House Doctor: Time to adjust the project goals

As certain items prove hard to find, it's OK to reallocate the budget or make do with temporary furnishings.

I have often said that designers either have the most beautiful homes or live in transition, waiting for the opportunity to get the things they covet. Since we know what is available and what we can achieve, it is difficult to compromise on big-ticket purchases. I would much rather wait than get something now just for the sake of having it.

If I was inclined to surround myself with Chinese-made, pseudo-contemporary furniture, my apartment project would be finished. However, since I have very specific goals in mind, it is difficult to find the appropriate remaining pieces, despite countless hours spent scouring furniture stores in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

After working on projects around the world, I have certain expectations of what I want in my personal surroundings. If money were no object, my home could be furnished with products from some of the best furniture resources in the region: Ligne Roset, Roche Bobois, Vitra, Knoll Studio, Cassina and Cappellini. I could use unique textiles, custom rugs, exceptional lighting and outstanding artwork.

However, this project includes sticking to a strict budget and sourcing everything from suppliers in the UAE. I hoped to find the majority of items in stock, thereby avoiding long waits for products ordered from abroad. With my knowledge of manufacturers and their pricing, I never had any budget concerns, but as time marches on, I am surprised at the scarcity of vendors that carry unique products.

After an entire day of moving from showroom to showroom along Sheikh Zayed Road without finding a single appropriate item, I find myself returning to established retailers with whom I have become well acquainted and that carry products at the prices I require for my final furniture selections.

I have also adjusted the budget so I can pick up a few smaller, exceptional items that I will own for a lifetime and move with me, and spend the minimum on the remaining large items. Since I am struggling to make decisions on bedroom furniture (other than the bed), I have decided to keep the remaining furniture simple, and do something great with the bedding, window coverings, lighting and artwork.

For example, I can find a low-cost dresser that may not be exactly what I was imagining, but since the rest of the room will be terrific, this one item of furniture will barely be noticeable. As I regularly explain to clients, it's important to recognise that one's home is rarely static. A few weeks or months from now I may stumble across the ideal article of furniture, and can replace the piece chosen to simply serve a purpose.

Robert Reid is a professor of architecture, art and design at the American University of Sharjah.

Published: August 25, 2011 04:00 AM


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