Natelee Cocks
InteriorCasa Maya

Casa Maya

A lot has changed for Durnford in the three years since we first met. Her brand. Custom No.9 has grown from a small studio working in metal and terrazzo into one of the UAE’s most coveted home-grown design business with a diverse, but tightly edited collection. Along the way she has built the most important creative capital right now: an engaged and liked-minded community of design lovers that spans the wider MiddleEast and eagerlv awaits her next ‘drop. And with a new home in Dubai’s blush Meadows district and a baby on the wav, things are about to get even busier.

When we bought a house in July 2021, there were no plans for a baby, she says as we chat in the sunken seating area overlooking the birdsong-filled garden. “We had spent over five months looking for a property that we could transform into our dream home.When we saw this, both my husband, Fred, and I instinctively knew it would be good for us”. Looking past its tricky layout and a host of other technical problems that are common with old villas in Dubai.the couple fell in love with 20-metre- tall trees hugging the site. Durnford grew up by the picturesque Loch Lomond in southern Scotland; nature has informed the use of materials in her work, guided her approach to conscious production, and now at home became a key factor in the couple’s renovation plans.

Over the course of eight months, hey demolished almost all non-structural internal walls and ripped out the original 2007 bathrooms and kitchen. “It allowed us to see the space for what it really was,” she recalls. 

“It became a blank canvas and what we wanted the space to look and feel like.”

That vision required a slew or major modifications including enclosing the first-floor balcony to increase the footprint of the principal bedroom, adding split levels and adapting the porch to create a home office. It was towards the end of the renovation that they found out they were expecting a baby. “It felt as though the house was blessing recalls Durnford who named the house Casa Mava.”

Fred and I were married in Mexico. so that’s where Casa came from and Maya is Filipino word for “birdsong” in honor of where we got engaged.

If nature provide the soundtrack to this home, couple’s time in  Mexico inspired its ambiance. Staying at beautiful places designed by world renowned architects who know how to play with nature crystalised our ideas for our home, says Durnford. “I used SketchUp to design the whole house in 3D, including the garden. and was quite detailed with the renders.

Prior to designing her Dubai home,  she had only developed individual furniture pieces for her brand, so seeing an entire interior scheme spring to life from the mood boards was exciting. “For as long as I can remember, my father has had wood turning set-ups in his shed,” she recalls. *In his spare time, he would carve the most beautiful home objects – from bowls to beds – using wood from fallen trees. While I have inherited his passion for design I haven’t yet mastered the skill oft he hand, for which I rely on my team of craftspeople. Knowing that this house turned out exactly  as I intended is very empowering.”

The sense of community hat is the backbone of Custom no.9’s success can be felt as Casa Maya. In total there were twenty one suppliers and contracts involved, which gave Durnford full control over the quality and cost.

She developed very design element that gives the house its distinct character, locally with fellow UAE businesses: from the T-bar door handles and the pivoting bifold panels that open the living space to the outdoors, to the micro cement finish that runs from the walls and floors onto the curved kitchen island, giving the home the earthy look. And while, she often had to push suppliers to try something new, the result- be it the hand-bent metal rail of the jute floored stairway or rounded edges that lends the softness to the architecture inside – are testament to the high-quality workmanship that Dubai contractors can deliver.

Naturally Durnford has furnished her home with Custom No.9 pieces- a mix of old and new collections. as well as designs she will introduce soon – she has also accessorised with other regional brands she holds in high regard. Most of the rugs are from The Loom Collection, vases and candles from Cole and Cinder, and the objet from Urban Nest. There are also works by regional artists that couple know personally, such as ocean-inspired work by Dubai based artist Soufiya Ennasri

“There is a little bit of me and my husband in every part of our home.”; she says. “We wanted a space that would reminded us one of the most special times of our lives and somewhere to make memories.”



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