Saturday, November 24, 2012

Interior Design in Oman, and my inspiration board for a possible guest bedroom makeover inspired by Muttrah

Interior design in the majority of private Omani-owned homes in Oman, is an absolutely lack lustre affair (and I am sorry to say that). There are only really two kinds of homes that I encounter (besides the blessed exceptions).

The first type of home in Oman is where the owner spent all of their available money on building their villa and left nothing over for the furnishings. So you get these ornate Arabesque or European manor homes with marble through-out, but very obviously second-hand (and I am ALL FOR lovingly aquirred second-hand) or cheap furniture. Or some cushions pushed against the wall and a plastic floor mat. Things just don't go. In a humble rustic mud-and-stone-brick affair, yeah, the wosada (majlis cushions) are totally great, and I love them. In a replica Georgian-type home? Yeah, not so much. And that particle board furniture does nothing for the bedroom you spent alot of money on for the chandeliers and high moulded ceilings.

I serriously don't get wasting all your money on a fabulous marble gate, and then forgetting that it doesn't matter how people veiw your house, it matters how you actually live in it.

The second most common type of home is what I like to refer to as the bank-loan home. You know, people maxed out their credit and are always making monthly payments for the entire showroom set of furniture. This could totally be ok except that it usually speaks nothing of the home-owner or the actual house they live in, and usually, when they buy the whole dining set, and bedroom set, the sets for each room don't necessarily flow together. You get modern style entertainment set, and over-the-top Arabic bedroom furniture, and country cottage dining room. I am always getting whiplash seeing so many conflicting styles. And usually the exterior of the home is totally forgotten. The outside is modern, the interior is Arabic soap-opera style, or reverse. Ughhh!!!!!

It is like the homeowner has personality disorder or something. Or everything is soooooooooooooo matchy-matchy that it is like it is a catalogue and nobody ever lived there. There is nothing personal about the space whatsoever.

My veiw on great design is it either, a. reflects where the person lives, or b. the owner's personal style and likes, or c., even better, both persoanlity and location.

I have two favourite personal styles. I like either like privately-owned English country house grandeaur for homes or Parisian chic feminine apartments for smaller spaces, or Omani/Moroccan rustic influence. The English/French is my own personal backbone in design and influences how I like a living room and kitchen and bedroom to function. Where I live influences the actual colours, furnishings, ect.... and I happen to live somewhere between Muscat and the mud-brick of a 200 year old home.

My own villa happens to be a very European-style, which to me, doesn't reflect a Muscat lifestytle [at least in my area of Muscat----MQ was a totally different experience;)] so planting some more mediterreanean foliage out front will make it suit the area better. Banana leaves, a pair of coconut trees, and some bougainvilla and narcissus suit the area nicely. Also, giant Omani clay pots from Bahla and Fanja souq.

The interior goes for more middleeastern colours such as sandy browns, warm beiges, golden yellows, and rosy creams with highlighting colours of burnished orange and fabrics with paisley prints.

I also never buy all my furniture at once. I get an inspiration scheme in mind and usually take a year to complete a space (since I prefer to spend my money in a savouring fashion [and I am not rich at all]).

I got my sofa set and curtains made, and same with my dining table. It is cheaper than the stores, and in fact, better quality. I tend to buy luxury bedding sets because that makes the biggest difference to any bedroom, and I spend here and there on a knicknack, antique or purposeful peice as required. I bought my own drill, screwdriver, hammer, and sander. I prefer to paint things myself.

I also find alot of things used. I got mahogany coffee table for 5 rials and simply sanded and restained it. About 12 rials in cost total that's counting the original 5. My MIL guessed that it cost 45 rial even used, so I guess it is nice:).

I found a bedroom set from my favourite used location (not the classifieds and wadi adai as I find those both horribly over-priced) for a bargain 200 OMR and it was pure mahogany and a;; handwork. I only despair that I had not the funds to buy it, as with a little inventive bedding and sewing for a curtain canopy, I could have made it suit my Omani-English girl style. I guess I am going to have to either get a carpenter to make my own dream design or hope to strike gold once again with folooos in bank account coinciding the next.

I am curently think of a way to redecorate my daughter's bedroom, as well as my guest bedroom, without spending more than 100 OMR each for furniture and accessories (+tools and paint) for each room.

ABOVE INSPIRATION BOARD: I am thinking to do the guest room in colours that inspire me of Mutrah (since my guest who is coming to stay in that room once boarded with me in Mutrah). It is already mint green, so I am think of getting a four poster bed in wrought iron painted white, and a [turkish] Persian parpet that picks up the mint of the walls in the pattern. I have found the iron-working shops make these beyond cheap, so if you have a design in mind, it depends on how much metal is being used, but mine should cost about 35-55OMR with a mattress [not a great quality one but I am sure my guest will just stick a foamie over top of it so meh]. Bedding I will wait on as 40 rials is what a good quality comforter costs, but white sheets, white blanket and white pillows and case sin the meantime shouldn't cost over 20 OMR... or less (I have a secret place to find great and inexpensive cotton sheets and I am not going to tell ANYONE where. It's mine.).

Once when I had a naked wall in my house (a house that was beyond hopeless even for me) there were a bunch of nails sticking out and I decided to hang my husband's Omani caps from them like I'd seen done with the red velvent black-tasseled Moroccan hats, and it looked really cute, using them as decorative objects. I think in a Mutrah-inspired room I'd have to do this, with at least 3 kumas (not ones my husband would ever use too, just to prevent my display being ruiiiiiiiined).

I am on the lookout for a bargain used dresser/desk or wardrobe in real wood with a great shape that I intend to paint cobalt blue. I also intend to spray-paint one of those 6 rial folding screens turquoise blue as they look pretty amazing in any room. I also want to get some side tables made by this man in the village who makes them out of the palm fronds from the date trees and I'll spray-paint them white. 6-10 rials a table and if you order alot or bring him other orders he gives discounts. They are beautiful and so inexpensive.I've thought about either buying etched metal trays and getting them laid on top of the tables or plastering and making tile mosaic tops myself on them. But they look nice left alone as well, and even if you don't paint them.

I found a used metal table for 10 rials once and I sooooooooooooooo should have bought it and made it into a kitchen island for my kitchen. I always intended to make my own Moroccan style mosaic on one of those. Getting tiles cut and the proper grouting equipment for plastering them is sooooooooooo inexpensive in Muscat.

What is not inexpensive in Muscat?

Well, it seems any painting I like is always the most expensive one in the gallery. I am debating. I recently just sold a rather expensive handbag I owned so that I could go on a vacation but I saw a painting that looked so gorgeous of palms and it would lovely over my dining table. But.... 400 OMR is kind of major. It is my airfare.

At least I did finally find the Muscat-source of my dentist's gorgeous prints of Al Hamra, Spain, architecture. Only 15 OMR per matted print for those. Which, should I fancy 4 of them grouped together on one wall, would recall the area's colours beautifully. And still cost less than an original oil.

Though the finishing touches for the walls is the last thing I should be worrying about now. The major furniture items still need to be aquired.... Alas.

Decorative cushions and oils, while way less practical than mounting the TV, are so much more fun to me.

This post started off based in some manner of intelligent observation and has eneded in a ramble. Please forgive.


Warda said...

Would apprecaite if you can share where you got the painting from?

Ohh and any other tidbit you want to pass on :)

Mustafa said...

Asalam Alekom
Sister, you are a really Princess.
Last night I discover your blog… I pass through many of your post. I enjoy reading your topics.
Hope you and your family are happy and healthy. And hope you accept me as a friend.
Mustafa - Nizwa

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Warda: I know the artist from some of their other works, but the gallery is in Saabco. Hate the frame, love the painting.

I also love some of the modern art there but it just wouldn't suit my home. I am a classics girl.

The matted prints are available in the Pakistani shop in Al Araimi complex just down from the Marina store, and also in some shops in Mutrah souq.

I also love the print of the map of Arabia in Bait Muzna gallery in old Muscat, and the Qatar national museum sells some lovely prints of Muscat harbour (they own the original oil).

Ummm, I like the Arabic calligraphy art at the gallery in the Al Harthy complex and I also like sponsoring student art through SQU. Alot of the art students' parents are encouraged when their kids make 100 OMR on a painting or two;).

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...


Princes as a title came as a joke from a serriously bad haircut and blonde dye job in muscat (think overly 80s princess Diana) but thank you;).

We girls hope your family are well as well.


Man In Oman said...

Dear Sis,

i enjoyed reading your articles from the first moment i discovered your blog.

may i got an email address of yours or any other way to contact? i have some enquirers about some pictures you posted in 2010

thank you

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Man In Oman: our group email is

Mustafa said...

What is OPNO state for?

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Mustafa: It stands for Omani Princess (Not Omani)