Amsterdam Color Study

Amsterdam Color Study

One of the things that struck me the first time I explored the streets and alleyways of Amsterdam was the signature palette of the city. Giant, glossy, black doors open up onto murky canals. Block after block of brick structures sprout from sidewalks in shades of heavy red, dirty whites, and slate greys. Doorsteps are punctuated with hearty, thick-leaved plants, deep green in color.

Orange street address on a shop / You see these orange berries in pots all over the city

It seems that many of the man-made elements in this area take a cue from nature surrounding it. Architectural details pop off buildings in the shades of local berries, building exteriors look like they were designed to compliment the mossy canal walls perfectly, and the tall, tilted houses are coated with colors plucked straight from the canal water itself - murky greys, blacks, navy, and green.

Grassy canal banks / Loaves of bread at the weekend farmers market

I thought I would snap a few pictures for you, so you could get a bit of a sense of what I'm talking about. It's quite interesting, even the cars in Amsterdam seem to lean towards the canal palette - I'm quite sure I haven't seen a yellow or red car since I've been here.

Hearty plants / Lace-lined door with mossy steps

I'm back in San Francisco tomorrow - with a couple new cookbooks and recipes in tow. There is one book in particular that I look forward to sharing - a beautiful volume from the previous chef at The Dylan here in Amsterdam.

Flower bikes / Taking pictures in Alkmaar

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Wow, Heidi, great pictures....its making me all homesick in a good way :-) Amsterdam is so lovely but can be quite murky at this time of year, when the weather is grey but I think that's part of the charm...look forward to reading about the recipes


Thank you for bringing this very cold and dark morning to life. I am looking forward to reading, making and eating the recipes you have promised us.

chris Griffiths

Even though I am not from Amsterdam (I am from The Hague) it made me a little homesick looking at your pictures.
Oh, how I wish I could go into one of these great little restaurants or bistro's and enjoy something European!
Thank you Heidi!
P.S. Did you buy cheese in Alkmaar?


thanks again for providing a "feel" of the real thing. beautiful. so much more of an idea of the area than the travel pics/sites can offer. i've really enjoyed the "trip" ;)


Thanks Heidi for taking us along on your vacation. It was so much fun. I'm anxious to hear more about the recipes and books your brought back.


Nice to see a post on what i call home for the last five years. This was precisely my impression of the city when i first set foot on this land: murky. And I still believe one has to be raised here to appreciate that fact changes with seasons. However, orange is the exception. It is the most common outlet for vibrancy in the palette of the city. It is the national colour and Amsterdam is the it is pretty much "themed" that way. As for the absence of flashiness: the Dutch are generally "proud" to be low-key, which most will explain as cultural Calvinism. I hope you enjoyed your stay and I'm definitely looking forward to your comments on your culinary experience in the Netherlands.


Those berries look like cotoneaster (not "cotton-easter," but "co-tone-e-aster").

Googled images of "cotoneaster"


Gorgeous photos, as usual! Thanks for sharing. That Dylan Cookbook is beautiful. We were just in Amsterdam a couple of weekends ago, staying at the College Hotel, and they had a copy. I didn't bring it home, but now I think that I should have. :-)


Heidi - great pictures and hope you're enjoying your holiday!
I was in Amsterdam just a few weeks ago, but totally forgot to check out the farmers' market:( Silly me..


When you said you were going to Amsterdam, I assummed you would be taking a vacation from "101 cookbooks", and that things would be dull without you, and that we would all miss you and be anxious for your return. It never occurred to me that you would share your vacation with us... what a rare, special treat. You honor us, thank you...v


Heidi...It's like I'm there! You are so descriptive in your writing. A pleasure to read your recipe AND travel posts.


Oy, this makes me homesick for Europe -- love the mixture of melancholy and charm mixed with fabulous bread. It's what keeps me going back - thanks for the reminders! Beautiful.


the orange berries are quite common in Europe - or at least in Germany as well...we used to have some in our garden when we lived there :)


Have recently had a dear little granddaughter named Ginger. I haven't been able to adjust to the name but loved the sound of your "Gateau a l'orange et au Gingermbre ' - I have baked the lovely cake and celebrated the birth of beautiful Gingermbre.


Thanks for taking us along on the trip with you! I don't think I'd be able to describe all the new sights and sounds well enough to post about them while I'm there, so good for you!


Love the blog.

Flea Market Geek

Wow, excellent photography.

I don't quite understand this site though - is it just you or is it different people all the time?


The camera sees what we don't. Note the two red cars on the right hand side of the canal (near the bridge) in your beautiful photo at the beginning of this article. Overcast days make the colors pop... Thank you for sharing your trip with us!

Susan Stone

I think the bush with the berries is pyracantha --that's what it was called in my mother's garden. (You're in the home of cole slaw: any ideas?)

Susan G

Love the color study. So beautiful.
My husband is leaving for Amsterdam on Saturday for business...any restaurants you would recommend? What a great trip you must be having! I haven't been to Amsterdam since college and would love to experience it again now that my budget and palette have grown.

Sarah C.


I liked emptying out the hotel mini bar, and then filing it with all the tasty wine and amazing beer you can find there - then loading up on different cheeses and (crappy) baguettes - for the impromptu hotel room picnic.

I'm planning on doing a list of favorite places, food, shopping and otherwise on the bulletin boards - but most likely won't have a chance to get around to it for a few days. -h


I am a photographer also, and I found the colors in Amsterdam just awesome. Your pictures are awesome. I love your website, and Amsterdam is my favorite city ever...


i love amsterdam...all the wonderful surrounding towns with daily markets....i highly reccomend that anyone vistis there, epecially if you are not into pot smoking and legalizede prostitiution.....the city allways gets a bad wrap, but it really has so many wonderful hidden treasures.


You took very nice photo :) especially the picture of the bicycle with flowers, makes me feel 'VERY' Holland :) but on the other side, the background shown some design creating by people showed the art in Holland. quite creative:)

i have been to Amsterdam, i like the town there. but i most like Eindhoven and Utrecht. but Amsterdam is a very multi culture town, lots of great view to was the first time i have been to Sex Museum. Funny! it is cheap.

i am going to move to Holland soon after i got my visa. applying visa is not so easy :( so, i hope you had enjoyed your stay in Holland because Holland is a very nice country!


Very nice pictures!


Beautiful pictures. Lovely composition. Thanks for sharing the beauty.


I so envy your photographic ability. Your photography is beautiful. If you can imagine it, my pictures are the exact opposite of yours, always... HAHAHA. blurry, out of focus, poorly composed, horrible light, unclear subjects...I'm just a disaster, but I find the photography on this site to be so attractive I can't stay away from it!


Three Layer Cake

This website is supposed to be for recipies.


Heidi, don't miss the amazing waffle like cookies with caramel/honey filling, that the Dutch have with coffee...They usually put them on top the hot coffee cup and the caramel melts...ohhh so good! They are to die for...


Thanks for the memories Heidi From the Dutch half of me.


Gosh, between your post now and my friend's pics from a recent trip also to Amsterdam I sooo miss living abroad when going to Amsterdam was just a weekend trip! Thank you for bringing back some good memories.

The Pearl Onion

Amazing pictures! I can't wait to hear more about your trip.


Lovely Photos!! I have been to Amsterdam a half a dozen times, and it occurred to me that I have never been there when it hasn't been slurky and grey, always in February or January. I am so due for another trip! Looking forward to reading more about your discoveries. Peace.


Absolutely Amazing.
These pictures make me homesick and i;ve never been to Amsterdam

Alex Hubbs

I love Amsterdam but .... i never been there, i'will go soon, that pics aree very beautiful

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