While some of us are left dreaming of a summer vacation in Bali, others — like Stephanie Farah — have brought the dream to life without leaving Dubai, with a beautiful home decorated in authentic Balinese style. The 28-year-old CEO and Managing Director of Empyre Communications, a boutique public relations and digital marketing agency based in Dubai, has conjured up the calm, boho-beach ambience found on the Indonesian island at her loft-style apartment in Jumeirah Village Circle (JVC), with artisanal items sourced directly from Bali and complemented by stylish finds from Dubai’s home retail scene, some creative upcycling and even a brand new business venture designed to revamp rented homes with contemporary tile coverings, launched by the entrepreneur during lockdown. Read on to meet Stephanie and discover how the young, busy professional has created a Zen oasis at home in JVC…
Tell us about your home…
It’s a stunning, airy loft apartment in JVC with a very open floor plan of kitchen-living-dining downstairs and an upstairs bedroom which looks out over everything; you can see the entire terrace outside and the Dubai Marina skyline in the distance. Lots of sunlight comes in from the huge windows so there is a lot of positive energy which is incredible and why I moved here to this beautiful loft apartment. I love the sunshine, and being outside at the beach, so it fits with my personality.
What was your initial vision, and did you succeed in creating it?
I am a massive fan of Balinese style, and the island has inspired me in so many things in life. I like to spend a month in Bali every summer to work and surf in my lunch break, and I have brought so many products back from there to decorate my home with. Lamps, ornaments, throws, cushions … I was piled high on the plane! So my home style is definitely inspired by Bali and I wanted to have a boho-chic look; not too bohemian and not too luxury but right in the middle, with things that remind me of the ocean and the beach, lots of woven baskets, beautiful handmade blankets, gorgeous lampshades made from straw, and shell ornaments — all from Bali.
Have you made any big changes?
I was really lucky because the apartment is a brand new building and has great finishes. When I moved in the aesthetic was already stunning. Details like the gorgeous glass staircase with a really nice wood panel railing — this is a trending, contemporary style and feels high-end, and this was already done by the landlord. The only thing I redid was the kitchen and I have launched a business called The Tile Society inspired by this, which provides 3D peel and stick tiles for kitchen and bathroom surfaces.
Tell us more about The Tile Society…
During the Covid-19 lockdown I was at home looking at my kitchen thinking about how I could enhance it and hide the dark, black marble backsplash. After some research, I realised that the concept of peel and stick tiles is popular in the USA but it’s not here in the UAE. I thought, what better place to have this kind of concept and bring to UAE residents, especially renters, a solution for covering up wall tiles and backsplashes that they don’t like. My partner and I ordered some samples and designed our own 3D peel and stick tiles and we revamped my kitchen as a showcase, using the peel and stick white subway tiles we had manufactured. The black marble backsplash is still there underneath, and the peel and stick tiles can be removed easily using a hairdryer to loosen the adhesive and an ammonia solution; there will be no damage to the marble underneath. Since we launched we’ve been inundated with requests for peel and stick tiles for cabinets, countertops and even floors, so we are now designing a larger range. It’s been my dream to do something interiors related because I love interior design and it’s so good to be able to bring a new product to the UAE market that will transform people’s homes. In my home, the white subway tiles have made such a difference as the kitchen was so dark before. I love coming down the stairs and seeing a fresh white scheme.
Being a creative, have you upcycled or made any items of furniture at home?
I built a beautiful furniture set for the terrace out of wooden crates, with a coffee table and an L-shaped couch that detaches into two separate couches, so it’s very versatile. The unit underneath the TV is from IKEA but I didn’t like seeing things like the WIFI router and TV cables through the glass doors, so I took a woven material that matches the boho feel of the house, cut it to fit and fixed it behind the glass. A project that’s on my list to do is to update the bathroom upstairs with peel and stick tiles from The Tile Society.
What are your favourite items from Bali?
The two round shell ornaments that are either side of the TV. They are gorgeous and you can find them everywhere in Bali so they remind me of the island and the beach. Another piece with a lot of meaning to me is the animal skull on the wall that I brought back from Ubud. I’d been wanting to get that piece for years and when I finally bought it I carried it around with me for two months while I travelled around Bali. On the trip it broke and I had to glue every piece back together, so if you look closely you’ll see lots of Gorilla Glue!
What are your go-to home stores in the UAE?
When I was looking for furniture like my sofa and bed, I felt that even with the mid-range brands like THE One or Home Centre they were expensive considering how much I wanted to buy for my home in such a short space of time, so I went on an adventure finding the best quality furniture for the best price. I really wanted a Cloud Couch, which can be around 40,000 dirhams from a high-end brand but I found the perfect one in Home Box, it was such a find. The seat is huge, it’s very wide and the back folds in naturally which makes it so comfy and airy and you feel like you’re in the clouds, hence the name. The bed is another great find from United Furniture; they sell really comfortable and affordable beds, and I had one before which didn’t quite match the look of this apartment. So I sold that and went back to United Furniture and found this gorgeous bed with a huge headboard; it looks like it’s from West Elm but it’s a snip of the price.
What’s your most prized piece of furniture?
I have a beautiful console by the staircase with cane doors which was gifted to me by Galeries Lafayette. I sing — something I pursue in my spare time — and I sang at Galeries Lafayette when they held a glam fashion show with amazing Lebanese designers. As a thank you they gifted me this beautiful piece which luckily matches my home!
How long did it take for you to furnish your home?
I actually completed the décor in just two weeks! This is my first home living away from my parents, who are also in Dubai (I grew up here from the age of four) so this apartment was my opportunity to create the home I have always envisioned.
We hope you are inspired by Stephanie’s beautiful boho-Bali-style home! If you love the Balinese look too, share your photos with us on Instagram and tag @homeclubme. Discover more home tours around the UAE and check out our latest home decorating features, from practical advice for moving home in the UAE to interior décor tips.