As founder of The Linen Souk (our go-to for stunning luxury linen ware) Caroline Bayly knows all there is to know about fabulous fabrics and home accessories. A mama of three divine children, Caroline’s home is the perfect balance of cosy and classy with plenty of space for the kiddies to call their own but lots of areas for grown-up entertaining too. Caroline welcomed us through her door (which by the way has been painted an uber chic grey – such a simple but effective way to spruce up your home) for a cup of tea and a chat about her interiors style and influences (plus handy little tips and secrets on where to pick up some fab finds in Dubai).
How did you decorate your own home? Was it very planned out or impulsive?
Close friends of ours rented the villa before us, so we were already very familiar with the layout of the rooms, which I’m sure helped significantly when it came to deciding where we were going to put all of our own furniture. It’s a great layout inside the villa, so it wasn’t very complicated creating all of the different spaces. I did however find it a real challenge choosing the paint colour for the walls. I’m confident when it comes to choosing fabrics and knowing what will go with what, but quite frankly I find that the paint in the pot is so far removed from the colour that actually comes out onto the wall, so I took days trying to decide what colour to go for and even now I still feel that I could have gone for a darker shade of grey than I actually did!
I’m always spotting new things that I’d like to add here and there…. Particularly for the garden, now that we are enjoying this heavenly time of the year in Dubai when the weather is just glorious.
How would you describe your interior design style?
I would describe it as homely, classic and welcoming. I generally gravitate towards older and more natural interior styles vs contemporary ones. I like to feel comfortable in my surroundings and whilst I can appreciate the fabulousness of some modern interiors, I’m not sure that I could give up my love of big sofas with a few scatter cushions!
What are your best places to pick up home furniture in Dubai?
When we first arrived in Dubai six years ago we bought our dining table and chairs, plus coffee table and a couple of benches for the garden from the Majlis Gallery in Bastakiya, one of my favourite places in Dubai. Their furniture is made from Mango wood and I just loved their slightly distressed appearance, which I found so much more appealing than the heavily lacquered furniture that was available everywhere else!
Do you gravitate to a certain colour palette or design style?
Yes, I tend to gravitate to beiges and stoney colours. I like the calming feel of muted, natural tones on a room. We’ve also got quite a lot of green and powder blue through the furniture in the house, particularly in the master bedroom and the sitting room.
As a mum how do you balance functioning design and a pretty home?
Father Christmas is definitely helping with this currently… “Father Christmas doesn’t come to little boys and girls that attempt to use my silver salva as a frisbee”. With 3 children under 5, I thought it important to make sure they had a playroom and somewhere that could identify as their own space to help minimise total destruction everywhere else in the house!
What did you splurge and save on when decorating your house?
The main addition to the house when we moved in was the bookcase dividing the dining room and the sitting room into two separate rooms. It’s now full of beautiful antique books that have been handed down by my family as well as lots of other current day books and family photos.
With regard to what savings were made when decorating the house, the “how much should we really spend on a rented house” was a question that I still had to ask myself on a regular basis for a fear that if I didn’t, the spending wheels would have come off and I’d have the time of my life redecorating someone else’s!
Did you use any websites or interior design apps to brainstorm ideas?
My two “go to” websites that I referred to when we moved in, and continue to do so now, are Houzz.com and Pinterest. They are fabulous platforms for giving really stunning visuals, particularly when trying to show a carpenter what kind of office space I was looking for or style of cabinet.
What’s your favourite room/area in your home and why?
I’ve got two favourite rooms in the house, one is the kitchen because I love that we’re able to sit down as a family and “attempt” to eat a meal together every now and then! I think that the kitchen is a really pivotal room in a house for a family. Whilst growing up, we had some of our happiest times as well as biggest disputes around our kitchen table at home! My other favourite room is the sitting room. I love the light, it’s very tranquil and definitely a place that everyone enjoys spending time in.
If you had unlimited space (and budget) and could turn one room in your house into whatever you wanted, what would it be? Eg Bakery, Gym, Studio?
Wow, if I had unlimited space and budget, I’d build and set up my own shop selling Linen Souk products, that would be an absolute dream!
Do you have any tips for easy ways to update décor without breaking the bank?
I came across two mock Louis XIVth chairs at someone’s garage sale a couple of years ago. They were covered with a fairly revolting brown floral fabric and had heavily vennered wooden arms and legs. I got them sanded down, white washed with an antique effect and re-covered with a Zoffany fabric. They now look like completely different chairs altogether. It’s also always worth keeping an eye on Dubizzle too with a view to either repainting or recovering a piece of furniture. Re painting or re covering existing furniture is also a great way to give it all a new lease of life.
These images of Caroline and her beautiful family and home
are courtesy of the very wonderful Stephanie Hamilton of Nektar