x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Tranquil escape

Rasheda Khatun finds the perfect pallette for her well-lit Dubai Marina home

The living area of Rasheda Khatun's flat. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
The living area of Rasheda Khatun's flat. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Rasheda Khatun has drawn on her knowledge of colour theory and its application to literally set the tone of her Dubai Marina home. As we move through her apartment, different feelings are subtly evoked as the colour emphasis changes from room to room, reflecting the varying functions and requirements of each space.

Khatun describes herself as a wealth and wellness adviser and believes that effective wealth management is a foundation for all aspects of life and well-being. She runs her own company, Rasheda Khatun – Live the Life You Love, and has lived in a two-bed corner unit of Ariyana Tower, Dubai Marina, for a little over four years.

“Previously, this apartment had a lot of orange in it, which is fast moving and I was constantly on the go,” she says. “But then, I realised that what I needed in my life was a bit of tranquillity and space to slow down, because I believe that when you give yourself that time to breathe, you get more clarity and, ironically, you get more accomplished overall.”

Khatun selected a gorgeous shade of teal for the living room and has noticed that her guests revel in her new environment and appear more relaxed. “I think they even speak more quietly and more slowly,” she laughs. “What I noticed was when I looked at teal, it was immediately calming and that my breathing changed.”

So, the refurbishment was a journey in colour? “Yes, you start with that, and then you introduce other complementary elements. If you keep it too Zen, people will come round and do Ohm sounds. I don’t want that, which is why I needed the jazzy carpet!”

To complement the striking black-and-white rugs bought at Ikea, Khatun sourced zigzag navy-and-white cotton twill online for sofa cushions. A happy accident over the intended dimensions resulted in some of the cushions being a little smaller than anticipated, but the variance in cushion sizes and fabric on the sofa adds interest and texture, and help to draw the other elements of the room together. “I love a shabby chic/modern look and because I wanted something homey and grounding, I also brought in earth, green and neutral colours and introduced natural elements with wood furnishings.”

An unusual, high-backed arm chair in an “eccentric patterned paisley” was brought in to the new scheme when it was reupholstered in a textured oatmeal fabric. A new set of blinds in the same material was also made and, as the previous ones had never been fully drawn, they drop only halfway, thus framing the floor-to-ceiling windows for just half the expense.

In fact, Khatun is full of praise for Azores Furniture in Satwa, as her budget for making sofa cushions, pillows, a bed throw, reupholstering two chairs, stools and a sofa bed, as well as making the new blinds, came to under Dh4,500, including fabric — which is probably less than the price of just one small sofa elsewhere.

Khatun’s favourite find is a pair of wooden side tables from The One Fusion, which she chose for their functionality, likening them to the usefulness of those stackable three-tier coffee tables popular in the 1970s. Like chess pieces, they can be moved about, used for drinks or to put feet on, and “the shape is so cool”.

A focal point for the living room comes in the form of a long wooden sideboard supported by a pair of large earthen urns from Marina, which sits between a pair of wall-mounted French-country mirrors from The One Fusion. The clean lines of the open furniture are maintained as a clever box that contains the plugs and wiring of the TV above has been constructed, painted in teal and hung (unnoticed) beneath the sideboard.

On admiring one of the apartment’s large green bamboo plants, I realise on (very close) inspection that it is an artificial silk plant. Khatun says that it has been a very convincing investment: “When my father was here, he called to tell me he had watered all my plants – and I had bought quite a few like this”.

Khatun has set aside a dedicated space for working from home and created a clean and ordered office environment in the second room by swapping a double bed for a newly upholstered sofa bed. The room is white, with “blasts of colour” to add zing to creative thought time. “I believe the stimulation of vibrant colours and contrast immediately shifts your brain into gear and I don’t think you would be as productive in an all-white room,” she says.

A giant-pencil lamp is a quirky feature of the office and was a birthday gift from Khatun’s designer-friend, Janelle Malone, with whom she worked on various aspects of the apartment’s redesign. Both are fans of Pinterest, considering it an excellent source of inspiration and a means of exploring colour combinations for interiors before taking the plunge.

The light-filled master bedroom builds on a neutral base, with fun and feminine hot pink accents. As Khatun reflects: “You have always got to keep a bit of jazz in the bedroom.” A corner focal point and an ideal spot for reading comes in the form of a hot pink chair, another reupholstery project. Khatun admits that she was never, ever drawn to sit there in its previous white leather incarnation but, since it’s been lovingly zinged up, it’s now a space from where she likes to “survey the empire” and admire the urban landscape stretching beyond.

Identical white frames pop from the wall and contain a series of Pucci design prints in both the bedroom and the living room. It’s subtle and effective, as they act as mood boards with no particular image standing out, and work collaboratively as a group to reflect back the colour themes of the design scheme.

Khatun has recently taken part in UAE Money Talks, an online programme with MyDubaiMyCity.com. The production team were so drawn to the ambience and configuration of her apartment that they filmed the set in her home. “That was really cool; on this very sofa, so watch this space,” she says. It would appear that she is right in her belief that applied colour theory certainly does play a part in shaping your environment — and also driving forward exciting future projects.

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