This house in Hamala contains objects collected from round the world by the family that lives here
There are some houses which reveal little about the personality and experiences of the men and women who live inside them, but there are others that do the opposite, supplying myriad details about the lives, interests and talents of the people that call it home. This house in Hamala is such a place. Warm and inviting, it is arranged with furniture that relates stories about the places in which its globetrotting occupants have lived.
Only a small quantity of the couple’s things were purchased here in Bahrain. Instead, there are pictures, photographs and treasures accrued during his childhood in Kenya and her childhood in England, as well as darkwood furniture they bought after they married and moved to the Far East. Her beautifully woven baskets were collected in Indonesia and Kenya, and on travels to Zimbabwe. Besides these are colourful, usable things purchased with their children in mind, and others found in this country specifically to fill their large, light-filled house.
“I chose the house because of the quality of light and space,” she says, gesturing to floor-to-ceiling windows that offer views on to the garden and swimming pool. “I love the flow, the feel of it – it ‘fits’ us better than where we lived previously. I also feel there’s a sense of lightness and darkness, of masculine and feminine perhaps. I love mid-century modern furniture, for example, while my husband likes darkwood, clubby furniture. Hopefully we have created a balance.”
The large sitting room exemplifies their two different approaches. One half has richly coloured, chocolate suede sofas by a textural, timber table, near darkwood bookcases and steamer chairs. The other end centres on pale, linen sofas around glossy, stone-top tables and a softly hued painting of animals. It’s a room of two decorative halves but the effect is harmonious and appealing – nothing jars or shouts for attention.
Upstairs, the main bedroom exemplifies the same careful balance. There is furniture in a variety of styles and different materials, acquired all over the world: sinuously formed metal-frame chairs that recall mid-century modern design are paired with a four-poster bed in gleaming wood hung with soft, sheer cloth. Here is the same eclecticism, the same elements of light and dark, and the same serene quality. The soothing palette helps: besides the crisp white bed linen, the chairs are upholstered in brown and cream leather, round rugs in watery shades.
“When my husband and I lived in Indonesia, we had an allowance to buy furniture and we bought what was available – lots of dark, heavy furniture,” she says. “Later, we lived in Mauritius, but moving here, we realised we needed soft furnishings, sofas and chairs, so many of these things were bought in this country. I do love muted tones but I like pops of colour, too. I suppose it comes back to trying to create that balance.”
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