When I first walked into Zainab’s home, I knew straight away that this was a girl with a really good eye, and she definitely wasn’t going to let anyone get in the way of making her home super stylish and comfortable.

She had not only done what we all normally do (paint, decorate with accessories, bring in some light fixtures, rugs, etc.), but had carefully crafted parts of her space to make it look quite different from your average compound home…


Years in Saudi: 4 years

Your Style?



Uncluttered. I try to keep things to a minimum. I have 3 boys in the house, and a chorus of objections when I try to bring anything new in. I keep open floor space, and not too many breakables. You won’t find clusters of pretty things on tables in corners in my house.

I’m not any one style. I wouldn’t call myself contemporary or traditional. I’m more transitional.

When you first walk in, you can’t help but notice that Zainab is a serious art collector. She collects paintings, small decorative items, and anything else that holds meaning and adds visual interest to her space.

She has 18th century religious texts up on her walls, paintings by famous Pakistani artists that she admires, artwork created by friends, small decorative antiques, as well as many other interesting pieces.

She has carefully collected and strategically placed every single piece. No joke.

The 3 round shaped tiles are replicas of famous pieces by various artists. Zainab picked them up from a gift shop at the Islamic Arts Museum in Malaysia!

How she makes it work…

I was really lucky that I was able to transplant everything from my Chicago home, and it kinda worked. I also really like low-lying furniture, which works well here. Your eye has more space to go around.

ZI-1-28Zainab painted her walls a beautiful gray – more of the gray-green color (Jotun 2005Y)– and has an accent wall with grasscloth wallpaper in her living room that I couldn’t stop drooling over!

I chose the paint color keeping in mind that there’s not much natural light coming in the house so I didn’t want anything constricting.

Secondly, I really wanted a neutral that would not compete with any of the artwork I love collecting.

Her light fixtures are incredibly tasteful and perfectly suited to her space. Even the furniture is the right size and color!

Every piece in her home has an individual and unique twist to it. She adds critical details to everything to make sure that they work for her and her family’s lifestyle.

I can’t wait for you to see how detail-oriented designing can dramatically change your space…

Informal Sitting Room

I love how pretty this room is. It’s intentionally not matchy matchy, but still works so well together. I also think that this design choice to not match pieces makes this smallish room look much bigger!

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The small calligraphy piece all the way on the top right of the back wall is actually an 18th century hand-written illuminated page of the Quran from Istanbul!


The Agate stone was an item that Zainab picked up from a street vendor in Cappadocia, and the tea set from Iznik Works in Turkey

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This gorgeous tapestry is from Makkah and is by a Belgian artist named Marwan Aridi. It looks even better in person!
Replicas of old Mughal toys that Zainab purchased from Badshahi Mosque in Lahore

Living & Dining Room

This space is just so cool. It looks modern, yet comfortable, and still has a sense of formality for entertaining guests. She makes it look so easy to achieve that look!


And check out that grasscloth wallpaper! Stunning!!!




This is a beautiful piece by one of my favorite Pakistani artists, Salman Farooqui! He uses the most amazing colors and creates abstract masterpieces out of a fairly ordinary subject or setting.



Another abstract painting by a fave of mine, Pakistani artist, Mashkoor Raza!
“The hand carved brackets were not really my style, but my Aunt convinced me that I needed to have them. She had them polished for me, and after about 6 months of letting them sit in my house, I decided to put them up. I couldn’t believe how nice they looked!”

The calligraphy pieces above the custom shelf were made by Zainab’s friend Roxy, and are of her boys names. Clever!

A calligrapher from Lahore, Amir Kamal, made this copy of the Prophet’s last sermon with Arabic script, a border and illumination.


I’ve always heard that when it comes to selling a home, kitchens and bathrooms can really make or break it. Not that Zainab is selling her home, but her kitchen and bathroom have me totally sold…



The Zazzle poster on the right is a conversion chart! I think everyone needs this in their kitchen…

This kitchen has convinced me that having my own pretty appliances is a MUST if I want my rental space to feel like my own. I even think that the stainless steel appliances that Zainab brought from Chicago make the existing features in these compound home kitchens look 10 times better!


I’m also convinced that having a backsplash is a brilliant idea, and is totally worth it. You can pick up a mosaic tiled backsplash like this one at Abyat or venture out to King Khalid Street (between 16th and 18th Street) for a variety of natural stone tiles.


And now on to the super pretty bathrom. How cute is this space??

And the grasscloth is back! Taking out that mirror and adding your own is so effective and simple here. I’m totally stealing this idea!



I know that most of us neglect sprucing up our bathrooms here, but I’ve come to realize that it’s incredibly important to do this, even in a rental space. I feel like a styled, neat and tidy bathroom gets noticed and always leaves a lasting impression.

It doesn’t need to be a dramatic change, but there should be some attention to detail here. 

Kids Rooms

Zainab has incorporated so many beautiful and creative ideas in her kids’ rooms! You have to check it out…


This is such a clever idea – Zainab put a Ludo board underneath a glass cover on her coffee table! Photo Courtesy of Zainab



Yep. That’s a clock!
And of course, how can anyone manage without an Aicha Sori custom made wood piece? How amazing is that height ruler she made for Zainab?!

Master Bedroom

I could sleep in this bedroom. The colors are so calm and soothing. It almost makes me feel like I’m not in Saudi…

The benches at the end of the bed are actually old end tables! Zainab took them from her Aunt, ordered some material online, and had cushions made.


LOVE the details!

Updated Art

Since the time that I photographed Zainab’s home, she has added a few paintings that I really wanted to show you! They look sooo good!!

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The painting on the left is the new addition to her informal living room, and was made by Pakistani artist, Khusro Subzwari. He’s known for his Sufi paintings, and often uses abstract whirling dervish’s as the subjects of his  paintings. So since this painting was inspired by the galaxy and the Northern lights, you can see the dervish’s cap in the middle and the cosmic light radiating out from him. So amazing. The calligraphy painting on the bottom right was made by one of my favorite artists, Hasan Massoudy, an Iraqi calligrapher.

Updated Art.jpg

Outdoor Living

And of course, the outdoor space is just as put together as her indoor space 🙂


LOVE this idea…
I need this…




Tips & Tricks…

While Zainab is more of an overseas shopper, here are some of her tips!
  • The only place I like shopping is at Hazzaz.
  • If you go to Midas, go to the second floor for good items! You can avoid the glitz and purple of the first floor that way…
  • I shop Amazon and Overstock.com a lot, especially for home organization stuff. Amazon Prime is probably the best investment you can make. I haven’t used it for international shipping but I send everything to my US address. I’ve also ordered a lot from CB2. 
  • I never buy sets.
  • I bring a lot back from Pakistan. I have stuff made there all the time.
  • I never buy from big stores. There’s always a back warehouse that I would prefer to go to.
  • I leave my husband and kids at home, and do my own thing. 

Hope you enjoyed the tour and welcome back!


0 comments on “The Art Collector’s Home Tour”

  1. So nice! I’m in love with that lamp in her TV room with the big arched/curved neck. Please tell me she got it here and I can procure one, too? Also, what’d she do with the bathroom mirror? I’ve thought of doing away with mine but where does it go…

    • I’m hoping to get Zainab to answer some of your questions here on the blog! Until then, I can say that she bought most of her furniture in the States, but I think you may be able to find something like it at Bo Concept. It’ll be pricey but their style is similar. I also think she may have stored the mirror away in the garage until she has to move. I think it’s a great idea – I’m debating doing it myself!

    • Thank you Jordan. The lamp was a steal at the Crate and Barrel outlet in Chicago. My bathroom mirror is stored in the corner of the furnace room 🙂 however if you don’t feel like storing it, just make a note of dimensions. Mirror is pretty cheap to get cut here- I remember getting a floor length mirror for only 20 SR cut in Thuqbah