My wife Najwa and I on working together:
I must be the luckiest man in London to now spend even more time with my beautiful and talented wife, Najwa Mroue, who will head up Homes One Interiors henceforth:
Najwa was born in Paris and raised in Beirut. Witnessing wartime chaos and destruction as she grew up, Najwa developed a craving for order and function. From a young age she had a sense for the psychology of good design, and was always present to how happy that made her feel.
At Homes One Interiors, we believe that your home is your sanctuary, reflecting your identity and lifestyle. We see simple functionality and workability as beautiful things. For this reason we seek to understand our clients first and foremost, and see things the way they do. From there our response to each brief is unique and bespoke, and resonant with our client’s vision and values.
Quite out of character we recently agreed to be interviewed by a colleague! Read more about our working partnership here:
How do you balance work and personal life?
Karim: We share a home but not an office! This makes everything possible. Najwa mainly works onsite with clients, or meets them out and about. It also helps that we work with our clients at different stages in the project cycle. My work goes before Najwa’s, and there is a natural fit in that this way we have less opportunities to disagree!
Najwa: In terms of our son Ramsey and the school run, I do three days and Karim does two, and we alternate soccer games. We try and eat one meal every day together, and on the weekends it’s family time. Broadly speaking we have similar tastes and a shared vision, which supports most of the major decisions.
What made you choose to work more closely together?
Najwa: It felt like a smoother process. Increasingly Karim was referring his clients to my interiors business, yet we were running two brands while often working closely as he prepared clients and their homes for architecture, design and building work. Many of his clients are long-term and over time I guess he trusted me more.
Karim: Yes that’s how it played it, broadly. I would add that Homes One often works outside of the property search skills that are central to our marketing and business message, in supporting our clients with their lifestyle as well as their property. We have a broad range of contacts. Over time it’s always been my intention to extend the brand organically and we have been close to capacity in the last few years, so it felt right to expand.
You’re both from Lebanon. How has this supported your business vision?
Najwa: I grew up in Lebanon, whereas although Karim was born there he’s really a Londoner, as he grew up in the UK. I think this supports our roles perfectly – I don’t know anyone who knows more about London property than Karim, while I find that middle eastern tastes, design wise, are second-nature to me. Both of us obviously have Lebanese parents and middle-eastern families and friends and this has meant relationships are easy to build with people from the region.
Karim: Being more Anglicised means I have an easier rapport with agents, lawyers and property professionals here in the UK than most people from the middle east. And buyers and sellers of course. Plus as everyone knows we Lebanese are good at business and we love our food. There’s plenty of both in London!
Are most of your clients middle eastern?
Karim: We have more middle eastern clients than most agents however its not as many as you might think – about 50% are from elsewhere. I guess you could still call us specialists though as that’s a huge pattern, to have half your client base – and more some years - from one specific region. Truth is we love connecting with people from the middle east because it’s natural for both of us, and we like to enjoy our work. It’s also fulfilling to help people out who are in unfamiliar territory, which is invariably how our clients feel. The concept of guidance is central to what we do… I see us as guides for prime residential London property.
Najwa: growing up in Lebanon in the eighties I was surrounded by a lot of chaos and war. I think this had an impact on my approach to design. I like many strong middle eastern influences, I love rich colours for example, yet I also appreciate simplicity and functionality. That mix, of clarity and depth, is the psychology of good design in my opinion. Other than that everyone knows middle eastern circles are very social and word of mouth counts, which helps us I think. The brand had been known for fifteen years in the middle east, so it felt natural to join forces. Karim has built up a lot of trust, and I benefit from that!
How does working together impact your relationship as a couple?
Najwa: We have to practice being separate and together, at the same time. People know us as a couple of help them, and it’s important that we are joined up in our approach, however getting me time is also key or it’s all too close. Interdependence is the answer.
Karim: We don’t discuss work too much, and we trust each other like department heads do. In fact we argue more about parenting than we do about business. And money, maybe!
What does the future hold?
Karim: Continuing to grow the business and establish ourselves in markets at home and abroad. Using our combined skill-sets we’d like to develop property in partnership with our clients, and we may look outside London to do so, and further afield outside the UK. We are also looking to add a management partner to the team to ensure a seamless lettings and property management service.
Najwa: Making those developments into the most beautiful properties they can be, and enjoying time together as a family. We love our work and our industry and we want that to continue.