‘My nomad days are over,’ laughs French native Gwenaelle de Bizemont, ‘I’ve lived in six countries in 20 years, and after 12 years in Dubai, I definitely feel this is home.’ Although home is a rental property, Gwenaelle has stamped her unique style on this sky-high, four-bedroom apartment in Dubai Marina. She shares the home with her Dutch husband Maarten and her two adult children when they visit from their homes in America. ‘After years of having a practical family home, I have now been able to indulge my own style a bit more, and I find my tastes are evolving all the time,’ Gwenaelle says. ‘I used to pick up things from all my travels and previous homes were more eclectic, but now I find myself taking time over selecting each piece and everything I buy must resonate with a little part of my soul in its unique way. I’m afraid to say that my tastes are also getting more expensive too!’ she laughs, ‘I value uniqueness a little more now, which sometimes comes at a price.’
As soon as Gwenaelle saw this apartment, she fell in love with its incredible views, visible from every room. From the 46th floor, the whole of Dubai is laid out like a stunning artwork, from the sea to the front of the building, the Burj Al Arab and
Burj Khalifa on a clear day to the side, and Barsha Heights and the desert from the windows at the back of the apartment.
‘I spend so much time just staring out at the sea and city views,’ she says. ‘It’s a view you could never get bored with.’ Not wanting her decor inside the apartment to distract in any way from the splendour outside the windows, Gwenaelle chose quite muted colours and neutral, natural tones for the main open-plan living space, enlivened with dashes of contemporary metallics and mirrors. One of the main focal points for the living room is the beautiful wall panel that covers the wall behind the Eichholtz sofas. ‘This is a Zuber, a classical ‘Italian garden’ scene from a French wallpaper manufacturer that still exists today after 300 years in business. These wallpapers were used to cover the walls of castles in Europe when lining all the walls with carpets became too expensive,’ Gwenaelle explains. ‘As a student, I often used to walk around Paris and when I walked by their shop near the Seine River, I always dreamed of owning one. My father gave it to me for my 30th birthday present, exactly 20 years ago, and as he passed away last year it has become a very emotional and sentimental piece for me.’
The decor of the living room was designed around this wall panel, with a dark grey shade chosen for the walls, which complements the silver and grey accessories, the latest of which is another one of Gwenaelle’s favourite pieces. ‘The rolling round metal coffee table is from Galerie Nationale in Al Serkal Avenue in Al Quoz. The owner is French, like me, and finds the most incredible vintage and contemporary pieces. I’m tempted by something every time I visit.’
She points to another Galerie Nationale find – a metallic wall sculpture hanging above a small side table. ‘I love the ‘blank page’ feel of this piece,’ she says, ‘it’s so simple, and yet very soothing at the same time.’
This air of tranquillity and calm runs through the home, with the bedrooms also exuding a serene feel, helped by their predominantly white schemes. The only exception to the rule is the vibrant kitchen, painted in a bright turquoise, giving the room a happy retro feel. ‘With the rest of the house so elegant and classic, I felt the kitchen needed an injection of colour,’ Gwenaelle smiles, ‘and it certainly has one now!’
The owner Originally from France, Gwenaelle de Bizemont is a partner in two businesses – Gulf Gifts and DxBeachwear.com.
The home On the 46th floor of a Dubai Marina Tower, the apartment has an attractive circular entrance hallway that leads into the open-plan living and dining space. The kitchen is along the corridor, which is attached to a welcoming family room. Four double bedrooms, each with en suites complete the home.
Clockwise from top left: Turquoise cushion from H&M, Dh26; Patterned cushion from Danube, Dh39; Bar stool from Homes R Us, Dh279; Kiwin console from THE One, Dh1,995; Versence dining table from Marina Home, Dh8,250; Uptown poster bed from Zen Interiors, Dh13,119.
Find the winning home in our Home of the Year 2016 event here