Inside the Dubai house filled with a million bricks and 300 sets of Lego worth Dh400,000

Couple's four-bedroom Silicon Oasis villa is bursting with colour and personality

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It is a Lego collector's dream home. A Dubai couple have spent 10 years and Dh400,000 building up a collection of more than a million bricks, with special sets adorning every room.

Catherine Rees, 48, bought the first Lego set as a Christmas present for husband Ieuan, 48, sparking a 300-set collection that sweeps their entire four-bedroom villa in Silicon Oasis.

The couple from Wales now have more than a million Lego bricks and say their unique collection adds character to their home, which is bursting with colour and personality.

“I’ve loved Lego since I was a kid,” says Catherine, who works in business services at a law firm. “I remember going to my grandmother’s house and sitting on the floor with a big bag of Lego.

“As an adult, I find it very therapeutic, and it takes me back to a carefree time away from the problems of day-to-day life. I just love it.”

Interior innovators

Today, every inch of the couple’s villa is covered in the vibrant blocks, from Star Wars figurines to artworks of The Beatles and even bouquets of flowers constructed purely from Lego bricks.

If I spend an evening building Lego, I have the best night’s sleep
Ieuan Rees, entrepreneur and Lego enthusiast

“We had to move from a two-bedroom apartment to a four-bedroom villa, technically for the dogs but realistically for the Lego,” says Ieuan, an entrepreneur. “There’s not a single room without Lego in the entire house.”

Inside the living room, cabinets burst with Lego lorries, rollercoasters and action heroes, while a 150cm-high Eiffel Tower stands majestically in the hallway. In the dining room, a 130cm-long model of the Titanic takes pride of place, while the bedroom is adorned with Lego interpretations of Van Gogh’s Starry Night and The Great Wave.

The couple couldn’t be happier to incorporate their decade-long hobby into their home decor, they say. “Friends and family love our Lego and it’s always a talking point when we have guests,” says Catherine. “The neighbour’s kids come over to play with the dogs, but they usually end up just playing with the Lego.

“I think it’s nice that our decor reflects our personalities. Minimalist interiors seem boring in comparison.”

No expense spared

As any collector (or parent) knows, Lego can be expensive, with limited-edition sets creeping up into the thousands.

In 2021, researchers at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow found that prices for retired Lego sets grew 11 per cent annually between 1987 and 2015 – a rate faster than bonds, stocks and even gold.

“I’ve got about four sets in front of me right now that cost Dh3,000 each and we’ve spent up to Dh400,000 in total, though I try not to count it,” says Ieuan.

“It’s difficult to say what our collection is worth because it really just depends on what someone is willing to pay for it. There’s a community of AFOLs [Adult Fans of Lego] that are avid collectors and will pay a lot of money for rare sets.”

For Catherine, who relaxes with up to three 1,000-piece builds in a day, the pleasure of Lego lies in the enjoyment it brings, though the financial returns are a welcome bonus.

“For years, we used to go to brunches and have nothing to show for it afterwards,” she says. “If you spend the same amount on a Lego set you have something to decorate your house with.

“It’s a significant investment in both time and money, but collector’s editions can be worth it. We bought an extra Millennium Falcon for Dh4,000, which is currently being stored in my mum’s attic because we know at some point it’s going to be a rare set.”

Other limited-edition pieces in the Rees’ collection include a Boeing Osprey with rotating blades that was available for three weeks before it was taken off the shelves for its striking similarities to a military aircraft. The pair are always on the lookout for new and exciting pieces.

“We’re well known in Dubai’s Lego stores, and when something new goes on sale, the staff will get in touch with us,” says Catherine. “They are passionate about Lego too, and ask us to send them pictures once our new purchases have been built.”

Bespoke creations

After years of building Lego to manufacturer’s specifications, Ieuan decided to construct his own creations using a mix of pieces from different sets. His “projects” can take anything from four days to four years, and involve everything from the humble brick to motors, pendulums and working lights.

“When I’m working on a project, I become fully absorbed and can spend two to three hours a day easily,” he says. “I’ve made a working Lego clock with a swinging pendulum and though it doesn’t function brilliantly, it goes for around 45 minutes before it needs winding up again.

“I also built a remote-control forklift truck, which took me four years to complete; and a Soviet-style truck, which has nine different motors, three controllers and is operated by an iPad.”

Building serenity

For Mr and Mrs Rees, the value of Lego is not just monetary, but also beneficial to their mental and physical health.

“I feel like when I’m building Lego my mind drifts from my to-do list or work issues and I just lose myself in what I’m doing,” says Catherine. “If I need to de-stress or relax, then I know I can get the Lego out and forget about everything else. I’d recommend it to anyone.”

Ieuan strongly agrees and has noticed a wealth of health benefits he believes are directly linked to building Lego.

“One of my other hobbies is cycling and I track my metrics like my heart rate and my sleep,” he says. “If I spend an evening building Lego, I have the best night’s sleep. It clears my mind,” he says. “The activity and thought that goes into it separates me from everything.”

Updated: January 24, 2024, 7:41 AM