Introducing texture to your home

Most people create accent features in a room with colour, but trying this with texture gives a much more interesting look. We like to approach the idea of texture as story telling, creating layers of texture in a room to add instant impact.

Wall panels of wood or fabric are easy ways to create an immediate statement. It’s about thinking beyond the obvious – it’s not just artwork that can be hung on walls for interest – we often use stucco effects, 3D wall panels and textured paper to give walls some lift.

It is important to vary matte and high-gloss surfaces – introducing glass, metals or mirrors increases the feeling of light and space. Reflective surfaces are fabulous at bouncing light around a room, so we often suggest these for darker areas of the home as well.

Collect textured accessories – a walk on the beach can yield some beautiful décor items, such as shells, pebbles, coral and driftwood – and place in a large glass bowl as a striking centrepiece. It is important to always have some element of nature in a room, whether it’s a plant, or natural wood, or seagrass rugs, it gives the room a sense of balance.

Combine different types of flooring in one room – wooden floors look and feel great with deep pile rugs, while low-pile dhurries introduce an ethnic touch to a room.

Flooring

In colder climates, carpets are often used for insulation and warmth. In the UAE and the warmer countries that we work in, designing properties for clients in Africa and India, we are constantly looking for alternative flooring solutions that keep a house cool, while being aesthetically pleasing and practical at the same time. Most of our projects are family homes that value functionality.

Tiles are still the most popular choice in warm climates, from marble to ceramic these are often cost-effective solutions that are hardy and easily available. If you’re looking for alternatives to tiled floors, we are seeing a resurgence in popularity of wooden floors. Although natural wood does need a bit of love and care to stop it warping in the heat, it is possible to lay hardwood or laminate flooring over tiles, either by locking the planks together or gluing them to the tiles. You must ensure the surface is flat first and sand the tiles to give a rougher surface for the wood to stick to. This would be a good solution for people renting their homes or homeowners looking to make easy updates to their décor.

Slate tiles are a popular choice for kitchens as they are durable, practical and are attractively varied in tone. By installing a different type of flooring in each area of the home creates zone markers, allowing an open plan layout to feel segregated into different spaces without using walls or furniture to physically separate spaces.

Often loft-owners, or lovers of minimalism require an urban industrial look, so perhaps think about having concrete floors. There are a good selection of colours and finishes, but it does need yearly resealing.

If you are considering a total house renovation, consider installing under-floor heating to your tiled floor, which warms the surface in winter – so you get the streamlined look of tiles, without the coldness.

Making an Eco-friendly home

Taking care of the environment is a responsibility we should all share, and creating sustainable, eco-friendly homes are becoming more and more important to us and our clients. A common misconception is that eco-friendly design is unattainable, that unless you have solar panel roofs, and 100% recycled furniture then you’re not making a difference, and this is simply not true, even small changes in the way your home is designed and maintained can make massive savings on energy consumption.

Adding insulation to your doors and windows can improve your home’s energy by 20-30%. Thermal shades block the sun, thereby reducing the need for energy-guzzling air conditioning. Install sensors in your lighting system that turns the light off when people are not in the room, cutting your energy consumption and bills at the same time. Similarly dimmer lighting uses less energy while being a perfect mood enhancer.

Low-flow showerheads can save between 15-25 gallons of water per day, and you’ll hardly notice the difference. You can also get low-flow toilets and aerators in your taps.

When you’re decorating your home, only use non-toxic paint with lower VOCs in the home to minimise air pollution. When it comes to furnishing your property, try and incorporate as many sustainable, natural textures and materials as possible. Sisal flooring adds a rustic touch, while responsibly-sourced wooden furniture can last a lifetime. Recycle and upcycle unwanted furniture items. New life can be breathed into most furniture items through new upholstery or a paint job. For new items, set yourself the challenge of finding everything in the UAE to cut down your carbon footprint – use regional materials and craftsmen to support local industry and be more informed about the materials you have in your home.

Top 5 Tips for Furnishing a Dining Room

    • Table Style: consider the style of your table; a round table is more intimate, square is more casual and rectangular for entertaining more guests.
    • Lighting: make sure the dining room light has a dimming option so you can alter the brightness depending on the mood.
    • Rugs: try putting an oversized rug under the table, it will be soft underfoot for your guests and create a frame for the room.
    • Colours: use touches of warm colours like red, yellow and orange in the dining room to increase the appetites of your guests.
    • View: if you don’t have a window with a view, then use a horizontal mirror and a buffet unit to break up the wall.

Top 5 Tips for Colour-Coordinating Your Home

Every colour that you select for your home will have an effect on your emotions, so here are our tips for selecting colours for your home:

  • Yellow – this is the perfect colour for your kitchen as yellow is associated with joy, sunlight, happiness and warmth, everything your kitchen should be.
  • Red – try put this strong colour into your dining room. It is associated with love, passion and strength and is known to increase your appetite.
  • Blue – perfect for your living room as it will elicit emotions of calmness and tranquility with its association of the ocean and sky.
  • Green – put a hint of green into your bedrooms as this colour will enhance feelings of peace, luck, healing, which will help you sleep better.
  • Orange – this energetic and comforting colour is perfect for any outdoor area you have, like next to the swimming pool or an outdoor dining area.

Interior Designing a Core and Shell Property

There is no shortage of quality property on the market in Dubai. Most come complete with the essential items that most people take for granted: floors, ceilings and walls. But there are also properties on the market that do not have these in, otherwise known as ‘core and shell’. There are villas in Arabian Ranches such as the Polo Homes, as well as penthouses in Oceania on the Palm Jumeirah that are shell and core.

The reason that these properties are released as such is debatable, but it does offer a unique opportunity to buyers. Their prices are lower as the property is no the finished product and they are often in high-demand areas. It can be easy to be dissuaded from purchasing a core and shell property, not only because of the work involved but the difficulty in getting exact information about the exact process in transforming a hollow building into a home.

Most people want to know how long it is going to take and how much it is going to cost them. To take the issue of time frame first, this has a number of variables. It will depend on where the material is going to be sourced from; tiles that are sourced locally are going to take a lot less time than marble that is ordered from Italy.  Depending on your involvement, the design stage can take anything from 2 weeks to 2 months, before any work has even begun on the property.

Secondly, the budget also has a few sets of variables. A decision must be made on the standard of material you are looking to use, for instance marble can cost you anything from AED 200 per square meter to over AED 1,000 per square meter. A new kitchen can cost you anything from AED 25,000 to AED 500,000.  Although your designer should be able to guide you on this, you should still be aware of market prices so you can agree on a budget.  Get a minimum of three quotes for everything so that you can compare and bargain.

When it comes to the FF&E (furniture, fixtures and equipment) then this should also have a resemblance to the quality and style of the floors and ceilings. Your budget for furniture should be included in initial discussions so that you don’t make the common error of overshooting your budget when you get to this final stage. And don’t forget to agree on the design fee for all this work too, this should be agreed upon at the beginning and preferably paid in installments.

After agreeing on the time frame and the budget of the project, the next important step is to create a schedule. With so many different jobs that will require your attention, it is necessary to have a schedule with dates of completion to keep on top of things, and these can be seen roughly in five steps.

The first part of the house to be installed will be the air conditioning ducting (pipes that carry the air from the main unit to the outlets in each room). Once this is complete the ceiling will have to be put up, after the central lighting and spotlights have been agreed upon.

After the ceilings are done, the walls will be put in next. During the early design stages, you will have probably decided on what rooms will go where in the layout. The main thing to consider at this stage is the ‘functional design’; making sure that the layout of the house will be practical. For instance, you don’t want your dining room to be the opposite side of the house from the kitchen.

The third step is doors and doorways. These are an essential part of the design too, and it is vital that the profiles match the general design of the house.  The acoustics of doors must also be considered, especially in the bedrooms as you will want to keep as much sound out as possible in these rooms.

During the fourth stage the flooring is put in, this is done last to make sure it is as clean as possible and not damaged by any further heavy works taking place in the house.

Lastly the furniture, curtains, wallpaper and other decorations are installed. Again, extra time should be allowed for this process especially if some pieces have been ordered from overseas or are being custom made.

All of the above is a rough guide to the interior design process of a shell and core home.  Is it worth it all? There is probably no better way of making a personal mark on your home than being involved in every step of the interiors, without building the home from scratch. If you have the time and the money, you can create a home that is unique to your style in every possible way.

How to Select an Interior Designer

Not everybody has the spare time to design their own home, which is why there is help out there. Whether you decide to use a freelance designer or an interior design company, there are a few precautions that you should take to help you the right selection and ensure you will be happy with the final product: your home.

During the first consultation with an interior designer, three things should be discussed: the timeframe that you want the work completed within, the style you want to achieve and the budget that you are prepared to spend. It is very important that these three issues are crystal clear before proceeding any further, so that neither you nor the designer are under any illusions of what needs to be done.

The timeframe will always depend on the scope of work; if you are in a rush then all the products should be sourced from the local market which the designer should have a good idea of. You must also be happy that the designer knows exactly what style you want, this can be done by going through ‘concept boards’ or even using the internet to look at homes.  If you are unsure about how much your budget is, then ask the designer for a rough figure based on market prices as well as their design fee, if they charge one.

Lastly, check out the designer’s portfolio to see the work they have completed. Don’t be shy to ask; this is what designers sell themselves on and it gives you an idea of their capabilities.  You can also ask to see some testimonials or even speak to their references.

Designing your home is a big responsibility, so make sure you’re happy with your final choice.

Top Tips for Outdoor Furniture

  1. Functional – don’t overestimate how often you are going to use your outdoor furniture. Perhaps start with a few basic pieces like a sofa or sunbed.
  2. Different – try and be creative with your outdoor furniture, like putting a daybed in the corner of the garden for some peace and quiet.
  3. Colours – use fresh colours for cushions and accessories that match the surrounding features, like blue if you’re near water, or orange for the sunset.
  4. Material – in this region your furniture is going to be exposed to more sun than rain, so check the material will be resistant to this.
  5. Care – if you’re not using the furniture then put what you can in storage or out of the sun, this will increase the longevity of the pieces.

High quality furniture

Buying your apartment or villa is only the first step: once you have the keys, you have to fill it with something. Furniture is often an afterthought, but it is a vitally important tool that adds not only an emotional value to your home but a financial one too. To use an old cliché, ‘it turns a house into a home’ and allows you to put your own stamp on the property to make it truly yours.
It goes without saying that the furniture chosen for the property should have some sort of resemblance to the value of the property. The more prestigious the property, the more it deserves an interior that reflects the financial and emotional value to its new owner.
With the resurgence of the Dubai property market, more people are asking about the type of furniture they should fill their home with. For the properties at the higher end of the scale, such as on the Palm Jumeirah, Al Barari, Arabian Ranches BurjKhalifa apartments, there is an increasing desire for branded furniture.
So what is branded furniture? Simply put, it is furniture made by well-known and highly-regarded design company made from the highest standard of material available in designs that are unique and often recognisable. It goes without say that this furniture is at the top-end of the price range.
But what value is there in paying such high money for a branded piece of furniture?
Some of the most prominent names in furniture have a long history of designing and producing furniture, meaning that these pieces have in some cases gone through decades of fine tuning to their current catalogue of products. Some of the modern furniture brands today are using the same styles that came from the 1940s birth of modern design; there is timelessness in some of the furniture pieces from this era and they will undoubtedly remain in fashion for many years to come.
When you are paying top-dollar for a piece of furniture, there is also a certain level of workmanship that you can expect to be put into it. Whilst all furniture is made with a certain degree of technology, most pieces will have extensive care and attention paid to it by a human being. This can be seen in the immense fine-detail that you will find in each piece, whether it is the stitching in the cushions for a sofa or the carvings in the headboard of a bed. When timber is being used to assemble the furniture, the subtle variations in colour and texture that occur in wood should not be frowned upon, but rather celebrated as it makes each piece of furniture unique in their own special way.
The quality of these products not only has a physical dimension to it but aesthetically too. Whether it is a sofa, bed, chair or table, you should expect to get many years of serviceout of it as the material used will be of a high standard and it should be pleased to see it every time you walk into the room. They do not necessarily have to have a ‘wow’ factor, but at the least draw your admiration for many years.
It is not always necessary to use a branded piece of furniture for every part of the house, as in some cases it just takes one piece to become the feature of the room. For instance, in a living area you can put more towards the highest quality sofa, and make sure that the rest of the pieces complementeach other and that everything flows. Not only is this method a little easier on the wallet, but this method will make the pieces stand-out more and become more recognisable.
Of course, there is also the ‘show-off’ element with having high-end furniture in your home. If your guests have a trained eye in brands, they will undoubtedly notice the signature designs of these pieces. Many high-end furniture brands have several aspects to their business such as clothes and perfumes, and a certain ‘brand association’ can push people towards maintaining their presence in their home because they feel it represents them in a certain way.
However, there are other options available. Perhaps spending AED 50,000 on a sofa is not quite for you, in which case there are many medium-range furniture companies that carry similar designs and quality which are more competitively priced. A bit of research is recommended to find out where the furniture is made and what materials are used, but you may just find that some of them are made in the same factories as the high-end ones.
Ultimately the decision lies with the owner of the property who will be paying for this. There are many factors to consider such as how long they plan owning the property, what will it will be used for and the style they are trying to achieve. The value of branded furniture can be seen in the value and design of the furniture, but the ultimate decision should always be based on the budget before the property is even bought.

The challenges of furnishing a large villa

An apartment can be easy to design and furnish, as the spaces dictate what will go where. In the bedroom, the bed will probably go against the wall with the two sockets. But with a large villa, the spaces are much larger and deciding ‘what goes where’ is not as simple.
The most daunting areas in some of the new villa complexes are the downstairs seating areas. There are many options for an area this large, but what you choose will largely depend on what you intend to use the house for. The most popular option is to split the area into two seating areas; making one area informal with the television area, and the other more formal with sofas facing each other. This way you can entertain guests depending on the formality of the function.
The bedrooms are also larger than most. For the placement of the bed, find out which wall will look best with the bed against it, make this wall the main feature using wallpaper. To fill up some of the space, put a seating area with armchairs and a side table, otherwise a chaise lounge by the window if the view is nice.
With the abundance of windows, you have options to use curtains, blinds or sheers depending on the size of the window and the function of the room. With the added privacy that villas now have, perhaps use sheer curtain so you can enjoy the view whilst keeping out the full glare of the sun.
Lastly, don’t let the challenge of furnishing the villa put you off buying or renting one. Dubai has some of most magnificent villa complexes in the world, so with a little planning you can make it look as good inside as it does outside.