While designing a Sheikh Zayed home for a celebrity, Sherif Ali wanted to make on the spot changes to the outdoors to surprise the homeowners and they did.
Design should always facilitate lifestyle, but sometimes it’s good to tweak things a bit and opt for surprise. While designing a Sheikh Zayed home for a celebrity friend of his, Sherif Ali made its interior as luxurious as it needs to be. Outdoors, however, the design intentionally didn’t go according to plan. The designer decided to create a 100sqm pool house and paint massive doodle artwork on the fence as a surprise to the homeowners. Luckily for Ali, they loved it all.
“When I first got the project I sat down with the homeowners to understand their lifestyle,” Ali tells #SceneHome. “They are actors and I thought of adding a space that allows them to read scripts and practice roles freely while being at home.” Well, not technically at home but within its borders. “I wanted the space to be part of the landscape, only when the homeowners feel like it they can isolate it.”
The pool house hosts a living area with an 85’ inch screen, kitchenette and office. “The entire façade is movable glass along with automated curtains so they can jump straight into the pool,” Ali continues. “Inside it feels like you’re sitting on one big float.”
Entering from either one of its side elevations, whether the one next to outdoor showers or the other with greenery, the space unveils itself with engineered wood flooring. In the living area, the wood is fair and features a fading painting hand-drawn by Ali, who picks up the brush exclusively for his designs. “I like to make art the centrepiece which the space is built around.”
Linking the space to the outdoors, Ali used a raw and textured finish with soft paddings on the tv wall to give an exterior feel. Before it is an off-white sofa complementing the blue rug which adds colour and shifts the greyscale palette. The ceiling is exposed with corrugated sheets painted black along with the air conditioning ducts and track lights. “The space can be rearranged. I wanted to keep things open and connected without any separation.”
“I saw those two sculptures placed on a coffee table somewhere and immediately knew that they belonged elsewhere, chilling by the pool,” Ali says, pointing at the pieces on the edge of the pool, which overlook two built-in chaise lounges. It’s through assigning that accessories are given a completely different light, especially when they are placed in a landscape covered with grey antique marble.
Parallel to the pool house is a painting that gave a different look to the fence and took a month to complete. “The homeowners didn’t want too much greenery on the edges,” Ali recalls. “I went with black and white so it doesn’t look too much and feels homey.” This too wasn’t part of the plan. Initially, the design had a regular landscape until of course the designer decided to spice things up. “It was accidental that the chaise lounges aligned with the artwork, but it provided a wonderful background anyway.”
“When clients like and trust your work, the rapport gives you freedom to experiment,” he adds. “They constantly contact us to tell their shenanigans and how they’re spending time in the pool house. In a way, it changed their lifestyle.” Ali started his practice in 2006 on the principles of contemporary minimalism. Here, the main interior epitomised luxury, but the outdoors had a unique approach, one that was considerate of its users, practical yet stylish.