Shaikha Al Ali, founder of cookery blog, Whenshaikhacooks.com, spends almost all her time in the kitchen. The Marketing major student at Zayed University Dubai tells us that her kitchen, flooded with natural light every morning, makes her feel more energetic and positive as soon as she steps into it. Although she lives with her parents, Shaikha was actively involved in redesigning their home kitchen, which is her ‘corner’. Shaikha loves cooking, and films for her YouTube channel, and prepares sweet treats and ice creams to sell to customers – via her blog and Instagram account – all from her shabby chic-style kitchen in her Jumeirah home. She gives us the grand tour, talking us through all the changes she made to the kitchen.
What did the kitchen look like initially?
There was no natural light at all – it was a very dark space! We had to switch the lights on by around 3pm every day and it was so depressing. The in-built cabinets were dark brown, the walls were dull and the floor tiles were worn out. The space was actually quite small as well, but we broke down the wall to extend the kitchen and add a dining table and storage space.
What were you looking for, from the new kitchen?
Mainly a lot of natural light. We wanted a large, airy space where my siblings and I could relax, dine and do our homework as well. Since the kitchen was small, my mother and I decided to open it up, to have the dining table towards one end of the kitchen, a small walk-in pantry for the fridge and other ingredients, and the skylight feature above the dining table. We also painted all the in-built cabinets white, so that it looked neater.
How did you go about planning and designing the space?
The appliance cupboard, wooden dining table, and showcase – which double as storage space – were all from our old kitchen. It was all white and dark brown in colour. When we moved here, we painted the chairs green, the cupboard a turquoise blue shade and the cabinets, soft pink – I love white kitchens with a pop of colour from the tableware or accessories. Most of our paints are from Laura Ashley as they have a great selection.
Did you make any changes to the walls and floors?
Yes, the walls were extremely dull. We wallpapered it in light colours to suit the theme of the kitchen and give it a more spacious feel. For the floor, we used marble, as it reflects light and is easy to clean as well.
What else did you change?
We replaced the kitchen island countertop with marble, as the old one had worn off. We also swapped regular stainless steel sinks for these white undermount kitchen sinks – to make more space for dish washing – and the kitchen taps for the retractable option. Apart from that, it was just minor changes like fabrics for dining chairs, and placing artificial plants all around, to bring that element of nature to the kitchen.
What about the appliances and gadgets?
I have a few favourites like my Zwilling J. A. Henckels knives and a cast-iron pan which I display proudly. The kitchen mixer, toaster, kettle, and other gadgets are mostly white or stainless steel, and are tucked away in the appliance cupboard when not in use.
Do you plan to do more with the kitchen?
We are extending the skylight to the small dining area, which can be accessed from the kitchen, with a connecting door. I can’t wait for it, as it will be a nice place to entertain, rather than gathering and serving food in the main kitchen itself.
Anything in particular you'd like to add?
I’d really like another cupboard for my cutlery and tableware. I buy lots of plates, trays and crockery, and I feel it’s time to display them in a lovely glass cupboard instead of having them stacked away in a cabinet.