Birch Ply Never Looked So Good

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Birch Ply Never Looked So Good
A compact view of the living + dining + kitchen in a single frame.

This is a home tour of Mumbai-based architect & interior designer Mahek Lalan’s (of SML Architects) 2-bedroom family home. It’s not often you get to see how the architects’ design a home for themselves paring down the frills and superfluous artifacts.

This home is particularly breathtaking as it gave me a beach-home vibe when I first looked at it for its offbeat usage of birch ply. Indian interiors are characteristic of dark wood stains being dominated by rose wood and teak wood for years. The freshness of the light-colored birch ply is refreshing as it opens up a compact home allowing the rooms to flow from one to another seamlessly.

The clean, unblemished finish gives it a contemporary touch and rawness seldom found in darker stains. The flawless exposed finish and its usage across the home from divider to furniture and storage makes the home look laid-back, stylish and surreal.

Who lives here: Mahek Lalan (Architect himself) with his wife

Location: Vile Parle (West), Mumbai

Year built: 2017

Size: 780 sq. feet 

Type: Apartment with 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms

Designed by: SML Architects

Photograph courtesy for the images: Sameer Tawde

Budget: 27 Lakhs

Birch Plywood that in its raw, exposed form is used in various capacities from door and window shutters to jambs and handles, from fixed furniture elements, partitions and storage units to screens, table tops, drawers and beds. With edges left raw and exposed, with a sealing coat of clear matte oil, the plywood creates a sense of a warm yet spare home monolithic in formation yet delicate in its articulation. 

The sense of seamlessness continues with the other major material element – the concrete floor that unifies the apartment and forms the second part of the material backdrop against which the lives of inhabitants of the home would play out against.


As one enters the house, the first space that one encounters is the dining area with the a living room to its right. Further ahead of the dining space straight ahead is the open kitchen. After that on the right is the guest bedroom with an attached bathroom. And at the very end is the master bedroom with its attached bathroom.

The architect says, ” it was conscious step to form an abode of calm and restraint through an extreme paring down of the palette to a few basic materials. “

The living room has a super interesting ‘L’ shaped sliding folding window which brings in the natural night in the space along with opening itself to the beautiful foliage outside.
The dining space is between the kitchen and living room. The dining table top is super sleek and thin made up of 18mm thick birch ply.
A view of the kitchen beyond the dining. The dining table chairs are black powder coated see-through wireframe chairs.
On entering the house one is welcomed by a birch ply screen which separates the living & dining space partially from the rest of the house. Also the exaggerated long handle of the entrance door becomes a striking feature.
The storage in the kitchen opens up in multiple ways like top hung shutters, open shelves, vertical shutters and drawers. These units are made up of a combination of birch ply and fluted glass along with custom designed handles to open it.

The bed in the master bedroom is a unique piece. Its designed as a stepped platform which one can use in multiple ways to sit. It is designed to convert itself into an informal space when not used as a bedroom.

It can transform into a informal space when required.
The wardrobe surfaces are made up of birch ply with a sealing coat of clear matte oil bringing warmth to the space.
The guest room bed is an offset inside from the bottom so as to not to get hurt while walking around it at the corners.

Spot the white washbasin carved from Marble in the bathroom?


Lights: Concrete dining pendants above dining table by Gomaads

Paints: Asian Paints

Furnishings: Fab India

Sofas: Couch Potato

Dining table: Custom made inhouse

Dining chairs: Rubberband Products


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