x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

House Doctor: Shop for anchor items first

It's tempting to be distracted by smaller housewares, but staying focused on large furniture early on will ensure that everything is coordinated in the end.

To start my hunt for furniture on the correct footing, it makes sense to begin with the largest shopping centre in the UAE: The Dubai Mall. With so many options, from small, independent retailers and speciality shops to large department stores that carry furniture, housewares, linens and decorative items, I expect a full weekend of searching to uncover a variety of possibilities that will also help me to establish my project budget.

To make efficient use of my time on my first day out, I have the three biggest furniture items in my sights: the sofa, bed and dining table. My initial stop is the furniture department at Bloomingdale's. Hidden at the back of the store on the ground level is a collection of furniture from an array of quality manufacturers to suit almost any taste. So armed with my project file of furniture images and room dimensions, I am able to hone in on specific manufacturers to see if I can find something I like.

Bloomingdale's carries the lifestyle brand Ralph Lauren Home, which has a beautiful selection of art deco-inspired furniture that aligns with my design objectives, but seems too elegant for my goals. Since early planning helped to clearly define my aesthetic intent, I can easily judge whether the style and size of pieces that catch my eye will work in my space. Although I can't find any of the large pieces appropriate for my project, there are many small, accent items that I quite like. In my project notebook, I write down the things that appeal to me (size, finish, manufacturer and price) and take a digital photo for my records. Once I find the anchor items, I can come back to reconsider a few of them.

Bloomingdale's also has an extensive collection of housewares that will make great additions to my home when the furniture is in place. Since I plan to occasionally have small groups of people over, I will need to find the accoutrements for entertaining.

As much as I want to start picking up these wonderful items right away, my priority is the furniture, so all of this can wait until I know exactly what I need and can select everything to relate to the style of furniture and decor.

Not finding any contenders for the first three items on my shopping list, I venture to the next two destinations on my map - Galeries Lafayette and Ethan Allen. My strategy is to visit the bigger retailers first, and then move on to the smaller, speciality stores. A great thing about a larger store is that it will often maintain stock ready-to-deliver, so when I find something I like, I can have it within a week.

Robert Reid is a professor of architecture, art and design at the American University of Sharjah. House Doctor can be read every week in House & Home.