This house off Budaiya Highway is decorated in a soothing colour palette that complements the treasures collected by the family which lives here
“I believe emphatically that you need as much of yourself as possible in the house in which you live,” says Andrea Bonham. “It’s especially true if you are an expat. Having beautiful things around you helps you to feel settled and your family to feel grounded. For children, I think that having familiar things around them helps with the transition of moving to a new country.”
Andrea and her husband, Andrew, and their two children have lived in their current house off Budaiya Highway for less than a year. It is the antithesis of an unloved, temporary rental property, being filled with pretty furniture, much of it upcycled or painted by Andrea, alongside beautifully made bespoke curtains, pictures, books and plants. The attention to detail throughout reveals the occupants’ energy and care, and Andrea’s creativity. As well as painting the bedroom walls and several pieces of tired furniture, she has been inventive and imaginative in the decoration of her house, hanging up pictures outside, for example, and reimagining shop-bought curtains into stylish padded pelmets.
She has always loved decorating. “I remember upcycling my first rocking chair when I was 14,” she says. Creativity is in the family: her brother-in-law, Alisdair Miller, works as a professional photographer, and her twin sister, Rochelle, is equally artistic, and painted Andrea’s Ikea bedroom furniture with Annie Sloan chalk paint. Andrea has hung her children’s artwork on the walls, and she let her daughter choose the curtain fabric for her own bedroom. “It was darker than what I’d have gone for,” Andrea says, “but now I love it.”
It is a reflection of her flair that, although she is instinctively drawn to pale, tranquil colours, Andrea painted the main bedroom walls a dark, sultry navy, which offsets the white bed linen and painted furniture. Despite its bold and stylish scheme, the room has an atmosphere of enveloping softness and delicacy, in line with Andrea’s desire to make the house a haven. The main sitting room, a colour contrast, is serenely, uniformly pale – the curtains are crisply white against light walls, the sofas oatmeal and soft, baby blue – but it has a similarly dreamy, peaceful quality.
Throughout the house are pieces of furniture collected and carried across seas to contribute familiarity and that feeling of being grounded. “We have one bureau, where my husband marks his essays, that has travelled from England to Cairo, the Emirates and now Bahrain,” Andrea says. She gestures to a mirror found in Dubai, three intensely blue and green oils bought in Farnham in Surrey and now mounted, unframed, on a wall, and an old Bahraini door, also wall-mounted, unearthed in Manama souq. “We bring things with us but I do love to buy local treasures, too – they can transport you, later, to a special moment.”
Andrea’s “next dream” is also transportive – she wishes to renovate a holiday cottage in France – but for now, feeling settled takes priority, and she’s planning to grow vegetables in her Bahraini garden. “We chose this house mainly for its fabulous bougainvillea archway in front of the door, but I love the quality of the light in these big rooms,” she says. “It’s a restful house to return home to at the end of the day.”
©Copyright Arabian Homes 2019