A certified Project Management Professional and a Software Engineer by profession, Shehar Bano Rizvi is a Pakistani expat living in Qatar since 15 years. She speaks to Sana Zehra about the home she has painstakingly curated for her family
WasÂ there a specific theme you had in mind while designing your house?
The house is actually a rental, but when my husband, Mohsin, and I came for a viewing we fell in love with the location and the floor plan. The house has an open feel, which is what we fell for, especially the indoor Juliet balconies.
Plus, it checked most of our requirements: four bedrooms, a study, three living spaces, a kitchen, a dining room and a huge entryway.
Although it’s a big house, I always feel connected and can keep an eye on what’s going on. Iâ€™m also absolutely in love with the high ceilings and huge windows.
Who did the interior?
When we first rented the house, it was furnished but definitely not my style. I completely redid it. From painting walls to doing the interiors, I managed it all by myself. I took risks and painted some of the walls in very dark colors (moss green and dark blue accent walls). I love how they add so much personality to each room.
What part of setting up your space did you enjoy the most?
I enjoyed decorating every single room and corner of the house. I took my time to slowly build it up. Our home is not full of expensive pieces, but everything has a story behind itâ€” an emotional connection, nostalgia or a reminder of our Pakistani roots.Â Our home reflects who we are as individuals and as a family, it shows where we come from and where we live now â€” every corner in our home tells the story of our journey.
What’s the best compliment your house has received?
What most people appreciate is how personalised our home dÃ©cor is. Itâ€™s not like a picture from a home magazine or catalogue with expensive pieces. We have DIYâ€™s and lots of IKEA furniture which give it the warmth of a home.
I think the best compliment was from the editor of Apartment Therapy Magazine. She said she was surprised to see how I created a high-end look with the robust amount of IKEA furniture, mixed with other purchases (including family antiques).
Which room in your house do you spend the most time in and why?Â
Most of my time is spent in my office/studio, where I do photo shoots, meetings or blog work in the morning. Once the kids are back from school, we spend time downstairs in the kids play room, kitchen or family room. After theyâ€™re in bed (around 7:30 pm) Mohsin, and I are back in my studio. He reads his books or writes something perched on the sofa,Â while I write or work on my photos at my desk. We hardly watch TV on weekdays and spend our evenings doing something creative.
How often do you entertain?
Believe it or not, almost every weekend. Mohsin and I are both homebodies, so instead of going out for entertainment, we would rather have friends over for lunch or tea. I love to cook for and entertain our close group of friends.
Since Mohsin chairs the Pakistan Professional Forum in Qatar, we host formal dinnersÂ and gatherings very often.
Is there music in the house, a love of books, the arts, frank discussion?
Art, music and culture are an integral part of who we are and what we enjoy as individuals and as a family.
Being a photographer, a lot of my own work is up on the walls. I love gallery walls and have lots of them around the house. Most of it is my own photography. I do collect paintings, but more than just expensive art pieces, I love to create my own. I have my mother’s paintings up too,Â which are more than 50 years old.
Mohsin, on the other hand, is very patriotic with a love for the Urdu language,Â adab and Pakistani art and culture. Youâ€™ll find a lot of pieces from back home, in every corner of our home. I also love art pieces from Artel by Bina Ali and Saad Peerzada Design Studios, as their art work and furniture pieces remind me of our roots back in Pakistan.
Even the family room wall was painted in white and green to be a symbolic representation of the Pakistani flag.
We have a big collection of books. However, my husband and IÂ have totally different interests when it comes to our literary choices. He is an Urdu poet, but works in technology and finance, so our collection of books includes Urdu poetry and adab, finance, technology, photography, cooking, biographies, geo- political history, arts and cultural publications.
Music is also an integral part of our household and we have a little music corner in our house with a few instruments. Both my husband and daughter are musically gifted.
I also have a lot of DIY art work in the house. My most favorite is the one I created in memory of my father who lost his battle to Cancer. He was an ophthalmologist and a philanthropist. I love the feeling of having his essence around the house for my kids to learn about him and know him more.
Describe a perfect day in your house?
A perfect day to me is a slow Friday at home.Â A home-cooked brunch with close friends and family, followed by tea in the garden while the children play in the yard. The day ends with a nice movie while Iâ€™m cuddled up on the couch with my children and some popcorn.
What do you think makes a happy home?
Harmony, not just in home dÃ©cor and aesthetics, but amongst the individuals living together. Another important thing is gratitude. It brings a sense of calm that reflects in your house. I also strongly believe that the sentimental value of artifacts is always more important than their price tag- thatâ€™s what makes them beautiful.