‘I love colour, I need it in my life,’ laughs Annie Buchanan, sitting on a blue and purple sofa in her living room, one of many preloved pieces she’s sourced and restored, giving it a new lease of life.
Annie and her husband Lachlan, development director at Servcorp, and their four children, moved from Jumeirah’s Safa area to Umm Suqeim in January 2016, when they needed more space for their family – and Annie’s growing collection of furniture. She has an eye for home styling and for giving new and used items an injection of her own penchant for colour, with painted frameworks and bright, patterned fabrics.
‘I love sourcing preloved items like the sofas and wingback chairs in the living room, reupholstering and painting them with modern colours and bold fabrics, experimenting with different materials and textures,’ she enthuses. ‘There is so much beauty in old furniture, and they are so well made. Finding pieces like this is like gold.
‘We have been in Dubai for 10 years and collected so many things from different places. Fortunately, when we moved to this villa we then had more space for everything, and lots of natural light to highlight the colour. I love light and large windows, so this place was such a find. We love throwing open the doors when the weather is cool and feeling the breeze, it’s beautiful.’
While the functional areas of the 15-year-old property are more practical, such as the downstairs laundry, kitchen and bathrooms, the large living/dining room and the family TV room showcase Annie’s passion for colour and design. The informal TV room is home to canary yellow Eames DSW Side Chairs, two sofas reupholstered in geometric prints, and a statement piece of artwork created by Annie, who wrapped pink ribbon around the frame of a broken mirror, picking out the pink in the sofa cushions below it.
‘You don’t need to spend a lot of money on being creative and making your home interesting,’ she says. ‘Art is a great way to add a touch of personality, especially when they’re at your eye level on the walls as you look around a room.
‘We like collecting art but it’s not necessarily about a specific artist, it’s about what we see and like. Several years ago Lachlan and I made a deal, that whenever we travelled we would pick up special pieces that caught our eye.’ These include pictures, jewellery and objet d’art, such as a pair of black ceramic boots with gold embellishments that Lachlan purchased during a business trip to Iran.
The artwork in the living/dining room comes from a variety of places and people. The large, bright painting over the purple sofa is by Australian artist Peter Lewis, one of several pieces given to them by Lachlan’s mother. To the left is a dark, moody painting from his father, an Afghani necklace Annie framed, and photos of Louis-François Cartier sourcing pearls in Oman. A six of clubs from CJ Hendry’s Playing Card series was bought before the acclaimed Brisbane artist had found international success and remains a prized piece for the couple. Meanwhile, in the TV room hangs two pieces Annie made herself.
The eclectic house has become the perfect space to showcase her burgeoning business Pietraa (pietra means stone in Italian), a boutique offering of marble-topped tables. While she takes sales through Instagram, Annie comes from a traditional offline retail background, running a successful luxury fashion boutique in Sydney for 13 years, with frequent buying trips to Paris. Since she sold her share of the business three years ago she’s been looking for a new creative outlet.
‘It started off really simply and naturally progressed into a business,’ she says. ‘Because we have a colourful house we wanted a console table that was simple and sleek but we couldn’t find anything that we loved, or they were really expensive. So we thought we’d try to make one ourselves. I’m keeping it simple with three table styles, however I love experimenting with the colour of the framework and finding beautiful pieces of marble. I would love to make a large dining table, too, and branch out into outdoor tables.’
Not shying away from colour, the framework of the tables are available in five different powder-coated shades, and are a great way for people to introduce a bright accent into their home. While Annie designs the console, coffee and side tables and sources the marble from Italy and Portugal, the tables are manufactured and finished in Al Quoz.
‘It’s so important to support local businesses and skills, building a creative community and industry here,’ she adds. ‘I think people are starting to appreciate this in Dubai.’
The owner Australian creative Annie Buchanan lives with her husband Lachlan and their four children Freddie, 11, Barney, 8, Luna, 6, and Alfie, 4, plus Peggy the dog.
The home Since they arrived last year, the Buchanans have revitalised this 15-year-old four-bedroom villa in Umm Suqeim, with a colourful art collection, reupholstered furniture and custom-made tables from Annie’s boutique label Pietraa. (@pietraatables)
Get the look
Clockwise from far left: La Volière bird lamp Mathieu Challières at Comptoir 102, Dh1,900; Memorabilia gold rainboots umbrella stand, Seletti at Cities, Dh935; Decorative jar, Zara Home, Dh209; Vitra Panton chair, ikonhouse, Dh4,223; Cotton cushion, Homes R Us, Dh45.
Find more UAE home tours: