Design & Architecture

Design House: A Glamorous Dubai Hills Villa

Dubai Hills villa living room, Luxhabitat

Designed by Ranim Mortada, this 'Rouge Glamour' project has rich purples and reds incorporated throughout the space.

Words by Sarah Gamboni in Design & Architecture · Mar 31st, 2023

At first glance, the worlds of investment banking and interior design may not have much in common. For Ranim Mortada, who left behind a career in banking in the UK to start Ranim Mortada Interior Design in Dubai, there are some parallels, however, such as being willing to take risks, trusting your instincts, and seeking a sense of balance.

Ranim takes us inside a stunning Dubai Hills villa she has recently completed, where daring pops of crimson and aubergine add a dramatic, dynamic element to the monochromatic background, striking a high-tensile balance between the contrasting styles of the owners, Rasha Tiba and Ali Al Khodari.

Ranim:  Rasha and Ali’s six-bedroom villa, which they share with their young teenage daughter, is located on a beautiful lane in the Dubai Hills area, with stunning views overlooking the golf course. They enlisted us to bring the formal living area, dining room, entrance, and master bedroom to life. Our scope was broad, including everything from initial design to sourcing materials all the way through to execution and project management. Rasha and Ali were both actively involved in the process, which created a collaborative experience we all enjoyed.

Dining table, Dubai Hills villa, LUXHABITAT
Foyer Dubai Hills Villa LUXHABITAT
Foyer Dubai Hills Villa LUXHABITAT

Creating someone’s living space is a personal and intimate experience, and paying close attention to the individual is almost a part of the design brief itself. From my early conversations with Rasha, we came to understand the aesthetic she is drawn to; her palette includes monochromatic tones such as blacks and greys, and she is attracted to bold statement pieces and luxurious finishes.

From those early conversations, I also observed an innate sensuality to Rasha as a person and we aimed to reflect this in her home; the introduction of red and deep purples, the use of textures such as velvet and silk, and the curved lines in some pieces were all deliberate choices aimed at signifying her personality. The team affectionately named the project ‘Rouge Glamour’ for its striking sensuality.

Her husband, Ali, is refined, with a quiet sophistication that steers towards understated luxury. The simplicity of the lines in the joinery, the grey concrete panelling and the refined veneers in the living room shelves and wall panels added a masculine feel that suited his aesthetic and served as an interesting backdrop for our bolder pieces. We wanted to achieve a symbiosis between their contrasting styles and ensure they complemented one another.

Living area Dubai Hills villa
We wanted to achieve a symbiosis between their contrasting styles and ensure they complemented one another.
Ranim Mourtada

I’m personally drawn to combining different design styles. I prefer simplicity and the understated, but I love to pair that with an element of surprise, whether it’s mixing the old with the new, or introducing an unexpected hue or texture. I love this sense of discovery and playfulness as part of the design process.

The architecture of Rasha and Ali’s house is modern, with elements such as large glass facades that allow for beautiful open views. The linearity of the architecture and the tranquillity that came with the minimalist simplicity of the lines is an element we wanted to integrate into the interiors of the house. As the living and dining areas form a large open space, one of our initial challenges was to solve how we would partition the area without compromising on the airiness and flow of the area. We studied the horizontal and vertical lines to achieve a comfortable sense of proportion where no piece of furniture obstructs the beauty of another.

We also created interesting focal points with the art and furniture, maintaining a spaciousness reminiscent of an art gallery. The result is two distinct sitting areas, one anchored by a gorgeous Repose sofa by OKHA, the other featuring Maxalto red velvet arm chairs from B&B Italia, a charcoal sofa, a tiered marble coffee table by The Line Concept, and a beautiful tree sculpture by Felipe Curado that stands in its own nook.

Living area
Living room detail Luxhabitat
Floral sculpture, Dubai Hills villa, Luxhabitat

Here we opted for a white, grey, black, red and aubergine palette; the pairing of red and aubergine is interesting and has a richness and depth to it. As we were selecting finishes, we were clearly drawn to red but were concerned it would be excessive, but it worked very well within the context of the house. For the wood pillars in the shelves, we wanted pronounced crown-cut wood veneers to contrast with the smoothness of the concrete back panel. We went to great lengths to sandblast the wood pieces to carve out the wood grains. Each piece became a beautiful standalone ornament that adds so much character to the shelf space.

There are gorgeous pieces of collectible design throughout the villa, but I think the coup de coeur for me is the Butterfly Console by Hannes Peer at SEM Milano, which we paired with a bespoke painting by Mohannad Orabi in the dining room. Other unique pieces include OKA ceramics and custom artworks by Anna Vinzi.

For the double-height entrance we wanted to create a theatrical first impression. We cladded the walls with modern, geometrical tiles and contrasted this with a grand crystal chandelier by Sipek & Spalek inspired by the classic style of Marie Thérèse. We commissioned a striking oil painting of a woman that has an old school Chateauesque appeal, and paired it with an asymmetric console and geometric red rug by cc-tapis.

Art work Dubai hills
Ranim Mourtada

In contrast to the living spaces, our approach for the master bedroom design was to create a sense of calm, warmth, and delicate airiness. Our concept is inspired by the lightness of a feather and the softness of a cloud. We kept a monochrome beige and off-white palette to enhance the sense of tranquillity. We complemented these hues by introducing marble and champagne brass to add richness and brightness, and subtly layered textures such as linens, cotton, and bouclés, which evoke a feeling of tranquillity.

Master area
Ranim Mourtafa
Dubai hills villa detail
Master bed dubai hills

It was a collaborative project, which took almost a year to complete so I think we all felt a collective sense of pride when it was finished. Seeing Rasha and Ali happy, fulfilled, and excited to move into a space we created was such a wonderful and rewarding end to the experience.

Credits: Photography by Natelee Cocks

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