x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

On the Market: environmental theme runs through Arabian Ranches villa

The residents of this four-bedroom rental home have taken steps to reduce their environmental impact.

Sliding-glass doors in the airy master bedroom open on to a full-length balcony that overlooks the garden. Courtesy Better Homes
Sliding-glass doors in the airy master bedroom open on to a full-length balcony that overlooks the garden. Courtesy Better Homes

Alvorada is one of the later areas of the Arabian Ranches master plan, located on the inland side of the development away from the noise and traffic on Emirates Road. It was released for sale in early 2007, following the popular and successful launch of the Spanish-themed Mirador La Colección community. Originally, there were six basic designs of villas within the cluster. The single family detached villas offered three, four or five bedrooms.

The villa includes four bedrooms, three upstairs and a fourth downstairs. The ground floor has two separate areas, the living/dining room and the closed kitchen, which extends on to the maid's room.


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Andrew Holgate, an environmental engineer, his wife, Delyth, and their family moved into the villa in May 2007. "We were one of the very first families to move into the street," Andrew says, "and obviously it has matured a lot since then. Now all the landscaping is established and the greenery is improving, and all the other houses on the street have got families in them, so it's a very different place today than when we first moved in.

"We've been really happy here. I work mostly in Abu Dhabi or from home, and it's a fairly reasonable commute from here - just straight up the bypass and I'm in the office or on site in about an hour."

This, too, is a big change from the early years, and the completion of the major interchange that gives access to Arabian Ranches, MotorCity and Dubailand plays a major role in easing access to and from the location.

Arabian Ranches has a community centre with a small selection of shops, a golf club (The Desert Course), Dubai Polo and Equestrian Club, and the Jumeirah English Speaking School (JESS). Nearby, Dubai Autodrome and the MotorCity development provide a more extensive range of shops, including a substantial branch of Spinneys supermarket.

"We haven't done anything major structurally to the villa because it's rented," says Andrew, "but we've done a lot of work on the decor and furnishings to create the kind of look and feel that we wanted. The interior design is all Delyth's work, and she opted for a range of earth tones and muted colours, with bolder highlights in certain areas. Where she has used wallpaper it's Laura Ashley, such as in the downstairs bedroom, which we keep as a guest room.

"In the main living area she again chose a stronger colour to define the space. We fitted the blinds throughout to control heat and sunlight and so minimise the amount of air conditioning we have to use."

The same thinking and concern for environmental impact continues into the garden. Andrew explains: "The main area of grass is actually AstroTurf, so I don't need to irrigate it. It's the proper stuff, fully Fifa approved and properly child friendly, not like some of the cheap stuff I've seen being used here.

"Water saving was the main motivation, but it has the added advantage of needing no maintenance and looking good all year round. We have a smaller area of turf beside the terrace and plantings all round the perimeter, which we do irrigate, but in my job I'm very conscious of the cost and waste of moving good-quality water around."

The house's upstairs level contains the less formal family areas and three ensuite bedrooms. The master bedroom, with its four-poster bed, is light and airy, with windows on two sides and sliding doors opening on to a full-length balcony that overlooks the garden.

Delyth's love of blinds and wall hangings continues into the second bedroom and the family living area, while the children's room contains a burst of primary colours that contrast with the soothing palate used throughout the rest of the house.

In the ground-floor kitchen, dark wood points to the Portuguese-inspired theme of the design, and creates a warm, rich atmosphere. Behind this is a maid's accommodation and utility rooms, and a connection into the double carport. Many owners in the development have chosen to install a garage door to close off this space and create a better environment for protecting their cars.

Andrew adds that they're looking to buy rather than rent because there are lots of things they'd like to do to a house to improve its environmental performance. "We've spent a lot of money on decor and light fittings and shades that will come with us when we move, but I can't do what I really want and start knocking holes in walls and collecting rainwater and stuff," he says. "I have loads of ideas for a genuinely low-impact design for this part of the world that I'll share with the right developer. That's what's really exciting - to create something completely new here."

The four-bedroom villa features a balcony, built-in wardrobes, landscaped gardens, laundry facilities, a maid's room and a shared swimming pool. It can be rented for Dh245,000 per annum. Contact Darius Ganda at Better Homes Dubai, 600 52 2212.