Thanks Johan for your comments. I have visited many royal palaces abroad but even those in a dilapidated state often have more grandeur because they have more lavish interiors. If only Noordeinde was furnished with grander pieces it would make such a difference! Look at the Palace in Amsterdam. The huge Empire furniture collection makes all the difference in there and it's certainly not furnished sparsely! The Malachite pieces in Noordeinde have some wow factor but also those pieces need a good polish! Nothing shines. And that is what struck me most: The lack of attention paid to the 'few' pieces and the interiors that are somewhat worthwhile. The palace is not privately owned and most of the furniture is in fact not private property either. For instance the Malachite set (taken from Soestdijk) was handed over to the government in a much critiqued tax deal after Juliana died that involved many art pieces.
On that note: do you know what happened to remaining Empire furniture from Soestdijk? Is it still there? I agree that in the 1980's people then involved went a bit overboard emphasising functionality within the Palace. It is easy to turn it around with better i.e. appropriate styling using grander antique furniture and artefacts. AND please, please get rid of those horrid thick carpets and invest in better wooden floors and antique carpets. I won't comment on Huis ten Bosch because what they did to some of the rooms in the Corps de Logis (which is NOT part of the private residence) leaves me utterly speechless and not in good sense.
According to the government and the royal house website Noordeinde Palace has a representational function. If that is the case I think better upkeep is required! This is public property and it should be taken care of! If I am unimpressed, I can't imagine what foreign dignitaries are left thinking.....
Im not surprised you felt unimpressed.
Noordeinde is small, like all Dutch palaces except the one in Amsterdam it started as a private home. It never was intended as the main Royal residence. Soestdijk and het Loo are also small and in other countries would be considered country houses rather than palaces.
I don't know if you have visited palaces abroad, but not all are massive. The Grand ducal palace in Luxembourg city is not particularly large either, neither is Christian VII palace or any of the other three residences of the Amalienborg complex in Copenhagen. The main halls are 14 by 9 meters (the great hall of Noordeinde is about 24 by 9).
As for it looking tired, most of the rooms were finished in 1984, 39 years ago. Non of them have been redone since. The furniture from the blue drawing room in Huis ten bosch now in the white hall was upholstered in the 1950's.
The central great hall never sits 200. It generally is limited to around 120 and is maxed out by 150 for a meal.
Painted marble was at some point more expensive than real marble so yes it has to look fake.
The new staircase in the garden vestibule is a strange idea. I get the desire to have a second large entrance at the back of the palace, but it would have been better not to fit in a big staircase. That could have been move to the northwest corner behind the garden drawing room on the ground floor and the Marot dining room on the floor above. That would have left a space of about 14 by 14 meters on both floors.
You describe it as looking cold, that is partially due to the more minimalist approach chosen in the restoration from 1977 till 1984 but also fits in with the Empire style many of the rooms are in. The fact that the building is not lived in but used mainly as an office does not help either. Office buildings are rarely cosy or homely and they are not intended to feel that way. I never liked the idea that the south garden wing that used to house the private apartments was turned into staff offices. it would have been better to move those to Noordeinde 66 (Beatrix' pied a terre) and use the family wing to house members of the Royal House when they are in The Hague.
Considering that both Huis ten Bosch and the Royal Palace in Amsterdam have been done up in recent years im not expecting Noordeinde will get the much needed renovation any time soon. It would be another costly renovation and im not sure the monarchy is at present popular enough to be able to afford such an expense.
I visited Noordeinde Palace recently with some friends and we were quite excited until we entered the building and we left 40 mins later totally unimpressed. Most visitors seemed to agree that the only 'state' room in the building that makes a lasting impression is the East Indies Room even though you can only have a quick peak standing in the doorway for 30 seconds.
I will share some of my observations here:
- Modest. The dimensions of the rooms and halls are very modest. Now you can' blame the building for being what it is but it is remarkable. The Great Ball Room is not that great i.e. large.: How they manage to fit 2 hundred + people in there during state visits is a mystery to me. It can't be very comfortable and I wonder how people get enough oxygen in their system to avoid collapsing on the posh dinner service in front of them.
- Fake. The presence of a fair amount of imitation marble and stone: painted plastered walls, columns and pilasters create a very fake feel even though there's also a fair amount of real marble / stone present. Some of the modern additions (plastic painted doors by Marthe Roling etc.) don't help either. I hate, I repeat hate the plexiglass side tables placed in several rooms and the heavy cloths totally covering most of the (side) tables. You wonder whether the tables under neath are even antiques and not just cheap folding tables. I didn't dare to lift the cloths. I should have!
- Empty. Several rooms actually don't have much (antique) furniture or artefacts in them. The Balcony Room has the potential to awe but deliberate or not it looks and feels impressively empty with the (nice) Empire furniture that is present ( in the back). Now it might have been a deliberate choice to keep the rooms and spaces sparsely decorated for audiences and receptions etc but it creates a rather cold and 'functional' empty atmosphere. The only cozy place was the small Green Anti-Chambre. I love the elegant round sofa in there!
- Strange. The Vestibule in the back is a very, very strange space. It just does not make sense. I know it was created by a reputable architect at the time but what was he thinking? Really. I also can't understand some, well actually many of the styling choices or lack thereof in the rooms. The White Ball Room is in one word a mess. It is by far the biggest mismatch of furniture you and I will have ever seen. Truly! It looks like a five year old choose the furniture while running around on a sugar rush in IKEA. The Room is stunning, the furniture ruins it!
- Tired. The palace needs a good cleaning and quite some repairs. General condition of the rooms, including floors, carpets etc is not great. Nothing compares to Soestdijk which is truly a dump but the interior has seen better days and it s starting to look worn down. Chipped paint and flooring, dirty windows and chandeliers, de-colouring of the (real) marble, stains in carpets, Oxydation patches on mirrors etc. I guess in the evening with the right lighting it might look somewhat better but during the daytime, the place looks tired.
I am curious what others who visited (live or online)think of the interior.