The Evolution of An Expat’s Habitat

You know what it's like when you visit someone's apartment in Dubai for the first time; you do the once over and box them into a category based on their decor and furniture... Don't lie, we're all guilty! I know what it’s like and have been through all the stages myself :) As a first blog post, I thought it might be fun to look at each of these stages to see the funny side.....

STAGE 1: The Desert Hopper
“I’m only here for a year or so”

I can’t deny it, I also arrived in Dubai expecting to stay for just a year or two. So, displaying classic expat behaviour, I systematically filled my rented apartment with essential inexpensive MDF furniture - with a few typical heavy dark wood pieces from random Al Quoz warehouses thrown in for good measure. In hindsight, buying so much self assembly furniture wasn’t my best move and didn’t do much for the relationship with my new husband! Haha! He did forgive me, eventually!

STAGE 2: The Comfortable Expat
“Maybe it's time to upgrade a few items"

A few more years in, it’s finally time to  admit to yourself that you are here for the long haul and begin the official but gradual "furniture swap-out" mission!  Replacing the wobbly chipboard stuff with proper wooden furniture that might last longer than another summer is well over due!

The ideal starting place is good old Dubizzle . Clear the rest of your schedule, sit yourself down in front of your laptop and scour the land for good quality solid wood pieces. Don't be disheartened if you feel like you’re are spending what feels like hours going round in circles with various sellers, bartering and bargaining. Plus the “fun” arranging of a man-with-a-van to arrive on time (!) to collect said secondhand item and then spend 45 minutes struggling with it in the stairwell . Urghh. Worth it? Yes!

STAGE 3: The Happy Desert Dweller
"We're moving to a villa - time to for a revamp!"

At this stage, I know like me, some of you are feeling thrifty! With the intention of transforming your quality dark wood pieces in to something fresh and unique instead of buying all new furniture. Let's face it, the dark wood pieces may be some years old now but they’re good quality - so why not paint them! Lots of people attempt DIY (especially now with the trend of palette furniture) so why can’t you!?  Try to ignore the visions of half painted bedside tables and abandoned unfinished projects. Push away the doubts of whether or not you really have the time and patience for upcycling your furniture.  You may be thinking shall we just buy new stuff and stick it on the credit card? No!!!  

STAGE 4:  The Permanent Resident
"I've been here over ten years and I'm bored with my home"

Wouldn’t it be great if someone else could find the perfect unique coffee table I want and then magically paint it to match my new curtains?

At this stage, I turned to Dr Google.... trying my best to find new stores in Dubai which might offer something different to reflect my style and personality, instead of the cookie cutter Dubai expat furniture that all my friends and neighbours seemed to have. Epic Fail.

Wouldn’t it be AMAZING if someone could seek out lovely pieces like I see on Pinterest and create a bespoke interior for me!? Someone with time and an artistic eye!?

Well, needless to say, I have been through ALL these stages! 

Then, as fate would have it  (and with slight persuasion from my wonderful partner Jo)  I discovered the world of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint! A few weeks later I rolled up my sleeves and picked up that paintbrush and fell in love with reviving furniture.  

Today, I still haven't put that brush down. Now, I have a myriad of brushes which I use every day and so far, Jo and I have passionately transformed around 400 pieces.

Of course, I don't expect everyone to run out and buy a paintbrush and a tin of chalk paint but there is definitely hope for all the discarded and unloved wooden furniture out there. We would love to hear which stage of the furniture evolution you are at and if you have any funny stories, please share in the comments below.

P.S. Make sure you stay up to date with Jo and I as we blog about some of the cool projects we are working on and other fun furniture-related topics. And why not sign up for our newsletter here!