Open House: A third-culture home in Al Barari


Maryam gives us a tour of her ethnic and eclectic home in The Nest, Al Barari

Words by Aneesha Rai in Portfolio · Dec 20th, 2021

In this edition of 'Open House', we speak to Maryam Kazmi at her Al Barari abode. Brought up in Dubai in the Jumeirah neighbourhood and the U.S., Maryam fell in love with the Al Barari area 10 years ago on a visit to The Farm and told herself she would live in the area one day. Her dreams today have become reality. Maryam's home is full of beautiful upgrades, carries warmth & hospitality, and touches of carefully curated Pakistani art from up and coming artists. 

Maryam: I moved back to Dubai about 10 years ago and shortly after I met my husband Omer through a friend. One of the first places he took me to was the Farm in Al Barari. As soon as I entered the community, I told myself I would live here some day. I've lived in the U.S. for most of my life and coming from Pakistan, where it's so lush and green, I really missed the nature aspect where one can be outside. I wanted a more indoor-outdoor living space.

Before moving here we were living not far from my childhood home in Jumeirah 1 with my twin boys, but we realised the hustle and bustle of everyday life was too much. We also wanted more outdoor space for the boys to run around and also for our pets to enjoy. I'm actually such a city person, I love being in the heart of Dubai; I never envisioned living in a community like this! I decided to have a look at the Al Barari villas and was suggested The Nest villas by Ambreen. At the time, we saw a couple I didn't really like, until I saw an alternative set-up of the show villas that I fell in love with. 

Formal living
Touches of green

Maryam: We finally found this home and decided to move in by January 2020, so I had some time in between to think about the style that I wanted, what I wanted to buy, and what kind of influences or inspirations I had and created some Pinterest boards. It worked out pretty well as we moved in right around when Covid-19 hit. We went through the upgrades slowly and some of the projects got paused. I'm currently redoing the master bedroom and some other projects in the house.

All the art we have is from Pakistan. My parents are patrons of Pakistani art, so I grew up being exposed to different big and upcoming artists. We also have a lot of friends who work in the space. Whenever I go back home, I always like going to new gallery shows or even looking for up and coming artists on Instagram. I don't have a particular kind of idea of what I'm looking for, but I prefer the up and coming stuff. Some of the artists like Abrar have really become famous. I'm so proud of the artists and love to showcase Pakistani art. The art that you see right at the entrance is from BHV Marais. In the formal living space, we have a piece by my husband's uncle. If a piece speaks to me, I'll buy it. The lighting in the formal living space is from I Light You. Under the stairs, we added storage space for the kids toys along with some paneling so it looks neat and seamless.

In the smaller living-space, I decided to create a partition in a similar style that I saw in the show villas with the Al Barari interior designers as I wanted a separation with the dining area that won't take away from the original open-plan space and continuity. The sofa is an Eckholdt sofa from Bloomingdales. The lights in the space are handmade by Arturo Alvarez. We used a lot of The Bowery Company, and Christiane helped us custom-make the tables. 

We also used The Line Concept, who I came across on Instagram at the time. They worked on our dining table, our centre table, the buffet table, and even the study table upstairs. They gave me a lot of inspiration for figuring out which colors to use.

The monkey light is from Seletti, we have two in the house. I've always loved it because I love animals. I'm not someone who thinks everything has to go together. If I like something, I know it will work in an eclectic way, because my parents' house in Pakistan is like that - literally nothing matches, but it fits in together for the very same reasons.

The thing I didn't like about the original layout of the house was the kitchen. The fridge was tiny, the cooktop was very basic, and it was not good enough because we cook Pakistani every day. The kids also eat their own food and so does the staff, so we needed a heavy duty kitchen.  It took six months to get this Goettling kitchen made from the countertop to the flooring.  The original kitchen was very white. I wanted something with a marble effect on the countertops and a more modern look for the cabinetry. It looks much more homely now.

Floating partition

Maryam: Upstairs, we added a study for my husband to which we added a bathroom, so it could potentially also be turned into another bedroom. We brought in the balcony and it has a walk-in closet too. It was designed with Heliya from Heliya Design Company, who also gave me a lot of inspiration. My husband and I have very different design tastes - he prefers beiges and neutrals whereas I'm at the opposite. I want color! I want my paintings and I want art, so sometimes during the design process it was a challenge with our differing tastes. He got what he wanted with his study though. 

In terms of the outdoors, we are in the process of changing the decking and added a pool gate for safety reasons as we have young children. The outdoor. sofa are originally from Al Huzaifa that we got covered in outdoor fabric. The chairs I got from Robinsons in Dubai Festival City. The outdoor living space is my favorite part of the house. This is why you live in Barari - because you know you want the greenery and the outdoor living. Even in the even in the summer, I spend a lot of time outdoors. I still go for walks in the summer because  it's like a couple of degrees cooler than like the rest of the city.

I feel like the trend now is that everything is overtly curated and everything has its own place or everything has to match or fit somewhere.

Maryam: The biggest inspiration for my home is probably my parents. I think our family home is very eclectic as well. People visit their place and go like 'Wow', because everything  feels homely -it's not like a hotel. I feel like the trend now is that everything is overtly curated and everything has its own place or everything has to match or fit somewhere. But I like to kind of like to place memories - things that you put up that you truly care about. It feels loved and homely. 

Update (12th May 2022): The villa is now sold.

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