Over the past two decades, interior designer Julia Dempster has lived in a lavish, bold villa on The Palm, a minimalist white haven in Umm Suqeim, and a Georgian manor house in Bath in the UK. But for the past two years, home for Julia and her nine-year-old son, Miro, is a corner plot villa on The Palm Jumeirah, which she quickly set about transforming with adventurous use of colour.
‘I am a great advocate of feng shui,’ Julia tells us. ‘One of the very first things I did when I moved into this house was have an in-depth analysis carried out, and this affected where I put things, and how I used the space.’
Indeed, evidence of Julia’s belief in the ancient Chinese art of harmonising your environment can clearly be seen in every room: water features and plants feature heavily throughout the house, and furniture placement and wall colours are dictated by the feng shui dichotomy.
Downstairs, a beautiful teal paint was chosen for the main living room, which provides a great backdrop for the mix of wood and metal furniture, mainly sourced from Eichholtz. The fusion of natural wood with reflective steel gives the room a contemporary edge. Taking pride of place is a fabulously eclectic touch – a wooden life-size horse sculpture from Andrew Martin. ‘I loved this straight away. It’s neither practical, nor particularly beautiful, but I knew I needed to have it – it is a statement piece!’ Julia says.
A more sombre colour palette awaits in the small hallway seating area that leads to the dining room and kitchen. Julia chose a soft grey and cream to maximise the light in this space. In the dining room, Julia’s love of the unusual hangs on the wall – a half-empty plexi-glass frame displaying coloured crayons. ‘I’m a member of a company in Japan that sends you crayons every month to fit into the frame, so that eventually it will hold 500 crayons of different colours. It’s meant to represent a piece of living art, changing and evolving every month – it’s very exciting every time a parcel arrives with new crayons!’
Julia’s love of colour shines through in her bright orange home office. An ornate 16-arm chandelier and baroque-style desk add interest, as does a quirky grouping of mirrors. ‘I love this room, and I genuinely look forward to working from home,’ she says.
One factor that was very important for Julia was to create a home completely different from her other properties (she also owns a chateau in south-west France as well as her Georgian manor house in England).
‘This is a modern house, so I didn’t feel the same responsibility to fill it with antiques, or to restore historic architectural features,’ she explains. ‘Instead I allowed myself to be a bit more creative with colour and decorating techniques, like the ceiling stripes in my son’s room and my own.’
It is these touches, which also include oversized pendants, and a blend of old and new textures – that alert you to the fact that this house is something pretty special indeed.