House Doctor: Be prepared for surprises

That perfect item might jump out and find you, even when you're not shopping specifically for your home.

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When juggling concurrent projects I can find myself working on different phases simultaneously. However, once the concept for each is clearly defined, I am able to keep my mind open to possible furniture and decorative options for all of them, even as I focus on one.

House&Home Robert Reid, the House Doctor

The interior design professor Robert Reid shares his planning and decorating process for reinventing his Sharjah apartment.

This skill has served me well on countless occasions, even during the search for items for my own apartment. I currently have two other projects in process for which I am selecting furniture and decorative items. Most of the major pieces for my living area have already been selected, but while I am working on those other projects I am also able to keep my eyes open for ancillary furniture pieces, accessories and the large rug I need to define my seating area.

While on the search for the furniture for a friend's Abu Dhabi apartment, I spied a selection of sale rugs at Crate and Barrel. Of course, I had a note of the required size with me (one can never be too prepared), and after briefly looking through the selection, found two possible options. Since I found my sofa and a lounge chair at the same company, I picked up a seat cushion from each matching floor sample and checked to see how they all coordinated. With other items from a variety of stores, I found samples of items that approximated my other finishes and tried them all together. Sure enough - the colour, texture and size of one option worked great and I made another purchase.

Since I was in Mirdif City Centre, I made a stop at the Marina store to see what I could find to function as bedroom storage. Although they did not have a dresser or lawyer's cabinet in their showroom, they directed me to their larger locations on Umm Suqeim or in Mall of the Emirates because they have more stock and apparently many examples of both.

I have an entire afternoon blocked out this week to scour the many furniture stores on Umm Suqeim and Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai. Along the south side for numerous kilometres from Mall of the Emirates to Safa Park are numerous international, brand-name residential and commercial furniture showrooms, and many small independent retailers. Various styles, from traditional to contemporary, are represented, and prices can range from the reasonably affordable to the very expensive.

With a plan, list of furniture pieces, images of preferred styles, budget and a strategy (remember, big pieces first), the hunt for furniture in these shops can be efficient and manageable for anyone.

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