Design & Architecture

Design House: Janaika Elders' Sustainable Sanctuary

Janaika Elders home

The Urban Nest founder opens up her vibrant plant-filled abode

Words by Laura Cherrie Beaney in Design & Architecture · Oct 28th, 2021

Sustainable priorities, thoughtful colour codes and emboldened wallpaper prints charge the home of Janaika Elders. The founder of ethical interior design store, Urban Nest, considers the aesthetic of her own home to lie at the axis between Scandi-chic and tropical jungle! She’s lived around the world and absorbed the varied aesthetics and approaches to design that she encountered yet sustainability and consciousness remain her non-negotiables. Her family home in The Lakes community proposes a ‘feel at home’ philosophy; guests are invited to kick off their shoes and curl up on the couch or lounge on the lawn outside and watch a movie projected onto the wall amid an abundance of plant life. We step into her sanctuary to discover how conscious design and internationally inspired aesthetics might collide.

Janaika: Half Dutch, half Peruvian - I’m a true ex-pat soul! I was born in the Netherlands and over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy life in communities from Saudi Arabia to Brazil and Russia. I settled in Dubai 11 years ago and started a family. In the UAE I felt right at home. 

 Janaika: My background is in international business and supply chain management. In 2017 I made the life-changing decision to leave a successful career in FMCG to carve out a space for myself in the creative and ethical fields. I’ve always felt that my work should give back to society. I established my ethical interior design business, Urban Nest, out of a love for the environment, design and community. At Urban Nest we only partner with designers that share our values. As such the brands you’ll discover through our platform are always unique, fair trade and created with sustainable/up-cycled materials. 

 Janaika: My youth in Holland was spent between the forest and the beach. I wanted my family’s experience in Dubai to echo my immersion in nature. We moved to our nest in The Lakes two years ago following a three-year stint in Jumeirah Park. The Lakes is such a green community and right next to my son’s school; he makes his way there in true Dutch style - by bike! The community is great, we know our neighbours and the kids can run around freely in the streets.

Living room
Living room
Green space
Green space2

Janaika: Home to me is a space with many purposes. It has to be liveable, child-friendly but most importantly the place where you are most comfortable. Our Lakes address is so special to me because I curated every tiny detail from the HKliving mug that my husband drinks his morning coffee from to the desk and chair that my son sits on while doing his homework and the throw that my cat takes a nap on. We have a beautiful vintage rug by Lebanese designer Iwan Maktabi and an artwork that I adore by Lebanese artist Kristel Bechara. My husband works in Hospitality so he really appreciates a good bed and mattress - ours are from Serta and remain one of our most valued investments. There are a few very old items in the home that have a special place in my heart. I inherited some exquisite Dutch Delfts Blue porcelain plates from my grandmother and there’s an old note that my husband wrote to me on the night that we first met 15 years ago. 

 Janaika: We have three bedrooms plus a study that has become our home office. In terms of aesthetics, our home is very green, the outside has been drawn through a multitude of natural elements - wood, linen and plant life. 

 Janaika: My style is Scandinavian meets tropical jungle! Biophilia - the art of bringing the outdoors indoors - is a recurring theme throughout our residence. We do this with wallpaper, colour, natural materials and a lot of plants. You can find colour everywhere - even the ceiling above our dining table is emerald green. Colour has such a strong psychological impact on the observer. In the palette of the forest, emerald green punctuates the living and dining areas while the bedrooms feel tranquil in a warm blue and an olive green palette.

My style is Scandinavian meets tropical jungle! Biophilia - the art of bringing the outdoors indoors - is a recurring theme throughout our residence.
Kid's room

Janaika: It’s a family home, child friendly with fun additions like playful wallpaper, twister chairs and vibrant accessories. There’s no formal seating or receiving areas here, we want you to take your shoes off and curl up on the couch! When you enter you’re immediately welcomed by a sign in Arabic that says: “Hi kifak ca va” and “Welcome you honour us”. For the living room, I was inspired by interior designer Kaltoum, I absolutely love her eclectic approach. My husband is Lebanese, so the house represents a collision of cultures - Dutch, Latin American and Lebanese influences are all palpable. There’s Arabic calligraphy on the walls, paintings by Lebanese artists, Dutch furniture and memorabilia that we’ve collected during our international adventures. The Dutch and Latin American designers that exude the same aesthetic found in my home are available at Urban Nest. 

 Janaika: I adore the smell of my HKliving coconut flower-scented sticks. They come in a beautiful terrazzo bottle, ideal for adorning the home. Another favourite fragrance is the special edition reed diffuser from Hotel Edition. In our bedroom, we use therapeutic lavender oil in our air purifier to create a relaxing environment. 

 Janaika: The garden is an extension of our living room, during the cooler months we spend all of our time there from morning coffee and breakfast to afternoon phone calls with my family abroad. I work from the garden when I’m at home and in the evenings my husband and I really enjoy relaxing there together. There’s a bar there, ideal for entertaining and the barbecues which we host almost every weekend when the weather allows it. There’s a play area for the children with a trampoline, soccer goals and a mud kitchen! During the summer months, we also put an inflatable pool outdoors for the kids to cool down in and have water fun. In the winter we project movies onto the exterior walls and set up a tent so that the kids can hang out in there.