The home of Emirati family Nawal Farah and her two children, Layla and Ali, is an eclectic mix of styles, with each room cleverly decorated to offer a distinct scheme that fits the mood and purpose of the space.

Nawal, who has an events background, is passionate about interior design and has studied design masterclasses at the London studio of MBE Kelly Hoppen. While there are some clear nods to the South African interior designer’s signature styles, Nawal has put her own stamp on her family home, especially when it came to upgrading the property. A somewhat novel idea for a Middle East home, her conservatory extension from UK-based suppliers Swift Rooms not only adds ample extra space but offers a scenic lounge area with an al fresco ambience, with direct views of the garden and swimming pool, which her family can enjoy all year round. 

The formal living room sets a sophisticated scene, with luxurious Pizolli sofas and sleek tables from Roche Bobois, plus one of Nawal's favourite items, a display cabinet from Cairo.An extension was added to the left of the living room, creating this reading nook that’s furnished confidently with a bold zebra rug from Zara  Home, and wingback chairs from Nakkash Gallery around a nest of tables from 2XL Furniture and Home Decor.

‘I love the garden and being surrounded by greenery, however the UAE climate doesn’t allow us to be outside all year round,’ says the Abu-Dhabi-born mum of two. ‘Not only does the conservatory boost the property, but we love the indoor-outdoor feel of it, being surrounded by plants and with the doors opening onto the garden.’ 

The family use this space more than any other room in the house, enjoying the relaxed, Hamptons-inspired look created by the accents of turquoise, linen and rattan. The elegant furnishings are offset by cement floor tiles giving the look a contemporary twist. It’s an eclectic combination that works well within the light, fresh space of the conservatory, with the bright blue sky coming in through the glass ceiling and a tropical ambience created from the lush plants.

‘I had a clear vision of how I wanted this room to look,’ says Nawal. ‘I wanted a typical Hamptons-style, fresh and clean feel – and I think I’ve done well creating this. I added the cement tiles because I like the industrial look and while it’s an unusual pairing the two styles work effectively together.

‘I like to mix and match but it’s not easy to blend modern with traditional. Kelly Hoppen does this effortlessly, and I’ve used her advice and style ideas throughout my home.’

The informal dining area is furnished with mix-and-match pieces from Blanc D’Ivoire, from Dubai’s Galeries Lafayette, and a contemporary pendant from OSO. Left: Kelly Hoppen’s influence can be seen in the foyer, where Nawal has inlaid a black and white marble “rug” into the wood flooring from Floorworld; the framed sufi art is by Rana Chalabi. Right: In the formal dining room a round OSO table picks up the dark red of the pomegranates in the neighbouring room, while the Roche Bobois corner cabinet is at a jaunty angle, breaking up the boxy feel of the room; the paintings are by Egyptian artist Farghali Abdel Hafiz.

At the front of the house she’s fashioned an entrance foyer to one side of the formal living room, at the foot of the staircase. The way she’s designed this area is recognisably inspired by the renowned interior designer, with a black and white marble “rug” inlaid into the wood floor and a round occasional table set with chic decorative items, candles and floral displays.

Left: Decorative pomegranates bring good luck and add an accent colour to the formal living room. Right: In the reading nook, these beautiful gold bowls from Spain complement the striking spider-leg framework of a side table from Nakkash Gallery.

The formal living room is furnished with high-quality pieces from Pizolli and Roche Bobois and a glass Art Deco vitrine from Egypt where she displays sentimental and precious pieces. Accents of pomegranate red stand out against a neutral base palette of taupe and pale grey. This accent colour – along with the blonde wood floor, dark furniture and light-coloured upholstery – is carried through to the dining room, lending an air of cohesiveness throughout these more formally furnished rooms.

While she chose this villa for its size and location near her family, who also live in Golf Gardens, the front room felt boxed in so she extended the property into the front garden which made way for a cosy reading nook off the living room. With a new façade featuring three large windows, both spaces are filled with natural light and have a fresh, relaxed ambience. 

Left: This cluster of mounted animal heads shows off Nawal’s playful side and her eye for fashionable micro trends. Right: This contemporary chandelier hangs by a small mezzanine area on the landing, above the entrance.

‘I wanted the extension to create a spacious living room with character and dimension,’ she explains. ‘I like a contemporary, streamlined and clean-cut look and I love neutral palettes with a subtle pop of colour – like the pomegranates for good luck. They’re from Turkey, and wherever I travel to I like to bring home little elements or artwork to include into the décor.’

The landing is a bold welcome to the first floor, with a reupholstered Ethan Allen chair and bright stools from Home Centre.

Upstairs, the master suite and her kids’ bedrooms are decorated in distinct styles that match their personalities. Ali’s room sports a pre-teen “all American” vibe in red, white and blue and a basketball hoop on the wall, while Layla’s room features a mature teen palette in fashionable shades of grey and millennial pink. A zebra-print rug and a fluffy faux-sheepskin stool from West Elm are fun accents.

‘I love Pottery Barn for the kids’ furniture as it doesn’t date and the neutral base is easy to work with if we want to update the bedding, the rugs and the colour of the walls as they get older or if they want a change – my kids direct that!’ laughs Nawal.

Layla’s bedroom has a fashionable teenage scheme of millennial pink and grey. Nawal has updated her bedroom with fresh fabrics, including the tufted linen headboard and the small footstool, now sporting a subtle zebra print.

Her own bedroom scheme changes now and then to suit the seasons or her preferences, she says. Recently, she’s reupholstered her bedframe from THE One in a creamy linen to create a soft, romantic look, complemented by a tufted bench and armchair in a creamy linen and a small footstool in a pale zebra pattern, plus pink and white Frette bedding. The feminine tone and classic silhouettes create a serene French-chic scheme, which Nawal admits she’s grown to love as she’s got older.

‘I like to change things up if I’m bored with a style and have a new vision,’ she adds. ‘For my bedroom I was in the mood for fresh pastels and a feminine feel. But if I want a brighter look I’ll change it to something summery, perhaps with coral accents. By having a neutral base you can make changes quite easily. My top tip is to have an accent chair in each room, which I can reupholster to ground a new scheme.’

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The owner Emirati Nawal Farah and her two children Layla and Ali Al Alamy, aged 15 and 11, moved to this spacious villa in Golf Gardens, Abu Dhabi, four years ago. They have two dogs, Prince, a Yorkshire terrier, and Mars, a pug.

The home Nawal extended the front of the property and added a conservatory at the back, providing adding living space. The home features a formal living room with a reading nook, a separate dining room, an informal dining area and TV room, a conservatory lounge, four bedrooms upstairs, and a garden with a swimming pool.

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Clockwise from top left: Contast coasters, Indigo Living, Dh188, set of four; Cushion, Zara Home, Dh89; Studio Job Paper chandelier, Moooi at superstudio, from Dh31,200; Klint sofa with walnut lacquer, Carl Hansen & Søn, from Dh45,786; Cameron rug, Roberto Cavalli Home Interiors at Aati, Dh25,725.

Text by Eleanor Joslin

Photography Stefan Lindeque

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