Indian businessman's love for marble is carved in stone at lavish Dubai Hills villa

Umesh Punia has covered his home in 9,000 square metres of the material, from bespoke Jacuzzi down to delicate door handles

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The Stone Age is having a resurgence in Dubai Hills, but not as you know it. Rather than cavemen dragging clubs over craggy floors, Umesh Punia's villa is decked out in 9,000 square metres of some of the planet's rarest and most beautiful rock types.

The businessman spent eight months painstakingly creating plans with designers at AD-Myra for the seven-bedroom, 14-bathroom property.

Punia, who is founder and chief executive of Sharjah company Glaze Granite & Marble, then spent two years travelling the world sourcing stone for his masterpiece. The home blends more than 30 types of marble as well as other precious and semi-precious stones in a unique show of interior design.

“Since the beginning of civilisation, stone has been the foremost medium of expressing the art of building,” says Punia, who is originally from India. “Sculpture, monuments and stately homes that have stood the test of time nearly always have marble or natural stone as an integral part.

“Stone is the medium architects, designers and sculptors use to express their designs in timeless eternity.”

Carved in stone

One of the early challenges was to make the property feel like a family home, as opposed to a builder’s yard.

“We wanted to create a welcoming living environment, as well as to explore the full potential of stone in all possible colours and functions,” says Punia.

We sourced quartzites from Brazil, onyx from Turkey, and neolith and sintered stone countertops from Spain
Umesh Punia, businessman

“We used more than 30 stone types to create not only the floors and walls, but also the custom-made tables and bathroom and vanity elements.”

The design team even customised an oval Jacuzzi and clad it with segmented stones to recreate its unique geometry.

“We have explored how stone could become a decorative and expressive material in all its sizes, workmanship and technique, and achieved results beyond our expectations,” says Punia. “But then again, we set no boundary to our imagination.”

In addition to its multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, the villa also features a sprawling stone bar, a swimming pool, plus a basement party room for entertaining.

“These days, a lot of villas have one monotone marble throughout, but we used eclectic colours and combinations from around the world,” he explains.

Each room is crafted around an individual theme using a different type of marble and, as such, has a kaleidoscopic effect. As well as being applied to walls and floors in the tradition of Middle Eastern residences, stone had been used in accessories such as door and cabinet handles, and as an accent in the joinery.

No mountain high enough

In terms of the sheer size of the marble used, it ranges from one-off slabs of two to three metres for the dining table, to a 4mm wafer-thin accent on the dressing table handles. To achieve the ambitious design, Punia travelled extensively to find the perfect stone for each room.

The stones are all-natural, so the colours and the topology depend on how deep you cut into the mountain
Elisa Angelini, designer, AD-Myra

“The stones were hand-picked from everywhere around the globe,” says Punia. “A lot came from Italy, but we also sourced beautiful quartzites from Brazil, onyx from Turkey, some marble from Greece and Portugal and, for the kitchen, neolith and sintered stone countertops from Spain.”

Punia’s vision was brought to life by AD-Myra’s Elisa Angelini, who has an extensive knowledge of the material. “For the master bedroom, we wanted to use breccia capraia stone, which is sourced from a very particular area of mountain [in the Italian Alps],” she explains.

“Each nation has its own colours because of this. The stones are all-natural, so the colours and the topology depend on how deep you cut into the mountain. The finished result really is a masterpiece.”

Hitting home

Since his home was completed in August 2022, Punia and his family have settled in, with the father of two being “quite pleased” with the results. His favourite stones are the exotic specimens in the master bathroom, which use an “extremely rare” blend of breccia capraia and emerald quartz.

Guests, meanwhile, love the party lounge in the basement. “It has very bright colours, and a semi-precious stone, onyx and metal combination, which is a real head-turner,” says Punia.

“For us, the family lounge on the ground floor and the family lounge on the first floor are favourite places to be when we spend quality time at home, not only for the overall design and colour combinations, but also the warmth of both the spaces.”

Updated: January 16, 2024, 7:16 AM