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Going Dutch

Going Dutch

If you’re all about comfort and cosiness, then congratulations, for your beautiful compulsion has a name – Gezellig.


Going Dutch


Pronounced heh-SELL-ick, gezellig is a Dutch word that, though nearly impossible to translate literally into English, best expresses the very quintessence of Dutch culture. Nobody does warm and welcoming, cosy and inviting quite like the Dutch. The Dutch equivalent of hygge, this hugely encompassing word truly says it all.

A person can be gezellig (you’re fun and funny, you’re warm, witty and wonderful to hang out with); a party can be gezellig (your shindig was sensational, everyone had a blast); spending time with grandparents can be gezellig (or ongezellig if your grandparents are…you know…those kind of grandparents); sipping an ale in a brown café is totes gezellig (brown cafés are legendary and uniquely Dutch – think dark wood, hearty fires flaming in the hearth, candles in bottles and ochre stained walls from decades of cigarette smoke); and then there’s your most favourite place in the world – your home.

The home is where gezellig really comes into its own, where it is seen, and felt, in its most purest form; it’s the very heart of the word. So, keeping in mind the Charles Caleb Colton quote that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, why not head into 2019 with an emboldened dash of Dutch? It’s time to get serious and have some fun. It’s time for your house to get gezellicked!


Forget the strenuous gym workouts; your deadly-dull dining room’s in dire need of dazzlement, your lacklustre lounge longs for livening up and, as for your bedroom… well, even the cat can’t be tempted there! So, pull up your sleeves and get to grips with that dining room table. That’s right, turn it lengthways, push it to the other side of the room. Look at that – now the family gets to see the rose garden, such a change from the ah… kitchen view.

Righty-ho, moving on, there’s the dresser (Dutch, of course!), how about switching places with the sideboard? Oh, go on, just do it! Excellent – doesn’t that look fantastic? Now, bring out those brass candlesticks you’ve stuck away in that draw for far too long, place them either side of the dresser… what do you think? Candles? Definitely!

Next, into the lounge and heave that sofa over there; yes, the armchairs look grand flanking the fireplace… you’ve got the hang of this now, haven’t you? You’re positively glowing with energy and self-satisfaction! As you hang your Van Gogh Starry Night over the bedside table and give it the softest illumination from the Tiffany lamp you retrieved from the attic, you stop a moment… a distinct sound of purring. You turn and there’s your cat, curled up and already dreaming.

You smile and tip-toe from the room.



Villa 23 Cafe

A rare city treasure: Villa 23 Cafe is the bright pink, Dutch, vegetarian cafe you didn’t know you needed but won’t want to live without (and it’s for sale!)

The secret is out about Villa 23 Café, New Zealand’s first and only Dutch vegetarian café with the ambient charm of a rare city treasure. Hedwig Dunbar-Keek and family have infused creativity into this gorgeous stand-alone villa. It’s now seeking a new owner, with new passions.

Villa 23 Cafe

“It’s a central location, with little competition, between Blenheim and Riccarton Road. It would be perfect for any restaurant, culinary dream, or a combined office space,” she says.
An interior designer from Amsterdam, Hedwig wishes to move on to her next project spending precious time with her gorgeous new granddaughter while concentrating solely on her Dutch-style catering business.
The landlord let Hedwig recreate the once drab, unnoticeable villa with colourful imagination. Amazing Dutch-designed wallpapers add delightful difference to the disco-glam ‘Arabian nights’ room, the light-filled ‘colour room’ and the must-see optical illusion bathroom. Husband Gregory restored its soft-pink exterior, polished floors and sturdy structure to its 1911 glory.
Her son and barista Quentin greets customers, while Hedwig conjures no-nonsense-great food from the spacious new kitchen. The café oasis serves Peruvian-origin coffee to the lucky customers working in the area – and many pop in for Dutch grocery items. The healthy award-winning smoothies, little Dutch poffertjes and oliebollen are delectable and specialties which are also sold at their Dutch stall at Deans Bush market on Saturdays.
Hedwig is off to Amsterdam this winter for her annual inspirational research. However, for interested parties, she can be contacted at, anytime.
Villa 23 Café, 23 Mandeville Street, Riccarton (next to Flow Hot Yoga). Phone 03-343 3375. See Facebook/Instagram for details.