In this edition of 'Open House', we step into a loft designed by Leela Doogchi. Leela has a keen sense of space and design and has curated her life interactions, travel & experiences to design her loft in Jumeirah Beach Residence. The result is a space that easily evolves from social to cosy with just a few minor changes to the layout.
Leela: I've had some very inspiring people visit this home, including Sushmita Sen (Former Miss Universe) who came here the night she won her recent award. I think the energies of the loft really attract the most interesting characters. When I bought the loft seven years ago, the design and the layout were completely different.
I have a passion for renovating and designing small spaces; which I realized at a young age when I started renovating homes in Canada. When I step into a space, I start designing it in my head and put things in place. You need to be very organized and plan ahead with an open space like loft. I believe an outstanding design needs to consider the environment surrounding the home. Since this loft is by the sea, I wanted something clean, cool and artistic. I wanted cooler colors to contrast the hot and humid climate, which is why I added a concrete floor along with black and white colors. The previous owner had chosen more traditional colors of beige and brown, which gave a warmer feeling better suited to colder climates.
I find small spaces are more intriguing for a creative mind.
Leela: I find small spaces are more intriguing for a creative mind. It just makes you want to utilize the space to get more out of it. Small spaces can also feed the free-spirited souls who love to travel and don't want to be bound by the upkeep of a big home, which sometimes needs extra helping hands. This is why I love living in a loft: it is a spacious place with high ceiling and a roomy feeling which is easily maintained. In interior design, it is important to understand the space and the needs of the people who will be living there and catering to that has come to me from years of experience, traveling and exposure.
I completely gutted the floor of the loft and took down some of the walls and the kitchen ceiling. I found the original ceiling of the kitchen very low, so I raised the ceiling to create a larger illusion of space. The beauty of a loft is in its open space. It is a shame to close off the unique set up of a loft that comes with a kitchen that can be a busy and messy place at times. The kitchen is the soul of a home, so the idea of a hidden kitchen formed served both these thoughts of not wanting to close off the space; but yet hiding the kitchen when it would get messy and busy with parties. That's why we created something that doesn't look like a kitchen, it's more like a built-in unit. The hidden stove, glass white Miele oven and Italian collapsible faucet were all a perfect combination along with a railing space that can fit in curtains to close it off. Designing an open space kitchen, I made sure that the wiring for small appliances were integrated well into the unit with pull out shelves inside cabinets. I tried to integrate my understanding of building psychology to create this space. And thanks to Mr. Ayman Edwards of United Decoration company, it all came to reality. I'm so happy with what he came up with. They carried out the job on time with a superb & immaculate quality that after seven years of use still looks new. To maintain the complete openness of the space, a fish bowl effect was created by using glass partition to separate the second floor. I like working with glass because it adds dimension without cutting the space and making it seem smaller.
Leela: I find a harmony between loft and concrete flooring which called for more of subtle colors like black and white. I was very skeptical using black on some of the major walls of the house but it was a perfect solution for hiding the eye sore electrical panel at the entrance and made it easier to choose sheer white fabrics for curtains on another wall.
Like any other loft, the house has a lot of exposed fire hydrant pipings and plumbings so the use of tinges of red here and there made it more fun to work with. Also the use of wood objects and accessories brought more warmth and an element of nature to the otherwise subtle colors.
The unique Swedish handmade candelabra was a piece I sourced in a shop in Al Quoz during a project. After I spotted the candelabra, the vision of it set in a loft was a welcoming thought. On another trip, after I had purchased the loft, I found four large concrete vases with a man’s face carved on them; they were made by an Indian designer. At a time I was looking for a large glass coffee table so I bought the vases and had a glass cut to the size I had in mind and assembled them into a one of a kind coffee table. Around the same time, I came across a large sectional sofa at Objekts of Design which could also be set up separately, I found them to be a perfect match for what I had visualized prior to purchasing the loft. I also found a classic toy pedal car, that was a reminder of my childhood toys and surprisingly enough its color combination was a perfect match for my loft. My love for my homes, interior design and creation, never stands still; any chance I get, I move things around to create a renewed fresh look.
Leela: As I tend to buy quality items, when I get tired of their colors or looks, I remodel them. One evening, I got inspired by a minimalist white bedroom picture my daughter sent me and I turned the bedroom sofa that was originally royal blue in color into a white one with the use of extra sheets and handmade Indian fabrics picked up in Canada and in later years here in the Al Quoz area.
Because of my love for horses, the ensuite bathroom got a lift by a large painting of a horse and her foal and so the upstairs bedroom became a space that holds horse figurines that were gifted to me over the years.
I'm originally from Iran but grew up in Canada, and now living in Dubai - I feel blessed to have had the exposure of some of the most diverse cultures of the world when it comes to art and style. This exposure have given me the eye for creating some of my own artwork and pieces like making a coffee table out of four concrete vases or making a collage out of old newspaper clippings of my dad and his years as an athlete and an Olympic medalist. The loft holds works of some of the greatest Iranian artists such as Master Farshchian and Mrs. AA. Hosseini whose works are in museums around the world.