A Touch of Blue

Create interest on a coffee table with clusters of accessories and ornaments in Cool Blue

Blue is never a colour I really liked to decorate with. Its’ reputation as a cold colour would have been enough to put me off while decorating various houses in cold and damp Britain, but with the rise of the Indian Ink, Chinese Ginger jars it began to grow on me, and in a climate like Dubai where you need every trick in the book to emulate cool, then Blue is now a top line choice. Add texture across a number of blues and turquoises in the spectrum and play with pattern and graphics. Doing this with cushions is perfect as the different colours and patterns meld with each cushions different fabric, cotton to wool to fur etc. Dont be afraid to layer.

Precious Things

My home is full of precious things and I think that this is important. That doesn’t mean that every Mexican hat, bubblegum machine or lava lamp you’ve ever bought (by mistake) or been given (eek!) has a place in your home. Instead think carefully about your memorabilia and take a less is more and quality over quantity approach. Every item has a special significance to me, the first wooden sculpture that my husband and I bought together for our first home (the wooden lady) has followed us for 25 years. And the hand blown glass heart above that lives on my coffee table was bought in Bath on the day my eldest son started in boarding school. Precious. But it does match everything else on the coffee table. I can’t help it.

Befriend your local Ironmonger.

When we moved in to Al Barari the atrium proved problematic in terms of lighting. It was impossible to find a light fixture that was anywhere near big enough to do justice to the space, and when I did it was 6 figures. I patiently explained to my husband that he needed to get the cheque book out, but I got a resounding “No Way!”

I had to get creative. So I contacted an Ironmongers ( yes there is one in Al Quoz) and they came and had a look. We looked at several designs but I needed something that for the size wouldn’t bring the ceiling down and also wanted something that cast some atmospheric patterns along the walls at night when it was dark.

This is what we came up with. When it was delivered and sat in the garden, waiting for the scaffolding and army of people to hang it, we managed to get 6 people to stand in it which gives you an idea of its size.

It looks fabulous at night and gets so many comments. And the cost? Less than 3000 Aed.

Ideas in unlikely places.

This is my games room, and I love the shelving in here. Its purpose built and not freestanding, ,but the idea for the design eluded me for ages. On a trip to Marina in Mirdiff City Centre, I was browsing the nick nacks and noticed how beautifully displayed and lit they were, so I took a picture of the showroom shelving and gave it to a builder. Its still there in MCC but it looks awesome in my house.

Outdoor Living

Living in Dubai we are spoilt with the option to spend so much time outdoors, but most people don’t think further than a teak patio set with a sun umbrella through the hole in the middle of the table.

For me, outdoor living is about decorating the outside and bringing life to a garden, so you can in fact LIVE outdoors not just sit.

This is my lovely majlis, the cushions have changed over the years and although I would probably recommend outdoor fabrics that don’t fade in the sun, like Sunbrella, I would rather have indoor pillow which are softer, cheaper and I’ll throw them in the outside shed when I’m not using them. These were made with a sewing machine and a big pile of old saris and Indian silk offcuts from Meena Bazaar in Bur Dubai, and the curtains from a selection of 99.Aed per panel from Homecenter.

Ethnic Influences

I’ve mentioned in previous posts how hard I find it to find art I like but which goes with the colour schemes I’ve chosen. In this case I had committed to deep pink because of a rather large chandelier which I had bought in the sale in The One at the Outlet Mall. I loved it and the hallway was the only place I could hang it.

So off I go to try and find the perfect piece of art that would go not only with the colour scheme but with the pseudo Chinese theme derived from an old cabinet I revived with black paint.

This is when I came across one of those Dubai souvenir shops crammed with gold camels and pashminas. Often you’ll find traditional Arabic dresses and this one is a child size. Of course I could have gone for a Dragon Mart Chinese dress for the same effect but I Love this and again its made a feature wall interesting for not much cost.

Feature Walls

Look around your home and find opportunities for Feature Walls and they can transform a space. In this image the space through the arch (?) has been painted black. Make sure you have plenty of natural light coming in to the room if you are going for a darker tone and make sure the artificial light is good too. That then forms the perfect backdrop for a great painting or in this case some gold angel wings from Marina ( I bought them in Silver too).

The effect gives length and depth to a space as well as adding to the flow through the house.

Artwork

Art is subjective isn’t that what they say? In the eye of the beholder and all that. Ive always struggled with art and for what I’m about to say will be vilified by artists and interior designers alike, but I always struggle with art. Theres art I love, contemporary and abstract sometimes lots of bright colours and squiggly lines, I also love little haywain scenes of horses streams and meadows, framed in ornate guilt. Sadly neither of these ever look right in a room that doesn’t follow through with the same theme. Theres never an occasion where I can see a graffiti extravaganza on the wall of my country kitchen.

There in lies the problem. I have in the past struggled to find the perfect picture to hang in my newly decorated room without slavishly trawling the shops for anything that has mustard and black in, not easy.

I’ve even been known to get my daughters paint brushes out and dabble with the colours I’ve already committed to in the room just so I can get a passable match, and theres nothing wrong with that.

I think to be honest if you are an arty person, and especially if you invest, then its worth building the room around the art and not using it as an afterthought.

Good to know as well that the image I’ve used here is of a rolled up canvas brought back for me by a friend from Bali for peanuts, whilst the framed versions in Dubai were ten times the price.

The Best Room

When I was growing up we always had a best room. My memories of it are sketchy mainly because we only went in it on Christmas Day or when we had visitors. These days its a luxury to have two lounge or living areas but I wanted a room that wasn’t for through traffic. A room that the children didn’t leave their trainers and school bags in or had a TV blaring in the background. This room is so light and airy its the perfect little calm haven in a busy household. a place to settle with a book and a cuppa with the doors drawn back to the garden. It often isn’t practical to go for light coloured rugs and almost white sofas in any busy house, but in here I can get away with it. No TV means no kids! I love the contemporary feel it has with the union jack style cushions but overall its more of a classical room.

The cowhide chairs do the same, adds a modern twist to a classic room. The slate wall was a master stroke inspired from a trip to Dragon Mart and remarkably inexpensive but does add texture and interest again on a shoestring.

The Perfect Kitchen

This kitchen, along with the one in my French house are my favourite kitchens ever. Ive never really warmed to a kitchen with stark lines and contemporary emptiness. To me a kitchen thats not packed with appliances, tea pots, jugs and a cosiness you want to just make a mug of coffee and pull out a recipe book is more my style. I like a Nigella kitchen and my only nod to technology is my mac in the corner which is as useful to pull up a recipe video on youtube as it is to catch up on my soaps whilst cooking supper.

You should always have seating in a kitchen if possible. A breakfast bar usually lends itself to spindly wooden stools or chrome and plastic contraptions that you require a degree in gymnastics to stay upright on. I like comfort so if I cant have a sofa or an armchair then Ill take some nice chunky upholstered bar stools. I admit that they are recovered every couple of years due to spillages but I’d rather that than shiny plastic practicality.

The kitchen in my house is where we congregate. While dinner is being cooked, homework done, radio being listened to and it really is the heart of the home.

The Colour Palette

Im an ornament addict I admit. Nothing makes me happier than browsing the shelves of the local Dubai shops for completely useless items which do nothing but pull a colour scheme together. Candles are my favourite cheap must have and I cant do a grocery shop without throwing in a few coloured candles to cluster on a tray or next to the bath, that followed by cushions of which I have hundreds. I always make sure I buy covers not filled cushions or I would need an extension to store them all, but I digress, back to ornaments.

A little lidded pot or what used to be called an ashtray (?) have no real value apart from pulling together a colour scheme, and when Ive finished a room, I often pick up small inexpensive items and rotate them. Especially cushions which wear over time, i will come across a nice cushion in my colour scheme and replace an old one.

Always remember though the ensure that your main pieces of furniture are neutral, I tend usually to stick to neutrals on sofas, tables curtains and good rugs. Its amazing how easy it is to revamp a room when you only have cushions and ornaments to replace in a new palette.

Framing a Front Door

Im always a fan of framing a front door and making your entrance way look warm and inviting, and a hint of what you expect to see inside. I think the Americans call it Kerb Appeal. Putting symmetrical objects either side of the front door hints of order and structure, but symmetrical is the keyword here, not a pot plant one side and a garden gnome on the other side. Make sure the objects have a good splash of colour.

When the door opens its nice to glimpse through to the interiors within, notice the lighting and the uncluttered view.

Order in Chaos….Introducing The Wall

This is one of my favourite things, and began as a rebellion to the trend that everyone has of wanting to display pictures of loved ones, holidays, granny windsurfing and the photo of little Johnny blowing out the candles on his 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc Birthday cake, in dust laden and mismatching picture frames all over the house. Or worse still stuck with drawing pins on cork boards, hanging off fridges with holiday souvenir magnets that say We Were In Blackpool. No, No and No. I love my offspring like the next person but dog eared photos get damaged, and I hate clutter, even if is is a lovely shot.

Two ideas, one in the picture above is a wonderful way of displaying the best of images on these little block tile canvases. The smaller the better actually as you can make a mosaic like collection. Mine started with about a dozen but each year I take a few poignant moments showing my little cherubs a year older and captured in yet another part of the world. Ive quite a collection now, and whilst I wont lie, lining up those nails took time (!) I change the tiles around every so often. They are ever so inexpensive, you can usually get them from your local photo printing shop or online if you send your digi prints in.

Another way is photo books. Gather them all up after each holiday or occasion make another volume to add to the coffee table collection and you could have literally thousands of images at your fingertips when you want to proudly show little Johnny taking his first steps, without spending an hour scrolling through your phone saying, I know its here somewhere 🙂

One of my favourite shops

India Jane is a UK based franchise and i’m always itching to sneak over to have a look at their latest collection whenever I’m in town. Its one of the few shops where I want to lift every beautifully orchestrated display and drop it as is somewhere in my home. Whoever does their merchandising should be awarded the Golden Cushion for encouraging me to “cluster buy”every time I visit.

They also have the ability to span the ages, styles and influences of interiors effortlessly. Anyone who send me to raid my grannies house for objet d’art and make it look cutting edge is an art in itself. This gorgeous display of glass, Sterling silver and India blue china is timeless, classic and elegant but doesn’t look at all dated. Love Love Love