What makes a home? Jay and Mahhi in their living room where you could play galli cricket if you wanted. Their dogs have the run of the house.
It takes 15-odd minutes for the elevator to arrive, because this Goregaon skyscraper has four parking levels, but actors Mahhi Vij and Jay Bhanushali’s house really doesn’t give you much else to complain about.
On the 39th floor, I ring the doorbell and instantly, the collective barks of their three dogs – Katori (a pug), Tim Tim and Figo (Shih Tzus) – fill their house, Angel Niwas (named after their recently deceased fourth dog).
The door swings open into an unbelievably sprawling apartment (with the dogs now licking my feet). The huge L-shaped living room has enough space for an impromptu round of galli cricket; there’s a study and a dining area; two bedrooms; and most importantly, two balconies: one overlooking the greens of Aarey colony and the other facing a concrete jungle. Am I still in Mumbai?
"Whenever I’m looking to make a new purchase, I always start small and end up buying big," says Jay Bhanushali, who went through the same dilemma when he wanted to buy a car. "I wanted an Indian mid-range vehicle, then found myself coveting a BMW 3 and eventually bought a new Audi A6! We saw a lot of small houses before this, but I think Mahhi was purposely taking me to them so I’d fall for this one."
The trick worked. "When he walked into the house, I could tell that his mind was made up," says Vij. "I believe these are once-in-a-lifetime purchases and it’s better to splurge once, than spend on constant upgrades."
They found the house in 2011, and worked on the interiors with help from Mahhi’s friends. "Look, let me not take any credit, this house is all her," Bhanushali says.
After browsing innumerable interiors and design websites, they were able to put together a look that exuded what they call a positive vibe: minimal white furniture and lots of empty spaces. A place they could call home.
What makes a home?: The dressing table Vij can’t get enough of (below left); the balcony that’s a hit with friends (above). (Photos: Vidya Subramanian)
“After a particularly taxing day, Jay makes a drink and sits in the balcony,” Vij says, and quickly adds that it’s her husband’s favourite corner. The couple’s closest friends also often show up unannounced to enjoy the luxury of a balcony with a view. “Around 25 people are crammed in that little corner; the rest of the house is empty,” says Bhanushali.Yours, Mine, Ours
While the balcony is everyone’s favourite, there are still zones of dispute: the storage space for Vij’s cosmetics, for instance. "She used to put all of her stuff in our bathroom," complains Bhanushali. "So now we have a separate bathroom just for her make-up. Mahhi slyly directs all our female guests to that bathroom, so they can talk about her prized collection after they exit!"
"I also wanted a walk-in closet," says Vij. "But Jay fought me on it." The study now gets a quick makeover whenever Jay is out of town, and becomes a walk-in closet till he comes back.
With three dogs and zero restrictions, it also gets difficult to keep it squeaky clean. "Thankfully, I have help in that department," says Vij. "And Jay loves to clean. On a Sunday, he’ll happily take the vacuum cleaner out and clean the house."
The couple has no rules for the dogs. "They do what they want, but we have to play with them for the first 15 minutes after returning from work," says Bhanushali. "Or we get the dog version of the silent treatment," adds Vij.
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From HT Brunch, August 23
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