My Own Home: Entrepreneur to double money on Dh13.5m Dubai Hills villa

The four-bedroom property in Sidra 2 has a hidden kitchen, Star Wars-themed cinema room, an infinity pool and sunken firepit

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My Own Home takes you inside a reader-owned property to ask how much they paid, why they decided to buy and what they have done with it since

Real estate professional Ricardo Scala started flipping houses in the Dubai Hills community with his wife a little more than two years ago.

Recently, they finished a 10-month renovation on a four-bedroom property in Sidra 2, which they bought for Dh6.5 million and are now selling for Dh13.5 million.

While the Scalas don't live there – they rent on Palm Jumeirah as they finish renovating their own home in Dubai – it has become their baby, as they have infused their own preferences and personality into the design with touches such as a behind-the-scenes, German-made chef's kitchen, an infinity pool with sun loungers and even a Star Wars-themed indoor cinema room.

The National takes a tour.

Please tell us about your property

It's a fully finished show villa that now has four bedrooms with a cinema and behind-the-scenes chef's kitchen, a staff area and resort-style garden with infinity pool, sunbathing area in the pool and an area beside it with sunken seating and a firepit that looks through glass to the water.

There's also a barbecue area with gas, wood and coal facilities and seating for 10 or more people.

The whole set-up is designed to make it look and feel very luxurious, so you have a home within a really good community.

What renovations did you do?

We bought the villa and we purchased all the extra allowance of built-up space that we could from Emaar. It was originally 3,105 square feet and is now 3,900 square feet. It's a bit of a unicorn in terms of size, as Emaar has now added limitations on how much extra space can be bought.

We stripped the villa right back to the concrete walls. We took out all the electrics, all the AC, rewired the house, added new AC ducting. We designed a brand-new house on an existing shell.

It's a testimony to the community, because it is amazing, but the villas are mediocre and they deserve to be made so much better due to the location.

Why did you choose a Star Wars-themed indoor cinema room?

I’m an '80s child and my wife and I are huge Star Wars fans. We spent a lot of time living in America before Dubai and we came to see a lot of these cinema rooms, especially in US, which usually have a theme.

But the theme is subtle. We didn’t want to lose the functionality of the room. It has a blackout curtain that can be pushed back or changed to allow light to come in, so, when you’re not using it as a cinema room, it can become a really nice room.

We also added a Rolls-Royce Starlight ceiling, which is difficult to do. We also had an R2-D2 sculpture custom-made for the villa.

The lion sculpture outside of the house was custom-made, too, and has "villa 157" etched into its leg.

We like to theme things for a bit of fun but if someone wants to change it, they can do easily enough.

How much did you spend on renovations?

Excluding costs paid to Emaar for the extra space, we put in just over a Dh3 million investment.

How did you decide what to do with the home?

It's difficult to find good contractors but we use a company called Desert Dunes and they are great. They have a good presence in Dubai Hills already and, because I work with them on more than one project, we have a good relationship.

The techniques we've put in are very different to what other contractors in the community can do. My profession outside these renovations is I work in high-end real estate, selling villas transacting Dh100 million-Dh200 million.

I get to go into these homes where people spend millions of dollars on designers, landscapers and so on, and I get to see all the techniques and ideas and new ways of doing things, then I cherry pick those and put them into our projects.

Certain techniques and things we’ve done the contractors hadn’t done before, so I had to explain and teach them how to do it.

What kind of techniques did you use?

An example is shadow profiling on the walls inside the villa. That is the technique where you don’t have skirting boards but you have the walls coming from the ceiling to the floor and stopping one inch before touching the ground. It looks like a floating wall above the floor and it looks sleek, nice, luxurious and clean.

Also, the spotlights in our homes, instead of being in the ceiling with a plastic case sitting outside of the wall, it's all flush and inside the ceiling.

Little things like this can make a big difference.

Updated: April 24, 2024, 3:00 AM