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House Doctor: Large stores put you in bigger picture

In their showrooms, complete living spaces are often styled utilising products to illustrate how different elements can be pulled together to develop the design of a room.

Big retailers typically have big selections. When shopping at a store like Ethan Allen, I can look at products interpreted from an array of periods - from traditional to up-to-date and contemporary. With such a broad array of styles, plus a vast range of decorative accessories, bigger retail outlets are an ideal resource when unsure of what is available.

House&Home Robert Reid, the House Doctor

In their showrooms, individual rooms are often styled utilising products to illustrate how different elements can be pulled together to develop the design of a room. Large companies also have websites that show availability of products with information - dimensions, fabrics and price - that make a purchase much easier.

While on this trip, Ethan Allen didn't have the big pieces I was looking for, but a large print in the style of Matisse that corresponds to my apartment's aesthetic was on sale at a bargain price and could not be passed up, and there are decorative products that I will consider when it's time for smaller purchases.

The other mega-sized store in the Dubai Mall that offers a wide selection of home furnishings is Galeries Lafayette. In addition to the household items one would expect, they also carry a large collection of furniture and lighting.

Although they too did not have any large furniture pieces I wanted, their lighting department had a great selection and I found a floor lamp that would fit with the style I'm after.

The remainder of my day was spent in the smaller stores, such as Irony Home, which offer great accessories and accent furniture pieces in the Art Deco style, Pottery Barn, Armani Casa and finally, Duxiana - the company often considered the maker of the best bed produced in the world today.

I knew in advance of entering Duxiana that I needed a new mattress, although I expected to find the bed first and mattress second. Here I discovered the incredible comfort of the DUX 1001 mattress and as a complete surprise, a bed-frame they offer that met both my functional and style requirements. Designed by Bruno Mathsson in 1974, the ULLA bed-frame was designed to hold a Duxiana mattress, but met the aesthetic requirements of the Modernist movement of the early 20th century. Contrary to the typical headboard and footboard configurations of most modern beds, the ULLA frame is reminiscent of the furniture designed by the architect, Marcel Breuer, a Modernist who designed many furniture items I admire. In addition, I also bought an artwork and a lamp, my day at the Dubai Mall turned out to be very successful.

Next week I travel to Paris, which gives me the chance to look for authentic Art Deco and Modernist furniture and furnishings, either to buy or be inspired by.

Robert Reid is a professor of architecture, art and design at the American University of Sharjah. If you have an interiors-related query for Professor Reid, e-mail homes@thenational.ae

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