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HOUSE TOURS

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Good morning! How’s the week treating you folks? I’m hoping you are reading this post on feedly or some other reader. How did you find the transition? As much as I like feedly, I miss Google Reader.

So anyways, early last month, after the numbers slowly started receding from my head, I spoke with Harsh Jain of Nestopia one afternoon. How about some prettiness first before we get down to business?

Doing up one’s home, or even constructing an independent house is still largely an unorganized space in India; largely done by word of mouth. There’s no credibility before you hire a contractor, or be certain you’ll see a home at the end of the year. Oh yes, the horror stories of contractors fleeing with lakhs after gaining your confidence are not fables.

Good Morning! Hope you had a wonderful weekend. Did you happen to flip through the pages of GoodHomes’ March edition? The Real Home section featured Ramya, Anand and their son Aditya’s 1450 sq.ft Mumbai apartment. All that had to be said has been brilliantly captured by Pia Sinha. I’ll let these two pictures decide whether you should grab a copy or not. If you liked this home, I bet you will like the Jains’ 1,800 sq. ft upcycled home as well. It was featured in Good Homes. Image courtesy: BBC Good Homes India March ’13 Edition

This magnificent 3,300 sq.ft bungalow in Classic Orchards, off Bannerghetta Road in Bangalore is home to Seetha and Shyam Kaluve. Designed and built by architects at Tabula Rasa, it’s a feast to the eyes. The palatial bungalow boasts of enviable architectural features, further accentuated by materials used in yester year homes. The beautiful exposed brick wall is the first thing you see when you enter the house. Modern comforts are far and few in the living room. There is an inordinate amount of  thought and detail that has gone into in replicating elements  of olden day homes such as cement slabs for…

My son remarked this afternoon, “mamma, how does Google know all the answers?”  I replied, “yes, it does, provided you ask the right questions.” The past decade or so has made us believe that we can have all the answers in a click from supernova explosions to a drug prescribed by a hematologist to what’s so fascinating about a beluga whale; it has given us the confidence to experiment, get our hands dirty from carpentry to coding.

But, I believe certain things in life are best left to experts. Because their expertise in the field takes your breath away, even if only for a moment, it’s worth it. So, as much as I advocate DIY, I’m also an ardent fan of the professionals who know their work best. Here, we are talking of interior designers.

The Orange Lane is one such firm in Mumbai run by Shabnam Gupta. Her portfolio is incredibly impressive/creative in execution from the commercial ones to vast houses to studio apartments and bachelor pads.

Minus words, plus pictures – to take your breath away.

After three years of subconsciously staring at 18,712,789,765 beautifully dressed up images of kitchens, gardens and spotless living rooms, I’ve come to realise one thing:  when it comes to doing/re-doing your own space, you tend to draw ideas from real homes than the picture-perfect ones in the glossies.

That’s perhaps the reason why real home tours are so popular among blogs. Because, that’s as close as you can get, to real homes. I was fortunate enough to shoot Vidya’s  remodeled kitchen recently. A few caveats before I begin:

* the aesthetic brilliance does not come out in the pictures as I’m still trying to befriend my camera (yes, slightly Physics (ally) challenged with the aperture/focal length etc)

* the objective is on the functionality and not the dressing up. So, you would be peeking more into the insides of the drawers than the embellishments outside.

* we didn’t have time to dress up the space as she was traveling that evening for a long while

A little background:

From my conversations with Vidya, I’ve come to understand that cooking and baking are like nirvana for her. So, to say, baking is her passion would be an understatement. She treats every corner of her home indulgently. A lot of research went into what appliance to pick, where to procure the granite /tiles from, what layout would work, where to place the dishwasher etc.

The kitchen is a square shaped kitchen with an adjoining utility (wash area) separated by a wall. I don’t have the before pictures, but will try and post a similar layout.

Why the remodeling project?

  • Vidya wanted to combine the utility space into the kitchen to accommodate a dishwasher, washing machine and a new refrigerator, oven and an island in the center of the kitchen.
  • The cabinets were in good condition even after ten years so she re-used most of it, just changed the position in some cases to create room for the bigger refrigerator and oven.
View of the kitchen from the dining room. To the far right, is the wash area and dishwasher/washing machine.

Minimalism is on the top of my list in everything I do. And I’m fortunate to have a like-minded family that believes in giving away stuff in excellent condition – be it toys, gadgets. Why buy, you may ask? Well, not anymore. I think twice before getting anything new into the house.  And if something new has to come in, then something has to go. As a result, we don’t have overflowing closets or, toy boxes. It has also meant lesser trips to shops and malls and more to parks. Something my husband read out to me a year back on the paradox of choice and happiness has stuck with me:

***        Buy more experiences and fewer things. Material goods depreciate. The day after you buy something, it’s probably worth less than you paid for it. Experiences, on the other hand, appreciate. Your memories of the things you do—vacations you take, concerts you go to—tend to become fonder with time.

***        Buy many small pleasures instead of a handful of large ones. This one’s tough to hear on a personal level, because I tend to forego daily indulgences for big rewards. But, in the words of the authors, people are usually happier with “frequent doses of lovely things rather than infrequent doses of lovelier things.

Come to think of it, the whole process of redesigning our home a year and half back began when I realised my husband and son’s needs – space. The declutter journey began with replacing all our oversized furniture with compact ones. It’s been a BIG transformation that we are all happy about but still not quite there. So, I’m a little wary of homes that barely have space to walk around but it’s a personal choice.

I’m constantly looking at studio apartments to learn about maximizing space and innovative ways of storage.  On one such mission, came across designer Ayaz Basrai. Ayaz Basrai is the owner of The Busride (I know a quirky name for a design studio). Even more quirkier  is his home. Ever fancy living in a 160 square feet apartment? The smallest I’ve ever lived in a 540 sq. ft apartment in Chicago. So, this just hooked me on.

The design studio’s profile of impressive achievements includes The Smoke House Room, Cafe Zoe, informal The Chimp Kiosk, quirky The Channel V studio among a dozen others. But what stood out for me is his tiny sliding home in the Ranwar village. Fathom a king sized bed that splits to create a seating arrangement during the day, a walk in closet, full length mirror, changing area, a pantry and a workstation – all in 160 sq. ft?

Today I’m back with another home tour showcasing an apartment in Bangalore. I think it’s amazing when people throw open their doors, and let us take a peek into what lies behind it. It’s real for one with real people living in it; these homes are not staged or styled for a sale, and that I think is remarkable.

My post on paint color evoked a lot of responses; one of them was from Anitha who shared pictures of her home – Prashanthi. Prashanti means “peace” and as we step inside get a glimpse of the drawing room, every corner gives you that calming impact. Maybe it’s the magic of white …so shall we take a tour and see what’s in store? From flashes of light to an Indian version of Martha Stewart, you can see it all.

Living + Dining

Living room of an apartment in Bangalore furnished with white Ikea sofa and a purple accent wall

I asked Anitha how she manages a white sofa in dust-laden Bangalore and this is what she had to say, “Our living room colour was based on the warmth that the purple would give out when rightly mixed with whites. It took some time to convince my hubby about this colour. But, now he just loves it. These sofas are from Ikea and comes with machine washable covers. I bought two extra covers and it goes for wash fortnightly.”

Drawing room of an apartment in Bangalore with a rectangular mirror and open shelving.

Aakanksha and I schooled together for three years in a remote district in Northern Karnataka where our fathers worked. Then, she moved to Gwalior. And we lost touch for two decades. Thanks to FB, we connected again. If there’s one thing I still remember from those days, it’s how impeccably clean she was, and that shows in her home as well now..

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that she is passionate about interiors.

This is what she has to say on maintaining a clean bathroom: “I m a cleanliness freak, and very particular when it comes to bathrooms.To keep it all parched n spruced up….I make sure that the water is wiped off the floors n walls after every shower. That’s not too cumbersome as it has to be done just once in the morning when everybody is done and seldom at night. It just takes 5 to 10 mnts in all.thats not a big price to pay for a dry n neat bathroom free of dampness & moisture which becomes quite  unwelcoming otherwise……”

Continuing with the theme of all-white houses, here is another brilliantly designed Stockholm home. Be inspired by the infusion of color in simple art forms, cushions, throws and glass vases.

This was not how the house when designer Victoria Hamberger moved in with her family. As per the article, the house was a riot of colors. In its present state, it is anything but that. It’s a century old villa – built in 1907 to be precise – that has housed two generation of a designer family before Victoria moved in with hers.


Take a 675 sq.ft apartment in Mumbai, make an interior designer its owner and, this is what you get: a small, functional abode that looks double its size as spaces flow fluidly into one another. Owner Kaizad Dinshaw, who designed the apartment himself, is the man behind residential and commercial design firm – Nitido design. Who lives here: Kaizad Dinshaw Size: 675 sq.ft Location: Mumbai Designer: Kaizad Dinshaw, Nitido Design This month’s Good Homes features the 675 sq.ft one-bedroom apartment of Kaizad Dinshaw. To say, I was floored by the design would be an understatement. I live in a 1460…