Beauty entrepreneur and long-time Dubai resident Mamta Nihalani has always had a clear vision of how she wanted to style her home. With a background in hospitality and a penchant for elegant aesthetics, her Palm Jumeirah penthouse embodies luxury living while still feeling cosy. We take a tour to discover how the rooms have been designed to invoke different emotions, and even stumble upon a Zen garden space.
Mamta: While I’m originally from India, I’ve lived in Dubai my whole life. My father launched an advertising agency here – he was a creative – and would encourage design and painting. I even started ice skating at a young age, and have competed around the world. It was something I loved very much and a big part of my life.
Mamta: Growing up, we had a different kind of aesthetic in each room so the living room would be different from the dining room. And each room created a kind of emotion as you walked into it. I’ve always wanted to re-create that when I got my own home.
Mamta: After studying in a British school here, I moved to Switzerland where I studied hotel management. Then I returned to Dubai, and started working in hotels including the Hyatt, Fairmont and Shangri-La. So, I’ve always been inspired by modern hotel décor.
Mamta: Because I’m such a lover of hotel aesthetics, I’ve definitely tried to bring that into my home. I’ve always loved how pristine and perfect everything is in hotels. I love grand lobbies, beautiful chandeliers and big flower arrangements. And this includes even the little things – like having the toilet paper folded a certain way, and my bed being turned down in that precise manner.
Mamta: While I love sophisticated, elegant furniture, I also love the idea of hygge. I want people to walk into my house and be amazed but also comfortable. I want my home to be a place where you can sit down, put your feet on the couch and just chill out. That’s what I’ve tried to create.
Mamta: When designing the space, I’ve definitely tried to capture different emotions with different rooms. It’s a bit difficult because the ground floor space has the living area which opens into the foyer which opens into the dining room. While there’s no separation, I still tried to add a little distinct emotion to these three rooms.
Mamta: The general colour palette in my home is neutrals. But in the dining room, for example, I added this gorgeous wallpaper that has a golden botanical feel to it. And then in the living room, I’ve added colour on the floor with a beautiful Persian rug. It gives a different feeling to each of the rooms.
Mamta: If I had to pick my favourite thing about my apartment, it would be the customised angel wings on either side of the bed that light up. They were made for me by a brilliant interior designer based here called Sameera Ameer under her brand Studio Tsubi.
Mamta: Meanwhile a favourite room in my house would be the TV room upstairs. It has a very country chic feel to it, and I recently added a bigger sofa so that my husband, kids and I can all gather together and relax there.
Mamta: On the subject of favourite rooms, the balcony is also special. Because of Covid, we were all stuck at home, and the kids didn’t have any place to play, so we decided to put grass down there. It’s a huge space so we also put down a little temporary swimming pool for a while, and then basketball nets – it keeps changing.
Mamta: But in the mornings, it’s the perfect place to meditate, do yoga, that sort of thing. I love gardening and greenery, and so I wanted to create that Zen space for us, complete with a little fountain and Buddha statute. And in the evenings, it’s a lovely spot for barbecues, having friends over, and just relaxing.
Mamta: Apart from home décor, life has been busy thanks to Apothecary by Mamta, my natural skincare brand. All my life, I’ve made beauty products for myself. I’ve grown up seeing my mother do the same, and so I learnt to use natural ingredients to create masks and scrubs which I would then give to friends. One day, when I was travelling with my husband, I saw a bunch of ingredients and fell in love with the process all over again.
I started the company Apothecary by Mamta in 2016, and it’s grown quite big since. We are now having products made in the factory because I can’t keep up with demand any more. So, we’re manufacturing them there and will hopefully be selling them in retail spaces very soon.
Credits: Creative direction by Aneesha Rai