The One Room Designer Ruqiya Imtiaz of Studio RIU Will Never Forget

Ruqiya Imtiaz in an office she designed

Courtesy of Ruqiya Imtiaz

Interior designers and other experts in the home industry work on an impressive number of spaces throughout their careers. But even if some of the makeovers and redesigns start to blend together after a few years, there are some rooms that are just truly unforgettable. 

So, to give designers a chance to revisit their favorite projects—and to bring you plenty of inspiration for your own home—we’re sharing the one room these pros will remember forever. For some, there’s a sentimental connection, for others, there was an obstacle they never thought they’d overcome. But no matter what, these rooms are worth remembering.

Ruqiya Imtiaz of Studio RIU puts a personal stamp on all of her designs. But this moody office space remains a standout for her, not only because of its bold colors and vintage treasures but because the office is in a special place—her parents’ home. They approached Imtiaz after deciding to turn their spare guest bedroom into a sleek office, and they were confident she would transform the space and give it new life.

“Every detail about this project stands out to me because I had the opportunity to create one of my most admired designs for my parents' home,” Imtiaz says. “The art and prints displayed on their shelves were created by my kids, and some of the treasures adorning the walls belong to my parents, which were passed down to them.”

The remodel soon became a family effort, as everyone took on a special place in the room. Imtiaz’s father and brother painted the walls and installed the crown molding, her sister and mother gathered the special pieces styled on the shelves, her husband helped install the bookshelves, and her kids made special paintings and prints for the space. The opportunity to make the design selections and work alongside those she cherishes most leaves Imtiaz with nothing but gratitude.

This project was truly a family affair and one I will always cherish and never forget—especially considering the current climate and me not being able to visit my family often.

Keep scrolling to see the fine details of Imtiaz’s modern casual office space.

Office desk.
Courtesy of Ruqiya Imtiaz

This office study is cool and collected and remained so even through the challenges of the past year. The project was designed in a series of phases, but things quickly stalled as product and furniture shipments were delayed. Imtiaz also wanted to keep her family healthy and did not visit until she felt it was safe to do so.

Despite the onset challenges, progress was quickly made as Imtiaz began to make her mark on the room. One of her favorite features of the room is the antique Pakistan rug, which happens to be a family heirloom. “The area rug is a handmade piece and was gifted to my mother from her family. She brought it with her when she first came to the U.S. 35 years ago,” Imtiaz notes. “The rug is such a beautiful contrast with the deep green walls and adds to the overall moody feel in the office.”

Another favorite element of Imtiaz’s is, of course, the statement CB2 bookshelves, which truly tell a story down the row of objects. “Adding the bookshelves, which tell a story from one end to the next, along with housing all the books, collected treasures, and sentimental items was so meaningful to me,” Imtiaz says. “They include homemade art, family heirlooms, and vintage collected treasures mixed with modern casual decor. I love how accessible this design is, and how anyone can implement it into their home office.”

Decor of office.
Courtesy of Ruqiya Imtiaz

Imtiaz also loves the marriage of styles in this room, and she feels it is a true representation of her current style and design work. “This was the first time I decided to go so bold with color, and this has truly influenced my projects moving forward to use more color,” Imtiaz says. “It opened my eyes to having both a bold and casual space. Most times, you think of modern casual design and think all whites, neutrals, light and airy—but this proved that you can use color in a space and still create a modern casual vibe with the furniture and decor elements.”

The proudest moment of the project for Imtiaz was seeing how thrilled the completion made her family. “My dad walked up and handed me his old treasured binoculars to add to the shelves, and my mom bought me an antique oriental vase, which was gifted to her by her eldest sister,” Imtiaz notes. “These moments were truly the most memorable and reminded me of the reason why I chose to help people design their homes and help them uncover what home really means to them—because home is truly a feeling.”

Imtiaz sharing binoculars
Courtesy of Ruqiya Imtiaz

What Imtiaz will never forget about this remodel are the memories that she and her family will hold forever. “I am so grateful for the opportunity to design a special place for my parents' home, something I will never take for granted,” Imtiaz says. “I'll never forget this project because it allowed me to have fun with a moody design and push my limits without worrying too much about playing it safe.”

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