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About Caroline Clay

Clay started as a Trainee Housekeeper in London for Grand Metropolitan Hotels in 1971 and worked for half of her Housekeeping life in Hotels and the other half in private hospitals in London, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Dubai. She has a City and Guilds Diploma in Housekeeping and an OND in Hotel Management and Accommodation Services. Concurrently, she trained as a Chef and is also a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Public Health and Hygiene.

In Conversation with GoDubai

  • What are your favourite areas in housekeeping?

    I love to train others to succeed in Housekeeping. I get a tremendous amount of pleasure when people call the agency and give us positive feedback about our girls. I particularly like training on communicable diseases and usages of cleaning materials.

  • Have you written any books on housekeeping?

    Have never published anything, but have written lots of policy and procedure manuals for Hotel and Hospital Housekeeping and Laundry Departments.

  • Career opportunities for professional housekeepers in the Gulf?

    With so many hotels in the Gulf, it is a fast growing industry. There are so many opportunities for both males and females, although executive Housekeepers tend to be mostly female. This is because of their strong eye for detail. It is a very important hotel department and, therefore, many career opportunities exist particularly in the larger chains of hotels where internal vacancies are circulated.

  • What Is Good Housekeeping?

    Good Housekeeping to me is a clean safe environment which is pleasing to the eye and where everything is in its place with no obvious clashes of colour. You will not necessarily notice good housekeeping but you will definitely notice bad housekeeping.

  • Housekeeping does not earn as much respect as other activites like career, family and leisure- What is your opinion on current attitudes towards housekeeping?

    The public generally believes that anybody can clean. This is untrue. It takes between 1-3 years to turn out a really good cross infection-free housemaid/houseboy. There is also a misconception that people who make money out of cleaning services are brain dead and that you can be as rude as you like when dealing with them!

  • What are the essential steps to follow while furnishing a house?

    There are essential steps to follow except the obvious ones of thinking about your lifestyle. Also think about the image of what you want to create and what you feel comfortable living in and with what.

  • What are the mistakes generally committed while doing so?

    People don't think about their lifestyle and where they will settle next in the world. We all have to consider these subjects as most of us are transient in Dubai.

  • Would you recommend furnishing at one go or in stages?

    I would recommend furnishing in stages starting with walls and flooring first- you have to decide on a theme and what colours you want, then go on to furniture slowly, gradually adding pieces.

  • Any special advice for residents of the UAE and other regions with a similar climate?

    Remember you live in the heat for a good part of the year. All the sand will damage your carpets and rugs if you don't have them cleaned regularly. A lot of people put sandy neutral colours in their homes. There is enough of these colours outside. This is a climate that does very well with cool pastel colours or strong aztec earthy colours.

    Do not buy furniture in pale colours and don't have white or pale beige carpet. Make your rooms as safe as you can for your children, with no hard edges to your furniture. Cover in plug sockets with safety plugs and tuck all wires behind electrical appliances such as TV's and stereos. Buy a good book on safety and adhere to it when planning your room.

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Tips on Furnishing The Living Room

Think about the colours you feel and look good in. You will probably feel much happier if they feature in most of the rooms in your house at least to a certain extent.

As a general rule, use warm colours together or cool colours together. It takes quite an expert to mix the two palettes together.

If it is a small room, maximise the space by picking softer lighter colours. Use of mirrors and mirror tiles can make your room look much bigger. White or ivory walls will also create the illusion of more space.

If it is a large room, a border on the wall will bring down a high ceiling. Some very ornate decorative lighting statements such as chandeliers can look marvellous and can bring a room together if there is a lot of space to fill. Warm earth tones or bright primary colours can be used in a large room, both will fill the room rather than using pastels.

Be careful with the size of your furniture, big pieces look bulky in a small room and you will fall over them with alarming regularity. Small pieces will look ridiculous in a large room. Don't be afraid to ask showrooms to let you try a piece of furniture for a few days to see how it looks, it is surprising how many will say 'yes'!

If you are a beginner in furnishing, decide on one form of furniture and stick with it. For example, if you like rattan, stick with rattan. If you decide on wood, whether it be dark or pale stick with one type of wood until you learn what blends together. This should help you not to make too many expensive mistakes.

Lighting is very important. To create an atmosphere you must have overhead lighting if you want to read or do paperwork. Wall sconces or simple wall fittings are great for softer lighting as an alternative to table lamps. Spotlights are great if you wish to highlight a feature of your room such as a painting.

It is a nice touch to feature a collection of local artifacts from the country you are living in, whether it be local coffee pots, Omani cheese or shells from the beach. This makes a home and a room very personal and they are great souvenirs to take home and treasure when you finally leave.

Lastly, don't try to suit others it doesn't matter if they don't like it, and don't exceed your budget ; there are many good reasonable ways to make a home in the Gulf.

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