Sophie’s beautiful villa is featured on the cover of the October issue of Emirates Home. Being a true girl’s girl, Sophie’s home is filled with feminine florals, pastel shades, and pretty antiques. Writer Nora Elias and photographer Isidora Bojovic wonderfully capture the nature of Sophie’s sense of aesthetic, that is very much the basis of Sophie’s Closet. Check out the full article below!
As you walk into Sophie Katirai’s home you’re immediately struck by how gentle and quiet it is. Centrally located just off Satwa Road, no traffic noise or other disturbances reach the peaceful confines of the villa and, for the time being at least, not a bark is heard from the four dogs currently in residence. Steeped in feminine themes and patterns, walls painted a muted pastel pink or covered in delicately pretty flowered wallpaper, antique and antique-inspired furniture in pink and white and exquisite teacups beautifully arranged, it’s instantly relaxing. A little like stepping into an English country home, in the middle of busy Dubai.
The perfect hostess, the soft-spoken Sophie greets us with tea and miniature cupcakes as we sit down for a chat in the home she shares with her husband of eight years, Bayan, and their three dogs (the fourth is on loan, the couple is currently ‘dogsitting’ for Sophie’s grandmother). The creator of Sophie’s Closet, a successful online business selling vintage and designer jewellery, Sophie’s interest in unique one-off pieces is not limited to jewellery. In fact, it’s evident all around us. “A lot of the pieces come from Canada,” Sophie explains, of items such as the antique teacups and saucers gracing the top of a cabinet in one corner of the living room and visible from behind the glass doors of another. “My dad was a collector so many things are pieces that he bought for me or that came from his collection.”
While her father would, from an early age, buy her “these beautiful antique porcelain dolls,” Sophie admits that she didn’t appreciate them as a child and that her own love of antiques is something that has only really developed in the past ten years. “It started with colourful teacups because I’ve always loved colour. So out of all the beautiful things my father had, I only liked the teacups,” she says. Her interest in period items has continued to blossom and while the majority of the collection her father left her is currently in storage in Canada because “they are all big pieces, statues and other things that I would just be too afraid to bring here,” she plans to one day decorate her home with them.
Coming from a family of collectors, it was not only Sophie’s father who had a passion for antiques. The interest is shared by her uncles, who have been known to add to Sophie’s beautiful collection of teacups and crockery. “My uncles and the whole family on my dad’s side all love art and antiques, my uncles still travel to places like France and Italy to find things and come back talking about them. My house has nothing compared to the pieces you see in their homes,” she says. Teacups, the items that first inspired her to add her own pieces to the collection passed on to her by her father, remain at the heart of Sophie’s interest in antiques and she explains that she has largely been “buying pieces that look similar to what he used to buy for me.”
While there is very much a romantic, vintage feel to the interiors of the house, Sophie, who studied graphic design at college, says she doesn’t buy with anything specific in mind, instead simply acquiring things that catch her eye. “I know it when I see it,” she says. She is adamant, however, in her belief in the genuine article, including the value of original, hand painted porcelain over the machine produced variety – commenting that “I don’t like fake stuff, it upsets me.” Continuously making small tweaks and changes to the décor of the house and sourcing new pieces, Sophie says that although she loves doing this, it’s a slow process. “I’ll often think, oh I want something over there, then I first come up with what would look good, in my head, then go online and find it and then either get it or find someone to make it for me. It takes time.”
Asked if she has any favourites among the many beautiful items in her home, Sophie highlights a series of paintings by American artist Vanessa Valencia. “I shop online a lot and I came across a painting that I really liked. I contacted the artist and she made these especially for me, each one taking two to three months to do.” Though she didn’t request any particular motifs from the artist, Sophie explains that when Valencia’s work arrived, they blended perfectly into her home, featuring “cupcakes, teacups, and butterflies; things I love.” While her husband didn’t initially share her interest in interiors and antiques, this is something that has changed over the years. “Now he likes it and he helps me find things,” Sophie says. “If I’m in a shop and I pick something up [that he doesn’t like], he’ll say ‘I’m not sure about that, it looks cheap’. He’s been amazing.” Dubai’s online jewellery queen, Sophie’s thriving business grew out of her determination to track down gems seen on shows like Gossip Girl and on favourite style icon Olivia Palermo, initially for personal use. “It started with me sourcing things that I saw on celebrities; finding out who it was by, contacting the designer and looking at the rest of their collection,” she says.
What began as a personal pursuit eventually morphed into what is today Sophie’s Closet, in operation since 2008. “When it started it was me buying for myself but then I realised that it was actually hard, that I had put in a lot of work to find these pieces and that there were probably others who would like to find them but hadn’t been able to. So then I decided that I wanted to share these things with everyone,” she says. With an extensive selection that includes pieces by contemporary jewellery designers as well as a vintage section, Sophie explains that she only stocks “vintage items that are in very good condition, excellent quality pieces from 40-50 years ago. We usually only have one of each, they are one-of-a-kind pieces.” Now expecting her first child, Sophie says that although her mother has already bought an antique chair for the baby’s room, this may be one room in the house not decorated with antique pieces. “It might be vintage-inspired though,” she says with a smile. — Nora Elias