When I move into a new space, I’m all for adding those decorative touches to make it feel like home. However experience from calling six different countries home over the last ten years has also taught me to explore inexpensive ways to make said places home. Unless you have a cushy expat job that includes relocation allowances to cover moving your belongings (yey for you), chances are that if you are working & living abroad and have to leave the country you’re currently based in you’ll have to go through the painful process of selling stuff…1) getting back a fraction of what you originally paid for, 2) having to entertain people who don’t understand the concept of “serious buyers only” and 3) the eventual mass donation of everything else you can’t get rid of before your flight to local charities. So I’d like to share a list of home decor elements that I play with to create my own little sanctuary.
Lighting always sets the mood. If you have restrictions from your landlord on replacing the hanging light fixtures in your rental apartment or villa, then floor maps or nifty ones that you can fix to walls is a great option. KARE is a popular German furniture & decorative accessories store that opened up its local Dubai store earlier this year. From illuminated green beer bottles and balloon lights to vintage art wall lamps, it’s definitely worth checking out their quirky range of lights.
Pillows, pillows, pillows. Pilled up on one end of the sofa in complementary colours and patterns, stacked up on the bed – store bought or DIY, pillows are can be inexpensive accessories. A DIY option I’ve tried in the past was taking some Marimekko fabric I’d bought in Finland 7-8yrs ago to a local tailor in Dubai to make some cushion covers. I then bought the fillers from Ikea. For more customization here’s great DIY idea I’ve bookmarked to try one day – ‘Hand stamped pillow covers‘ via BRIT+CO.
Rugs are great way to create zones within a space, especially if you live in a smaller space like a studio apartment. One of the perks of living in multicultural Dubai is one can hit the local markets in Bur Dubai & Deira and get some really good merchants selling a variety of Persian rugs and even dhurries from India; if you like the artisanal style rugs. Local brand stores to check out for carpets include The Rug Company, Marina Home & KARE.
Painting the walls. Another great thing about living in the UAE is the relative flexibility tenants have to paint over the normal standard bare white malls you find when you move into a place. I guess because getting a professional to painter over the artistic efforts/attempts of a past tenant is inexpensive so it’s not a big deal here. Norwegian brand Jotun has loads of branches in Dubai and worth checking out.
Gallery walls have certainly evolved from when I was younger. A staple in many households and more of a visual register of every member of the family. Today one can find loads of contemporary style inspirations that include a blend of photos of loved ones, art, quotes, mirrors & more. Absolutely love this one above from a Swedish studio apartment spotted via Decor Envy blog.
Any fellow nomads out there? Do share your inexpensive tips for cozying up your place below. | xo