At Home With Brand Consultant And The Modist Co-Creator Sally Matthews

6 min read
Sally Matthews, wearing a khaki coat, stands in front of her marble kitchen island.
Coat, Bouguessa; Dress, La Collection @Matchesfashion; Shoes, Golden Goose; Necklaces by Alighieri, Coco Crush earrings, Chanel Fine Jewellery

Sophisticated lines, discreet touches and impossibly current counters… Sally Matthews’ house is much like her cool, striking and chic self.

Sally Matthews has been living, working and breathing luxury (fashion and otherwise) for more than 15 years. A former magazine fashion and beauty director, Sally travelled the globe styling shoots and celebrities and has worked with mega celebs including Sarah Jessica Parker, Rihanna and Frieda Pinto. Post-magazine world, she ventured into e-commerce to co-create The Modist, a first-of-its-kind, global, luxury e-commerce platform for modest dressing. Now, eight months pregnant, Sally continues to work with clients both in the UAE and abroad as a brand consultant.

Walking into Sally’s home is a little like walking onto a set. Perfectly placed (and thoughtfully selected) pieces take advantage of the open spaces. Areas for reading, dining or sipping coffee are separated seamlessly with a smattering of books to keep you company if you wish. Having lived in Dubai for 13 years, Sally and her husband wanted to move to a different kind of Dubai, settling in at KOA CANVAS in Al Barari. “We were first attracted to the property as it was a completely different style from what Dubai typically offers with modern clean lines. However, we realised the apartment required work, so we decided to re-do most of the space to suit our own aesthetic and lifestyle. We were influenced by Joseph Dirand and wanted to create a space that worked for our lifestyle and the surroundings,” Sally tells MOJEH.

Decorating an open-plan space is a science and one not lost on Sally’s creative genius. Finding pieces from both the UAE and abroad, she even designed her own bespoke pieces for her loft when she couldn’t find exactly what she needed. “After spending a long time looking for furniture, I decided to design some pieces as I had a clear idea of what I wanted but was unable to find them in Dubai. I loved the process of designing furniture and our kitchen, spending time at marble yards and playing with different tones and textures to find the best combinations for our taste. We worked with Cherwell Interiors to bring these designs to life as they understood our vision and were able to bring this to life” explains Sally.

Creatures of habit, Sally and her husband enjoy their rituals at home, their days beginning with all-important exercise and coffee. “An average weekday usually involves early morning walks with our cavapoo dog Barry, followed by a workout, coffee, and then straight into emails, calls, and meetings for the day. I normally finish the day either with a casual dinner with the girls or at home with my husband. During the week we tend to cook at home and either catch up on our day or tune out to the TV. On weekends we love to host or to visit friends or good restaurants,” says Sally.

Having worked with the world’s most prestigious brands, Sally knows a thing or two about trends, different tastes and style, preferring to keep hers (and her home) not too overdone. “We both wear a lot of black and neutral tones so naturally we are drawn to quite a monochrome palette,” she says. “However, I was also conscious of the space not becoming too cold with a palette of blacks, greys, and whites so it was important for us to include some warmer, creamier tones and textures in the furniture pieces and with the wood detailing that made it feel cozy. Artwork is still a work in progress and something we have taken our time with as I think you need to live with a space for a while to know what it needs. However, we do love the custom Triptych art pieces by Dubai-based artist Fink 22 which line our entranceway. We also wanted our breakfast bar to be the main statement and focal point in our living space. We chose a Panda marble that is very dramatic in style and creates a design impact, which also acts as art in its own way.”

A huge fan of vintage shopping, the first thing Sally does in a new city is discover where the best stores are. “Unfortunately, as we moved into this space just before the first lockdown, we have not been able to hunt out any unique pieces for the house In Dubai,” she tells MOJEH. “We worked with Cherwell on the design of the kitchen and some furniture pieces, so they also guided us through a lot of the material sourcing here. We also worked with Taf House for the tiles and flooring throughout the house and Design Itch for some of the more unique furniture pieces.”

With its floor-to-ceiling windows, expansive views of Downtown Dubai—not to mention one of the UAE’s most lush gardens—Sally’s home is most definitely a haven and a project that both she and her husband hold close to heart. “This was the first time my husband and I designed anything on such a grand scale, so there are lots of memories wrapped up in that process of creating this space and seeing how it all came together. My husband has a very strong sense of aesthetic and point of view and it’s very much a team effort. He is much more measured than I am, so it works well at times that he can reign in my creativity and ensure that it is practical. Of course, sometimes there are disagreements and compromises but luckily we have been aligned on most things,” says Sally.

So, is there anything Sally wants to add to the place to make it complete? “I am always looking at interior moods and things we can add to our space so, really, the list is endless,” she says. “I love to discover new brands and find Instagram a great place for inspiration and connecting with designers and brands.” Right now, however, this carefully curated space is a true reflection of her relaxed but tailored style. Unfussy, unpretentious… but completely fabulous.

The Style

At eight months pregnant, Sally still stuns in her incredible wardrobe.

Sally Matthews wears all-black, standing in front of three black-and-white paintings

Jacket, Chanel; Bike shorts, Girlfriend Collective; Shoe, Rosetta Getty; Necklace, Alighieri; Coco Crush bracelets, Chanel Fine Jewellery

What are your can’t live without wardrobe essentials?

A great pair of jeans, an oversized blazer, and lots of jewellery I can layer up. I have lived in chunky sandals and linens especially over the last few months with a growing bump.

Which brands do you love and why?

Most of my wardrobe is a mixture of contemporary brands, like Matteau, Nanushka, Toteme, Rejina Pyo, Bouguessa which I love to mix with some treasured Chanel pieces. I try to think about what I am buying and the longevity of the item, so I tend to steer away from anything to trend-led and am drawn to the more sustainable labels. For Jewelry, I love layering Chanel’s Coco Crush pieces with Aligheri and Otiumberg.

What is the last thing you bought?

I have bought some cute linen sets from Deiji Studios which I love for weekends and wearing around the house, especially with Dubai’s rising temperatures.

Which shoes are your most treasured?

I have lived in my Chanel chunky sandals and I also have my eye on some Amina Muaddi Begum mules.

Do you collect anything?

I’m a sucker for good tailoring especially when it comes to jackets and coats and whilst I’m not necessarily a conscious collector, I tend to be drawn to these and can’t resist, so these take up most of the space in my wardrobe.

Photographed by Ausra Osipaviciute

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  • Words and styling by Sophia Serin