A passion for objects that tell a story shines through Clive Wilfred’s enviably well-composed Dubai Marina apartment in Emirates Crown, a building as well known for its luxurious residences as its astounding views.
“The stunning view is actually what drew me to the apartment in the first place,” Clive says, gesturing to a seemingly endless blue sky, azure sea and the Palm from his living room window. As if on cue, a small plane flies by. “There’s always something exciting happening right outside,” he says. “From private planes to sky divers and fireworks. I love it.”
Clive, who shares this two-bedroom home with his dogs Chu Chu and Pierre, came across this classically influenced apartment three years ago while hunting for a space to showcase his impressive collection of antique furniture and contemporary artwork.
“It might sound like a strange combination, but it was always my idea to pair classical and modern pieces,” he explains. “Most interiors in Dubai are very contemporary and minimal, and while I appreciate that style, it’s just not me. I’m a European baby and prefer older, more classical pieces with a modern twist. I like items that aren’t pristine, that reflect the fact that this house is lived in. Every piece in here has a story.”
Pairing a clean and neutral architectural backdrop with a vast collection of bold and outrageous home accessories in the form of original antiques and quirky vintage finds was a deliberate and daring decision that Clive admits took some time to get right.
“It took me about a year and a half to renovate and decorate the space until I was happy with it. When I first moved in I gutted the entire apartment. I knocked all the walls down and changed it from a three-bedroom to a two-bedroom, creating more space in the process,” he says. “I wanted to totally transform the narrow closed-up abode into an open-plan home, filled with lots of light and character.” He has clearly succeeded.
There’s an organic flow to the space; sunshine floods in through the floor-to-ceiling windows, while the minimal colour palette of pale grey and off-white is warmed up by the rich honey tones of the oak floors, none of which detract from the view outside.
“The real wooden floors, installed by Nordic Homeworx, draw the eye in the direction of the sky and sea,” Clive says. “I wanted something original for the walls so I chose pale grey. It changes colour depending on the light and transforms the atmosphere of the space as the sun goes down. The home’s main asset is its view and I wanted to ensure that the walls, floor and furniture added to it.”
Clive’s home exudes an inviting, cosy vibe. “This isn’t a show home. I love to cook and entertain, so there are always people wandering about. I enjoy watching my friends’ reactions and hearing the conversations that start up when they discover an item or piece of art that they love.”
The apartment contains a whole host of unique furniture, from two cork stopper stools, custom made by a friend that stand alongside a hand-painted chest – also from a friend – that doubles as a coffee table, to a pair of 1940s binoculars from Amsterdam, impeccably restored Chesterfield sofas from the 1920s and a child’s prosthetic leg from the First World War.
“The latter is truly an interactive piece,” Clive says. “At first people think it’s a bit strange, but when the night warms up they pick it up and ask questions about it. I love items with some history behind them.”
He adds that the contemporary artwork throughout the home also plays a large, complementary role.
“I have a huge collection of art and I change it every month,” Clive says. “I keep pieces in storage and then every few weeks I get out the ones I haven’t seen for a while and swap them with the artwork on the walls to keep the apartment looking fresh. I see art as an investment, so if I really like something I’ll buy it. I adore the paintings of my dogs. They were done by a local artist who is also a friend of mine, Eleonore De Bizemont.”
When asked to point out his favourite piece in the house, he says, “I’m really sentimental about all my stuff, so if I move again I’ll take everything with me. There’s a lot happening here but it all works together to reflect who I am.”