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14 November 2018Last updated
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Aquarius takes a peek inside a reader’s home

Freelance journalist Polly Sweet’s whimsical, botany-inspired Al Barsha villa takes cues from the flora and fauna of the great outdoors

By Tabitha Barda
29 Oct 2014 | 12:04 am
  • Source:Stefan Lindeque/ANM Image 1 of 7
  • “I wanted our bedroom to be a very calming and neutral space, so everything is white, beige and cream. The print that hangs above the bed I found in Al Bastakiya, a treasure trove of collectible items.”

    Source:Stefan Lindeque/ANM Image 2 of 7
  • Source:Stefan Lindeque/ANM Image 3 of 7
  • “The kitchen is a little bit kitsch – my attempt at being the perfect 1950s housewife.”

    Source:Stefan Lindeque/ANM Image 4 of 7
  • “The pink coffee machine is by FrancisFrancis and was a wedding gift.”

    Source:Stefan Lindeque/ANM Image 5 of 7
  • “The metallic glasses were actually from myhen party, organised by my maid of honour, whom I have known since I was 10, and each one is inscribed with the names of the attendees.”

    Source:Stefan Lindeque/ANM Image 6 of 7
  • “The magnetic spice rack is one of our kitchenessentials as we cook a lot – I honestly cannot remember when we last ordered in.”

    Source:Stefan Lindeque/ANM Image 7 of 7

We are lucky enough to have a big garden, which has been a huge source of interiors inspiration. The birds and the trees that live outside have definitely dictated the colours and motifs that run throughout the house. I also use a lot of house plants, again to reflect the outdoors – especially in the summer, when greenery and foliage are so desperately lacking. 

We moved into our home four years ago. The furniture that we brought with us from our previous two-bedroom apartment in the Greens all fitted into one room, so it took a while to get the house feeling ‘lived in’. Doing up a large house can be expensive, so we have gone about things slowly and steadily. It is a work in progress and as we have grown as a family and our needs have changed, so the house has evolved. 

I am more attracted to individual objects as opposed to following a scheme or a theme. I like rooms to feel light and airy, so tend to shy away from dark or heavy furniture and steer more towards white, neutrals, glass and silver. 

As the only girl in our household – which I share with my husband Liam, and two sons Lando (two) and Lucian (eight months) – I do sometimes have to fight my female corner! So the occasional pink item finds its way in, such as the kitchen chairs that my husband a bit reluctantly painted in Cheeky Pink.

My favourite spot in the house is our living room. It is calm and serene and it is my retreat from the rest of Dubai, which often feels frantic and crowded.


I am inspired by the interior designer Tricia Guild – her shop on the King’s Road in London is one of my earliest memories. She is perhaps the reason behind my fondness for fuschia pink and green. I am also an avid fan of the late, great David Collins – his style and work is behind so many of the world’s most stylish landmarks. Whenever I am faced with a design dilemma I wonder ‘What would David do?’ The blog Papernstich is also full of brilliantly creative ideas.


When I’m in London I tend to raid Graham & Green and the Peter Jones fabric department – they’re my first stop when I land. In Dubai, Zara Home, Bloomingdale’s Home and Comptoir 102 are my regular interiors haunts. 

The one home item I really want is an ottoman. It has been my summer project, but I have yet to find the perfect fabric 
to cover it. I think the carpenters who are making it have begun to give up 
on me!

By Tabitha Barda

By Tabitha Barda