Spending days sourcing the perfect fabric and furniture for a heady portfolio of clients means that when Merete Broen and her husband Patrick Van Ijzendoorn came to decorate their own property on the Palm, they were quite literally spoilt for choice.
The duo are joint owners of interior design company Zen Interiors, whose design ethos is based on contemporary sleek lines, a luxuriously textured neutral colour scheme and splashes of unexpected but welcome accent shades. It is immediately apparent when entering their apartment that they certainly practise what they preach, as an instant sense of calm pervades the home.
The couple had worked on more than 30 Shoreline apartments and loved the Palm Jumeirah location as well as the wealth of facilities on offer for families, such as the private beaches, playgrounds and pools, so when an apartment came on the market, they jumped at the opportunity to buy their own.
"I've never lived in an apartment before," Merete laughs with her characteristic openness, "it was a big step for me but it is a great environment for the children and we were so lucky with the positioning of this apartment, as finding a three-bedroom property with a sea view is very rare. And we have an amazing view of the Burj Al Arab and the first frond of the Palm too."
Utilising the panoramas was the first step for the couple, who decided that making the terrace an extension of the house was imperative. Now the family spend as much time outside as inside, both in the dining area and the sumptuous majlis area, that Merete says "comes alive at dusk, with softly glowing lanterns and candlelight." When it came to decorating the interior, it took the couple just five days to choose the fabrics, wallcoverings and furniture for the space.
"It's pretty easy when you work with these items every day," admits Merete, "but I'm still amazed we managed it in such a short amount of time. Our tailor at Zen worked non-stop to get all the curtains finished in time!" The only thing they had to wait for was the beautiful hand-scraped teak floor but as Merete says, it was worth the wait. "We wanted the floor to echo the shape of the sea and the soft lines of the wood are reminiscent of the ocean waves and its highly reflective varnish is a fantastic surface for the light to bounce off."
"With small spaces like apartments, you have to be quite careful and clever with furniture," she adds, which led them to choose a Ligne Roset dining table that extends from six to ten seats, and an L-shaped sofa from Zen's own range that is the perfect fit for the living room. "Once again, the onus was on creating a comfortable home for our family," she adds, "and with its goose feather cushions, this really is one of the comfiest sofas imaginable!"
Two oversized black armchairs from Fendi Casa, Sahco fabric for the curtains and a TV cabinet from Poliform complete the living room. The couple's biggest extravagance was a luxurious bed by Fendi Casa for the master suite. "It was love at first sight with this bed, and when you're sensible with the rest of your home, you can splash out on a few items!"
In a pleasing move away from purely painted walls, the couple have chosen textured wallcoverings for every room, selecting Elitis for the children's bedrooms, Nafees for the living room and UK company, Newmore, for the wallpaper in the master bedroom. "This paper has a lovely sheen and a very delicate square box design on it, that catches the light throughout the day," Merete explains.
By using natural shades of beige, taupe and chocolate the overall feeling is warmth. "Neutral colours are timeless, and you can change the accessories to match your mood and evolving tastes," she says.
"At the moment I am really into metallic accents, which I've used sparingly throughout the home," she points at the hints of gold in the living room cushions as an example. "We've also been very inspired by the beach; living on the Palm means we spend a lot of time there and a favourite family pastime is collecting shells." Coastal elements are liberally scattered in every room, from the mother-of-pearl details on the bedroom cushions, to the muted pastel palette chosen for the girls' rooms.
"Of course we have access to amazing resources," Merete admits, "but more important than any designer product or aesthetic must-have was to create a family home where our two daughters, Maline and Estelle, can live, play and enjoy." As this home proves perfectly, having a young family and a stylish home are not mutually exclusive.