When I came to photograph this timelessly sophisticated villa just a few steps from the Burj al Arab, my friend Frédérique was just back from Jaipur. She tells me all about her amazing trip and all the beautiful furniture and home accessories she saw there, but her style is quite different. Her home reflects her elegance and it’s mostly about matching few well chosen colours with beautiful pieces, many brought from their numerous travels. The very iconic Bubble Chair comes from a design gallery in Singapore, where they have lived just before moving to Dubai, and the big Buddha canvas in the dining room comes from Jakarta, where they were also living as expats. Details are particularly important for her husband as well, nourished with home decor since he was young by his interior designer mother, and this absolute stylish home is the result of an amazing work of the couple together.
A gorgeous brightness bathes the living spaces in a clarity that Frédérique describes as essential. This omnipresent light comes from huge modern windows that open almost completely; when the weather is good, they can open them all and live inside-outside, inviting friends, and enjoying family time. In their home you can breathe simplicity and elegance at the same time, with a very cosy and familiar vibe all around the house. Her choices, between iconic pieces and contemporary creations, are consistently well thought out, and with her naturally sophisticated taste and behaviour, she has created a truly personal space, enriched by wall colours and super chic details.
Today, radiant as always, and with her contagious laugh, she welcomes us into her fabulous home!
Who is inviting The Sandy Side at home today?
Swiss born, I grew up in Geneva where I met my Italian husband in 2001. After six months we decided to move abroad : we started in Monte Carlo, then Jakarta, Singapore and finally Dubai. We were supposed to stay for a couple of years but here we are, still, after 9 years already! We have two kids who love Dubai: we all enjoy the outdoor lifestyle we can have here.
Tell us the story of your home, why did you choose it?
We wanted to live near the sea : it makes me happy just to watch the waves or walk along the beach. We used to live in Arabian Ranches in a beautiful house, it was a fabulous community but I felt the need to be closer to our everyday places. This new location in Al Sufouh is perfect : just a few minutes to the school, the office, the sea, the mall, the restaurants. We love it.
We had a crush on the house the minute we visited it, it’s brand new and modern with a lot of light coming in. We knew it would be easy to create a simple yet elegant home. I particularly like the bay windows downstairs: wether you are having an aperitif in the living room or dinner in the dining room, you are overlooking the garden and it feels almost as if you were actually outside.
Who was in charge of decorating the house?
My husband is very involved in the decoration of the house. He loves his interiors and pays attention to details. It is very important for him to feel cosy at home. Light has to be dimmed (we installed dimmers and a lot of indirect sources of light), colors have to be soft. His mother is an interior designer: she gives us a lot of good advices. We usually agree on the important things we want to buy or change and where to put them.
Where does your interest in interior decoration comes from?
I moved four times in fifteen years and each time I had to reinvent my house. Each country had different vibes, something different to bring and gave me different inspiration. You evolve with each expatriation, carrying some of your past experience with you and creating new experiences where you are. In Indonesia, our home was full of large teak wood furniture made to measure by local artisans. It was very affordable and available everywhere. Our style was more organic and raw. In Dubai, our house is much more mineral, contemporary and sleek.
Were your kids happy about the moving? Do they enjoy the new house?
My kids were a bit reluctant at the beginning to leave the neighborhood they were familiar with but they are super happy now. We all spend less time in the car! They like the new house, they watched us decorating it and enjoyed it. The difficult part was to get rid of unnecessary things that we accumulated over the years and that you try to give away when you move…
What is your favorite object or piece of furniture of your home and why?
I love the blue-turquoise rug we have in the living room. We found it by accident: we were wandering in the Creek area and the kids were too hot. They found shelter in a cool (air-conditioned) shop: it was a rug shop. We fell in love with it instantly. Chuk Palu, behind the Grand Mosque of Bur Dubai.
I like the Bubble chair as well, it is with us since Singapore. No one ever seats in it but it is a fun piece of decoration!
I will also say the paper plane sculpture. My husband had a coup de foudre for it during a Design Days exhibition in Dubai a few years ago. It comes from a gallery in Italy: it is playful and reminds us of our childhood.
How would you define the style of your home?
I think our house is simple yet elegant. It is neat but doesn’t look like a picture from a deco magazine. It is full of life, photos, objects related to a lots of memories. I don’t like to be overwhelmed in my home though : I like it just cosy enough to always feel a good energy while being in it.
The day you will eventually leave Dubai, what would you miss the most?
I will probably miss my friends the most when I will leave Dubai. And the lightweight feeling I have only here. My mood is lifted up instantly in this city. Everything seems brighter. I love light!
How did you end up living in Dubai?
As the majority of all the people living in Dubai, my husband was sent here by the company he was working for. Now he became independent, created his own company but we decided to stay because we really love our life here.
What do you most enjoy doing in Dubai as a family?
This city has a lot to offer to a family lifestyle. We enjoy going to the beach, playing golf and tennis. We take advantage of the great weather we have most of the year and spend time outdoor. It can be as simple as having friends over for a bbq or lunch and a lazy afternoon….
One address to recommend in the city?
I really like going to that little beach next to Bait al Bahar in Jumeirah 3. In the morning, during the week, there is no one : it is paradise.
It is also very nice to scroll around Al Serkal avenue and have look at the galeries. Great hub for art lovers.
Any decoration tip?
Do not hesitate to paint your walls or put a fancy wallpaper: it changes everything.
DECO NOTES from Frederique’s addresses in Dubai
From Jaipur with Love: www.fromjaipurwithloverugs.com
I have recently met Elizabeth Morrison, the founder of the company. She knows the best artisans from Rajastan, has an exquisite taste and delivers beautiful handmade rugs to your doorstep.
Amazing concept store in Jumeirah 1. I usually go there to have lunch with friends (the organic restaurant is delicious) and I rarely leave empty handed. Even if you don’t need anything, their collection is simply too beautiful to resist. And there is everything; clothes, jewelry, tableware, cushions, mirrors, lights,…
102 Beach rd Jumeirah 1.
The Odd piece: www.the-oddpiece.com
Great gallery located in AlSerkal. If you are looking for something unusual for your home, they have it. Extraordinary pieces between modern and vintage.
Unit 65, Al Serkal avenue, street 8
Chuk Palu: www.chukpalu.com
For beautiful Afghan rugs.