The laid back yet sophisticated style of this villa in Emirates Hills, home to Lene Dewji, her husband (can we mention his name?) and four sons (can we mention their names and ages?), is thanks to Lene’s clever pairing of global design styles with the practicalities of family living. Light and airy with an open kitchen and dining area, three living spaces, six bedrooms and a lush, beautifully landscaped garden, the organically-shaped suburban dwelling combines a large dose of earthy African carvings, a smattering of iconic Danish furniture and a sprinkling of playful art and accessories, for a home that suits all tastes.
What drew you to this villa?
We first fell in love with it six years ago because everything about it was light, including the wood. We found its somewhat fluid architectural shape very interesting and attractive. The house is massive and because of its many windows it’s drenched in sunshine during the day. We were very lucky because we had little renovation work to do when we bought it.
How would you describe your interior style?
I don’t think our home has a specific style. It’s more an expression of who we are as a family. The colour palette is very neutral and, being from Denmark, we really love classic Danish design so we invested in pieces like Hans Wegner’s Ox chair and an Arne Jacobsen Swan chair and then paired them with accessories and art that my husband and I bought while we were travelling 20 years ago. I also picked up a lot of stuff at auctions in Denmark. We always knew that we wanted all of our favourite pieces together in our future house.
You’re the only woman in a house full of males. Who has the most influence when it comes to the interior design, or does everyone get involved?
I have to admit it’s me, although I do like to think that I ask everyone if they like what I’m doing. [Laughs] I try to accommodate everyone’s style. The home is not overtly feminine so I think the men and the boys are happy to live in this space. Several of my sons’ paintings are displayed around the house, so you could say that my sons get involved with the decoration by adding to it. I like to paint and sew, so a few of my creations are dotted about the villa as well.
Which is your favourite space in the house?
I love the living room because it’s where the family gathers and where we keep some of our larger, precious pieces. I also love my bedroom. Last year I painted it all white and removed some of the furniture to create a simple, calming atmosphere. When my kids’ friends come over everyone hangs out at the long dining table by the kitchen.
What are your favourite pieces in the villa?
The paintings my sons did are very precious to me. Other artwork in the house that I love includes paintings by Peter Christian Petersen and Vibeke Tøjner although Honsleth is my favourite Danish artist. My husband and I lived in the Congo for many years but never purchased any sculptures while living there. Our connection to the country is still really strong so while we were there last year we bought several masks and fetishes. A 5,000-year-old Egyptian burial statue that stands on the book shelf in the living room is one of my most fascinating pieces.
Do you have any tips for families who love design?
Don’t be scared of buying white furniture, or pieces made of leather, even if you have small children. My two older sons both agree that all the art and ethnographic items in the house have inspired them to take up art themselves, so fill your home with cultural pieces that have stories behind them. Keeping books out so they are easily accessible is a great way to encourage your kids to read. My children know which design items are most precious to us and why and it has instilled in them a respect for both art and design.
What’s next for your home?
A family home is always evolving. My two older sons are leaving for university this year so the house will be quieter than usual, although I am hoping their visits will result in new items and memories making their way in to the space over the next few years. There’s always room for more.