Attracted by its large, well-proportioned rooms, Carolyn Hollands moved in to her Arabian Ranches villa in 2007. She loves the neighbourhood's multicultural feel.
An Arabian Ranches home that is constantly evolving
Home for me is Hertfordshire in the UK. Having said that, I've been in Dubai for 14 years now and moved here from Cheshire. Our family has lived in Al Sufouh, Jebel Ali, the Meadows and now Arabian Ranches. We moved into this house in April 2007.
I found this villa by scaling the wall! Since the house was still being built we were not allowed in to look around. However, I wanted to get an idea of the plot shape and the size of the property - and the only way to do that was to climb the wall for a closer look. My first impressions were that it looked like an enormous sandcastle from the outside (they all do) but once inside my immediate feeling was of large, well-proportioned rooms, which really sold the house to us.
We were the first to move into the neighbourhood and although it has since filled up, the overall feel has not changed much. It's a multicultural area, which I love, and is very friendly, but people respect one another's privacy.
I'd define my style as fresh. I like to use clean colours and mix classical and contemporary designs. I love to use different textures, from woven plains to luxurious cotton velvets, as a way of giving depth to an interiors scheme.
I like to blend and co-ordinate and create an elegant yet easy-to-live-with feel, transforming a house into a stylish home. For furnishings I use a variety of shops but not one in particular - Flamant, Ethan Allen, Crate & Barrel, Sia and The White Company are some of them.
I like to buy art when I travel, though. I have a preference for Vietnamese art, which I source from a dealer in Singapore.
I set up Hollands & Burton at Home with my business partner because we identified a gap in the market for good-quality fabrics, furnishings and home accessories. Since starting the company I have worked closely with the Colefax Group and in particular Jane Churchill fabrics. It has a fabulous fabric range that combines the traditional with the more contemporary, while being vibrant and textured. The collections are designed to be mixed, matched and layered, and as a result I find its ranges very versatile. I've used them throughout my own home and am constantly inspired by the new designs.
I think there is definitely a floral comeback in interior design and this is reflected in fashion and on the catwalks, too. Interior design houses are using florals in new collections but with a more contemporary edge. They're undoubtedly very classical; it's a quintessentially English look, after all. I find the new florals in the Jane Churchill range irresistible.
As an interior designer my own personal style has evolved over the years and I am influenced by current trends and new ideas, as well as other designers. I find that with every new scheme we put together for clients, a new favourite emerges. I love the variety of my job and I've done schemes on boats, for a fashion design studio and even a hair salon. However, my most interesting projects have been in people's own homes since styles, especially in Dubai, are so wide and varied.
My favourite room at the moment is my work studio. I have used floral Jane Churchill wallpaper to showcase my elegant new window shutters made by The New England Shutter Company, which has a factory here in Dubai. I am surrounded by fabric swatches and I find the room both tranquil and inviting.
A home is, above all, about the people in it. With five kids I've learnt to be a declutterer, which I've got down to a fine art, mainly because of lack of storage space. My daughter Issie and I are currently redesigning her bedroom as she wants a new look. She has chosen a Manuel Canovas wallpaper for a feature wall and the room will be a mixture of soft greys and creams. There will also be a flash of pink to give it that quirky edge.
My favourite way to relax is with an early morning swim, when I plan the day ahead, or spending the evenings with friends over an informal barbecue. It's a way of life here in Dubai that I really love.
I'm very happy in my home and while we have lived here for some time, it is constantly evolving as I add new ideas and change room schemes. If I were to move, I would love to live in Singapore in a large, colonial, black-and-white house. Or, I would live in Hong Kong as the variety and pace of the city really appeal to me.