x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

In My Place: Period charm in the modern enclave of the Greens

A love of all things vintage means Lucy Roberts's apartment in Dubai is brimming with great retro finds – and some inspiring home-made touches.

Lucy has lived in Dubai for nine years and recently gave up her car after a move to the Greens. Antonie Robertson / The National
Lucy has lived in Dubai for nine years and recently gave up her car after a move to the Greens. Antonie Robertson / The National

This is my ninth year in Dubai. I run a company called Plug Communications. We are a graphic design agency and we tend to work with female entrepreneurs and small businesses. When it comes to clients, the wackier the better. I like working with people that are doing their own thing.

I've been in my flat in the Greens since March. Before that I was in Discovery Gardens. I recently sold my car and decided to take to the streets. Around here you can walk to the shops, which I really enjoy. I don't like the idea of being stuck somewhere where you can't get anywhere without a car. That was one of the reasons that I choose to live here.

As far as communities go, it is quite established and there's lots of amenities around.

I'm really into the 1940s and 1950s. I think some of that must have come from reading so many Agatha Christie novels. It's a period that I really like; it's so put together. Everyone seemed glamorous and I think everyone needs a bit of glamour in their lives. I've started incorporating my interest in this period into my work. I started a newsletter in Dubai called the Good Girls Guide, which is designed in 1950s style, with 1950s typefaces and imagery. When I started talking to people about it, I realised that a lot of people have an era that they really like - whether it's the 1920s or the 1960s.

My most valued possessions are probably my first-edition Agatha Christie novels. I got my first one nine months ago and it's called The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side. It's so cool knowing that someone first bought it all those years ago. I have copies of all her novels but I've only got about four or five first editions because they're quite hard to find. Only about 110 to go.

Vintage dresses are a passion of mine. I get them from one of my clients, a company called My Vintage Parlour, and they are sourced from collectors in the US. Apparently, it's not that easy to find them in the UK because vintage is so popular there so these all come from America - which means I could be wearing something that a Hollywood starlet once wore. You just never know.

People here tend to follow trends. I don't really. For example, I like riding my bike, even though Dubai is not particularly bike friendly. That's what I love doing on the weekends. I also recently took up knitting and I've made myself some bright pink coasters. I just love making stuff. When I go to London I'm always bringing wool and needles back with me.

I like to buy things in threes. I think things work better in threes.

Ballet is something I used to do as a child and I've taken it up again as an adult. I have my pointe shoes displayed in the living room. I went all the way to London's Drury Lane to get them. I also have black and white pictures of ballet dancers on the wall. Those were taken by a local photographer, Duncan Chard.

The yellow John & Paul & Ringo & George poster is one of my own creations. We made it ourselves in the Plug offices.

There are inspiration boards all around the house. That's what I do with my clients. I ask them what type of colours they like, what typefaces, what sites. We like to dig a bit deeper.

I've started collecting vinyl. I tend to go to Oxfam to look for records. I want to buy a record player but you can't get them out here so I'm searching on eBay. Vinyl is making a comeback. You heard it here first.

My birdcage noticeboard was bought from a fabulous online shop called An Angel at my Table. I flew it all the way back from the UK.

I also collect old photographs of people. I went to a vintage shop in Brighton once and I found this massive suitcase and there were all these photograph albums and photos in it. So I trawled through them and bought loads. I just started pinning them up all over the place. I love post-war black and white pictures; I love the way people used to pose. I've started visiting a website called www.etsy.com and buying more pictures there. You don't know where these photos have been. I love that sense of history and I always wonder about the story behind the picture. I'm just very inquisitive, I think.

For more information on Plug Communications, visit www.plug-uae.com.