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Urban jungle in Antwerp

He exchanges cuttings with friends and saves plants that people abandon on the street. Say hello to Wilbert and his amazing city garden.


We came across Wilberts gardening skills whilst doing a story on urban gardening for Ikea Belgium. We’re a sucker for plants and nature and our jobs often take us to incredible homes, but we weren’t prepared for this abundance of indoor and outdoor greenery located in the middle of the city.


Wilbert is a plantsman and he’s got quite a history with the house he’s inhabiting. As a student he used to live here and spent his summers restoring the place. “I loved living here. I used to rent a room upstairs and I really enjoyed helping out the previous owners with their renovation work. They’re wonderful people and amazing garden architects and they thought me so much about aesthetics and how to nurture plants. When they told me they wanted to sell the house, me and my girlfriends Johanna didn’t doubt for a second. We bought it immediately. It feels good to be back.” 

The city dwelling was built in the 19th century, it’s a maison de maître and absolutely stunning. Authentic details – tiles, paneling, ceilings, mantelpieces, staircases - have been preserved and you can sense the previous owners really cherished their home and therefore were able to get the best out of it. “In the beginning I wanted to add some changes, but in fact the house is perfect just the way it is. There’s no way to make it better.” The living room is rather dark, but the dark colors give it a warm and intimate atmosphere. And the more you get to the back of the house, the more you get overwhelmed by the overload of greenery.

Quite extraordinaire is the indoor dining area with the ficcus climbing on the walls all the way up to the terrace on the 1st floor. And what about the garden? It’s more like an urban jungle, it’s rather small and extremely lush filled with bamboo, taxus, limetree and an impressive collection of cacti looking awesome against a pastel colored backdrop. Exquisite is the jardin secret, a secret mini compartment at the back of the garden creating an intimate secret spot visually enlarging the outdoor space. On the 1st floor there’s an impressive terrace with a combination of creepers – woodbine and ficcus - old vintage furniture and a rolling shutter used as flooring. On the 2nd floor there’s another outdoor area where an old tub used as a mini pond caught our attention.


An urban jungle and two terraces in the middle of the city, what is there not to like? We’re also quite fond of the view from every window: green is everywhere! There’s no doubt about it: Wilbert, let's swap houses!
Text: Magali Elali
Photography: Bart Kiggen
Wilbert on the Ikea website

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