Mirrors, metallics and more: 11 ways to add style into your home – The National

If you’re looking for the hottest style, trend and design philosophy advice out there, you can’t do better than to ask the professionals for their advice. Not only do they have their eyes constantly peeled for the latest fashions, but they also know how to apply them in real homes, how to maximise budgets, forge talking points, create the illusion of space and so much more.

That’s why we’ve asked four interior designers in the UAE to share their top tips on everything from what’s hot right now to how to inject style into a rented apartment.

Theme with caution

Introducing a theme to an interior can risk being perceived as “far too faux”, says Paul Bishop of Bishop Design, a renowned 15-year-old interior design practice in Dubai. “So my tip is to introduce subtle hints of a theme through colours and patterns within surface, furniture and materials that reflect culture, heritage and demographics,” he advises.

Neutrals spell luxe

Neutral colours denote luxury. Getty

“A clean palette with only a subtle print and clean lines will elevate the look of your living room, dining room or even bedroom,” says Tanya Ivin Karam, an interior designer in Dubai whose popular YouTube channel, Interior TakeOver, features videos of room makeovers she’s carried out for clients.

“My top three neutrals for the warmer temperatures we experience in the UAE would be an off-white, light grey plus a soft beige/taupe, combined in whichever way you feel is right. If your sofa is white, for example, try to look for some fresh linen pillows in the other neutral tones or, for a dramatic feel, make one of the two pillows velvet.”

Brush up on your metallics

Ivin Karam says the past couple of years have been all about shiny golds, silvers and even rose gold. These pop up on armchair frames, coffee tables and lighting fixtures, she says. “Moving forward, if you’re looking to purchase a new item, try to aim for any metals in a brushed finish, giving a more understated look with an elegant feel. My favourite brushed metal at the moment would have to be a light brushed gold … and it looks great with light grey.”

Embrace paint power

“Get rid of the ‘Dubai Beige’,” says interior designer Jess Sawyer of the most common wall paint colour here. “It’s never going to work with any of your furniture.” Sawyer, who lived in Australia and the UK before arriving in the UAE, is influenced by a range of cultures and spaces. “Choose a neutral base and add your favourite pops of colour. It’s the biggest impact you can make to a space for the smallest investment. Don’t be afraid to experiment with colours.”

Accessorise with plants

Inject some nature into your interiors. Getty

Sawyer launched her company, Jess Sawyer Interior Design, last year and has been working with both domestic and commercial clients since then. In this time, injecting a touch of nature into her interiors has been a priority. “Bring the garden indoors by adding plants to your living spaces,” she says. “Plants are an inexpensive means of accessorising your space and will add colour and texture. They are a great way to fill dead spaces and soften angular lines of furniture. Check out Warsan Plants and Flowers Nursery in Dubai for a great range of plants and pots.”

Add an extra room outside

“We spend so much time in the winter months in Dubai outside, so take advantage of it and create a comfortable outdoor room where you can relax,” says Sawyer.

She believes you don’t need to spend much to make a massive impact. “Invest in durable, comfortable seating, an outdoor rug and coffee table and surround yourself with lush greenery. In the winter months you will live in this ‘room’,” she adds.

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Thrifty can be a talking point

Katherine Wightman, of Katherine Clare Interiors in Abu Dhabi, originally set up her practice in London. One of her best tips is one that will help anyone who is on a budget. “I’m a big believer in thrifting or ‘skip surfing’ to find unique pieces that can become serious conversation starters,” she says. “Yes, it takes more time to find these one-of-a-kind pieces, but they bring such a great element and interest into an otherwise ordinary space and add a unique element to your home.

“With a transient community in the UAE there’s often something of interest for sale second-hand on the internet. In this environmentally aware time, upcycling and repurposing old furniture is more fashionable than ‘cheap fast-furniture’.”

Shop around to add interest

Wightman says she enjoys helping her clients create individual looks by sourcing items from local designers and having them made bespoke in nearby factories.

“Don’t shop for everything for your home in one place,” she advises. “Mix up your look with different ideas, giving your home depth and individuality. We’re very lucky in the UAE, as there are so many local artisans and tradesmen that we, as designers, have a wealth of choice for designing and custom-making furniture, injecting that desirable bespoke element into our spaces.”

Make space for mirrors

Mirrors give the illusion of depth and light. Getty

“If you want to make a space feel bigger and more cohesive in one fell swoop, anchor it with a large mirror,” says Wightman, who has been keen on interior design since childhood. “Since the mirror reflects the room around it, it will give the illusion of depth and light to any space.”

Take a (lower) seat

Wightman is no stranger to having guests round and she’s come up with a few nifty tricks to add extra seating to her space. “Sofas and chairs aren’t the only way to add seating to your living room,” she says. “There’s a less expensive and cosier option – add some floor cushions or small poufs to open up the ways and places that you can sit and relax.”

Terrazzo is here to stay

Terrazzo flooring is trendy. Getty

Karen Pizzarra of Design K in Dubai is not only an interior designer, she is also an artist, photographer and qualified engineer. And she is firmly focused on the terrazzo trend right now. “It started last year and it is showing no sign of going away any time soon,” she says. “And no wonder – it’s a material that feels modern, traditional and endlessly timeless all at once.”

Terrazzo originated in Venice as a low-cost material for floors and walls. Today it can consist of marble, quartz, granite, recycled glass and metal aggregates, mixed with cement or epoxy and polished for a seamless surface, Pizzarra explains. “Terrazzo offers unlimited flexibility in terms of design and colour to create stunning designs,” she says. “It’s a designer’s dream. The chips can be small or large, creating different looks. It is easy to maintain, durable and long-lasting.”

So how do you use it in your home? “The perfect way to incorporate terrazzo into your home without overdoing it is by adding it as accents in various ways, using subtle colours. You can use accessories such as clocks, trays, wall hooks and more in terrazzo print.”

The Art Of Home Staging According To Curated Home Staging – Haute Residence

Curated Home Staging offers bespoke luxury home staging services with a mission to transform vacant properties into welcome homes that potential homebuyers will fall in love with. Haute Design by Haute Residence caught up with Melanie Haselmayr, Vice President of CURATED, who explains the importance and art of home staging, and how no two projects are ever the same. Here, we’re taking a closer look at this coastal-inspired waterfront home that went under contract after being on the market for less than two weeks. The house is accentuated with a neutral color palette, soft fabrics and wood accents that come together to create a light and bright ambiance. 

Photo courtesy of CURATED

Haute Residence: Why is staging important in a home?

Melanie Haselmayr: Home staging transforms an empty space into a welcoming home. It tremendously changes the first impression of a home. Great staging and the right photography will get you more views and attention online. During a showing or Open House, staging allows buyers to sink into the lifestyle we designed – they don’t just walk room after room, but they can experience living in the home, and create an emotional connection with it.

Photo courtesy of CURATED

HR: How do you ensure the home is properly staged in order to help sell it quicker? 

MH: Everything we do is based on one fundamental question: who is going to live here? What is their lifestyle like? How can we elevate the best features of the home and make it stand out among others?

Photo courtesy of CURATED

HR: What is your method and process when staging a home?

MH: It’s quite simple! We provide a bespoke proposal to every client; once approved our client can sit back and relax. We do everything necessary behind the scenes – space planning, design concept, furniture procurement and site coordination. Finally, we schedule 2-3 installation days, before the grand reveal.

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Interior Designer Stefani Stein On Designing The Perfect Home Office

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Interior Designer Stefani Stein On The Perfect Home Office – Haute Residence

Photo by Carla Choy

Stefani Stein is a Los Angeles based interior designer & founder of August Abode. Her eponymously named firm was established in late 2014, offering full-service interior architecture & design. The firm’s approach to design embraces the idea that each client and space are unique. Regardless of the project size or scale, Stein believes that inspiring spaces evolve from the collaboration achieved by listening to both the client and the architecture. With an emphasis on supporting specialized craftspeople and workrooms, the firm’s fabricators are an integral part of the design execution. All of this steers the narrative flawlessly from concept to completion.

This philosophy has led her to consistently create timeless designs in her signature relaxed & refined aesthetic. Clean, modern touches intertwine with both classical and unexpected elements throughout her projects in the bespoke commercial and residential spaces. Haute Residence caught up with Stein to ask her about how to design an office to be productive and her experience designing Pretty Little Liars’ Shay Mitchell’s office.

Before you design any type of space, what do you do for inspiration to come up with a concept?

Personally, I always start by getting to know the client. The beauty of working with a designer is that the finished space is created custom. I like to understand what will transpire in the space and the mood or emotion we are targeting.

When meeting with a client to design a home office or office setup, what is the first thing you do?

Whether designing for someone’s home office or for a company’s corporate headquarters, functionality is often a much more predominant part of the conversation in office design. Understanding what is going to happen in the space is one of the first steps. If working on a larger office, the schematics are typically determined very early in the process. It is important to consider the number of people in each department, the purpose of the various spaces and the flow of public vs private areas.

Photo by Carla Choy

Are there any trends you’re seeing across office designs and what your clients are asking for their spaces?

Getting to know the nuances of a brand and how to subtly reinforce their messaging or vibe through the office design is a fun and unique creative process—one with different considerations than residential interiors. For businesses, the aesthetics of a space are also an important part of a positive work environment. More and more companies, even small ones, mention this in our discovery meetings.

Throughout design, in general, there has been a resurgence of clients wanting unique and personalized spaces. Lately, many of my clients want to incorporate more color. A few years ago everyone was asking for neutral. While neutrals are a classic, clients are requesting earthy tones be paired with more unique pieces. I’ve been using a lot of sculptural or one-of-a-kind furnishings in my projects. And, great vintage in the mix is a given as well. This has also played a big role in the launch of my wallpaper brand, August Abode which includes various custom patterns and prints with a mix of florals and geometrics – perfect for a statement wall in an office!

What was it like designing Shay Mitchell’s office? What were some of your favorite things about working with her?

Shay wanted her space to feel feminine, but also reflective of her love of travel. Additionally, each of the members of her team had input on their individual offices. One person loved blue while another asked for anything but pink, so the process varied with each space, which made it really fun!

Any tips for anyone designing their own office? What are some main things to make the space most-productive?

If designing on your own, be sure to take measurements of your office and be mindful of scale. Try taping the furniture outlines on the floor with painter’s tape before purchasing anything. You want to ensure a good balance of positive and negative space in the floor plan. Also, always prepare a mood board. Whether it’s done digitally or with physical printouts, be sure to look at everything together and have a plan. Often, you can request a textile or finish sample from retailers, which I highly recommend as well.

Photo by Carla Choy

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DesignLSM Designs Interiors and Brand Identity for New Turkish BBQ Concept Tahini – Dexigner

DesignLSM was commissioned by Tabure Restaurant group to create the design for a new ‘laidback little sister’ concept, following their well-established neighborhood eateries in St Albans and Berkhamsted. The owners wanted to further evolve the brand with the launch of a fast-casual takeaway concept in Harpenden that captures the true passion and joy behind Turkish home-cooking. Tahini brings a modern take on traditional Barbekü dishes delivering lovingly prepared small plates that can be enjoyed inside the restaurant or in the comfort of your own home.

The brand narrative for Tahini was inspired by the home cooking in Turkey, with each element making a direct reference to the things you might find in a Turkish kitchen.

The name Tahini comes from the sesame paste that is a major ingredient in Turkish cooking. DesignLSM produced a bespoke handwritten font that felt simple and authentic; combining the logo with a pattern and colored palette that evoked the freshness of the Mediterranean.

The brand identity was applied across a range of applications including menus, stationery, recipe cards, uniforms, and signage; where possible the designers tried to incorporate hand finished elements such as the stitched bill holders. DesignLSM also created copy for the menu content and website alongside producing a robust set of guidelines.

“It was important that the visual identity referenced home-cooking in Turkey but in a unique modern way,” explained Steve Campion, Brand Director, DesignLSM. “We created our own take on a Turkish pattern that was commonly found on tea towels and combined that with a copper finishes for the logotype, making reference of the copper pots and pans you may find in a Turkish home kitchen”.

Taking its cues from the decorative and colorful tones of Turkish design, the interior is vibrant, warm and inviting with a beautifully crafted open kitchen taking center stage. The 3-seater counter is constructed from natural veneered timber and marble quartz combined with a bespoke cooper gantry which emphasizes Tahini’s authentic cooking process. The open layout of the design allows rich, smokey aromas to fill the restaurant space from the traditional hearth oven which forms the main backdrop of the kitchen.

A color-blocked ceiling and wall tiles in deep blue defines the intimate seating area and enriches the intricate details including the terracotta pendant lights and statement pattern flooring inspired by woven Persian tapestry.

The shopfront has been refreshed in a modern clean white palette complemented by contemporary copper signage.

The overall scheme evokes a modern reinvention of Turkish dining allowing guests to discover the fresh and innovative flavors of Tahini’s cuisine in a relaxed and casual setting.

Photography: Tom Fallon

This Stylish Apartment At The Orchard Residences Is The Epitome Of Italian Chic – Singapore Tatler

A large patterned rug anchors the living space, which features earthy hues and metallic finishes
August 21, 2019

The work of Topic Design Studio, this apartment pairs elegant, well-crafted Italian furniture with glamorous accents

Crafting a show apartment that stands out from a sea of luxurious homes requires a creative eye and a meticulous attention to detail. For this three-bedroom unit in The Orchard Residences, Topic Design Studio was tasked to deliver an apartment that was timeless, elegant and luxurious, within the short period of three months.
“One of the main concerns of the client was how we could create a design that was different from the rest of the showflats,” says Tan Sze Ling, principal designer of Topic Design Studio, who worked on the project together with interior designer Darrion Loo. “Timeless elegance and comfort were what the client had emphasised. We decided to introduce unique bespoke pieces and Italian designer furniture to match the apartment’s prestigious location, building on the theme of ‘elegant luxury’ and tailoring the spaces to appeal to families.”

The diamond-cut mirrored feature elevates the look of the master bedroom

To bring the concept to life, the designers incorporated a colourful array of materials and textures into the 2,174sqft apartment. “Topic Design Studio has always been an interior firm with an eye for detail,” expresses Tan. “We pay a lot of attention to the refined look of the work and how proportions and colours contribute to the visual appeal of a space.”

Firstly, warm lighting, neutral tones, and bespoke elements—including the custom-made leather panels—create an elegant backdrop for each space. Taking centrestage in the different spaces is an eclectic array of furnishings featuring rich tones and artistic textures to create an inviting yet bold look. “We decided to take a risk by building a strong colour palette for each room, which adds character to the apartment as a whole,” says Tan.

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A large patterned rug anchors the living space, which features earthy hues and metallic finishes

The living room makes an uplifting first impression with its glamorous ceiling and a large patterned rug anchoring the space. An array of seats, ranging from a plush sofa to leather chairs, creates a relaxed yet luxurious ambience.

Adjacent to the living room is the dining area; a sleek, intimate space flanked by a row of tinted mirrors and leather panels. “Creating an illusion of a bigger area in this compact space was crucial,” explains Tan. To this end, bronze mirrored panels were installed in the dining area, enhancing the sense of space. As a finishing touch, two art pieces add pops of colour against the clean-lined furniture.

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Blush accents add a feminine touch to this study area

The design firm crafted unique concepts for each room, while retaining visual cohesiveness via recurring motifs and colours.

“Like the idea of a family—where each person is an individual yet makes up a complete unit when they come together—the different rooms complement one other by retaining similar details,” says Tan. One of the apartment’s most charming spots is a study area that’s adjacent to the balcony. The space is animated with exuberant patterns, sculptural pieces, and a cushion with a geometric pattern. 

The custom-made leather wall creates a glamorous focal point in this bedroom
The master bathroom features a bathtub that’s built into a marble block

In the master bedroom, the designers have combined furnishings in metallic hues with a bespoke fabric panel and a diamond-cut mirrored wall to frame both ends of the bed. The master bathroom, which boasts a bird’s-eye view of the neighbourhood, features a bathtub encrusted within a marble block.

The end result is a bold apartment that makes a strong first impression. “It was gratifying to see the owner admiring the details and workmanship,” says Tan, reflecting on the completed project.

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Tan Sze Ling, founder of Topic Design Studio

Topic Design Studio 

Founded by Tan Sze Ling, the practice first caught the industry’s attention with its personalised designs and its attention to detail. The studio has since worked on luxury residential and commercial projects in Singapore, Moscow, Bangalore, Jakarta and China; the firm creates subtle yet meaningful spaces through its sensitivity to culture, context and climate.

Topic Design Studio | #06-01, 100D Pasir Panjang Road | 6694 5832