One half of Smart Renovation, UAE-based design and renovation consultancy, Cinzia Tedeschi is a powerful force, absorbed by fine living, a love for high fashion and the finishing details that have set apart some of the UAE’s most desirable addresses. Cinzia works in synergy with her husband Marco, who is also Italian. Working together in harmony, Marco is preoccupied with structural and technical elements, clean lines and form while Cinzia, a former personal shopper, is fixated upon the small adornments that inject a sense of profound personality into the home. Here, Cinzia shares insight into her most recent Arabian Ranches renovation that exudes American colonial elegance.
Cinzia: Our ethos at Smart Renovation is rooted in enduring quality and self-expression. The home is where you spend most of your time and therefore needs to reflect a sense of who you are, balancing what makes you feel most comfortable with what makes you feel most alive. Looking back to this most recent project, the home I encountered was typical of the villas in the Arabian Ranches community, simple, plain and lacking a real sense of who the homeowners are. Rather than chasing trends, I always work closely in dialogue with my clients to ensure that their home is in tune with their tastes and lifestyle. This intimate understanding shifts a house into a home and helps to facilitate a better quality of life. During the first meeting, I observe how my clients style themselves, the way they dress, the jewelry they wear - are they a lover of vibrant color and pattern or fond of more subtle tones? Are they adorned with jewelry or prefer a more pared-back Scandinavian aesthetic? In this case, the homeowners were a family from Kenya, the parents both in their 40s with two children. With a preference for classic design sensibilities, it was clear that they needed an environment that was both elegant and practical.
Our blank canvas was a white-walled 3-bedroom villa filled with the region’s ubiquitous heavy arabesque detailing. We sought to cultivate an environment that speaks of American colonial design sensibilities, traditional, elegant with natural and high-quality materials - wood and marble punctuated with personalized and unexpected detailing. I always try to retain any elements that my clients particularly enjoy that exist already in their homes, and adapt the design process so that it flows without unnecessary changes. For this villa I kept much of the original kitchen, only updating the flooring and the color of the cabinets to a calming, subtle taupe. The family were very fond of their wooden dining table so I brought it to life with rich blue, wooden-legged dining chairs and the continuation of the taupe paint on the walls. In the living room comfort, classic, and contemporary pairings come together. Geometric details are juxtaposed with an ornate Persian rug, mid-century armchairs and a marble coffee table. While subtle in palette the blend of materials in the room and items from unexpected moments in time and cultures keeps the space fresh and inspiring.
Cinzia: Opting for subtle punctuations rather than details that scream, the twinkle of the chandeliers in the dining room and living room bring in a sense of old-world luxury and reflect light softly around the space. The white walls that typify the villas in the UAE can feel cold and clinical so I introduced a palette of natural tones to the home. When I first met the client I noticed that she was wearing earthy tones so I introduced a soft brown, taupe and bronze interwoven with small touches of royal blue throughout the home. The flooring downstairs was updated with a warm and charming oak while the second floor has been transformed with a chic light grey that opens up the space.
The major transformations were the heavy wooden, spiral stairway which we completely removed and reimagined as an open and light marble walkway that seamlessly blends the upstairs and downstairs, in my opinion, it completely transforms the feeling of the home, offering a sense of openness when you enter the home. It exudes an air of cinematic glamour. Natural lighting is everything and sets the mood. The addition of an expansive fixed window in the dining room fused the living space with the garden. Alfresco dining is one of life’s greatest luxuries after all! The glass takes up almost an entire wall, revealing lush greenery, it functions as a work of art, transforming family meals into an enlivening experience.
As a mother, I understand that it’s important for the children to have a living space that’s practical and inspirational to enhance their development. For the kids’ bedrooms, there was a chance to play with color. The son’s room has an accent wall with orange and blue geometrical designs while the daughter’s, in a palette of pink and purple, was adorned with organic forms. I find that wall art cultivates childhood memories.
The high point? I adore the powder room. I find that these intimate and personal spaces can be more playful. It’s not somewhere that guests encounter every day and where as much time is spent compared to say the living room. You can show your quirky or passionate side and unleash your personality. In this case, I introduced an art-deco style sink, and a series of blue, black and white art deco wall tiles that I selected and fell in love with together with the homeowner. This special space is like the jewelry of the home - the finishing touch that captures the imagination and sparks a journey of the mind.