The holidays are a great time of year to establish our design goals for the coming year. While packing up the decorations and cleaning up from the chaos of the holiday season, give some thought to what you could do between now and the New Year to start 2012 with finished projects or a fresh outlook.
Occasionally, I can take my own advice and this year I am doing just that. After spending the better part of the year redesigning my apartment, the few outstanding items that have been nagging at me came to a tipping point and I vowed to get them finished before the year is over. While decisions had been previously made, I put off completing remaining tasks and having lingering items ordered. Well, there's no time like the present to finish crossing off the to-do list. With a couple of furniture pieces to pick up and the Dubai Shopping Festival right around the corner, I can decide on what to purchase when the festival opens.
I have also made the decision on the colour to repaint, having grown tired of the standard-issue white rental-apartment walls that were everywhere when I moved in. As I say goodbye to the white, I say hello to graphite gray. This might seem like a big commitment to colour but the dark gray is as much a neutral as the white and will provide a striking backdrop for my carefully chosen furniture and decorative items. I have been working on finding a couple of pieces of large-scale art for my living and dining rooms and working alongside artistic colleagues provides a wealth of resources. Most importantly, the dark walls of my apartment highlight each piece, making every colour appear more vibrant.
A couple of lighting issues will be resolved after I find the appropriate wall-mounted fixture to suspend over the dining table, install dimmer switches and place fixtures on the floor to light up corners. Ikea has great, inexpensive fixtures that can be installed behind plants or under furniture to create layers of architectural interest.
And although I prefer to limit the amount of accessorising in my home and instead draw attention to the furniture and art, I enjoy forming layers of meaningful objects collected from different places to create visual interest.
So there you have it. The journey to reinvent my personal surrounds into a reflection of my personality and taste has been challenging, but also extremely rewarding. While products and services typically found in Europe and North America may be difficult to find, a wealth of resources is locally available. With a plan in place and a creative approach, regardless of budget, anyone can create an environment in the UAE they will be happy to call home.
Robert Reid is a professor of architecture, art and design at the American University of Sharjah.