If it weren't for the view of Atlantis The Palm through the windows of this luxurious beachside villa in Dubai, it would be easy to mistake the home for one on the coast of Miami or Barbados. An elegant space composed of neutral shades, sumptuous textures and surrounded by a luscious tropical garden, the dwelling exudes glamour, which, as it turns out, was the operative word when it came to the interior design mandate.
Rania Hamed, owner of VSHD Design and the woman behind the home's interior, says, "My clients are avid art collectors and aside from a beautiful space, they wanted a place in which to display their collection. A modern interior was not enough for them; they wanted to include elements from the past, including objects collected on their travels, without losing their signature eclectic style. We decided to create a dialogue between the old and new and came up with a modern-classic theme that incorporates glamour and luxury. We began by stripping the entire house and creating a blank canvas for the new interior, using a neutral palette and clean lines."
Aside from the eye-catching pieces inside the home, one of the most impressive features is the view. "The owners wanted to make the most of the home's beachside location so every walkway, window and door was resized and upcycled," Rania says. "The owners love to entertain, so access to the garden and beach was made easier by installing foldable doors throughout."
The living room, a plush area decorated with elegant furniture upholstered in richly textured silks, velvets and leather from Donghia, Rogers & Goffigon and Edelman, is the epitome of the home's modern-classic theme. "It was influenced by the designs of the 1930s, but we added furniture from different historical periods. A Louis XVI sofa is paired with an art deco chair, while a Victorian stool sits by a sleek, modern coffee table," Rania says.
The owners' love of art and history is evident upon closer inspection of the accessories in the living room, including a pair of Chinese Peking glass vases from the early 20th century that stand on top of a mirrored art deco Arte Veneziana cabinet. "While most of the pieces are high-end, the owners added eclectic touches to the space by purchasing one-off items," Rania says. "The wooden hand on the coffee table, for example, was purchased from a jewellery store that was closing down." While old glamour is predominant, pieces with modern appeal aren't out of place in the home.
An example is the all-glass Glas Italia table that stands in front of a floor-to-ceiling window in the home's entrance. "This window offers a stunning view that we didn't want to interrupt, but leaving the hallway empty seemed like a waste of space. The glass table, which from the right angle appears to float on the water, was a stylish solution."
Moving into the formal dining room, one is overwhelmed by a sense of calm sophistication. "This room is small so we selected a modern, weightless dining table to make it appear more spacious. The Louis XVI chairs bring an element of old-world elegance to the space while the Williams-Sonoma chandelier suspended above the table creates a focal point and ups the room's glamour factor," Rania says.
One of her favourite elements - and the one she says most reflects her and the owners' playful side - is the home's indoor wooden slide. Rania laughs when recalling its inception. "The owner phoned me and said, ‘I have a great idea that will make my kids happy. Let's put a slide down the side of the staircase.' At first it seemed impossible as the staircase is a structural element. Also, having a slide inside a villa is a very modern concept, so to give it a sense of the old world, as per the brief, we had to craft it from oak using old wooden slide designs. It was probably the most difficult item I've ever designed." As to whether the hard work paid off, Rania smiles and nods. "It was a win-win for everyone. I got to test the slide each time we added another detail to it and my clients, and their kids, were ecstatic with the end result."