Lebanese national Nisrine El Lababidi is the design director and owner of Harf Noon Design Studio, a Dubai-based interior design practice. She’s worked in the design field for 16 years and set up her studio 5 years ago, primarily working on residential makeovers and commercial styling. She describes her design style as ‘contemporary living successfully combined with understated modern luxury’.


This holiday-home apartment is situated in Dubai’s contemporary residential area City Walk, and features an open-plan living space with a dining area and kitchen, three master bedrooms and a maid’s room. The property is a vacation home for a Tunisian family of five, residing outside of Dubai who wanted to rent it out as for holiday lets on AirBnB when they are not in town.

The living room is bright and airy because of the use of sheer drapes that allow the light in. And the Turin grey sofas are from Indigo Living

What was the design brief from the client?

The brief was simple: to furnish this city apartment in understated modern luxury yet on a budget! Hence shopping from a variety of outlets without skimping on the element of style or comfort.

How did you feel about receiving a brief like this?

Excited… since it was a rental and it was an empty shell when we received it, everything had to be furnished, from the electronics and appliances to bathrooms and bed linen.

How did you execute the brief?

The project started with an interview about their likes and dislikes in terms of colours and furniture choices. Mood boards with their preferred look and feel were presented, after which the entire scheme was approved and we went out buying all the furniture and accessories.

The neutral grey palette injected with colour across the house set the overall tone

We decided to go with a neutral grey palette injected with colour across the house, which makes it easy to update when needed, which is handy considering it’s a rental.

What were your main sources and points of inspiration?

We had dealt with many other rentals previously so we knew what type of comfort and functionality our clients were looking for. This meant sturdy furniture, minimal accessories and not too personalised – yet still creating a space you can feel at home in. A suitable selection of fabrics that can withstand wear and tear was also key. We were inspired by the architecture of City Walk itself, contemporary and city slick with nuances of blue for modernity and mustard for warmth.

Can you take us on a design journey through the main rooms…

For the open living space we opted for Turin grey sofas from Indigo Living as they’re really comfy, then we completed them with IKEA's KOARP armchairs, and glass coffee tables and side tables from Objects of Design.

On the left: An IKEA's KOARP armchair

For accessories, we focused on metals, glass and greenery and for the carpets we used Carpet Centre to complete the space and to add extra elegance.

The gorgeous dining room and kitchen. In the dining room, the table, sideboard and chairs are from Homes R' Us

In the dining room area, we furnished it with a beautiful wooden table, sideboard and modern comfy dining chairs from Homes R’ Us. The last touch was simple sheer drapes to keep the light flooding into the space. We completed the space with the sputnik lights and artwork from THE One.

The outdoor balcony was also furnished with a modern settee to make the stay extra enjoyable.

Relaxing décor in the master bedroom with key pieces from Indigo Living, Crate & Barrel, IKEA and Gallery One

For the master bedroom, we kept the same theme of warm grey, opting for an Indigo Living bed and wooden bedside tables and dresser. We also decided add contrast with a beautiful ochre yellow Crate & Barrel carpet and throw pillows. In the corner we added an IKEA armchair and styled it all with accents from various shops, while the art was sourced from Gallery One.

Chic design elements in the second bedroom create the overall look

In the second bedroom, we went for lighter shades of washed whites, beiges and brick colours held together with metal accents. A mix of items from Zara Home, Indigo Living, IKEA, THE One, West Elm and Home Centre helped us achieve the look there.

The beautiful twin beds create the perfect setting for an inviting guest bedroom

In the third bedroom, we opted for two single beds to best utilise the space. Keeping the grey theme, we accented these with sophisticated lush blue velvets and black accents.   

You can see how consistent the whole apartment looks throughout, with its light, airy feel and styled corners. It definitely ticks all the boxes for a home away from home.

How much did you enjoy working on this project?

Immensely. We love light-filled spaces that automatically dictate the direction in the design decisions – it sparks joy – the Marie Kondo way!                                                                                     

What is favourite spot in the apartment?

I would say the master bedroom – it’s simple and fresh and functional – just like me!

What are your fail-safe design tips for decorating an open-plan kitchen-living room:

  • Keep it simple and clutter-free by investing in great cabinetry that can take in all your items
  • Hide unsightly appliances in closed storage
  • Stick to a simple colour palette
  • Create a pretty coffee corner with your machine, a few mugs and a nice tray under them
  • Always add a vase of fresh flowers or a small plant to liven up the space
  • Encourage a sociable living space in that area by adding comfortable high chairs to your kitchen island


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