Heidi's home


We are starting this new series with a Dutch Moksi Woman, living in Dubai.

Meet Heidi.

When I first met Heidi, it was at a busy open house sale, where lots of women were talking, comparing the wares, laughing, eating and drinking. Even though it was busy, I could hear her laughing. Her laugh is loud and I was immediately charmed by how friendly she was.

We started talking in English and quickly discovered that we both are Dutch.  I had just arrived in Dubai 3 months before, so I was a newbie, and since she had already lived here for almost 20 years, she welcomed me with the words “I love it here! Enjoy Dubai Living!”

I took her advice and did just that.

Heidi lives with her husband Ab, their four children, their cat, and the newest member of their family, Charlie, a dog they welcomed a year ago. Their house is a corner villa in the popular gated community, Arabian Ranches. Houses in Dubai are called villas because they are larger than most other houses. If you are new to Dubai, you soon find out that almost everything house-related is bigger.

I was happy that Heidi wanted to take part in this new series -- not only because she is a great example of a Moksi Woman, but I really like how her colourful style shines throughout the whole house.

“This is our 8th house we have lived in together. We moved from The Netherlands to Dubai in 1993 because of Ab’s work. In all these years we lived away from The Netherlands, we stayed in the Middle East region. We have lived in 2 houses over the first 10 years here in Dubai, and since moving back in 2004 we have lived in 3 different houses, which for Dubai standards is not unusual. 

Back in 2003 we moved to Saudi Arabia. Living there was great because we had small kids. We lived in a luxurious compound area, but for me it was a bit boring. We didn't stay there too long; a year later we moved to the neighbouring country, Qatar. There we had a huge house and I was looking forward to decorate it. But after only 3 months of living there, we had to move back to Dubai. This was all in 2004. We got lucky that we have stayed in Dubai and still are happy living in this house, for already 8 years now. It's the longest we have lived in one place. Renting a house in Dubai for this period of time is quite long. We have lived in different parts of the city, but we chose to live in Arabian Ranches because the children were smaller and they could play in the streets, cycle to their friends or enjoy the community pool.”

Before entering her home, the first thing you notice next to their front door is the big wooden sign she made with their family name painted on it. Heidi used to work as a prop buyer and set dresser in the film industry, which translates back to her eclectic style at home.

“I can’t change everything, since this is a rented house, like the floor tiles or the slates on the fireplace, which I really find ugly. That’s why I placed rugs on the floors and different kind of photo frames, art work from the kids and special gifts from friends on the wall of the fireplace, which is in the middle between our dining area and sitting area. Most of the time, the kids will be in the tv room across from the kitchen.  This house doesn't have a storage room or attic so I had to let go of their baby stuff. The only thing on my wishlist for this house is to have an extra bedroom for the many guests we have. This is a 5 bedroom house, enough for us, but it would be nice to have that extra sleeping space, since guests come often and are staying at least a week. But for us as a family of 6 we are happy to have so much space for the kids to enjoy and their many friends they bring along!"

Heidi's home feels like a home should feel: warm and inviting. She has set her mind on making every house feel like her own.

“With every move we make, I take everything with me and start the whole unpacking and decorating process from the first day we move in. I don’t want to see any moving boxes after 3 days. This is not always been handy, because when we moved to Qatar I started also right away with unpacking and even had big wooden shutters made for the many windows in that house, only to find out that the company my husband works for wanted us to move back to Dubai after only 3 months. Luckily the kids were small, so changing schools was easier then. That is the other side of our way of living: you never know how long you will stay in a house or country. But that doesn’t stop me from changing a house into our Home.”

Her furniture style is a mixture of mostly old and a few things new, but always with a touch of her personality. She bought a black dining room table and painted colourful stripes on it. Her hallway bench, a cupboard, her dresser, wooden boxes with printed photos -- it all has gotten a Heidi make-over. The many accessories in the house are complimented by photos of her family.

"I love to use colours in my home, although this house was not like this at all when we moved in. There was no colour anywhere, all the walls were white and the state of it wasn't too great either. So I changed that right away. The garden was a big sand pit with nothing in it, so we planted the palm trees and grass area. There is an Morrocan inspired lounge area in the corner with sunken benches, which we made ourselves as well. I know this is a rented house but I like to put my stamp on a house, to make it feel ours. I always do.”

Not everyone would be so brave to make so many changes in a rented house, but she did, making this house truly her home.

“I want people to feel at home here and my children should feel free here, as should our friends and family, who are visiting us each a lot.  In the kitchen area people can sit and relax at the bar while Ab is cooking up something great. He is a good chef!"

When I asked her which items she always would move with her to another home, she did not need to think long.

“My grandmother’s shoe which she wore when she was little. I have one and my aunt has the other one.”

One of her great inspirations is the artist Steve Kaufman and his artwork hangs on the walls.

“This canvas would come with us too. But actually I’m not too attached to material stuff. -- although I have a lot!”

To transform this house into her home, Heidi painted the walls: “I like to change things in my house, so the colours on the wall have changed many times”. She put big transparent plastic letters on the glass windows in the kitchen, dug a hole in the big garden, transformed it into a lounge area and decorated it with items that have a story. In the kitchen hangs a big blackboard which is used to write notes but Heidi easily glued a ceramic Dutch house on it as well. Even in the restroom the walls show her creative style where she cut photos out old National Geographic magazines to make a beautiful collage of people around the world.

I will definitely use this idea in my own house and I love how inspiring it can be to have a look around someone else's home.

I also am lucky to have some special made items in my house that Heidi made for us. I love handmade items and knowing that they are made by such a lovable, creative, down to earth Moksi Woman...well that is just icing on the cake for me!


{photos by Nic Bilenkij & Maureen}