Tucked away on a corner plot in the leafy community of Al Barari, you’d be forgiven for assuming this light-filled villa with garden views from every angle was located in a lush enclave in the Far East rather than a mere 15 minutes away from the centre of Dubai. But that’s exactly what made German-born Alexandra and her husband fall in love with the house the second they saw it.
‘We were relocating to Dubai from Bangkok, where we had spent four years, and we loved the rich greenery and plant life you find in Thailand. We didn’t dare hope we would find a similar landscape in Dubai - and then we found Al Barari.’ Its proximity to Downtown Dubai and the intimacy of living in a small community sold the villa to the couple immediately. ‘We like to take evening walks, and we have lovely lakes within the neighbourhood,’ Alexandra says. ‘And I just love the fact that I can open all my doors and windows and smell the fresh air and hear the birds and fountains – it’s like living in a forest!’
Designed to architecturally resemble a resort villa, the structure is crafted to let in as much light as possible. Floor-to-ceiling windows grace most of the rooms and a large central skylight over the atrium floods the staircase and hallway with natural sunlight. Cleverly, Alexandra chose to merely frame the windows downstairs with Indian white drapes and shallow blinds that do not close: they are fixed in place in order to draw attention to the view, not to conceal it. High ceilings are emphasised by a clean white colour scheme and a variety of flooring – wood, marble and granite – clearly mark out each space within the largely open-plan layout.
An interior designer at heart and a passionate painter, Alexandra admits that moving around the world so much has influenced her style and choices when it came to decorating this home. ‘In the last 15 years we have lived in Bangkok, Berlin, Doha, Egypt, London and Florence. Our time in Doha made us love the Middle East and we always harboured a secret longing to one day live in Dubai, so were very pleased when the opportunity came up. But wherever we live, we have a core set of belongings that will always come with us, and then we buy additional furniture and accessories locally.’
The juxtaposition between old and new, natural and man made, is deliberate in every room and Alexandra has an eye for the unusual. It’s testament to her curating skills that a wooden ladder from a street market in Bangkok can sit so harmoniously with a designer sofa from Minotti, and retro Eames and Saarinen classics. In the formal dining room, her table is a feat of design: measuring 3.5 metres in length, and crafted from the hull of an Indonesian fishing boat, it has just four legs, giving it an incredibly sleek and streamlined shape. Two contemporary grey pendants from Bo Concept hang above the table and a collection of blue-and-white Chinese vases accessorise the far end.
Moving into the formal living area, the contrasts continue. A custom-made grey sofa with white piping seats four people, and an original Le Chaise by Eames takes pride of place by the window. Two side tables are clad with natural wood and topped with white porcelain, whilst the coffee table from Marina Home Interiors combines an untreated wood top with tempered glass and steel legs, all resting upon a silk flat weave carpet from Iran.
The bedrooms are kept tranquil and stylishly simple. In the master bedroom, a sleigh bed from Ralph Lauren Home sits beneath artwork that Alexandra painted, depicting the names of all the countries they have lived in. Uplifting shades of yellow and purple add splashes of welcome colour. The guest room has a boutique hotel feel, with peaceful colours and dashes of personality with an Oriental box used as a side table, and Far Eastern watercolours on the wall. Alexandra’s favourite blooms adorn the nightstand. ‘I love fresh flowers and especially white orchids. Flowers are important elements when it comes to interiors in my opinion. Whenever we move to a new house, the first thing I do is buy lots of fresh flowers and plants and we feel immediately a little bit more at home.’
‘Overall, I would describe the design as “warm contemporary”, with furniture elements we have collected over the last 20 years from different countries,’ Alexandra says. ‘We love to combine old antiques with modern design and love looking in unexpected places for our furniture and accessories. Each country we have visited is an inspiration in life and design. Whether picking up a painting in a busy street market in Laos or Hong Kong, or finding a tiny place in the Italian countryside, everywhere can provide inspiration if you’re open to it.’
The owner Originally from Germany, Alexandra and her husband have two children: daughter Katharina is studying in London and 15-year old son Max lives at home. They moved to Dubai three years ago from Bangkok.
The home This six-bedroom detached villa in Al Barari has two downstairs guest rooms, a formal living and dining room, and a family area off the kitchen with a smaller dining room and TV room. Upstairs, there are four en suite bedrooms.
Images by: Stefan Lindeque / ANM