Adventures in History & Culture

Writer: Amelia Jeffers

Photography: James Henthorn and courtesy Waltmann Real Estate

For Markéta and Ewout Leeuwenburg, an empty-nest departure from an affluent Columbus suburb was guided by a desire to simplify, but also to seek a vibrant, walkable neighborhood that matched their enthusiasm for culture, the arts, and an international lifestyle. Throughout several relocations since leaving their native Netherlands 30 years ago, Markéta had sought community and engagement through a familiar institution: art museums. Having visited while accompanying Ewout on business trips to the city, Markéta saw the Columbus Museum of Art (CMA) as a way of broadening her horizons and fostering her passion for creative expression that had begun as a child when she visited art museums with her family.

As a dedicated volunteer, she eventually pulled her entire family into the fold. Together with her father, a long-time volunteer at the 200-year old Dordrecht Museum south of Amsterdam, Markéta and Ewout made connections between the leadership of both institutions that would lead to an innovative international partnership and the acclaimed 2019 CMA exhibit, “Life in the Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Masterpieces from the Dordrecht Museum.” Today, Ewout (an executive retired from a corporate career and currently involved as CEO and Investor in a local company that manufacturers instrumentation for pre-clinical life science and environmental research) serves as Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the Columbus Museum of Art, and Markéta has chaired innumerable events, most recently bringing celebrity design professional Carson Kressley for the Art in Bloom fundraiser in early 2021.

Fittingly, the pair identified an appealing historical brick Italianate on Schiller Park in German Village. Reminiscent of their home country that shares its largest border with Germany, the Village would provide rich layers of colloquial charm with rugged brick streets, old buildings nestled next to high sidewalks, and a hive of activity from performances in the park to upscale dining and shopping. Originally a double and later converted into four apartments, the well-documented, storied home has undergone nearly as many notable changes to the interior as owners since it was constructed in the 1860’s. There was the period of stately elegance imbued by an antiques collector; next an urban chic overhaul; then a contemporary decor with textured walls and a slate-gray palette.

WWith a vision to merge a familiar Dutch minimalism with luxurious finishes, Markéta and Ewout set about designing a comfortable and welcoming sanctuary in the heart of the city. Wherever possible walls were removed, at places revealing larger projects like the necessary removal of a previously concealed cantilevered chimney and the installation of steel reinforcements. The formerly dark kitchen was moved to the back of the residence, where it steps out to the stunning private backyard with large, tranquil pool and patio. The floors were bleached to further brighten the home, and walls were painted a brilliant white with bold black accents setting off architectural features. A closet was sacrificed creating an open loft that functions as an office.

Only three years later, the project complete, the pair has embarked on their next project: a pied-à-terre in their hometown Dordrecht, a city in The Netherlands dating to 1220 and the oldest city in the provinces of North and South Holland. The 16th Century grain warehouse in which their condo is housed could easily be mistaken for a German Village factory, with hand hewn beams and a weathered facade tilting toward the cobblestone street.

Adventures in History & Culture


Writer: Amelia Jeffers

Photography: James Henthorn and courtesy Waltmann Real Estate