Discarded plywood as rafters on the ceiling; cement base seating in the living with sparkling white cushions for comfort peppered with blue pillows; open kitchen with a vertical herb garden; white walls interspersed with cool blue, minty green and the warmness of red in right measures. Already dreaming of a vacation in some remote island off the coast of Spain or Mediterranean? Well, this teaser of an image is right here in Mumbai.

Welcome to the Jains’ upcycled home, as featured in the July issue of GoodHomes. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve drooled over these images and shown to every person who has a remote interest in interiors. This is the best home tour I’ve seen in a long time, and I hope you’d agree. If you’d like to read the full story, grab a copy.

My respect for the Jain’s and Sehool Kapashi is tremendous today because of the harmony seen in this home. As someone going though the process of designing our home currently, I understand what it takes to find the right designer, conveying your vision, for the designer to be able to appreciate and execute it is no mean task. And this, for one, is not a run-of-the-mill home. It stands out enough for us to take notice and cheer.

I’ve featured a few designers in the past whose work we loved and appealed to our design sensibilities: deCode, Kaizad Dinshaw, Ayaz Basrai. Today, let us tour a high-rise residence in Mumbai designed by yet another talented duo: the Ashleys. How often have you looked at a picture and wondered: is it paint or wallpaper, what material is that? This home tour is different because it describes in great detail the materials used: be it for the partition, the head board, the wall cladding etc.

The 800 sq feet space spread on the 16th floor at Bandra, Mumbai; is a 2BHK apartment that breaks open to the alluring vastness of the sea. The first meeting with this client was elated when they spelt out the brief saying “We want to design our house as the Company’s Signature Style.”  The sea, as we know, gives an Impression of vastness, meditative, yet so energetic. Our project design too speaks a similar style through its detailing in simplicity.

Years ago, when we bought our first house, the thought of using the services of an interior designer never crossed our minds. Young, in our early 20s, perhaps the only thought on my mind was to just move into a house. If the space was functional and livable, it more than served the purpose than deal with an intimidating houseowner.

Who thought about aesthetics, space utilization, study, pooja, or color coordination? One night, I remember sitting on the floor by the door of our 2-bedroom rented home and complaining to my husband the project we had undertaken so early in life. With him traveling, the exhaustion of a full-time job, going around town looking for floor tiles on a scooty, and getting them transported across town caught up with me.

Fast forward to 2014. This week, for the most part, I’ve been sifting through pictures from the portfolios of interior designers. Anything that swept me off my feet? I wouldn’t be honest if I said yes.  But, may be that’s just me because I don’t like garish interiors with too much wood, false ceiling, a lot of accessories and such. But, there was one that stood out distinctly from over hundreds of images. I’m being methodical for a change with this project: going room by room looking at pictures and portfolios of interior designers. Coincidentally, the first picture I clicked for every room belonged to the same person: the Banerji residence designed by deCode architecture.

DeCoDe Architecture is a multi-disciplinary design practice specializing in architecture and interior design consultancy. With over 10 years of professional experience working for various offices in New York City and Bombay, the partners in the practice follow the adage: Keep it simple.

I’ll let you see the pictures and decide if I was biased in my judgement.

decode architecture - interior designer mumbai

Here are snippets of my conversation with Meghna and Prashant, the founders of deCode:

Personally, what drew me to your work even while scanning hundreds of pictures was the clean color palette, not over-the-top, minimal design. I noticed some recurring colors and themes as well: rocking chair, touches of aqua wall color, wood not being the focus point of a room yet there is enough storage. Correct me if I’m wrong. So, what is your design philosophy?

We follow the adage: Keep it simple. Our work  tends to be quiet, subtle and subdued putting the focus on the experience rather than the expense. We tend to design functional spaces that are free of physical and visual clutter. Our belief is that a home should be comfortable and a container for memories, light, space and art.

Ethnic elements - decode architecture

decode architecture - interior designer bombay

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

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.

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Kaizad Dinshaw’s work ever since I saw how he magically transformed his bachelor pad into a visual treat. How much can you accomplish in 691 sq.ft of space you may ask? Take twenty steps from one end to the other, and you hit a wall. But, that’s how small or rather big is Dinshaw’s apartment, and we saw, how with a clever utilization of space, he didn’t compromise on aesthetics, functionality and most importantly, lack of floor area.

So, after a long gap, I browsed Nitido Design’s residential portfolio. Kaizad’s verstaility comes across in decking up small spaces predominantly in white. I often get e-mails from readers asking how to conceal a dining area from the living space, or what would go well above a weathered cabinet, or how could a old mirror fit into a space. It’s good to see the portfolio of experts and learn a thing or two to see what works and why, and how to complement furnishings and furniture.

Here are a few favorite picks of mine from Kaizad’s portfolio.

The weathered cabinet becomes the focal point of this room. So, before you discard that old cabinet, think again. You can re-purpose it to make it the star of the room. A simple DIY of painting with one color, sanding, and painting another coat of a different color will give it the weathered look. A mirror or large artwork above the cabinet works well. But, if you are thinking an assortment of small photo frames, not so much!

We have a huge collection of books at home. Of late, most of the reading happens on iPad, Kindle and my Nook color. But, I cannot emphasize more the lure of real books and having one library at home, especially around growing kids. A dark backdrop, or any contrasting color, makes the space stand out.

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?

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…