It’s that time of the year when we’ve returned from the long summer break full of plans to redecorate, revamp and otherwise update our homes. Whether you’re an expat looking to spruce up and personalise your rented accommodation or a Bahraini planning a home makeover, the island has much to offer from high-end stores to budget options. Liz O’Reilly comes up with some ideas to get you started.
The living room should be just that, a place where the whole family can gather in comfort whether to catch up with each other’s news at the end of the day, watch favourite TV programmes or just chill out and enjoy each other’s company.
As the cooler weather approaches jazz up your space with plush throws in fake fur or velvet, find good value options at Home Centre in City Centre Bahrain and The One, at Al Aali Shopping Complex. For a budget option check out The One’s new basics store at Emna Mall in Riffa, which has a selection of good quality, unusual pieces at prices significantly reduced from the main store, or ID Design’s outlet store on the Budaiya Highway.
Another instant update can be performed by changing your curtains and accessories and this need not be a bank breaking exercise. Bahrain has an abundance of tailoring shops which will run up curtains relatively cheaply and both the Souq and Palace Avenue are great sources of materials whether you fancy bright or sombre, light or more heavyweight.
For a dramatic look, and one which is not recommended if you have kids or pets, add around 20cm to the length measurement of your new drapes and allow them to pool on the floor giving extra focus to your windows.
Adding a rug can bring warmth to your room scheme for the cooler months. I’m a big fan of animal prints and am currently scouring the island’s furniture outlets for zebra stripes but, if you fancy something more traditional, the Middle East is, of course, one of the best places to purchase investment pieces in the form of Persian and Afghani carpetry. If you’re an expat looking to make a carpet purchase, you’d be well advised to ask a local friend to accompany you as this is one instance where bargaining is absolutely essential. There are various carpet shops in Adliya’s Shawarma Alley and Oasis Handmade Carpet Centre in Manama is also highly recommended and popular.
If you’re looking to make a significant style statement, then new furniture is really the way to go. One of my favourite stores is Bo Concept in Seef. It’s certainly not cheap but you know you’re getting quality and I love to just wander round for inspiration. If you’re on a budget, take that inspiration and head to Gulf Auctions in Adliya. The island’s population is nothing if not transitory and the auction house frequently clears out homes for people whose postings have come to an end. So, while there’s a fair amount of junk, it’s a great place to find hidden gems but you really must bargain, bargain, bargain.
And don’t forget, if you’re thinking of new furniture, it doesn’t have to be a whole suite. A statement chair or concept coffee table can really lift the look of a room, again without breaking the bank. Check out Details off the Budaiya Highway for designer pieces to add interest to any scheme.
If your kitchen is large but feels a bit impersonal, add a small table and chairs to make a focal point so friends can chat to you while you’re cooking or you can keep an eye on the kids while they’re doing their homework. Dress it with fresh flowers or a small plant and round off with some funky wall art or a quirky clock, we particularly like Fakrawi in Zinj for a selection of wall plaques from famous folk with fun sayings. Check out Home Box at Marina Mall for a good range of small and large tables. If you’re looking for a budget option, outdoor furniture is a good alternative. Jassim’s on the Budaiya Highway has a small table with two chairs for less than BD15 or you could buy a wooden bistro set from The Home Store at Bahrain Mall and paint it to personalise. I’m loving pastels at the moment so the wood in my home is sporting a surfeit of pretty pinks, baby blues and sunny yellows.
In a small kitchen, space is everything so, if you’re thinking of adding a table and seating, look for bench seats with in-built storage for things like little-used picnic blankets and hampers, which take up lots of cupboard space. Traditional Bahraini benches would work well in such a scheme and you will often find them for sale on Mums in Bahrain classifieds on Facebook. If you want to go for a personalised option there are various carpenters around the island who will make things to order. United Crafts of Adliya comes highly recommended.
If you don’t fancy adding seating, new doors on your units will add an instant uplift. Check out The Closets for a huge range, which will work for kitchens or any other area of the home. To get the same effect without the outlay, consider giving your units a coat of paint but remember, you may need a specialist finish if your doors are melamine coated.
To achieve an upgrade without breaking the bank start with a really deep clean. Scale build-up on taps and shower heads can make your sanctuary look dirty but is easily remedied by applying a cloth dampened with vinegar and leaving it to work for a few hours to bring chrome fixtures up sparkling like new. Likewise, give mirrors a good going over with vinegar dissolved in water and cleaned off with rolled up newspaper. Next take a look at your towels. Are they thick and fluffy or have they, perhaps, seen better days with one too many trips to the beach or gym. Check out Debenhams in City Centre Bahrain for designer options to give your bathroom a spa feel and, in future, keep your old towels for the gym!
To continue with the spa theme, why not add some minimalist embellishment, if that’s not too much of an oxymoron. Pebbles, shells and driftwood are easily gathered on the island’s beaches and, once cleaned, can be used as attractive ornaments. But, if you’re picking up shells, make sure they’re empty before you bring them home, you don’t want to be sharing your bathroom with a kidnapped sea creature.
Add a few glass accessories for a luxe feel such as candle holders or mirrored soap and lotion holders which you can find at Artikel in Jawad Dome. And to finish off, make sure the room always smells great with scented candles. Try Jo Malone in City Centre Bahrain for top-of-the-range smellies and, if you want to treat yourself to some pretty toiletries, which also small fab, I recommend L’Occitane.