Danielle Le Faucheur mined her cross-cultural experiences to cultivate a home space that re-energizes.
Words by Laura Beaney in Design & Architecture · Jun 6th, 2021
As a mother Danielle Le Faucheur dreamt of an airy light home environment that would facilitate the open-air experiences of her childhood in South Africa for her family in Dubai. We discover how the aesthetic influences of South Africa, the UK, France and her passion for astrology have come to manifest in her Jumeirah Park address.
Danielle: My youth in Bryanston, Johannesburg was spent surrounded by a symphony of aesthetics from the quintessentially British - inspired by my mother and aunt’s tastes - to the bold and rich African. My family moved between the UK and Africa over several decades and with each return journey there would be a marrying of design sensibilities. Laura Ashely and William Morris prints made their way to our typically South African, thatch-roofed abode. My mother’s fine eye for detail, her adoration of Persian rugs and French rattan furniture stayed with me. Her eclectic mixing of styles was very formative in shaping my design tastes. Beyond the visuals, the lifestyle in South Africa, with its long summers spent by the pool and family gatherings centred around expansive gardens made me acutely aware of the importance of nature and the relationship that design and an enhanced lifestyle share.
I knew early on that I wanted to mirror these positive traits from my childhood in the environment I created for my family.
Danielle: I moved with my husband Sam to Jumeirah Park in 2017. We instantly liked the community. The residences were beautiful with proximity to JLT and the Marina and with future development planned the location would remain a hub in the future. We purchased our villa realizing that it had much potential as an investment.
The address was previously owned by a developer who had landscaped the gardens in a traditional Thai style, an aesthetic which flowed out into the rest of the home. While I could appreciate the attention to detail and quality, the heaviness of the home from its brickwork to its dark furnishings weighed down on me and affected my mood. My main passion, which has come to manifest heavily in my surroundings is astrology. My husband and I are both air signs, as such we’re drawn to environments that are light and airy with a pastel palette. With this in mind when the pandemic took hold in 2020 we decided that it was time to renovate and enliven our living space.
Danielle: I would describe my tastes as oscillating between classic and contemporary. I’m of French decent and have an adoration for French renaissance furniture as well as the English heritage designs with attention to detail and craftsmanship. I also really appreciate the design work of interior expert Suzanne Kasler. Our aim was to create a home that is both liveable for our children and three dogs but also beautiful, in short practical elegance. Sam and I worked closely with Smart Renovation Italian design consultancy throughout our project which came to completion in just 4 months.
Starting with the garden, we maintained much of the original flora and features introduced by the previous owner, but made big changes to the pool and pergolas. We updated the previous heavy blue tiles with a contemporary white stone that instantly opened up a greater sense of space and formed a canvas for the surrounding palms and light reflecting from the water. Dubai winters are typically enjoyed outdoors so we invested in a BBQ, jacuzzi and bar area. The outside now unfolds seamlessly into the indoor living area through large doors, a transition that ensures that our children can enjoy the garden while the adults move freely inside and out.
Inside the home, to let the light in and create a greater sense of space we changed the flooring, adding herringbone tiles downstairs and light oak flooring upstairs. The walls unfold in a spectrum of calming tones from pastel mint green in our son’s bedroom to pale pink in our daughter’s and light sage, cream and white in the lounge and public areas of the home. I really believe this combination cultivates a calming atmosphere and have witnessed a marked improvement in the quality of my children’s sleep since we moved to this palette.
Much of our furniture has been collected over several years from UAE-based boutiques. My favourites? The white baby-grand piano in the living room which embodies a life-long passion of mine that I hope my children can continue and a large French Renaissance-inspired armchair in the master bedroom that I customised with new upholstery.
Reflecting upon it, all of our updates have facilitated an improvement in quality of life for us. We transformed the powder room into a study for Sam with a bespoke desk and bookshelves. Downstairs, the new French windows filter in soft, natural light and open up to views of the garden, inviting the outdoors in. Our friends describe the feeling they get when they step inside as that of entering a French chateau.
Danielle: The garden room is very special to us now, it’s a versatile environment where I snatch a peaceful moment to read next to fresh hydrangeas, where my husband DJs, where we entertain and where our children dance and play. With Dubai’s soaring summer temperatures it’s our ultimate indoor haven. Sam is an entrepreneur working in the field of gaming so we travel a lot professionally and personally to California. We’d always stay in Airbnb’s to discover new, individual approaches to design when we travel.
One thing I picked up upon in this region is the frequent conversion of the under-stairs space into a wine cellar. Sam is an avid collector and lover of fine wines particularly those from the Napa Valley and Bordeaux. The addition of the wine cellar, illuminated by soft LED lighting, has been one of our most transformative changes. When you move into this space there’s a sense of disconnect from the rest of the home. I wanted to create an environment where adults and children can both have fun and relax. The whole living area now pivots around a centre bar surrounded by French cane woven bar stools.
When you move into this space there’s a sense of disconnect from the rest of the home. I wanted to create an environment where adults and children can both have fun and relax. The whole living area now pivots around a centre bar surrounded by French cane woven bar stools. We love to entertain, and the pairing of wine has now become an experience as we guide our guests through the collection in the cellar. We’ve forged friendships with sommeliers and experts in the industry who suggested we use the space for wine pairing evenings. Being a parent is exhausting, but our renovation has transformed our home into a hub where we can dress-up, have fun with family, friends and their children in a way that’s even more intimate and memorable than going out. It’s actually a very South African way of entertaining!