Quick read before you start the visit

You just climbed the narrow staircase up to the third floor in an old, typical Dutch building. In front of you is a white door.

It has been one year and fourteen days since I moved into this apartment together with my partner Tomi. We entered the world of freshly painted walls, new wooden floors, white doors with black handles, new gray bathroom tiles and fixtures, boxy, white, IKEA furniture, round carpets in pastel rose color, and halogen lights seated in the sockets on the ceiling. The apartment gleamed brightly with its generic quality and, until recently, I could hear an echo of my voice and I could smell the synthetic vapors diffused from the walls, floors and furniture.

I was away from Amsterdam on a day we moved in. I was traveling for nine months, while Tomi was living in the apartment, and during my brief visits, we would spend some time thinking about what it means and takes to make a home. Tomi could not easily adjust to the new place, although he liked it, because it was not easy for him alone to transform the place into a home.

But hey, please enter. There is only one private room in this apartment, and you can see it straight ahead. It is just opposite the entrance, 3 steps away.

If you open its door, through the palm plant leaves you can see the queen-size bed, placed in a corner, just in front of you. If this is nighttime in Amsterdam, the palm leaves will hide us, Tomi and myself, from a plain view. If you see us hugging, it means that we still did not fall asleep, and, at this moment, I am most probably listening to the sound of Tomi’s lashes tapping the pillow. This sound is my favorite.

If no one is in the bed, it means that it is daytime, and the bed is tightly made.

If you look to the right, you will see the entire wall covered in two long vertical windows and balcony doors, facing a street in a busy neighborhood with a lot of restaurants and shops. It takes 2 steps forward and 6 steps to your right to get to the windows (click here to see the image; upload here what you see in your space). Here, next to the balcony door, you find a small, black side-table, on which we laid our collection of crystals and, to see them better, I invite you to crouch or sit down.

The layout of crystals is sort of a map. Closest to us is rozenkwarts, which we got for our wedding; then, there is the small piece of watermelon tourmaline, which I bought to myself when my father died; next one is a yellowish stone that Tomi collected in Joshua desert, one of his favourite places; next to it is a geometric jewel-like piece of pyrite purchased in a bizarre shop nearby Goetheanum in Switzerland; last, but not least, are two parts of egg-shaped quartz geode, received as a birthday present from a special friend; in-between them are some beach pebbles.

The sunset charges our crystals daily, as this room faces the West.

If you have crouched or sat down, you can stand up again.

To continue the visit, please take 6 steps backwards — really, backwards — then turn to your left. Another 2 steps backwards will take you out of this room, back into the hallway, in front of the doors, as if you are about to open them again.

The entrance hall continues on your left. So, if you turn to your left and walk 3 steps ahead, you find yourself surrounded by three identical white doors – one in front of you, one on your left side, and one on your right side.

The door in front of you leads to a guest room. We have a lot of guests because this apartment is not just an apartment for the two of us, it is also a guesthouse. Tomi and I are caretakers of the guesthouse. To live here means to regularly welcome guests who come to teach at an art school. The guests, one at a time, shortly stay in the guest room and they are welcome to share the kitchen with us.

We like to make some guests feel like they are at home. Sometimes we think that guests are feeling too much at home. Sometimes, we ourselves feel like passing guests who dream of a future home. Sometimes this is a perfect home.

The guest room is of a good size – not too big nor too small. On the opposite wall, you see a window and a door to a long balcony that overlooks the inner courtyard. In front of you, below the window, is a white table and a generic chair made of recycled plastic. On your left is a queen-size bed placed in a corner of the room. You can make 1 step ahead and 5 steps on your left to reach it and you can lay down if you like. Through the window, you can see red-brick residential buildings (only fifteen meters away), and a piece of sky (click here to see the image; upload here what you see in your space).

The last person who slept in this bed was one of our favorite guests. The guest was staying for a couple of days. A day before the guest’s departure I came back home, to the guesthouse, after my nine-months long travels. It was the first week of the coronavirus outbreak in Europe and seven days before the lockdown. I arrived late in the evening and, while Tomi and I chatted quietly and were getting ready for the sleep, we heard our guest having a severe cough, which did not calm down the whole night. For the first time since we live in the guesthouse, I have realized how open it is to the outside world and how easy it can become an unhomely place. The next morning, our guest left before we woke up and since then the guesthouse has been temporarily closed for guests.

If you are laying down please get up, and then walk back to the door: 5 steps ahead, turn to the right, and then take 1 step.

The kitchen is now on your left side and the doors are the most probably open. This is the room where we would normally meet with our guests. On the entire wall opposite from you is the long, generic, white IKEA kitchen table. If you walk 5 steps ahead, approaching the kitchen table, and turn to your left, you can see the huge door to the balcony, the same balcony that you could access from the guest room. Although it is a nice, long balcony, I do not use it, because the neighboring red-brick residential buildings are so close that I feel very exposed. That is why we bought this lush bamboo and a fig tree; they protect us from being conscious of our neighbors.

The kitchen table is now on your right and on your left is the white generic dining table and another palm plant.

To leave the apartment, turn around and walk to the door of the kitchen – 5 steps ahead and 5 steps to your right. You are now in a hallway, turn left, take 3 steps, then turn right and take another 3 steps. If it is daytime, I will guide you to the door myself.

While you walk, maybe you notice that the synthetic vapors are mostly gone by now; the guesthouse has its own characteristic smell, just like any other home has.

Safe travels!

Nikola Knežević
check Nikola’s practice here

ALTERNATE VIEWS (images uploaded by visitors)

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