Life & Style | Home & Interiors

Dubai home is black, white and bold

Colourful yet monochromatic, Doug and Tory Waller's Umm Suqeim home is an awe-inspiring mix of cherished family possessions and a bold, yet approachable style

  • Words and styling by Claire Barlow
  • Published: 00:00 May 15, 2012
  • InsideOut

Umm Suqueim villa
  • Image Credit: Svend Dyrvig/GNM
  • The striped armchairs are reupholstered in ticking fabric from Ikea.
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Jean Cocteau once said, "Style is a simple way of saying complicated things," and Doug and Tory Waller's house is a prime example of this statement. Each room is a carefully sourced vignette of treasured possessions that look both simple and intriguing. 

Hailing from Queensland, Australia the couple moved to Dubai in mid-2007 for Doug's job with the International Cricket Council. They started off their life in Dubai in JBR, only swapping the hustle and bustle of their apartment on The Walk for the relative peace and greenery of their three-bedroom villa in Umm Suqeim in May 2011. "Having been trapped in an apartment for so many years, the high-walled garden of our new home was a key feature, not just giving us space but also much-craved privacy," Tory says. "The location is a short walk from the beach, which was another compelling factor." 

With its fresh white backdrop, bold fabrics, reclaimed-wood furniture and bright accessories, the home has a light and interesting ambience that feels appealingly Australian. Yet, as Tory explains, this look is a far cry from its original incarnation. "The downstairs area of the villa originally had heavy carpets, curtains and a railing dividing up the sitting room," she recalls. "At first, I had no immediate sense of what I wanted to do with the villa; in fact, I was terrified when faced with the project. It was so dark and cluttered."

Bravely taking up the design gauntlet the couple had everything stripped back to create a blank canvas and set about creating more space for their growing family. They made their third, downstairs bedroom into a TV-cum-playroom for their two boys, Archie and Theo, and took the bold step of putting up a permanent dividing wall in a garage positioned at the back of the rented home to create a peaceful guest room. The couple haven't looked back. "The additions really changed the whole place, creating a light, airy space with a good flow," Tory says. 

Describing the design of her home as, "eclectic-coastal meets the Middle East", Tory cites various sources of inspiration for the villa, including her mother and sister. "They are constantly creating in life, whether it be through cooking, entertaining, interiors or garden design," she says. And Tory is no different; the beautiful billowing canopy that hangs at the back of the house was an inspired creative solution to a practical problem.

"The goal with the canopy was to create some shade for the intense summer days," she explains. "I love the Greek Islands for the splashes of colour against the white buildings, and I wanted to create the same sort of feel. The store O'de Rose on Al Wasl Road has bold lengths of thin cotton strung up outside, which inspired me. It is my favourite interiors store in Dubai, so it was great to bring a little of it into my home." 

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Tory's refreshing approach to design cannot fail to inspire. In addition to designer items such as the Philippe Starck Louis Ghost chairs and Ferruccio Laviani Bourgie lamps, she has filled the house with reclaimed and upcycled finds in the quest to put a unique stamp on their home.

The wicker garden chairs were bought through Dubizzle and painted a sunshine yellow that pops brightly against the white walls of the villa. Another astute find were some old wooden pallets discovered on the roof of their home that now grace the spare room as a table.

Far from looking second hand, their weathered texture gives a relaxed, beachy feel to the serene space. Tory says, "We didn't want to over-capitialise on things we might not take with us so renovating pieces seemed like a good option." This refreshingly creative attitude has made for a charmingly comfortable family home.

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