The Design House: Kate Instone

The Founder of Blush International takes us on a tour of her stunning Al Barari home

04 Apr 2021, words by Aneesha Rai in Design & Architecture

Kate Instone

Heralding from a design and architectural background, Kate’s knowledge of art and architecture has informed her natural instinct to combine elegance and beauty with effortless functionality which is aptly put into action in her own home. In this series of the Design House, we explore the Blush International founder's remarkable home in Al Barari.  

Kate: Structurally speaking, I haven't changed much in the home. I quite like to have separate spaces in areas and especially with family, as opposed to an open-plan layout. I think it's quite nice for people to be able to kind of disappear off into into their own space.

I am very blessed that over my 20 year career working in Design. I have been able to curate my own beautiful collection of furniture, art and objects. My career has taken me on some of the most amazing furniture hunting missions and my clients have taken me around the globe to source exquisite furniture for them. During these trips, I have been able to add to my own collection. I brought most of my collection with me when I moved from London to Dubai. I continue to add to it!

Living
Ceiling
Light detail
The lights in the foyer are specially commissioned by LUUM Lighting. Image credits: (L) by Jan Castillo, (R) by Natelee Cocks

I love my kitchen, its the heart of our home. When i moved to Dubai i finally got my 90cm wide Miele fridge which I couldn't fit into my London kitchen!

In the family room, I have a commissioned piece by an artist friend of mine. It's a hand-painted mural of leopards on a gold leaf background and painted on top. I commissioned this with her, the children has named them all and I covered it in glass to protect it. 

My favorite moment in my villa is actually in my Powder Room with its limited edition Alphabet Prints by the famous Artist Erte. The fabulous turquoise peacock wallpaper i found at a Design show in Delhi and my mid century brass toucan is from Talisman in London.

Living room
Kitchen
Light detail

My husband and I share the office - we have his old uniform and pictures from when he was in the cavalry. There's a lots of horsemanship in my family - my daughter Poppy is a show jumper and my son Teddy plays polo. My husband plays polo as well. And George, my six year old, is just learning his basic riding skills at the moment. 

A few years ago one of my clients wanted me to bid on some vintage Louis Vuitton items at Sothebys in London. It was when I was bidding on behalf of my client that I fell in love with my Louis Vuitton trunk that we now use as our coffee table in our study. I saw the silk mohair Hermes seating in the centre of the study and I loved it. So I kind of took that one myself, they very kindly also gave me some extra material to make an ottoman. 

On the other side next to my desk, is my fantastic Ostrich feather lamp; it is part of the collection called the Grand Tour that is a put together by my friend that owns the beautiful Oxfordshire county house Aynhoe Park - the collection is inspired by original pieces from his stately home.

Family room
Image by Jan Castillo
cavalry
LV vintage case
Images by Natelee Cocks
Fluffy tree
Image by Natelee Cocks

The dining room has Zuber wallpaper which really works because all of the trees remind me of Al Barari, with all the lakes, pathways and trees. Even though it's not a scene of Dubai, it translates well into the surroundings. I have vintage pieces from Talisman and Roger Rougier lamps from the 1970's.

For the outdoors, we changed the finish inside the swimming pool to a white glass mosaic tile to get a Maldivian sea vibe - when the sun hits the water it gives off any aquamarine colour. We also added a bar and the children's play houses. The furniture is all grey and white with a shot of coral pink.

Dining
Image by Jan Castillo
Pool
Kid's play area
Images by Natelee Cocks

When you are deciding on the final look and feel of your home there is massive temptation to spend hours looking at Pinterest and instagram, there is just so much design information out there...you are bombarded with all these photos and i think you just need to take a moment - take a deep breath, and you'll notice that you always come back to the same look. There's something that actually makes you feel at home. So I think its just keeping true to yourself and not being influenced by all these other factors

I wanted something that was that could work practically, it's not a show home. It's  a family home with dogs, cats and children. So what was very important for me was to make a home that the children could enjoy. A place where I didn't want to keep saying  'get off the sofa', 'you're not allowed to touch this', you know? All my hard finishes look very nice, but they're practicality first. 

Because I had my original pieces of furniture, I wanted to to use it because I also think that a house should be should be a journey. It tells of your experiences. You've got little trinkets, you picked up a bit of furniture, and it's almost like it's a part of your family. Its memories.