x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Off the Market: Space for the family that's not overwhelming

A four-bedroom villa in Mohammed bin Zayed City is the perfect fit for this young Abu Dhabi family.

The family was able to paint the girls' bedrooms before they moved. Andrew Henderson / The National
The family was able to paint the girls' bedrooms before they moved. Andrew Henderson / The National

Sheryl al Khatib, her husband and three children have lived in Abu Dhabi for years. In March, they found their perfect family home.

Property rented

A brand new four-bedroom villa with swimming pool and landscaped garden in Mohammed bin Zayed City.


Annual rent is Dh230,000. A commission of five per cent was also paid to Better Homes, the agent.


• Before deciding on a home, explore the communities at Neighbourhoods


Key features

The villa has a generously proportioned entrance hall, a separate den, maid's room, laundry room, kitchen, half-bathroom, lounge and dining room. Upstairs there is an additional seating area and four bedrooms, all of which have their own bath or shower rooms. The master bedroom has built-in cupboards. There is also a large covered porch area and back garden with swimming pool.

The hunt

After six years in our old villa in Between Two Bridges, and three months before the lease was due for renewal, I started to look for a new home. Our search area was off island because my husband works in Musaffah, the children go to Al Yasmina School and I work close to their school.

This villa was the first of about 20 that I looked at. It is in a row of newly built or soon to be completed villas. I looked at the five-bedroom villa but it didn't have a pool and it was spread over three floors. Although it was a cheaper option at Dh220,000, I felt it was too big for us.

I also looked at villas in Khalifa and was disappointed with their layouts. The houses seemed to be designed with little thought of how people were going to live in them. Quality also appeared to be an issue.

After a month of looking I came back to this villa and reserved it. From this point we were able to start planning our interior colour scheme and the changes we wanted to make. The landlord kindly agreed for the power to be switched on so we could do this work prior to our actual move-in date.

The result

Generally, the finish of the property was to a very high standard. I also really like the outside space. Unusually for a new villa, the garden had been landscaped.

The villa is well proportioned and gives a sense of privacy. Everyone has their own space, yet the dimensions are not overwhelming.

Before we moved in, we had the villa painted. I chose the range of colours and managed to persuade the painters that I didn't want everything in a gold hue. My husband had a couple of ideas for the design of the house, too. We added corbels to the arches in the lounge/dining room and entrance hall. It's not necessarily what I would have chosen but they look nice.

Our previous villa was bigger but all of our furniture fits in really well here. There are a couple of things I still need to get - rugs and maybe a different sofa for the lounge - but they can wait a while until I find exactly what I am looking for.

On the porch I have two signs, one in English, the other in Spanish, that both say "Welcome". Every year I bring back some pottery from Spain (we have a summer house there) and it decorates the porch.

Thankfully, the windows in our new villa were very similar to those in our old one and the curtains could be rehung without any major alterations. This meant that I just had curtains made for the kitchen and the den area.

Our light fittings made a simple transition, too. While packing up our old home I found three lights I'd bought in Canada six years previously. These now hang in the den and, other than a light in the entrance hall, we haven't had to buy any new ones.

Because we plan for this to be our home for a while, we have done some design work so the villa is exactly how we want it to look. We painted the front gates to give them a more antique look and my husband's company made beautiful brackets for my hanging baskets. Outside the villa the road is still a dirt tract but the verge has been landscaped as well. We added a small wrought-iron fence, again made by my husband's company.

Inside storage was an issue. We had an understair cupboard built and extra storage cupboards constructed in the laundry room, while the sink unit in the downstairs half-bathroom was boxed in to create extra space. We also had the downstairs corridor wall panelled to create some storage cupboards and cover the unsightly electrical boxes.

Having created a warm wood effect in the entrance hall, I followed this through with parquet flooring in the den area. I bought the type of flooring that clips together and can be taken with us if we move.

My favourite pieces of furniture are the dresser and the glass top table in the dining room. When I first saw the dresser it was expensive, but a recent sale meant that I bought it at a greatly discounted rate. I spotted the table legs at the same time. They are ornate stand-alone legs that were designed to have a table top rested on then. A friend who owns a glass company made me a lovely tempered top to sit on them.

The kitchen has ample storage. It is smaller than my old kitchen but has more storage and is quite a good size to work and live in.

One thing that I have compromised on is a spare bedroom but we have gained extra living space. When we have visitors, the girls will share a bedroom to create space for the guests.

I have one piece of furniture that I bought years ago, a wrought-iron bench with a cushion on it, that I was unsure where to place. It came from The One and cost Dh900. I think it was designed to go at the end of a bed, but I had it in the entrance hall in our old villa. Because the proportions are different, it didn't fit into our new space but I didn't want to get rid of it. I realised it could go outside by the pool. It looks lovely there.


The garden. The landscaping creates a manageable area. The villa has plenty of space but isn't huge. The location is convenient, too. Mazyad Mall has a well-stocked Lulu supermarket and Delma Mall is close by. With the promise of new shops there, we will soon have more shopping options nearby.


The en suite for our master bedroom is surprisingly small. In fact, some of the other rooms have much more spacious bathrooms. My husband has talked about opening up the lounge into the hall by knocking through the wall. However, because we are renting, the downstairs layout is something we will live with.


A month after moving in I had a rare day to relax at home. The children were playing in the pool and my husband barbecued. It was a perfect family afternoon. We are all very happy in our new home.