If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” This quote by textile designer William Morris particularly resonates with Natasha Sturko’s design ethos. At the helm of Natasha Sturko Interiors, this creative mind – who has lived in five countries and visited over 50 – masters the art of mixing the raw and the refined, something that is reflected through her latest project.
Situated near Saadiyat Cultural District in Abu Dhabi, the 1,000-square metre, five-bedroom house is the second project that Sturko has worked on for these clients, an Emirati couple in their 30s who have a golden retriever fur baby named Pablo. “I had previously designed the interiors of the couple’s first home when they were newlyweds,” remembers Sturko, who was immediately on board for this adventure. “They are such fun, always up for trying new things and taking risks with their style. They both have quite different aesthetics, however, so it can be a bit challenging to find a complementing balance.
A residential design relationship is a lot like a marriage – a series of careful negotiations and compromises.” Featuring bold geometry accented by glass, stone and wood, the house is contemporary yet warm thanks to the earthy tones and natural materials – such as wood, stone and leather – that adorn the different areas. Mixing Scandinavian and Japanese references through the furniture lines and textures, this house is both an ode to a ‘less is more’ approach and a celebration of materiality.
The first-floor family TV room offers a panorama of the lightfilled ground level, where the fireplace is the star of the show. The wall-mounted, cantilevered cabinet finished in oak veneer and the limestone concrete plaster top combine with the double-height wall chimney that’s characterised by its asymmetric gypsum structure, which was hand-finished with limestone plaster concrete.
“The overall design pits a visual fragility – reminiscent of origami paper – against its raw and rustic stone-like materiality while evoking a sense of timelessness,” says Sturko. “It is not a commonly constructed feature in the UAE.” Equally fragile in appearance, the sculptural coffee table – with its inverted truncated pyramid design working against the delicate, faceted nature of the natural white onyx stone – was another challenging piece to create. “It was very stressful,” confesses Sturko. “Because of the design, it took longer than usual to fabricate and when they were finally packing it for delivery, one corner broke and needed repairing. Then during delivery, another edge broke.
Overall, the table took six months until final delivery, without including my design time.” Sturko was also conscious of integrating natural elements into the design of this new home. Carefully chosen to improve air quality, the indoor plants bring freshness inside and provide a visual connection with nature.
Sturko also chose sustainable materials such as FSCcertified veneers/timber, limestone concrete and low-VOC coatings, plus efficient low-voltage LED lighting, as well as natural fabrics and furnishings sourced from ethically responsible manufacturers. “One of our core studio values is ‘bespoke sustainability’ and wherever possible to support local,” says Sturko. “With the exception of a few decorative pieces, 90% of the project was custom-designed with construction and fabrication by UAE contractors, local workshops and craftsmen. The remaining 10% was sourced through local suppliers.” Exemplifying the Japandi style while honouring the location in which it sits, this home is an invitation to feel peace and balance through every element and at every moment.