Design director, mother of two and Pomeranian parent Claudia Baliyan grants us an all-access pass to her Jumeirah Islands villa
Claudia Baliyan is all the things. Casually clever and with a smile (and legs) that would stop traffic, the American, (born and bred in Miami) lives in an oasis she created from the inside out. Nestled within the tree-lined streets of Jumeirah Islands, her hotel-like five-bedroom home comes complete with the Diptyque candles, Aesop soap and designer coffee table books fitting for a design director. Having lived in Dubai for 13 years and in this house for one, Claudia is the co-founder and design director at Creating Homes Interiors & Contracting. The 39-year-old creative enjoys every inch of her home with her husband, two children and two Pomeranians, Stella and Bambi. With faultless taste and a Midas touch, Claudia and her house make for a killer combo of modern chic meets contemporary cool. With designer lamps, custom-made sofas and marble floors for days, Claudia’s favourite piece is the focus of one of the busiest rooms in the house. “My most treasured art piece hangs in my living room and is a custom commission by Joelle Somero. Her signature pieces use organic shapes and neutral tones so she was the perfect fit to balance out our formal living room with some more contemporary elements in an otherwise traditional setting,” explains Claudia.
When it comes to her most cherished space in the house, Claudia admits she has a soft spot for her master bathroom, saying: “We designed the space with maximum comfort and relaxation in mind, complete with mood lighting, an integrated sound system, dual showers, and an oversized tub. At the end of the day, I love to decompress in here and relax. My husband insisted on adding a TV at the foot of the tub, and while I was not too keen in the beginning, it has become quite a hit, especially with my kids. After the kids have gone to bed, my bathroom is my little oasis and my ultimate disconnect is a long bath while catching up with my favorite TV shows.”
The colour palette of the house is mostly black and white with brass and wood tones to add warmth, giving it a European feel. “The architecture of our home is very Mediterranean, and I wanted to lean into that vibe but also update it so it felt contemporary,” says Claudia. “We achieved this by incorporating new arched doors and windows with slim black profiles and Georgian bars. In fact, throughout the entire house there are classic elements that feel contemporary because of the way we have designed them, playing with colour, material, and proportion; elevating these elements with contemporary furnishings. For example, we took a modern approach on classic inlay borders by making them high contrast and adding geometric designs to create visual interest. Another example is our staircase. Structurally the staircase is traditional, so we designed a contemporary balustrade to modernise it and added three explosion chandeliers from Luxxu at different heights to elevate the overall space.” To decorate the spaces Claudia favours Minotti and Eichholtz for large pieces of furniture and Amara and Bowery Company for accessories. The incredible lighting around the house is courtesy of Huda Lighting and gets an A+ from us.
Claudia’s day to day is ever-changing and always revolves around her family and work with some downtime thrown in. “My morning routine starts with a five- minute meditation to set my intentions for the day, followed by what is usually an onslaught of emails and messages pertaining to work as I rush off to my sites early to visit our ongoing projects or for client meetings,” says Claudia. “I try to get home early enough to spend some time with the kids, and after bedtime my husband and I will either watch a movie or head out for dinner.” The sociable pair love to invite friends and family over, and have made many treasured memories while celebrating the holidays, birthdays and any special occasion that deserves a toast. All the better if they are entertaining alfresco. “Our outdoor fire pit, although cleverly disguised as a coffee table, bears witness to countless nights around the fire with family and friends,” says Claudia. “Good conversation, Christmas carols and children marshmallow toasting. The smell of the burning wood makes me feel nostalgic about my childhood, and is a memory my children will surely look back on and cherish.”
When the couple do decide to venture out, their local hangouts depend on their mood — and the weather. “I really love being outdoors and going to restaurants by the sea,” smiles Claudia. “My friends joke that my birthstone is a seashell because I just love being by the ocean. My favorites are Shimmers and Sal. For evening outings, my husband usually dictates and we enjoy Gaia and The Arts Club Dubai. For a girls’ night, I love Indochine.” For family time, Claudia admits that entertaining at home is her preference, but if they do venture out it is for “beach days and going to the Mandarin Oriental Jumeriah Beach or Jumeirah Al Naseem.”
Always on the go, the busy working mum juggles her family and business and wishes there were more hours in the day, saying: “During the week our schedules are quite busy, so we mostly eat on the kitchen island,but we make an effort to sit down for a family meal in our formal dining room at least once a week. I very much enjoy being home to catch up with the kids. Movie nights are a favourite, as well as make-your-own-pizza (or taco) night. Achieving balance between building a business and maintaining a family life still eludes me, and it comes with many sacrifices and precious time away from those I love most. That’s why family time at home is so precious to me, and I really have to make the effort to carve out time — even if make-your- own pizza night sounds a bit gimmicky.”
With family her priority, Claudia is grateful for a career which has always been her passion, admitting: “I live and breathe design so it is very fitting that my home is a compilation of all my design aspirations. I love transformations and the journey that comes along with refurbishing homes. To take a space, visualise it as something more, and execute that vision for our clients, seeing the tremendous impact these spaces create in our clients’ daily lives really fulfils me.”
Claudia Baliyan’s Style File
Describe your personal style? For my workday, I like to keep it casual and I’m normally in trainers paired with an oversized blazer when in office or client meetings. Overall, it has to be comfortable as I’m mostly outdoors and running around construction sites. For outings, I love to dress like I’m on holiday somewhere tropical. I love to wear white, or colourful flowing dresses paired with heels and statement accessories.
What are your can’t-live-without wardrobe essentials? Nude heels that match everything.
Where do you shop? Online shopping is my therapy, so Ounass and Level Shoes.
Which brands do you love and why? Zimmermann and Maje are my favourite brands as they both cater to my personal style of floral and holiday vibe. Khaite and Mother make the most flattering and comfortable jeans and I practically live in them from Monday to Friday.
What is the last thing you bought? A colourful Missoni beach cover up.
Which shoes are your most treasured? My most treasured shoes are from Mach & Mach in a fuchsia satin. I love them so much that I still haven’t dared to wear them out of fear I will somehow damage them. A close runner-up are my green Bottega Veneta heels which are currently having a moment in my wardrobe.
Where do you work out? I converted my garage into a gym and have a home reformer set-up where I do Pilates with my trainer two to three times a week.
If you could have a home anywhere where would that be? The Seychelles. We love vacationing there and being near the water and amongst nature is very grounding for me. Follow Claudia Baliyan on Instagram and keep up with Creating Homes Interiors & Contracting here
- Words and styling by Sophia Serin
- Photographed by Ausra Osipaviciute