Mama to 3 gorgeous little ones (whose bedrooms are the stuff of childhood dreams), Sarah Twort’s beautiful Arabian Ranches home is “classical with a twist of contemporary and some practicality thrown in for good measure” – and a whole lot more. Prepare yourselves for some major interior inspo, mamas!
What’s your business about?
I am the distributor for a New Zealand brand of children’s swim and beachwear called Snapper Rock. Snapper Rock is a new brand to the region and I am very excited to represent them, as the Middle East is the perfect place for a cool swimwear brand, with the sun shining about 360 days of they year, and year round swimming conditions. Snapper Rock swimwear is super cute and stylish, and it also provides UV50+ protection. We use the best quality fabrics to provide the sun protection without the use of chemicals. The brand really resonated with me because as a mother of three, I have always felt that the options for kids swimwear were quite limited, and that there was a gap in the market, for good quality, stylish and affordable swimwear with the highest standard in UV protection.
I am passionate about trying to help educate parents in the importance of sun protection for our children, regardless of their natural skin tone. All babies and children have delicate, sensitive skin and so must have proper protection when they are in the sun. Through Snapper Rock, I hope to help get this message across and make sure that our kids are all looking super cute and stylish on the beaches (all whilst staying protected, of course)!
What area of Dubai do you live in?
We live in Arabian Ranches. We have lived here for pretty much my entire life in Dubai. We bought our first house in Saheel about nine years ago, then three and a half years ago we moved to a bigger house, also in Saheel. I love the Saheel layout. It is has huge windows in every room and so is very light and airy. It also has the perfect open plan layout for a young family like ours.
What do you like about your neighbourhood and why?
We love living in the Ranches. It has a really great sense of community. We have lived here a long time now so there is a sense of belonging. We are surrounded by trees and birds with great cycle paths and parks – which, for a New Zealand farm girl is a big bonus! The area is very self contained with shops, restaurants and lots of activities for the kids which are all very close by. With improvements to the roads and highways, we no longer feel that we are out in the middle of the desert. I like the fact that I bump into various neighbours and friends at the supermarket or at the playground or going for a bike ride with the kids. It creates a sense of security too.
How did you decorate your own home? Was it very planned out or impulsive?
Our home has been a work in progress for many years. When I moved here from London I bought all my furniture with me, and we have collected and added to it as our home and family has grown over the years. So it hasn’t really been planned, but it wasn’t impulsive either. I would say it has evolved with us. Some pieces have lasted the test of time. Like my art deco dining table and chairs that came with me from London. I have had this dining set for about 15 years now. I recovered the chairs a few years ago and still love them today. We have also bought new pieces to freshen up the look and fill up bigger spaces as our home has grown.
How would you describe your interior design style?
I think my style would probably be quite classical, with a twist of contemporary and some practicality thrown in for good measure. Um… Maybe it is just confused!
What are your best places to pick up home furniture in Dubai?
There are so many great home décor and furniture stores in Dubai now… especially compared to when I first arrived here nine years ago. Luz de Luna has a great eclectic mix of furniture and décor and Indigo Living is also another favourite. For the kid’s rooms, Pottery Barn is great – especially when they are on sale!
Do you gravitate to a certain colour palette or design style?
I suppose white, beige and grey are the foundation of my colour palette. Light and airy is definitely what I prefer. Though they are not very child friendly – if you add a pop of colour and some texture then it is not as easy to pick up on the grimy finger prints. My favourite colours are electric blue and turquoise. Bright and happy colours so they are splashed around the house to give it some variety.
As a mum how do you balance functioning design and a pretty home?
We have a young, busy family and so our home is very family friendly. With 3 young kids, a dog and a cat, we ‘live hard’ in our house. There is always lots of action so I am not too precious about keeping everything perfect. The doors are always open and the kids run in and out of the house all day long. Usually there are balls being kicked and wet kids running through the place too. We have a ‘grown ups’ living room which has a few more delicate pieces in it and is probably the prettiest part of the house. However, we hardly ever use the room as we are generally not very ‘grown up’!
What did you splurge and save on when decorating your house?
I would say we don’t really splurge too much except that we splurged on the house when we bought it. We looked for ages and ages for a new home when we decided we needed more space for our growing family. This one was over our budget, but we totally fell in love with it – most of all the garden and pool when we walked in. We both love the outdoors – and the flow of indoor and outdoor living in this place sealed the deal for us. It is so nice for the kids to have such a huge space to play in and it is a brilliant home to entertain in, which we love to do!
Did you use any websites or interior design apps to brainstorm ideas?
I love to look on Pinterest for inspiration – there are some very clever interior designers out there!
What’s your favourite room or area in your home and why?
The kitchen/family room is where we spend most of our time and is the heart of our home. I love being in here as a family. We remodeled the kitchen 2 years ago and I love our huge breakfast bar. It is a very social part of the house and works when we have guests as well. I can be cooking and the kids can be playing inside or outside, but I can see them wherever they are and be involved in what they are doing. Waffles together at the breakfast bar on a Friday morning are a family tradition in our house and the breakfast bar is the perfect place to sit and connect.
If you had unlimited space (and budget) and could turn one room in your house into whatever you wanted, what would it be?
Oooh that is a tough one! Depending on how selfish I was feeling… I know my husband would love to have a man cave especially for him, with a pool table, darts board, duke box, bar, a huge TV with a million sports channels on it (I think you get the picture) – but then I would probably never see him! It would be great to have a proper playroom for the kids. We have a small playroom, but it is more like a toy storage facility… All the toys get bought out into the family room to be played with, which can mean the family room gets pretty cluttered and messy. If I was to be totally selfish, I would get a fully kitted out gym (and a daily session with a personal trainer) to keep me motivated!
Do you have any tips for easy ways to update décor without breaking the bank?
Yes! I am pretty good at updating without buying new things. Obviously a fresh coat of paint on the walls in a new colour is a very economical way to update a room. Over the years I have had several pieces of furniture painted to update them and freshen them up or give them a different look. Also re-covering a chair with new upholstery is a great way to get a new look on a budget.
Thanks to our fab photographer:
Monica Chindalia for these beautiful snaps!