Want to transform your home this summer? Interior designer Sharon Conneely gives us the inside track on summer’s top interiors trends, along with some practical tips to make your house a home.

Retreating indoors for much of the summer takes a bit of getting used to at the best of times, but if your home sweet home isn’t quite as sweet as it could be, now is the perfect time to pick up a paintbrush, don some overalls and embrace some serious interiors ‘inspo’.

Sharon Conneely, Creative Director for Full Circle Design, and general all-round interiors guru, knows it’s not easy to navigate through the minefield of design decisions, from style to colour, to patterns, textures and finishes (deep breath), which is why she runs a series of short courses to help us distinguish our minimalist from our mid-century modern.

Still not clear? Follow Sharon’s step-by-step tips for where to start and how to end with the perfect finish.

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You wouldn’t buy a dress without knowing your size, and the same applies to dressing a room. Measure the space to determine the size of the furniture and furnishings you should be looking for. While it’s tempting, especially in the UAE, to go big and dramatic, rooms need air to breathe and you don’t want to be shuffling between huge pieces of furniture that overpower the room. Equally you don’t want key pieces to look lost among high ceilings and large white walls. As a rule of thumb, allow 60cm of circulation space around each piece of furniture, or 40cm at the least for ‘access’ areas i.e. between a sofa and a coffee table.


One of the most fun parts of the process, now is the time to look for inspiration and bring your vision to life with a picture board. Search the internet, have a browse on Pinterest and Instagram, and flick through home magazines to choose your style; the world’s your oyster from modern or Moroccan, to industrial or shabby chic. Next, consider the colours, textures and patterns that match your style and theme. For a classical theme for example, stick to golds, whites and reds, and rich materials like velvets or embroidered fabrics. For a more modern style focus on simplicity, with light woods, geometric shapes or curves, and neutral colours such as cream, beige, grey and taupe. If you’re feeling bold, don’t be afraid to experiment with mixing two styles together.

interior design


Also called a ‘Zonal Plan’, a bubble plan helps divide up the room in a practical way, ensuring spacial awareness, and allows you to focus on the items needed for each bubble or zone. Take a piece of paper and, using a pencil, draw bubbles for each different section of the room. For example in a bedroom, you would have a bubble for the bed, perhaps a bubble for a reading corner, and a dressing area. Make sure you take into account where the power points are at this stage – you’re going to need a lamp in your reading corner, which means you also need an electrical supply. Once you have all your bubbles, list the key pieces of furniture for each zone, and mark the basic shapes within each bubble.


Now it’s time to hit the shops – but leave your wallet at home for now. Firstly, you need to ensure your vision is achievable within your budget, and that the products you have in your head are available in the market. If you live in an apartment, check the size of your service lift to ensure your chosen pieces will fit. Visit all kinds of stores and warehouses, take pictures and ask for as many samples as possible. You can then add these to your mood board to ensure the colours, patterns and textures all work together. Once you are happy with your sample board, you’re ready to reach for the wallet!


Always start with the messy parts first. Complete any painting, varnishing and window treatments, and then hang the curtains, drapes or blinds. At this stage all the key big pieces should be arranged in the relevant zones, and finally the soft furnishings can be put in place. If at this point you feel you’re lacking something such as a splash more colour, it’s easy to add more soft furnishings if required, but remember homes aren’t built in a day, and you have plenty of time to add beautiful things over time. Have fun, enjoy it, and whilst rules can be helpful they’re also made to be broken, so dare to be different and make sure you bring a touch of ‘you’ to every room.


Full Circle is running a series of short courses over the coming months, taught by Sharon. Open for anyone with a passion for design or looking to enhance their home, the five half-day ‘Residential Interior Design Level 1’ course is taking place at DUCTAC, Mall of The Emirates, 11-14 and 17 July, 9.30am to 1pm, Dhs1,800. For creative teens considering studying Interior Design at university who want to try their hand at it first, there’s a great course available for youngsters aged 13-19, on 3-5 and 10 July, 9am to 1pm, Dhs1,200. Course dates for Sept to Dec will be online soon.

Tel: (04) 4449567. fullcircle-design.com

London’s Chelsea College of Arts will be running some short courses in Dubai Design District this October. Courses range from a five-day course on the ‘Principles of Interior Design’, 10-14 October, 9.30am to 4pm, Dhs9,600, to one-day courses including ‘Soft Furnishings’, 15 Oct, and ‘Textile Design Techniques’, 21 Oct, 9.30am to 4pm, Dhs2,330.

Tel: (055) 1156674. arts.ac.uk/chelsea


If you’re considering a revamp, why not incorporate some of this season’s hottest looks?

Cultural fusion


This look embraces the diversity of modern living and a melting pot of geographical influences, which couldn’t be more apt for a home in the UAE. Combine prints and textures from different cultures to produce eclectic, eye-catching results. Think everything from animal prints to henna designs or patchwork, and anything goes in terms of materials, from digital prints mixed with organic fabrics, and retro against futuristic.

Chair, Dhs3,999, KARE; chest of drawers, Dhs6,950, Marina Home.

Back to basics

interior design

Mirroring the current food and many lifestyle trends, people are going back to basics when it comes to the home, and looking for a more ethical way of living. Extravagance is a little passé this season, and we’re seeing a shift back to basics, with materials that evoke traditional handicrafts and a more basic way of life. Materials such as denim, wool and linen are popular to create an honest and wholesome look, whilst aged and distressed finishes are big for the season.  Recycling or ‘upcycling’, where you upgrade an existing piece of furniture, are very much still a thing, and one of the most fun trends to experiment with at home.

Table, Dhs1,450, Marina Home; Chest, Dhs2,350, Marina Home; Chair, Dhs2,695, The One.

Pastels and rose gold

interior design

Think light, feminine and transparent colours, including pastel blues, peaches, lavenders and pinks, and combine different textures such as oily, chalky and silky. Although whimsical, the look shouldn’t be too sweet either, so consider adding an urban edge by mixing with grey or black. Rose gold is also popular and taking over from copper, which has been the on-trend metallic for the past few years.

Vase, Dhs597, Villeroy & Boch; Sofa, Dhs2,995, The One; Lamp, Dhs1,499, ID Design.

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Images: Supplied/Crate & Barrel/The One/Villeroy & Boch

Originally published in Good magazine