14 things you’ll find in Dutch houses that make internationals go: “Wait, what?”

Love or hate them, the Dutch are fiercely unique (even though they may not dress like it).

One of the best examples is what you’ll find in their houses. 

There’s a stack of things you’ll find in a typical Dutch home that confuses internationals in the Netherlands. Here are 14 of them!

1. A toilet calendar for when you’ve got things to do and are stuck in the loo

The Dutch are brilliant at multitasking — just watch them bike while holding a potted plant and a wheel of cheese.

photo of person on toilet and toilet calendar hanging on wall
At least you’ll never forget your friend’s uncle’s grandpa’s birthday. 😉 Image: Gpointstudio/Depositphotos & michaklootwijk/Depositphotos

Their multitasking brilliance also extends to their bathroom routines in the form of the verjaardagskalender (birthday calendar) or WC kalender (toilet calendar).

READ MORE | Dutch Quirk #43: Hang a birthday calendar in their toilet

You’ll find this nifty little thing hanging under a sink or on the wall of a Dutchie’s loo. Scrawled on it will be things like: “Nienke’s birthday”, “Dentist appointment”, or even “Remind Jeroen to pay his Tikkie for €0.85”.

Ok, we may have exaggerated the last part there. 😉

2. Fabulous window displays that’ll have you pausing in your step

Whether it’s to announce the birth of a new child, to wish Sarah or Abraham a happy birthday, or to show off fancy decor — Dutchies excel at cool window displays.

three-plants-on-a-windowsill-with-a-gold-watering-can
When it comes to window decor, Dutchies sure aren’t thrifty! Image: Depositphotos

The decor is usually facing outwards to put on a show for passers-by to have a peep, say “wat mooi!” (how beautiful), and go along on their way.

At the very least, you’ll see some cute shells and the odd cactus or two on the windowpane — however, among creative Dutchies, the sky’s the limit!

3. Invisible curtains and an attitude of never being nosey

And, speaking of windows, windows in the Netherlands feature the latest Dutch technology: invisible curtains!

living-room-with-no-curtains-on-the-windows
Curtains? What are these “curtains” you speak of? 🤔 Image: Depositphotos

Jokes aside, curtains and the Dutch are two things that do not mix.

Houses in the Netherlands usually don’t come with them, as the Dutch prefer having an uninterrupted view outside.

READ MORE | Why don’t the Dutch like to use curtains?

This likely stems from the Calvinistic mindset of open/no curtains equating to having nothing to hide and living a good life.

So what we’re trying to say is that you aren’t likely to see many curtains blocking your view of families eating dinner — or the odd flash of bumcrack! 🍑

4. Inspection-shelf toilets so you can hold a funeral before you flush

Originally nicked from the Germans, the Dutch toilet features an inspection shelf for a closer examination of any logs you may drop. 💩

graphic-showing-difference-between-dutch-and-other-toilets
Trust us; you’ll soon become rather…err, closely acquainted with the sight (and smell!) of your poop. Image: DutchReview

However, there’s a method to this madness, as this design is perfect for examining your poo to check if your internal plumbing is in tip-top shape!

Pros: you get no wet bum, and you can have a better look at your poop.

Cons: you get a full whiff of the aroma, will use your toilet brush to death, and get to say a final “doei!” to your poop.

READ MORE | 7 odd Dutch quirks: the stranger side of the Netherlands

Internationals, beware — Dutch toilets are a very different beast from what you’re used to!

5. Steep stairs that’ll almost scare off a mountain goat

If you need practice for a trip to the Tibetan mountainside, please visit a Dutch house.

The steepness is mostly born out of necessity. Dutch houses are packed more closely than stroopwafels in AH packaging because Dutch authorities used to tax people based on the width of their homes.

So, if you’re visiting a Dutch house and cry out in amazement at the steepness of their stairs — be warned that your shins may also be in danger. 💢

6. A gourmetten bakplaat (griddle) that’s whipped out every December

It makes sense that the inventors of borrelen appreciate time in the company of good food and drinks.

Gourmetten involves sitting at a table and grilling meat and veggies in tiny pans on a bakplaat (a small device to cook food), with accompanying bread and sauces.

a-woman-grilling-a-piece-of-meat-on-a-gourmetten-bakplaat
Trust us; it’s more fun than it sounds! Image: Christiano Betta/Wikimedia Commons/CC 2.0

It’s a popular Dutch Christmas tradition and a great way for families to have a gezellig etentje (cosy dinner) together!

As such, gourmetten bakplaten aren’t likely to be found in many other places than a Dutchie’s kitchen.

7. Sinks in bedrooms because… we don’t even know

You can occasionally find bathroom sinks lurking in Dutch bedrooms like uninvited guests. 🚰

Dating back to a time when proper bathrooms weren’t as common, “bedroom sinks” are currently more often found in older houses. Newer student houses are also seeing an uptick in these fixtures.

Students beware, however — some landlords use this “privilege” as an excuse to increase rent on bedrooms with sinks. 😉

8. Ceramic figures giving each other a perpetual smooch

Plenty of Dutch houses seem to feature ceramic figurines of a boy and girl in traditional Dutch clothes having a snog.

statues-of-a-dutch-boy-and-girl-kissing-over-stroopwafels
We can definitely see why they’re so popular! Image: Depositphotos

They combine adorableness, Dutch traditionality, and Delfts blauw (traditional blue and white Dutch pottery depicting scenes from the Netherlands). I mean…what’s not to like?

In fact, this kissing couple is so popular that three-storey-tall statues of them were erected in Zaandam.

9. Random Buddha statues, for that extra bit of zen 👌

What are Buddhas, symbols of Buddhism, doing in a largely irreligious country?

a-tiny-bronze-buddha-statue-as-a-decoration-in-a-dutch-house
We give this one a zen out of ten! Image: Freepik

One theory is that Western countries appreciate elements of Asian culture that they find easy to digest.

Here’s our theory: Buddhas, with their aura of exoticism, add an element of “yes, it’s from Thailand — I like to travel, you know 😌” (even if it’s bought with a korting at a gift shop in Amsterdam).

10. A flessenlikker to get every drop of what’s lekker

The Dutch love many things, including a variety of spreads to put on their boterhammen (sandwiches) and being thrifty.

What’s the best way to combine the two? A flessenlikker, of course!

READ MORE | The 21 weirdest things Dutchies don’t realise are only Dutch

A flessenlikker (or “bottle licker” in English) is an object that you can use to scrape the last bits of jam, Nutella, or whatever spread you fancy out of a jar.

Although relatively alien to most internationals, seeing one in the kitchen is a sure sign you’ve entered a Dutch house.

11. The weirdness that is the Dutch door

Dutch doors? But wait…how can the Dutch have their own weird doors? 🤔

These doors — also known as stable doors or boerendeuren (farm doors) — are exterior doors with a weird quirk.

They contain an upper and lower half, which can both be opened independently of each other.

These halves function similarly to a window, as the house can be aired by opening the top half, whilst the lower half keeps the dirt and animals out.

This is pretty nifty, as they’re most commonly found on farms. After all, you don’t want a goat to pop in and nick your boterham (sandwich)!

12. The efficient kaasschaaf for all your sandwich needs

I’m sure most of us are familiar with the humble cheesegrater — but the Dutch kaasschaaf (cheese slicer) is the cheesegrater’s bigger (and dare we say better? 😉) brother.

Dutchies that want something fancier than plakjes (slices) of cheese from their Albert Heijn grab one of these bad boys and slice their cheese wedges at home.

READ MORE | Dutch Quirk #5: Eat cheese every day for lunch

Coming across one of these in a drawer signals that you’re either in a Dutch house or a wild Dutchie is lurking around yours (hopefully, they brought cheese!)

13. Mysterious draaikiepramen that befuddle most internationals

The draaikiepraam or tilt-and-turn window is relatively common in parts of Europe, particularly in the Netherlands.

However, its two methods of opening are something that has internationals scratching their heads in confusion.

Dutch-tilt-and-turn windows
What is this sorcery?! 🤯 Image: DutchReview/Supplied

A draaikiepraam can be tilted inward on its axis to let in a light breeze and open outwards like a door.

These are perfect for houses in the Netherlands that often lack space. However, they feature a finicky mechanism that can be a nightmare to operate. And thank your lucky stars if you’ve never had to pay to have one of them fixed! 😬

Having to battle with one of these is a sure sign you’ve landed in a Dutch house. 🇳🇱

14. Two different kitchen towels that you’d better not mix up

white-kitchen-towels-hanging-on-an-oven-handle
We repeat, don’t mix them up! Image: Freepik

Almost every Dutch house has two kitchen towels — one for your hands and the other to dry washing up.

Wipe your hands on the wrong towel, and you risk a stern frown. Which one is which? Well, Dutchies say the one for hands is fluffier, but honestly, we take a random guess each time. 🤷‍♀️


As you can see, the Dutch abound with creativity and quirkiness (though we’re definitely going to have to give those stairs a pass)!

What other strange things have you come across in Dutch houses? Tell us all about it in the comments below!

This article was originally published in November 2022 and was fully updated in August 2023 for your reading pleasure.

Feature Image:Pixabay
Liana Pereira 🇱🇰
Liana Pereira 🇱🇰
Liana juggles her role as an Editor with wrapping up a degree in cognitive linguistics and assisting with DutchReview's affiliate portfolio. Since arriving in the Netherlands for her studies in 2018, she's thrilled to have the 'write' opportunity to help other internationals feel more at home here — whether that's by penning an article on the best SIMs to buy in NL, the latest banking features, or important things to know about Dutch health insurance.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. With all due respect I think you need to travel a bit more Liana before becoming a writer/journalist, many of the things you mentioned you will find in other European countries also, the windows – Austria, Towels – most countries, Half door -Ireland, cheese slicer – most countries,

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