So we are Gwynn and Kenzo. (or #kwynnzo for friends)
Gwynn works part-time for the municipal administration of Lochristi and is responsible for speelplein Joepla. Kenzo works as a creative jack-of-all-trades at Piet Moodshop. We live together in Ghent since 2013, in the former house of Gwynn’s grandparents.
That house was a bit too big for us, so we brainstormed in the first years about a renovation. We dreamed of business of our own. A breakfast shop, a cocktail bar, a coffee shop, a flower store, ... We had lots of ideas.
In 2016, we traveled through Portugal for several weeks, going from one B&B to another. We learned that there is a broad spectrum of B&B owners. At one end, the old lady who prefers to spend an entire day drinking coffee with the guests. On the other hand, the business person who has little time and works with a key in a box.
We decided that our own lives, which also dare to be busy at times, were compatible with hosting a B&B. A few decisions later we brought in our friend Isabelle Van Lierop as an architect. Everything was prepared for a heavy renovation. We also got married quickly, because for the next few months there was certainly no free time and probably no money either.
In 2017, we renovated our house. Four months of leaving the house became thirteen (!) months of wandering around Ghent and its surroundings. We moved nine times, from a friend's family to parents to friends, again to parents, to other friends, to friend's parents, ... During the day we worked at our jobs, evenings and weekends we spent at our "house". We did as much as possible ourselves. Electricity, plumbing, painting, ... we did it. Not because we had the knowledge or the desire, but because we didn't have the budget to hire professionals.
At the end of 2017, the decoration of our B&B was on the agenda. Local design seemed to us a very interesting theme. Local food and local production was already 'a thing' at the time, but extending that local theme to interior design did not happen yet. So we wanted to offer a modest platform for local designers. We sent out a few e-mails and in no time, five interested local creatives turned into a hundred enthusiastic local designers.
For the interior design we engaged 'design guru' Christophe Verbeke, owner of Piet Moodshop. Together with him, forty designers were selected who, based on material, technique and color, form a beautiful cohesion in the rooms. Margriet, Olga and Emile were born!
In early 2018, Graaf. welcomed its first guests. The name is a reference to Ghent's Gravensteen and Antwerp's dialect where 'graaf' means cool, a clean blend of Gwynn and Kenzo's Ghent and Antwerp roots. Since then we receive guests from all over the world and that remains the nicest aspect of a B&B: meeting people, listening to stories and experiencing new impressions and cultures. More of that!