I would describe my interiors style as eclectic, nostalgic and family-friendly. I’ve lived in this villa with my husband, Jason, 13-month-old son, Jack, and two rescue dogs, Tennessee and Indiana, for three years now, and it’s a very relaxed, well-loved and ‘lived in’ family home.
We have filled our villa with pieces that evoke memories from trips and reflect who we are. Jason loves classic movies, so he spent time sourcing vintage movie posters for the walls. We also have a memorabilia wall in our ‘pub’ room that is covered with all sorts of signed pieces or limited-edition prints. There is a guitar that once belonged to Slash from Guns N’ Roses, some signed rugby and football shirts, as well as a newspaper from the day after the 1966 football world cup – everything has a story behind it.
We also spent a lot of time designing the exterior. We learnt how to use spaces from living in our last villa, and the garden has everything we’ve ever wanted; a fire pit, a hammock, a swim-up bar, a putting green. We can come home on a Thursday evening, spend all weekend here and feel like we’ve been away to a boutique hotel.
I usually start with one key feature – an artwork or piece of furniture – that I love and allow the scheme to develop around that. In this villa, the strong identity was the various Andrew Martin wallpapers. I loved the library wallpaper, which we’ve put in the pub, and that developed the British gentleman’s club feel. In the master bedroom it was the luggage wallpaper, so we included a lot of leather and trunk-style pieces.
I’m a big fan of British designer Kelly Hoppen. Her projects are usually very calming with an interesting twist. I like the airy feel she typically has, and with our big windows I used some of her tricks to allow maximum light.
I’m happy to shop anywhere for home items if the pieces are right, the design is good and it comes within budget! In Dubai, I love the Andrew Martin showroom in DIFC. We used a lot of the wall coverings in the villa and they create such a statement that the furniture can be relatively simple. The One Fusion on Sheikh Zayed Road is great, too, as it has really interesting pieces and only limited quantities, so it means you won’t walk into someone else’s house and see your table!
I love being able to mix a designer piece with a bargain item. For high-end furniture, Caspaiou on Shaikh Zayed road supplies Italian Meridiani furniture – quite possibly the most comfortable sofas and chairs you’ll ever find. I think it’s worth spending money on the high-use items such as sofas, beds and so on, but then shops with lower price points such as Koala and Tree at The Outlet Mall or Pan Emirates Furniture are great for occasional furniture and accessories. If I’m back in London, I love visiting the Design Centre Chelsea Harbour. All the big brands are under one roof and there’s such a great atmosphere there.
I’d love to commission some artwork to have some truly original pieces. Artwork can be tough to source because it’s so personal. To be able to have something exactly as I want would be amazing.