Life & Style | Home & Interiors

Light-infused interiors in Emirates Hills home

Suffused with sunshine, this Emirates Hills villa pairs the best of Italian design with vibrant accessories, providing a restful retreat for a high-flying, Dubai-based couple

  • By Angela Boshoff Hundal
  • Published: 00:00 June 15, 2012
  • InsideOut

Airy abode in Emirates Hills
  • Image Credit: Svend Dyrvig/ANM
  • The home’s intimate library hosts an array of books, a chaise longue from Leila’s husband’s original bachelor pad and a painting picked up while travelling in Thailand.
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Standing at the end of a tree-lined street in the opulent suburb of Emirates Hills is a villa that, in keeping with the area's plush reputation is certainly large and grand, but has a refreshingly relaxed atmosphere that's evident as soon as you walk in.

The owner of this airy space, Leila Garadaghi, agrees. "Creating a home where people feel relaxed was always the intention," she says, smiling. "My husband and I love hosting family and friends and deliberately tried to create a dwelling that's sleek without being pretentious."

Leila and her husband, of Iranian and Palestinian heritage respectively, have called this minimal, contemporary space home for the past four years. "My husband was asked to move from London to Dubai for work. We'd just finished renovating our house in London and while I knew it was going to be tough renovating all over again, I'm always up for a challenge," she says, laughing.

It's this positive attitude that pulled the ex-investment-banker-turned-interior-designer through what she describes as a "difficult year" of renovations. "The villa was made up entirely of closed rooms and gaudy finishes," Leila explains. "Initially we thought we'd only change the master bedroom and kitchen, but in the end we gutted the whole thing." Leila - who oversaw the installation and decoration of the space herself - shipped everything, including new lighting, tiles, faucets and furniture, in from Italy.

Of all the rooms, Leila says her favourite is the home's SieMatic kitchen. "I like my kitchen to be open and light as I love to cook and socialise at the same time." She adds that the space, which features clean, white Corian counters, wooden drawers and light-drenched windows, is "very similar to my kitchen in London. I hate clutter so I had an entire line of cabinets installed to store accessories and recipe books." Opening up onto the terrace, it's also the core socialising spot. "When people come over they'll mill about here while I cook and as the night wears on they'll spill out onto the terrace, or into the dining room."

The main living area, a generous open-plan space parallel to the dining room, is just as lofty and bright as the kitchen. Decorated simply with Minotti sofas, chairs and a coffee table bedecked with magazines, books and fresh blooms, light is carried indoors through floor-to-ceiling windows free of curtains, while a beautiful sorbet-coloured Persian rug cools the space. "I felt curtains would make the room feel heavy. Keeping the hot summers in mind, I used pale, muted tones here, warming them up with vibrant accessories picked up on travels."

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The couple's love of art - "also picked up while travelling,' Leila says - is evident through the various photographs, paintings and sculptures in the house, including a laser-cut metal piece on the living room wall. "It's called An Ode to Pollock and it was created by an artist called Krakof. While we certainly love this piece, our favourite artwork - also by Krakof - hangs in what we describe as the heart of the house. It's a metal-cut heart that we bought on our anniversary in Paris and it's made up of smaller hearts with feel-good love messages cut into them."

In the dining room the style stakes are just as high as the rest of the abode. A regal blue La Murrina Murano chandelier hangs elegantly above a Fendi dining table in mock croc leather, surrounded on all sides by Bonaldo chairs. "This is my favourite piece," Leila says, pointing at the chandelier. "It gives a burst of azure colour to the room and reminds me of the Italian, French Mediterranean where I spent my summers growing up."

Moving upstairs into the master bedroom - a cooling, cocoon-like space furnished with Catalan, Fendi and Minotti - it's clear that this is a respite from the rest of the home. "In its previous life it was made up of several rooms, but we pulled down the walls and opened it up. I wanted a very Zen-like space here and in the bathroom. I like the idea that a home is an organic entity that metamorphoses with its owners, so I'm always coming up with new ideas for every room in the house."

Standing at the end of a tree-lined street in the opulent suburb of Emirates Hills is a villa that, in keeping with the area's plush reputation, is certainly large and grand, but has a refreshingly relaxed atmosphere that's evident as soon as you walk in.

"Creating a home where people feel relaxed was always the intention," Leila Garadaghi, the owner of this airy space, explains. "My husband and I love hosting family and friends and deliberately tried to create a dwelling that's sleek without being pretentious."

Leila and her husband, of Iranian and Palestinian heritage respectively, have called this minimal, contemporary space home for the past four years. "My husband was asked to move from London to Dubai for work. We'd just finished renovating our house in London and while I knew it was going to be tough renovating all over again, I'm always up for a challenge," she says, laughing.

It's this positive attitude that pulled the ex-investment-banker-turned-interior-designer through what she describes as a "difficult year" of renovations. "The villa was made up entirely of closed rooms and gaudy finishes," Leila explains. "Initially we thought we'd only change the master bedroom and kitchen, but in the end we gutted the whole thing." Leila - who oversaw the installation and decoration of the space herself - shipped everything, including new lighting, tiles, taps and furniture, from Italy.

Of all the rooms, Leila says her favourite is the home's SieMatic kitchen. "I like my kitchen to be open and light as I love to cook and socialise at the same time." She adds that the space, which features clean, white Corian counters, wooden drawers and light-drenched windows, is "very similar to my kitchen in London. I hate clutter so I had an entire line of cabinets installed to store accessories and recipe books." Opening up onto the terrace, it's also the core socialising spot. "When people come over they'll mill about here while I cook and as the night wears on they'll spill out onto the terrace, or into the dining room."

The main living area, a generous open-plan space alongside the dining room, is just as lofty and bright as the kitchen. Decorated simply with Minotti sofas, chairs and a coffee table bedecked with magazines, books and fresh blooms, light is carried indoors through floor-to-ceiling windows free of curtains, while a beautiful sorbet-coloured Persian rug cools the space. "I felt curtains would make the room feel heavy. Keeping the hot summers in mind, I used pale, muted tones here, warming them up with vibrant accessories picked up on our travels."

The couple's love of art - most pieces were "also picked up while travelling," Leila says - is evident through the various photographs, paintings and sculptures in the house, including a laser-cut metal piece on the living room wall. "It's called An Ode to Pollock and it was created by the artist David Kracov. While we certainly love this piece, our favourite artwork - also by Kracov - hangs in what we describe as the heart of the house. It's a metal-cut heart bought on our anniversary in Paris and it's made up of smaller hearts with love messages cut into them."

In the dining room the style stakes are just as high as the rest of the home. A regal blue glass La Murrina Murano chandelier hangs elegantly above a Fendi dining table that boasts a beautiful top made from stamped lizard leather, surrounded on all sides by Bonaldo chairs. "This is my favourite piece," Leila says, pointing at the chandelier. "It gives a burst of azure colour to the room and reminds me of the Italian-French Mediterranean where I spent my summers while I was growing up."

Moving upstairs into the master bedroom - a cool, cocoon-like space furnished with Catalan, Fendi and Minotti - it's clear that this is a respite from the rest of the home. "In its previous life it was made up of several rooms, but we pulled down the walls and opened it up. I like the idea that a home is an organic entity that metamorphoses with its owners, so I'm always coming up with new ideas for every room in the house."

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