Cherine Magrabi is a businesswoman with a potent creative mind. Born to an Egyptian–Saudi father and a Lebanese mother, the lithe, blonde, and blue-eyed Magrabi was raised in Jeddah. She also lived in Switzerland and the UK before moving to Beirut with her husband and their three sons in 2002. “I think it is fair to say that diversity has influenced me,” she says. “After endless gray days in London, we wanted to move to a sunny place. More importantly, we wanted our kids to be aware of their origins, learn the language, and be closer to family.”
Originally printed in the November 2018 issue of Vogue Arabia
In the summer of 2017, however, she fell in love with a property on the other side of the world – Santa Monica. “I was immediately drawn to the abundance of light,” she recalls of the moment she set eyes on her latest residence. Nestled in a quiet street lined with more than 100 majestic Moreton Bay fig trees, her Californian summer home has become a refuge from the world.
Sprawling and open plan, the home’s ground level features a cozy living area with a fireplace, lounge, and home cinema. A smaller, intimate family room precedes a soaring ceiling reception room and a dining area with a skylight and endless white walls to display art. Housed on the same level as the main living space, the master bedroom overlooks the pool area and offers spectacular views of the Riviera Country Club. Four additional bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms and two living rooms occupy the first floor.
“I wish we could be here full-time,” she muses wistfully as her eyes peruse the light-filled space. “But with my work, I have to be in the Middle East and Europe most of the time.” She founded a nonprofit organization, House of Today, in Beirut in 2012, born from her desire to showcase and nurture emerging Lebanese designers. She is also in charge of the communication and creative department of her family business, Magrabi eyecare, which has around 200 stores in the Middle East. And she’s just launched an accessories line, 13BC, at Paris fashion week.
Her love for great design extends to her surroundings. “I like soothing colors with a touch of quirkiness,” smiles Magrabi, describing the various furniture pieces that decorate her home. She didn’t hesitate to combine a 1930s dining table by Paul T. Frankl with 1960s Nakashima chairs and bright, modern, and contemporary artworks by the likes of Richard Prince and Andy Warhol.
“Interior design shouldn’t be mathematical. Spontaneous decisions make a room so much more personal,” she comments. Altogether, the furniture, lighting, paintings, and sculptures bring the house to life through a dialogue of forms, functions, and color. “The first year was chaotic because I wanted to transform an empty house into a home overnight,” she says of her design journey. “Last summer was dedicated to adding impulsive touches.”
An aficionada of Rodarte, Emilia Wickstead, Erdem, Racil, and Giambattista Valli, Magrabi compares her own style to the atmosphere of her homes. “I am a non-conformist and a seeker of timeless elegance,” she says. “I mix materials and colors and add unpredictable accessories that perhaps make no sense on paper.” She adds, “I avoid labels. It’s so much cooler to have your own personality and not conform to what everyone else is doing.”
Magrabi uses her California house roughly two months a year as a place to think, prioritize herself and her family, and embrace a healthy lifestyle. “When I am in Los Angeles, I wake up early, go to a Pilates or SoulCycle class, shop at flower markets, visit museums and galleries, enjoy my garden, see friends, and admire the beautiful sunsets,” she shares. “I love that no matter what state of mind or mood I am in – tired, jet-lagged – walking through this home always feels like a breath of fresh air.”