newly built sections of the house as well as in appliances.

Old beams of American Pitch Pine from the 19th century were carefully selected for colour and grain and only from the best planks were sawn that were used for the varnished floors in this beautiful home. All the floor beams are also made of used wood. Exquisitely engraved old glass panels were put into new doors, old marble fireplaces were given a new lease of life with new Oregon Pine wooden framing and even the striking tiles in the kitchen are carefully selected second hand ones.

The gently flowing combination of white painted walls and ceiling that are accentuated by varnished floors, stairway and trimmings takes you by the hand and makes you want to continue on your journey through this extraordinary house where every detail is impeccable and the feeling of perfection is accentuated by the choice of antique and new furniture and decorations.

The attention to detail borders on the excessive, but of course never is. From the bevelled edges of the ceiling beams to the carefully thought-out kitchen. The result is an astonishing house that never overawes but always impresses.


Is a staircase merely a necessary evil in a house? A functional connection between two spaces separated in height or can it be more than that? Pieter van der Aa proves that a staircase can also be a work of art with an individual character that transcends functionality. Whether it is a purely classic looking or an ultra-modern one, van der Aa staircases are things of beauty that can be seen as the piece de résistance in the restoration of an old house or with the building of a new one.

Together with architect Frans van der Horst, entire houses are re-designed by Van der Aa and completely restyled. Meanwhile van der Aa has also made several staircases with unique, varied finishes and materials. Van der Aa says; “It is much more than just straightforward carpentry. It is also the art to create something in a certain space that is both fitting and functional, but also adds something extra to it.”

As with everything that Van der Aa does, the choice of material is very determining for the final effect. Old cast iron bars are reused. For another staircase they are made from Poplar wood and turned on the lathe. Varnished wood, oak for the steps and Poplar for the wainscoting and handrails, are carefully selected for colour and grain. The curved bends of the handrail that make it seem impossible to be real wood are all made manually. On the wall side of the stairs the handrail is recessed into the wainscoting.

All this with the ultimate goal of creating a unique staircase that can be the showpiece of any home, office or shop.

Is een trap slechts een noodzakelijke kwaad in een huis? Een functionele verbinding tussen twee in hoogte van elkaar gescheiden ruimtes of is het meer dan dit? Pieter van der Aa bewijst dat een trap ook een kunstwerk kan zijn met een individuele karakter dat functionaliteit overstijgt. Of het nu een puur klassiek ogende of juist een ultra moderne trap is.

Samen met architect Frans van der Horst worden hele woningen door van der Aa opnieuw ingedeeld en compleet gerestyled. Inmiddels heeft van der Aa ook meerdere trappen gemaakt met steeds een unieke, afwisselende afwerking en materialen. Het is zoals van der Aa zegt; “veel meer dan gewoon timmerwerk. Het is ook de kunst om in een bepaalde ruimte iets te creëren dat zowel past als functioneel is maar daarbij ook iets toevoegt.”

Zoals met alles wat van der Aa doet is de materiaal keuze zeer bepalend voor het eindeffect. Oude gietijzeren spijltjes worden hergebruikt. Voor een andere trap worden ze juist op de draaibank van Populier hout gedraaid. Blank hout, eiken voor de treden en Populier voor de lambricering en leuningen, wordt nauwkeurig op kleur en nerf uitgezocht. Het wrongstuk van de leuning met bochten in het hout die onmogelijk lijken worden allemaal handmatig gemaakt. Aan de muurkant van de trap wordt de komgreep in de labrisering verwerkt.

Dit alles met als einddoel het maken van een unieke trap die het pronkstuk van ieder huis, kantoor of winkel kan zijn.