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26 September 2018Last updated
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Real Women

The bold and the beautiful

Owner of reclaimed and vintage furniture store Resurrected Home, Alexandra Igleheart fills her Umm Suqeim villa with carefully curated curios, travel trinkets and ethnic art

Tabitha Barda
11 Feb 2015 | 12:00 am
  • An image by one of my favourite artists, Kais Salman, hangs above the brass shelving unit in the living room.

    Source:Stefan Lindeque/ANM Image 1 of 8
  • These are paintings from Bali, Indonesia.

    Source:Stefan Lindeque/ANM Image 2 of 8
  • Her grandmother's typewriter and a hand-painted piece from Mexico by an unknown artist.

    Source:Stefan Lindeque/ANM Image 3 of 8
  • The chair is from Indigo Living in Dubai, with a big fluffy rug from The One thrown over it.

    Source:Stefan Lindeque/ANM Image 4 of 8
  • The bottom left picture is by Shefali Ranthe, the large artwork was done by my mum, copied from an illustration in Where the Wild Things Are.

    Source:Stefan Lindeque/ANM Image 5 of 8
  • Alexandra Igleheart in her garden.

    Source:Stefan Lindeque/ANM Image 6 of 8
  • This is a 1970s Pachinko(arcade game) machinefrom Japan, repurposed into a coffee table.

    Source:Stefan Lindeque/ANM Image 7 of 8
  • This is an old refrigerator door from a casino in the 1950s. The original owner doesn’t know why they had Los Angeles written on it!

    Source:Stefan Lindeque/ANM Image 8 of 8

I love the odd and unusual. I’m inspired by cabinets of curiosities, and the juxtaposition of modern with touches of antique. I would describe my style as eclectic and rustic, a little glamorous – with a splash of rock.

I take influences from many artists and designers. Tim Burton is my ultimate movie director and I really appreciate the fashion aesthetic of Alexander McQueen, where I interned after my senior year fashion show in college. I have a lithograph and a signed book from Tim Burton and you can see both his and Alexander McQueen’s influences in my home accessories.

Contemporary artist Ai Weiwei and Syrian artist Kais Salman are two of my favourites. My birthday gift from my husband was a Kais Salman painting bought from Ayyam Gallery here in Dubai. It’s the focus when you walk into our house and our first major piece of art.

I’ve lived in Dubai on and off for eight years, but have been in this three-bedroom Umm Suqiem villa for almost two years now. I remember instantly falling in love with the layout of the place – I wish we could own it. I live here with my husband, 23-month-old son, bulldog, two cats, and our latest addition, two-week-old baby Iona – it’s a zoo!

The art and collected pieces and heirlooms in our home reflect the amount I’ve travelled my whole life. My parents are American, but they went overseas when I was born (to Zurich, Switzerland), and I then moved all around Europe, Asia and America (Belgium, France, Hong Kong, Japan, San Francisco for university, London, Dubai, Istanbul, Michigan and back to Dubai). The seating, whether it be our couches or the outdoor areas, shows that my husband and I entertain quite a bit.

One of my favourite pieces in the home is my grandmother’s typewriter. She is an amazing writer and an extremely intelligent woman and I can just imagine all the letters she must have typed on it. I also love my unknown artist, Day of The Dead Señora de Lujo and Hombre Elegante (fancy lady and man), sculpture, which I found at a Mexican art gallery in San Francisco.

I have been experimenting lately with ‘Ikea hacks’ – making mass-produced pieces of furniture a little more personal. You can see an example in my living room in the brass shelving unit and media unit. All I really did was spray-paint the shelving frame brass and attach two tassels to the keys of the media unit, but I think it instantly changes that typical mass-produced look.

I use many different sources of inspiration, from blogs including www.designsponge.com and www.apartmenttherapy.com along with the staples, such as online-based Pinterest and Houzz and magazines like Elle Decor, Livingetc and Architectural Digest.

I feel each room of the house puts me in a different mood. My favourite areas are the living room and the atrium. My living room is the initial introduction to my home so I feel that it’s the best way to show guests what your home is all about (it’s also the toughest to get right at times). The atrium is a feature in many homes in Dubai, and I see it as an extension of the living room. It’s a lot of fun to decorate, bringing the outdoors in. I also love my bedroom (of course) – I love my sleep, and at times it’s pretty hard to get, so I need my bedroom to be as cosy as possible.

I like digging for pieces, hence my reclaimed and vintage furniture business Resurrected Home, so I usually drive around Al Quoz to try to discover new shops. If I can’t find the piece I’m looking for I usually do it myself. My favourite places to find hidden gems are spread across an array of different countries including the streets of Istanbul, Turkey, in an area called Çukurcuma; Brooklyn Flea Market in New York; Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena, California; Tokyo’s Tōgō Shrine, Meji Dori near Harajuku and Paris’s Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen.

I couldn’t live without any of my pieces – I am equally attached to all of them. However, I have yet to fall in love with a living room rug! I’m waiting for that ‘click’ with one. I also don’t think I could ever have enough art, but it’s not a cheap hobby!

Tabitha Barda

By Tabitha Barda

Deputy Editor