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24 September 2018Last updated
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Sangeeta Kumar-D’souza’s Umm Suqeim villa

Sangeeta Kumar-D’souza’s Umm Suqeim villa mixes clean lines and masculine materials with rustic and whimsical details for an updated take on shabby chic

Tabitha Barda
26 May 2015 | 10:03 am
  • “I love this clock, which I picked up from Pier Import. I really like its rustic feel and the mirrored face adds a sense of space and light to the room.”

    Source:Stefan Lindeque/ANM Image 1 of 10
  • “I’ve collected birdcages from all over, with several from Zara Home, Pier Import and Home Centre, as well as from flea markets in Toronto.”

    Source:Stefan Lindeque/ANM Image 2 of 10
  • “What Nishant Dange does with charcoal is beyondamazing – so lifelike.”

    Source:Stefan Lindeque/ANM Image 3 of 10
  • “The wallpaper in the family room is from LauraAshley. The design has birds on, although that wasn’t intentional, I just loved the colours on it.”

    Source:Stefan Lindeque/ANM Image 4 of 10
  • “This birdcage from Pier Import was originallywrought iron – I spraypainted it gold to make it look more glam.”

    Source:Stefan Lindeque/ANM Image 5 of 10
  • The bed is from a store called Bombay, which used to be in all the Dubai malls.

    Source:Stefan Lindeque/ANM Image 6 of 10
  • Sangeeta Kumar-D’souza’s Umm Suqeim villa.

    Source:Stefan Lindeque/ANM Image 7 of 10
  • Sangeeta Kumar-D’souza’s Umm Suqeim villa.

    Source:Stefan Lindeque/ANM Image 8 of 10
  • Sangeeta Kumar-D’souza’s Umm Suqeim villa.

    Source:Stefan Lindeque/ANM Image 9 of 10
  • Sangeeta Kumar-D’souza.

    Source:Stefan Lindeque/ANM Image 10 of 10

I love everything being in order and clean, open spaces. I couldn’t live in a messy house with clutter all over the place. However, having two kids – Leiah Isabella, four, and Luca Isaiah, one – means it isn’t always easy to keep things the way I like them...

Dubai has always been my home – I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. I was born here, studied in India, migrated to Canada and then moved back to Dubai in 2005. I’ve lived in our lovely five-bed villa in Umm Suqeim 3 with my husband and children for over five years now, but it still feels like a work in progress.

My interiors style is a mix between traditional, contemporary, shabby chic and rustic, depending on my mood and the kind of room I’m working on. I’m inspired by different things for different areas around the house. It could be the time of the season; for instance, I love Easter and Christmas so at those times I change things around the house and do a lot of DIY stuff based on ideas I find on Pinterest.

If I come across a really striking piece of furniture, I might base a room’s design around that object, creating a theme based on its colours and texture. Or, when I was working on my kids’ room, I was inspired by their preferences and personalities. I wanted it to be a reflection of them. So my inspiration changes constantly.

I admire a lot of interior designers, but one I have been following for over 12 years now is Sarah Richardson. I think she’s a superstar designer and so versatile. I love how she transforms ordinary spaces into award-winning rooms. She does colour brilliantly and I’d like to think that my upstairs family room was inspired by her style a little.

I used to buy a lot of interior magazines like Architectural Digest and Home and Garden. Now though, the majority of 
my reading material is online, and Pinterest and Houzz are my go-to apps for any kind of interiors inspiration.

I started collecting birdcages about seven years ago, and I now have about 12 around the house, all from different places. I love anything with detail and filigree, and every birdcage I’ve collected has some sort of detailing on it that makes it really beautiful. I also love that there’s so much that you can do with them, other than keep birds in them (which I don’t think I’d ever do). I love using them as plant or candle holders, or simply as decorative ornaments.

In Dubai I do my interiors shopping at Pier Import, Irony Home and Marina, but I prefer looking at design shops and flea markets when I go back to see my family in Toronto. 
I love the small stores around the city that have the most quaint and unique pieces. I also love DIY and working with coats of paint to give pieces around the house a different look.

My kids’ room is my favourite place in the house because I spent the most time doing it up. I have a degree in art and, although I stopped doing a lot of it when I had my daughter Leiah, I took the time to paint a little mural on their wall, which I think is a nice reflection of both my kids.

I also love the family room because it’s where we spend a lot of time with the kids, family and friends. I have my computer in there too, so I’m there most of the day working on my bespoke stationery business, Paper Couture.

One of my favourite pieces is the black and white charcoal sketch by Nishant Dange, which I bought from an art gallery in Bengaluru, India. I was actually there to pick up a painting from another artist, but then saw a collection of Nishant Dange’s work – every piece was so striking and spoke to me – I just had to have one. It was my first art purchase and I never get tired of looking at it.

There are two items I really couldn’t live without – the framed 3D footprints and handprints of my children, which were done when they were a month old. They are such precious mementos of such a special time.

I’m still searching for a couple of things to make my home feel complete. I’d like a stunning piece of art for the entrance way and an antique chandelier for the living room.

Tabitha Barda

By Tabitha Barda

Deputy Editor