Ever walked into someone’s house and been blown away by what you’ve seen? Did the colours, the ornaments, the layout, somehow all fit together in enviable harmony? Unfortunately, not all of us are blessed with the gift of an inner interior designer, but there’s no need to curse your cushion choices another minute longer, as help is very much at hand in Dubai.
American import Pottery Barn, a popular home furnishings brand in its native territory, is just one of the shops in Dubai offering assistance to those facing a decorating dilemma. Arnold Alzaga, Pottery Barn’s head interior designer at the chain’s Abu Dhabi branch has a number of tips and tricks up his sleeve to help you make your home shine. With plenty of experience under his belt, he has consulted and designed homes ranging from apartments to villas and even palaces.
Arnold explains it’s important to start with the basics. ‘Often people come to see me and they don’t know where to begin, what to start with. Our first step is always visiting the space and evaluating existing pieces.
‘It’s about the space you have to work with and often our clients have furniture that is not suited. If you have a huge villa, larger and oversized pieces of furniture will work better than smaller pieces, and obviously vice versa for a smaller apartment.’
Then you have to get to grips with your personality and taste.
‘We love working with existing pieces, it gives us some insight into the client’s tastes’, says Arnold.
‘We do work with clients from scratch too, though you should always have a piece of inspiration in mind that you want to build on.’
He recommends sticking with neutral base pieces and using accessories to make the statement. ‘You should choose a neutral dominant colour and then layer it 60, 30, ten – that’s 60 percent the dominant neutral colour, followed by a statement colour that takes up 30 percent of design and a secondary statement that accounts for ten percent of the colour. This will give the room depth and cohesion,’ he explains. ‘Typically we choose the dominant colour to match the walls. You want to tie the room together.’
Having your decor in keeping with the architectural rule of three is also recommended. ‘When you are accessorising, stick with three cushions, for example, in cascading sizes. Have your biggest at the back, preferably a pattern or print, then a plain medium and a deco small-sized one in similar colours. Use the patterned large cushion as your colour base to work off and stick with three colours.’
Next up, the dining room, where Arnold explains you should, ‘Get your inspiration from one product you like. It can be a placemat, setting, napkins or anything really and then follow the rest of the setting with a similar scheme, still in our rule of three. It’s the little things, tying the curtains in with the scheme, and accessories that really complete the room.’
Arnold also reveals a common misconception about curtains. ‘Generally, we recommend mounting curtains 10cm above the window, which is a common interior designing rule, but we don’t always subscribe to this. If clients have a low ceiling, mounting the curtains higher will give the room a perception of height. Don’t be afraid to test or bend the rules – sometimes it will be beneficial.’
Consultations free. Open Sun-Wed 10am-10pm, Thu-Sat 10am-midnight. Pottery Barn, The Dubai Mall, www.potterybarn.me (800 802).
Quick tips from Arnold
• Cushions should be in odd numbers, and don’t be afraid to mix and match colours and textures.
• Start with something you like as inspiration.
• Tie each room together so the home is cohesive.
• Start with neutral pieces and spice it up with coloured accessories.
• Don’t be afraid to think outside the box – mix modern, contemporary and classic pieces.
• Chandeliers or light fixtures suspended over tables should be 140cm above the dining table.
Two more Dubai interior design services to try
The eclectic and ethical products at this store are good quality and not outrageously priced.
Jumeirah Beach Road, next to Jumeirah Mosque (04 345 6687).
Known for its exotic home interiors, the interior designers at this chain can revamp your home.
From Dhs3,000. Various locations including Mall of the Emirates (800 4360).