I would describe my style as contemporary-meets-classic; soft and elegant. I also like to add in a few funky patterns and some pops of colour to make me smile. My husband Ammar’s taste is more eclectic and bold, so we really didn’t know where to start with designing the house. We enlisted interior designer Malin Palmlund (M Interior), who helped us to bring a balance between the two styles.
We bought our three-bed villa in Arabian Ranches at the beginning of this year, and we’ve only just finished decorating. Our last home was a tiny, furnished one-bed flat in Central London, so when we moved we brought with us just a few boxes, a TV and some mismatched cushions and candles.
We didn’t have a sofa until June, when I was seven months pregnant – before then two camp chairs sufficed. The kitchen and family room were the last rooms to be completed, just two days before our first baby, Sofia, arrived into the world.
Hotels we’ve visited have always inspired us, particularly boutique hotels. We love the unique and ‘collected’ styles of Charlotte Street Hotel and The Soho Hotel in London.
Interior designer Caitlin Wilson was a big inspiration for our family room – she creates beautiful, colourful, vibrant living spaces and uses patterns, such as Greek key and chevrons, beautifully. We also loved the style of our own interior designer, Malin, who has a modern, chic, Scandinavian style and did a brilliant job with the limited interiors shops available here in Dubai.
We’ve practically lived on Pinterest for the past year. My husband and I each made a board for every room of the house and spent hours searching for inspiration. Between us we have more than 30 interiors boards on Pinterest. They helped us write the 18-page brief for our designer. Once the rooms were designed, we used Pinterest to find cost-effective ideas that helped us save a little money, like with our kitchen stools. We bought them from Ikea and spray-painted the legs to match our kitchen colour scheme.
The house is split into three areas. The living and dining rooms are for entertaining – they are smarter, more elegant and refined. The family room and the kitchen are vibrant, more modern, and have a great flow of energy. Finally, upstairs we have tranquil bedroom space – calm rooms to relax in at the end of a busy day.
The kitchen and family room are my favourite rooms. They are where we spend most of our time and just feel so lovely to relax in.
In Dubai I shop in Indigo Living, West Elm, The One and Ikea – they all have some great pieces if you know how to put them together (or hire someone who does). I like picking things up on my travels, like the antique incense bowl we found in Thailand, and my handmade wooden jewellery box from Morocco. In London I love wandering around and finding pieces in our old stomping grounds of South Kensington and Westbourne Grove.
Our bed, dining table, chairs, console, sofas, guest bed and curtains were all custom-made, along with many of our cushions. It takes longer and involves stressful decision-making but it is so worth it. And here in Dubai it’s relatively easy to have furniture and soft furnishings made. It’s just a case of braving the maze that is Al Quoz to find a good company to work with!
The one missing element in our home, as it is now, is art. We’ve started to build our collection but still have many empty walls to fill. I think we will build it up slowly over the years, as and when we find pieces we love.