Our arrival in Dubai
When we arrived in Dubai in August 2016, we stayed a few weeks at the Address in the Marina before we moved to our new house. So our first impressions were WOW we’re surrounded by a beautiful blue sky, water, and these humongous skyscrapers. That’s pretty much what I had in mind about the city and I thought that life over here was going to be sweet! I consider myself a city person but no tall buildings in my village feel neighborhood that I had left in Paris.
Now here we are in the Meadows. No comparison with the Marina! The area is so lush with its tree-lined streets, bougainvilleas and well-kept lawn, so tranquil for a family life but most importantly so close to the city! For me living in the Meadows is leading a countryside life with a view on the city as we can admire the amazing skyline of the JLT and Marina skyscrapers from our house.
The house was no doubt in a beautiful location but the state of the house when we visited it the first time was not that dreamy. It was full of natural light, but there was a huge window separating the kitchen from the dining room, preventing the light from fully entering the kitchen. There were fake wooden beams on the living room’s ceiling, imposing old-fashioned chandeliers, and yellowish walls all over the house. Luckily the renovations were accepted by the landlord, as I wanted to turn the space into a modern house I could call home!
Facing the challenge of furnishing my house
What a challenge to move from an 85 square meters apartment with a few pieces of furniture and home décor brought with us from France to a 6 bedroom empty villa! What a dream for me who loves styling interiors to have this huge house to furnish and decorate! But most importantly the aim was to make it a comfortable and inviting space that reflects our lifestyle and values!
Too much space and not enough furniture! I am ready to face the challenge. So the container that came along with us included almost all the lightings in the house as people had told me it was hard to find nice ones in Dubai, the dining room chairs, the two big black metal shelves, the daybed and the coffee tables in the living room, all the curtains and rugs, our bedside tables in our bedroom, the kids beds, some art pieces and home decor. And of course, my husband’s grandmother’s antique chair!
I need to find a sofa. Where do I start? I asked the few friends that I had in Dubai at the time (I have plenty now;-)) where to shop for furniture and homeware. All I heard repeatedly was: Marina Home, IdDesign, The One, Create and Barrel, Mood furniture, Ikea. I did find a few things there but I can’t find a nice stylish affordable sofa! All I can find are very classic shapes and color. Nothing unusual and bold. So I decided to investigate by myself.
I went to Spinneys and I bought a bunch of magazines such as Emirate Homes, Better Homes, Harpers Bazaar Interiors that were a great source of information. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram also helped me. The home decor magazines I bought in France would talk about how to furnish a studio or how to optimize a small bathroom. Not my concern anymore in Dubai. I would also have my eyes wide open in search of home stores while I was driving. That’s how I found places like Pan Emirates, 2XL Furniture, and the Den.
French department stores like Galleries Lafayettes or Le BHV Marais but also Bloomingdales feature a wide range of interior products from brands such as Kartell, O de Rose or Jonathan Adler. It feels a little bit like home every time I enter Le BHV Marais as I used to live right next to the Parisian department store.
It would have taken me a few weeks in Paris to find the ideal pieces: so much choice and variety anywhere you go: in the numerous homeware and furniture stores, online, in flea markets etc… But in Dubai, I found the market limited and the challenge was bigger than I thought. it took me about six months to explore what Dubai had to offer but I eventually managed to find the pieces that would turn this house into our home.
I had a very clear idea of how I wanted the dining-room to look like. I imagined a big wooden table with colorful Eames chairs, a beautiful rug, white sheer curtains to let the natural light come in, plants and flowers everywhere, and a pendant light that would be the focal point of the room. Et voilà! I found the table and the shelving unit in Ikea. The rest was brought from France. Our friends and family love to gather here especially because it opens into the garden for a casual indoor-outdoor living.
My living room is black and white with a tint of gold. There are also colorful touches brought by all my art exhibitions posters. I wanted the furniture to be minimalist with the sofa in the middle. By the way, it took me six months to find the sofa! Yes, we stayed six months without a sofa but an unexpected visit to 2XL Furniture solved our problem;-) I am not a fan of TV cabinets so I imagined something that would serve as a TV unit, a storage, and a stand to display my books and other decorative objects. So, I hung three Besta cupboards from Ikea next to each other on top of which was installed a black kitchen worktop to give it a nice finishing look. Now it looks like one whole piece! Great Ikea hack, right? The entire setting gives the room an airy feel and a nice movement flow.
The two black metal bookshelves serve as a separation from the second part of the living room where a Knoll day bad lies in front of a big window that overlooks the pool. It’s supposed to be my reading nook but my kids have decided it would serve as their trampoline! Sigh…
I didn’t want to leave the arch which separates the two living rooms plain. I came up with the idea of installing a sticker (easy to remove) by a professional team from e-walls. A few poetic and welcoming verses about the home written in Arabic beautifully fits this curved wall!
My two boys’ bedrooms are fun and practical with a touch of green for Adam and a touch of yellow for Gabriel. Adam loves having his superhero costumes on display on his rack. The giant bean bag is a Fatboy one and his bedside table comes form Kartell Dubai. The rest of the furniture was brought with us from France. (More details on the boys’ bedrooms in the kids’ corner)
In Gabriel’s bedroom, the storage units come from Ikea Dubai but I changed their drawer pulls to give them a unique look. The house shelf comes from Maisons du Monde. My little one enjoys spending time at his desk that is surrounded by playful wall elements that add warmth and color to this space that reflects his happy personality. (More details on the boys’ bedrooms in the kids’ corner)
Our bedroom is huge! What do I do with all this space? I kept it minimalist. It’s black and white and I added a wooden worktop on my dressers to warm up the room. Note that it’s also practical as the space between the dressers serves as a large desk! Stickers in the shape of crosses give the desk wall an amusing look and much character to the room as a whole. Still looking for a huge rug to cover the boring beige floor and a bench to put on my bed end.
There is a touch of color in every single room. I opted for orange for the master guest bedroom downstairs. I used some white and creamy neutrals for the bed, curtains, console table, and bedside tables. It all started with the orange Moroccan rug. It was kindly given to me by my sister who had received it as a gift for her wedding. I found matching cushions and those bright touches of orange add a pop of color to this serene room. The glass wall art comes from Pan Emirates and gives the bedroom this Arabic decor accent that I value so much. How nice to see our very first guest: my father peacefully lying on the bed and reading the holy Quran. Decorating it was worth every dirham!
Right now, there are 3 new challenges waiting for me: taking care of the smaller living area, turning the big balcony upstairs into a cozy outdoor lounge and finishing working on the last elements of the playroom in the landing.
So, there is more to come…