This is the official blog of the Landmark Group with insights
and stories from the people behind our many brands.

Refresh your home with Ramadan inspirations from Home Centre

For most of us, our home is sacred. It is one place where we can truly be ourselves. What if our home could reflect who we were, what we represent and all of that within a budget? Home Centre's team of buyers and stylists have put together a selection of traditional accessories and ornaments, luxurious furniture pieces and lighting choices, classical carpets, tableware and kitchenware that will help you recreate the richness and warmth of the Ramadan season in your homes.

Many interesting home décor ideas will come to you as you stroll around Home Centre stores over the weekend. The store infuses a sense of warmth and comfort that can be recreated in your homes too, so soak it in. Look out for layouts, textures, colour combinations that catch your attention and interesting store discounts, special offers that can be good on your pocket.

Here are some exciting tips that could help you make the right shopping choices this Ramadan.

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Clean up the clutter

Getting rid of old furniture, linens and excess clutter can help make space for new. Organizing shelves, stacking books on the coffee table, giving away unused furniture can be therapeutic. Once clean, you could transform your rooms by changing cushion covers, curtains and carpets to add a new splash of colour. The colour could help define rooms and distinguish sections.


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Themes and collections

The easiest way to give your home a seasonal touch is to add a few thematic accessories. Similar looking objects like vases, stack of books, candles etc. can be clubbed together to build a collection. Place your collection in an under-utilized space of your home.




Make it sparkle

Vacuuming, dusting and washing may sound tedious, but it is one big way of making your home a clean safe haven. Involve your kids, assign tasks and make it a fun experience to clean the house. This could count in as your exercise for the day too.

Light up your life
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Brighten up your room with lamps or go old school by lighting a few candles or lanterns.  These lamps can build a mood within each room and even highlight sections of your home. You could also push your curtains to one side so that the light can stream in and reposition some of your furniture to face the window of the room.

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Cook up a delicious Iftar
 
Cooking a delicious Iftar meal for your loved ones can be much more fun when you have the right durable cookware to make your delicious food into reality. With Home Centre's wide range of good quality cookware you can efficiently cook up a storm and effortlessly serve a nutritious Iftar for your loved ones.


Serve in style
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As most say 'we eat with our eyes', make your food look welcoming and delicious on the Iftar table this Ramadan.  Home Centre's wide range of festive crockery and cutlery can add a delicious visual appeal to your food. Let the color of your table cloth set the base and lay on colors and patterns with table linen and dinnerware.

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Gift Happiness

This season is marked by generosity, togetherness and sharing, and Home Centre has gifting options that can bring a smile on any face. You can pick up some aesthetic serving dishes and traditional accessories for your loved ones and maybe gift yourself a few pieces too.



Memory lane

Photos of your loved ones can instantly make your home warm and welcoming. Take some time off during the weekends to go through your old photo albums, old photo folders on your laptop and pick out pictures that put a smile to your face. Print and frame! This photo frames can be spread out in any room, place it on your coffee table, window pane or the kitchen counter. Thus, adding a warm flavor when guests visit your home.

These are just a few pieces from an extensive Ramadan collection to make this festive season a special time for friends and family.  The tips on the other hand will help you open your heart and home to pleasant changes in this Ramadan season.

Home Centre website for our Arabic-speaking customers

Back in October 2011 we announced the launch of our Home Centre website, which was launched in 9 countries: UAE, India, Bahrain, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The site gives customers access to a variety of Home Centre products across many different product categories: furniture, bed and bath, home décor, kitchen and tabletop, and kids furniture. It has been a long journey, but we have evolved since then and become bigger and better for the experience.

arb_homepage.jpgThe site has some great features and gives customers the opportunity to view our catalogue while relaxing at home and, if they like a product, our store locator will spotlight the nearest outlet for them to visit. We also keep customers up-to-date with our new House Proud blog - a go-to place for affordable tips, trends and inspiration to keep your home beautiful, tidy and safe. It also features our latest offers and promotions.

The past year has been busy, encouraging and quite a learning experience for all of us at Home Centre. We've been working harder every day to cater to our Arabic customers - October 2012 saw the launch of our Home Centre website in Arabic.

Right on cue: our new Q Home Decor website

Qhomedecor blog post copy.pngIt's been six months since I joined the Landmark Web Team to manage and various concepts sites and what a journey it's been. I'm proud to share with you my third website, Q Home Décor.

Q Home Décor, established five years ago, has nine stores throughout the Middle East. The brand prides itself on selling affordable luxury furnishings that are handpicked from around the globe.

Our focus was on recreating the fresh, appealing experience of shopping at Q Home Décor, which we captured in the Collections section. Which are based on the Classic, Eclectic and Modern room settings, and all are prominent in the stores' showrooms.

To reflect the look of those settings, we were particularly determined to have excellent photos; we collaborated with the Q Home Décor photographer Bless Parreno, and Paula Evans, a buyer who styled the Collections room settings. Their work brings the site to life.

To make the site as useful as it is attractive, we added a new interactive feature known as hotspots, which lets visitors click on products to get more information about them.
Visitors who have a clearer idea of what they want, or seek more information about what specific items are available, can visit the All Products section, which is searchable and provides a wealth of details.

We started work on creating the site and selecting its features after an immersion session to gain a greater understanding of Q Home Décor and its target audience. We met Luke Rolfe and Pallavi Bhargavai from the Operations and Marketing teams, who gave our design and development partners and us an in-depth tour of the store and told us more about the brand.

With their help and the assistance from people throughout the Web Team, we created a site that showcases Q Home Décor and what's made it successful.

So, please take a look at www.qhomedecor.com. I hope you too will find it engaging and inspiring enough to make your space your own.

Welcome to your online Lifestyle

Following the Web Team's recent successful launch of the new Babyshop site, we are delighted to announce yet another addition to our online portfolio -- the much anticipated new website for Lifestyle, one of Landmark's most dynamic concepts.

Specialising in fresh and contemporary home décor, designer furnishings and personal accessories, Lifestyle is a brand that fashion-forward consumers, and women in particular, trust and love.

Our focus for the new site was on creating a user-friendly experience, that is easy to navigate, has clean design and clear labeling. One key challenge was to create an online personality that represents what Lifestyle is all about, as it's important to retain the look and feel of the off-line stores to some extent, so that existing Lifestyle customers can associate with the new web presence.

As with our other successful site launches, this adventure began with an immersion session that allowed the team to get a feel for the brand. We visited the flagship store to study the diverse product range, look at the store layout, observe the types of customers shopping in the store and gain an understanding of the key similarities and differences with their competitors. Our observations were then put into our creative blender, ideas were tossed around, and out came a workable structure or framework for the site and some great looking designs. Add some creativity, a lot of hard work and careful planning, and the net result is a great looking website. Don't take my work for it, see for yourself:

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As a relatively new member of the Web Team  - I'm now entering my third month - it's a great feeling to get my first project delivered to the launch deadline. Having produced 100's of websites in my career, this one is special as it's the first I've worked on outside of the UK. Like all projects, we've faced challenges, but having a great team together, working in unison, is a recipe for success. Working in partnership with our design and development partners, and a very enthusiastic marketing team within Lifestyle, under the leadership of CEO Sachin Mundhwa, we've put together a site we're all proud of and the experience has been thoroughly enjoyable.

With the Lifestyle site now live, this is where the adventure really begins; we're already working on improvements to the site to keep things new and exciting for our customers to visit and re-visit.

Home Centre Makeover 5: The Little Princess

Home Centre turned 15 this year, and as part of our birthday celebrations we gave away complete room makeovers worth AED 10,000 each to 15 lucky winners. In this series, we share five before-and-after experiences.

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A cramped, drab studio apartment is no place for a princess. Yavnish Adlakha's 3-year-old daughter is the apple of his eye, but with rising costs he's hard-pressed to give her the kind of royal treatment he'd like. The family sleeps uncomfortably each night on a small double bed in their sparse one-room flat, with no funds to create a homey atmosphere or provide a play-and-study area for a growing girl. Yavnish's touching request to Home Centre moved us into action.

Inspiration
This was one of the most challenging room makeovers yet: to transform a tiny, bare room into a practical, welcoming one in which the whole family could dine, lounge, sleep and relax. The daughter needed her own bed, and the new couple, theirs. Although the room was small, it was light and airy, so we decided to put that to good use.

Before/After
We chose a cheery, calming pistachio green for the walls, which really helped set the mood of the makeover. A compact girly bed and study desk transformed one corner into the daughter's very own "room"; another study desk for the family PC and practical TV unit took care of clutter.

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Our magic wand produced bed set furniture that perfectly matched the existing wardrobes, and we threw in a comfortable sofa for the family to lounge on. Overall storage was better, all the family's needs were taken care of, and Yavnish's little princess was so thrilled she couldn't stop leaping for joy. Talk about a fairytale finish!



This wraps up Home Centre's five spotlight room makeovers, but transformations keep happening every day. Do you have a favourite Home Centre product that's changed your space? Share your story with us here!

Home Centre Makeover 4: Wish Upon A Star

Home Centre turned 15 this year, and as part of our birthday celebrations we gave away complete room makeovers worth AED 10,000 each to 15 lucky winners. In this series, we share five before-and-after experiences.

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"When you wish upon a star," sings Louis Armstrong,
"Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you.

If your heart is in your dreams
No request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star
As dreamers do."

Hanan Mohd Anwar may not know the lyrics to that song, but she certainly captured our hearts when she wrote to us with her dream wish: "My four children mean the world to me. They share a single room with just enough space for four beds - there's no place for them to play or study, and the room looks noisy and unexciting. I hope Home Centre's expertise can help my children have the best possible environment to spend time in."

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Inspiration
Hanan's three boys and one girl ranged in age from 5 to 15 years, so we needed to use age-appropriate furniture while creating a cohesive look that catered to their varying personalities and interests. The room in their Sharjah home was drab and cluttered, clearly in need of fun colours and storage solutions. As a regular Home Centre customer, Hanan had always had her eye on the Sergio Bunk Bed, so we used that as the central inspiration for the makeover.


Before/After

Room Before.jpg Room After - Long.jpg The space-saving Sergio Bunk Bed comes with practical features like under-bed storage drawers, a built-in study desk and a wardrobe, instantly creating space in a small room. Building rules prevented us from painting the walls, so we chose a bright palette of yellow, blue and red for matching furniture and accessories from the Fun Collection - a range of children's furniture that's colourful, functional and safe for kids. Extra storage units, vibrant art and photos of the kids completed the spell.




With plenty of space, practical storage and a pop of colour, the children now have a clutter-free room in which to sleep, play, study and even invite friends over - which, Hanan reports happily, they're already doing with great enthusiasm. Who said we didn't believe in magic?


Closing act: A little princess finally gets the royal treatment

Home Centre Makeover 3: Hope for the Family

Home Centre turned 15 this year, and as part of our birthday celebrations we gave away complete room makeovers worth AED 10,000 each to 15 lucky winners. In this series, we share five before-and-after experiences.


Stockenstrom Family.jpg The recession hit hard the very month Kate and Karl Stockenstrom moved into the new Dubai home they'd saved for decades to buy. Their long-time dream faced a severe reality check: Karl found himself working very long hours just to make ends meet, and Kate, a full-time mother of two young children, had little left over after their rising apartment service fees and nursery fees were paid. Tired of raising her family in an uninviting flat furnished with bland second-hand furniture and worn-out hand-me-downs, Kate reached out to Home Centre for a splash of hope.

Inspiration
We wanted to give the Stockenstroms a practical, modern family space they could lounge, dine, entertain guests and relax in while the children played safely. Kate's love of blues, beiges and creams and Karl's Scandinavian roots inspired our makeover.

Before/After

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The previous tenant was a smoker, so the bulky fabric sofa that was left behind was not only impractical for the family's needs, but smelled of stale smoke, too. All the furniture was mismatched, and although the room was light and airy with a beautiful view, it was a sun trap in the high summer months.

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The Home Centre team began the transformation by painting opposite walls a Scandinavian-inspired Tiffany blue. Coffee and brown-coloured drapes were added to shade the sun and complement the new blue walls. We repositioned existing furniture more strategically, and replaced the old sofa with a new kid-friendly, wipe-clean, L-shaped sofa with matching cushions. A faux-leather storage box was added for easy stowing of the children's toys, and a new dining set completed the picture. We decorated the walls with Kate's favourite family and wedding photographs for a personal touch.





Kate and her family were overcome with emotion when they saw the new space. "This is amazing!" she exclaimed. "Every little spot has something new!" Karl, too, was thrilled with having a space that reflected their essence, one he would enjoy coming home to after a long day. "I didn't believe a room could change like this," he grinned. The kids have a safe, cool place to play, and Kate hasn't stopped inviting guests home since the makeover, including her family who visited from the U.K. How's that for a happy ending?

After this: A mother's wish for her four children

Home Centre Makeover 2: A Son's Gift

Home Centre turned 15 this year, and as part of our birthday celebrations we gave away complete room makeovers worth AED 10,000 each to 15 lucky winners. In this series, we share five before-and-after experiences.

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Khaled Hezam Ali Othman is a grateful son. In their family home in Corniche, Sharjah, his parents occupy a bedroom that is now 9 years old. They bought it used, so by now the furniture was in bad shape and the decor long outdated.

Khaled wrote to Home Centre with this request: "After all that our parents have done, are doing, and will continue to do for us, I think they deserve a surprise room makeover. Please help me to say 'Thank You' to them." How could we refuse?

Inspiration
The room was large enough, but presented several challenges: a curved wall, a cold white ceramic-tiled floor, and a limited budget within which to select an entire bedroom suite and accessories. Based on Khaled's input and an appraisal of the rest of the house, Vincent Subeldia, our Visual Merchandise Manager, decided to go with a look that was classic and elegant but not over the top.

Before/After

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To break the monochrome look, we started by painting the walls a deep rust colour. The Charleston Bedroom Set fit the furniture bill: a dark walnut king-sized bed complete with tufted headboard, two night stands, a dresser with mirror and a 6-door wardrobe. A red rug helped reduce the whiteness of the floor, and red cushions accented a bed cover in plain, dark beige with black trim (patterns would have overpowered the room). The window was dressed with a sheer inner curtain for privacy, and a silk outer one to block the light when needed. We even added a Louie Arm Chair for them to relax by the window.


Khaled's parents couldn't believe their eyes, and burst out into spontaneous applause. "This is a big surprise! Well done! It's really amazing!" Khaled, too, was bowled over: "We got everything we expected, and more!" And seeing this close-knit family so happy, so did we.

Coming soon: A splash of hope for a family hit hard by the recession

Home Centre Makeover 1: Living Dream

Home Centre turned 15 this year, and as part of our birthday celebrations we gave away complete room makeovers worth AED 10,000 each to 15 lucky winners. In this series, we share five before-and-after experiences.

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Jesika and Aswin Menon are typical of young couples in Dubai: they're recently married, both work full-time and enjoy entertaining at home. They also enjoy living in a space that reflects their essence and lifestyle, but didn't have a clue of how to furnish or accessorize their new Oud Metha flat - so it was a dream come true for them to win a Home Centre room makeover as part of our 15th anniversary celebration giveaways.

Inspiration
As an artist, Aswin spends a lot of time at home in his studio above the lounge. Jesika conducts classes and hosts regular poetry and drama sessions in their apartment as well. Both of them love natural woods and earthy colours, and neither have owned a TV for the past several years. Seeing that they spent a lot of time at home, we wanted to create a relaxing, comfortable and functional space for them to lounge, dine and unwind in.

Before/After

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The airy living/dining area was basically an empty canvas since the couple had just moved in with little furniture of their own. To create a rustic, intimate atmosphere, Ann Hayward, our Senior Visual Merchandise Manager, took cues from a favourite solid-wood chair they own, and selected complementary furniture and accessories. The sofa and dining table were positioned to make optimal use of the space, and we hand-picked ceiling lights to add a dash of sophistication. We took an inspired last-minute decision to paint the walls, adding a welcome splash of warm colour to complete the look. Jesika and Aswin loved the lanterns and candles we added - the room really comes into its own at night, giving a Zen feeling of peace and relaxation.


Since we completed the makeover, the couple has shared their new space with several visitors, all of whom have been bowled over by the transformation. Jesika and Aswin themselves love the look so much that this room has become their favourite - they even considered sleeping on the sofa instead of in their bedroom!

Next up: a grateful son surprises his parents with a much-needed bedroom makeover!

'Tis the Season 3: Festive Fragrances

Olfaction is perhaps the most underrated - and yet most powerful - of our senses, stirring up everything from forgotten memories to pangs of hunger. This season at Lifestyle, we've got a nose for festive fragrances that put us in a merry mood.

candles_frangrance.pngColony snowman diffuser.jpgSmells for smiles
Our exclusive snowflake-accented Colony scented candles and Santa- or Snowman-shaped diffusers are a great way to spread a bit of warm-and-fuzzy through your home. If you're having a tough time choosing between our popular Hollyberry, Winter Berries, Sparkling Snowflake and Gold or Frankincense & Myrrh scents, why not pick up a few of each - you can alternate between scents on different days (how about Winter Berries on Wednesdays? Frankincense Fridays?), or assign them to various parts of the house, creating specific scent profiles for every room. They make great holiday gifts and stocking stuffers, too.

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Clear glass candle-holders of varying heights are a great way to present your scent - you could arrange them on the mantelpiece or side table along with holiday cards and family photographs. For a bit of dining room pizzazz, try our silver or crystal candle holders atop a purple or maroon Adore table runner, with placemats to match.

DIY scents
Add a few drops of a natural essential oil (sweet orange, vanilla bean and cinnamon are traditional) to a misting bottle with water, and spray it around the house for a quick pick-me-up. Stud whole oranges with cloves as a fragrant addition to your table centrepiece, or add them to an aromatic holiday gift basket. Homemade potpourri is another wonderful way to create a warm and welcoming mood.

Fresh for the family
The smell of freshly-baked cookies is another scent that's traditionally associated with the holiday season. Throw a batch in the oven (kids most willingly help lick the batter bowl clean) and serve the results with milk and a read-out-loud session of Christmas stories.

What's your favourite scent this holiday season?